Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The world I want for my daughter

This right here.

Running with apple 

This moment embodies the very essence of the kind of world I want for my daughter.

The kind in which she will always be free to run, jump, hide, play, reach and laugh.

And never have to be afraid. Of what’s lurking in the corner.
And never be told she can’t. Because of her gender. Or the color of her skin.
And never have to be ashamed. For her abilities. Or the lack thereof.
And never be judged or criticized. Just because she’s different.
And never ever have to apologize. For who she is. Or isn’t.

That’s the kind of world I want for her.

I will do what I can to raise her to be brave
and strong
and honest
and loving 
and kind
and compassionate.

But the rest? It’s up to you.
And you.
And you.
And you.

Will you help me?


This blog carnival, The World I Want for My Children, is the brainchild of Country Fried Mama, created to increase awareness and offer support for the Joyful Heart Foundation. The foundation, started by Law & Order: SVU actress Mariska Hargitay, helps victims of sexual assault mend their minds, bodies, and spirits and reclaim their lives. What kind of world do you want for your children? Come share your thoughts with us here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Some things you just never forget

I used to take pride in easily committing friends’ birthdays to memory, but these days, Facebook does all of the remembering for me. Recently one such Facebook reminder popped up and along with it, a memory of how I forgot her birthday two years ago, which was uncommon for me. But then again, what happened the day of her birthday that year was not very common either.

Two years ago, around this time, My Guy was complaining of chest pains and a fever. After days of nagging discomfort, he finally decided to see the doctor. I was in the office when he drove himself to the physician’s office. I was also eight months pregnant.

He called me in the middle of the day to report that the doctor was not comfortable with his symptoms and had to run some tests. He assured me there was no need to be alarmed, and so I waited for the next phone call, which came several minutes later. It wasn’t what I had expected, or rather, hoped to hear. Upon seeing the results, the doctor ordered an ambulance for My Guy so they could rush him to the ER of a hospital two miles down the road from them. He thought it was silly and offered to drive there himself but the doctor, alarmed by the levels of XXXX that his heart was producing, refused to allow him. (Forgive my lack of details with the medical terms. I was a little too distraught to memorize them.)

The doctor expressed that she was surprised he wasn’t having a heart attack at that moment. Not the kind of news I'd expected to hear. Not when I was eight months pregnant. 

However, I was surprised at how calm I was with the news – maybe because My Guy seemed fine to me. Nothing changed - his voice and his tone remained unperturbed. He assured me again that they were probably overreacting and taking unnecessary precautions because that’s just what they do. We made plans for me to pick up the car by the doctor’s office and swing by the hospital to pick him up after work. He maintained that they were just running tests at the ER and that he would keep me posted. So I followed our plan as discussed, except after that call, I never heard from him again.

When I went approached the hospital receptionist, she could not find his name for the ER. My anxiety grew with each moment as she scanned the computer in front of her. A few minutes later, she announced, “It says he’s on the second floor.”

I followed her instructions, but I couldn’t find him. I tried calling him on the phone for what felt like the millionth time. No answer. I returned to the receptionist, and that’s when she picked up the phone to make inquiries about his whereabouts.

At that point, the last time I spoke to My Guy was about four hours ago. While I didn’t overtly show my panic, she must have seen the desperation and fear in my eyes. And my protruding belly. Eight months pregnant. I didn’t have to plead with her to look for him. She knew.

She had me sit close by in the waiting area while she conducted her search. A line formed in front of her, each visitor or patient with their own questions, but it didn’t faze her. She multi-tasked deftly, tending to their needs on one side and holding on to the phone on the other. In the meantime, I continued to try his phone. Occasionally, the receptionist would make eye contact with me and indicate that she was still on it. My clammy hands found my belly and there they lay, unsure and shaking. I wanted to calm the restless baby inside me, it’ll be ok, it’ll be ok, it’ll be ok running in circles like a mantra, or a desperate plea, in my mind.

The what ifs rose from the pit of my stomach - What if something dreadful has happened? What if he doesn’t make it? What if I’m too late? What if…what if…

All this while, a shadow, dark and ominous, hovers above me: Eight months pregnant.

Half an hour and what felt like an eternity later, the receptionist motioned me over, cautious with her words: “He’s in surgery in the cardiac ward right now.”

I felt my heart stop. The words felt surreal. Surgery? Cardiac? My Guy? He’s only 25! What’s she talking about?!

She continued, “You will find him in surgery room X.  In fact, they’re just finishing up, so they should be out any moment now.” While it wasn’t the news I had hoped for, it was news nonetheless. Better than nothing. Better than the questions that hung in the air.

At that moment, even in my panic, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for her. This lady, this girl in her mid-twenties, was relentless in her search on my behalf, and she found him. She was also the only person in that cold, grey building that filled me with warmth. Unfortunately, with news like that, I could only muster my profuse gratitude with garbled words before running to find My Guy.

I showed up outside the surgery room just as the surgeon appeared, and he explained that My Guy had an angiogram. I’ve heard of the term but never knew what it meant. It sounded worse than what it was. But I quickly learned then that it’s a diagnostic procedure that involves inserting a catheter into the femoral artery, which is then threaded up to the affected area. Next they inject dye so they can visualize the inside of the blood vessels. (I don’t remember him saying all this – I had to google it, so forgive any misrepresentations here).

The surgeon confirmed he was fine, but because of the puzzling levels of XXX, they needed to keep him in the cardiac ward for a few days. Just in case. Then they wheeled him out and I saw him laying there in a daze, still trying to assure me that everything was fine, I finally burst into tears. Relieved. Confused. Happy. Scared. All of the emotions that swirled in torrents inside erupted to the surface.

I stayed at the hospital that night, unable to leave his side. After those long, ugly, tormenting hours of separation and the not knowing, I just couldn’t bear the thought of having to go through that again. At least there, I would be aware of exactly what’s happening, even if I couldn’t help him feel better. So there we were in his room together as the machines, chemicals and doctors took turns stabilizing his health. A soon-to-be family of three cramped into a little room, exhausted.

Four days and many tests later, they discharged him just in time - on the day of our baby shower. They never figured out what was wrong. Back to the not knowing again. How in the world could he prevent a reoccurrence when he doesn’t know what causes it in the first place? But we didn’t have the time to ponder those questions. There was a party waiting for us. That night, we dove into the merriment, thankful for the food, family, friends and laughter that surrounded us. There were also many gifts. But as I held the tiny baby clothes and soft blankets in my hands, ones that would soon become a part of the fabric of our lives, I couldn’t help but be painfully and acutely aware of just how fragile that fabric is.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The anatomy of laughter

Little Miss knows better than to put the dog toy in her mouth, but the temptation to see my animated reaction is just too great. As is my need to see her explode with devious laughter.

And so…












Tell me, is there anything more joyous and magical than the laughter of a child?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What I am is what I am

On Monday, after reading my post published that morning, My Guy wrote me an email that simply said: “I feel special…I got two posts in a row!”

Well, I’ll be damned. He totally did. It was an oversight on my part. Lest he thinks he’s all that, I need to take back my blog and make it all about me again.

It so happens that two of the bloggers on my must-read list, Cecilia from Only You and Devon from You Had Me at Neurotic, tagged me on this Q&A meme awhile back, and I think this is the perfect time to dive into it.

What experience has most shaped you, and why?
It’s probably no surprise that it’s a toss-up between my move across the world from Malaysia to the States and motherhood. My move is significant because I think it helped empower my decisions to live life as I could, rather than to live as I should. As for motherhood, having to be responsible for the life of another means I have to model the behavior I expect of my child and man, let me tell you. It’s NOT easy. I’m still working on the profanity.

If you had a whole day with no commitments, what would you do?
I would like to say that I’ll read for hours and hours, explore a gallery or indulge in a spa day, but I’ll most likely end up wasting too much time on the internet or TV, which I rarely watch these days, and then get upset with myself for squandering away a perfectly good day to do all those things I should’ve done.

What food or drink could you never give up?
Coffee (just cream, no sugar).

If you could travel anywhere, where would that be and why?
France, because I fell in love with its food, architecture, language and culture the first time I was there and have been dying to go back since.

Who do you have a crush on?
A no-brainer: My Guy. Ever since he became a dad, seeing him with my daughter has made me more in love with him than ever. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a close second though.

If you were leader of your country, what would you do?
Wonder why anyone would elect me in the first place. I can barely get my toddler to listen to me, let alone a nation of people.

Give me one easy savory recipe that doesn’t include cheese.
This is our go-to sandwich on busy weeknights that I created when all I had were these ingredients:  Sliced tomatoes and avocados on whole wheat bread spread with mayo on one side and spicy mango chutney on another.  Veggie, protein and carbs in one. Quick and nutritious – take that Rachael Ray!

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Because of my vast paper doll collection, I thought I was going to be a fashion designer. And then from out of nowhere, it was replaced by Astronaut. Until I took my first physics class.

If you could spend just one day in someone else’s body, who would it be?
My father. I want to know how he is able to sleep at night.

Which woman writer – living or dead – do you most admire and why?
Toni Morrison. She was raising two boys on her own when she published her first novel and went on to become the first African-American woman to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature. One of her books, Song of Solomon, is still one of my favorites. 

What character trait inspires you the most?
Passion. Not the sonnet-writing, flower-sending kind, although that’s lovely as well, but one that drives someone to succeed at what they do, whether it’s career, charity or family. I see that in My Guy, and it’s exhilarating.

What is your favorite kind of music?
The kind that resonates with my emotions at the time, so really, nothing in particular.  I will always have Imogen Heap, The Nationals, NIN, Radiohead, Tegan & Sara, The Shins, Hot Chip, Phoenix, Tokyo Police Club and the soundtrack from Garden State on my Zune. Yes, Zune, says the non iFan.

Which book or books have inspired or touched you the most?
This is a long list but the three that comes to mind now (and this answer may change next week):

1. Written on the Body by Jeannette Winterson, for her enigmatic prose on the love affair between two people, although you’re never entirely certain of the narrator’s gender.

2. Devotion by Dani Shapiro, a memoir whose author has a strikingly similar dissonance with her spirituality as my own; it has inspired me to probe my own spiritual void and to begin my own journey in search of understanding.

3. Our Sister Killjoy, by Ama Ata Aidoo, the first book I read in my post-colonial literature class that led me to my passion for women’s literature; I was drawn to the power of her voice, which influenced me to discover mine.

Do you have a good luck charm, something you carry with you or a mantra you say or necklace or outfit you wear when you need that little something extra?
I don’t really have anything for luck, but my go-to mantra when something goes wrong is “This too shall pass”. Simple but effective. Sometimes it’s the only thing that gets me through those days that start on the wrong side of the bed.

* * *

Because I’m so late in the game, I think every blogger that I know may have already been tagged with this meme at some point, so if you’re reading this and have not been tagged, consider yourself it. I know, what a cop out. Forgive me. After answering all these questions, my brain is mush. And I’m way past my bedtime.

Monday, September 20, 2010

10-year anniversary!

OK, before you start sending me flowers, let me quickly clarify: it’s not my anniversary. It’s a dear friend’s, Christine, who blogs over at Coffees & Commutes, and I’m excited/honored/proud to be guest posting at her place while she’s away on a fabulous vacation with her soul mate. I’m in awe of their relationship – 10 years! Wow! - and if you’d like to know what I have to say about it, click on over. And since we’re in this love fest, please leave us some comment love while you’re there.

See you at Christine’s!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Daddy’s wisdom

NCC-1701  Daddy’s favorite (and I’m not talking about the baby)


Daddy’s wisdom, borrowed from Star Trek, that’s worthy of passing down to the next generation (ha ha – get it? get it? Fine. So we’re not all geeks here):

"Without freedom of choice there is no creativity." Captain James T. Kirk

"Change is the essential process of all existence." Mr. Spock

“There's a way out of any cage.” Captain Christopher Pike

“The prejudices people feel about each other disappear when then get to know each other.” Captain James T. Kirk

"... The things love can drive a man to - the ecstasies, the the miseries, the broken rules, the desperate chances, the glorious failures and the glorious victories." Dr. Leonard McCoy

“Things are only impossible until they're not.” Captain Jean-Luc Picard

“Love sometimes expresses itself in sacrifice.” Captain James T. Kirk

“Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.” Captain Jean-Luc Picard

“There is a multi-legged creature crawling on your shoulder.” Mr. Spock



When you’re in need of wisdom, what is your go-to source?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When did she start speaking in full sentences?!


We were humoring ourselves watching Little Miss jump around in her crib, her now playpen, when our favorite cat sauntered into the room to check out the commotion. Then we heard a little voice demand, “Mac, get in the kib (crib)!”

My Guy and I immediately turned to look at one another and then at her, and we were both thinking the same thing, what was that?

But she repeated her command, “Mac, get in the kib!” which was promptly ignored by the cat, though it had the opposite effect on us.

My Guy reacted first: “When did she start speaking in full sentences?” and before I could answer, he declared, “I’m not ready for this!”

But we both knew the answer to his question. This was not her first full sentence (at least one that was uttered with intention and not just out of mimicry, like “I see you”). It happened last week, on our flight to DC. At the bulkhead of the plane, Little Miss grabbed a napkin and started to wipe the wall in front of us.

“I clean the wall,” she said, and we laughed, startled. Not the most exotic “first” but momentous nonetheless. We knew it wasn’t a case of parroting because clearly she didn’t learn that from us. We don’t clean. Walls, I mean. Maybe she learned it from daycare because I did catch her sweeping with a broom when I was there to pick her up one day.

Throughout the trip, apart from adding our sights to her vocabulary, “Lincoln”, “Capitol”, “Monument” “Trolley” (from our trolley tour), she started to surprise us with more complex strings of words.

“Baby is cwying.”
“Lot of people on the train.” 
“Siren is too loud.”
“Sun is bwight.”
“Daddy is walking.”
“Mommy sit in the chair.”
“Daddy wash your hands.”
“Daddy’s new shoes.”
“Umbwewa is bwoken.”

Clearly the trip made quite a linguistic impression on her, but it’s no surprise that every new experience would add to her growing lexicon. Sadly, however, not all experiences will be as pleasant as this one.

Just this past weekend, she threw up for three consecutive nights, the worst being the first night, when she awoke in a pool of her vomit. We walked in and found her crying in confusion mixed with terror so I promptly explained that it was just throw up and tried to downplay it with “mommy throws up, daddy throws up, our puppy throws up, everyone throws up!” That helped calm her, which was great, because she spent the rest of the night vomiting until dawn.

That weekend she learned to say, “I throw up on the bed” - an experience that was initially traumatic but once we gave a name to the ordeal and she was able to say it, she stopped being afraid and handled the rest in a manner that surprised even us.

I know that the joys in her life will inevitably be met with sadness and pain. I also know I won’t always be able to protect my little girl from that which hurts and scares her. That night, the only thing I could do was to help her name the source of her fear. After all, even adults fear the unknown, let alone a toddler so new to this world. Knowing what it was and recognizing each wave that rose was enough to stop her tears. By the middle of the night, Little Miss asked for the little potty that we were using as a receptacle whenever she felt the bile rise in her throat and took aim. We were impressed. And humbled by the courage and grace of a 22-month-old.

Exhausted from sleep deprivation from all that retching, she managed to ask for the first time, “lay down on mommy?” and so I gently laid her body directly on top of mine. She nestled in my embrace, claiming a space that was once hers for over nine months, except she was on the inside then. As our bodies rose and fell synchronously with each breath, she easily succumbed to the sleep her little body so desperately needed. I haven’t been this close to her as she slept since she was a tiny infant.

Despite all those words she learned from me, for this moment, I have none.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Our energy crisis

ElephantGirlNo toddlers were harmed in the making of this picture (because she was in front of a poster). 

You know how I said that the Washington, D.C. trip was monumental because my toddler was such a trooper? That she didn’t cry very much at all even though we pushed and pushed her every day out of her comfort zone? And how all that was just fantastic for a kid who often seems so rigid with her schedule at home? Welllll……yeah, that’s great and all, but here’s what I didn’t tell you.

Little Miss Trooper didn’t really fuss mostly because when she’s tired, she morphs into Little Miss Goofy McGooferton. Most normal people would begin to wind down, get really quiet and perhaps turn up the crank. But no….not her. Her energy level seems to increase the longer she’s awake. And that just doesn’t sit well for her parents who are on the normal side of things. Chart

You see, when we’re winding down, we actually stop talking and start spacing out. But we can’t really do that when the opposite is happening with our child. We have to be even more vigilant as she bounces around like an atom on crack, darting from one parent to another, and it feels like the energy is being drained from us to feed her. When we’re slack-jawed in our stupor, she is giggling and arching her back to fall backwards, expecting to be caught by one of her overtired parents. Except we’re not always successful.


MotionBlur Yes, this was her in a nutshell. ALL. WEEKEND.


The trip did have its challenges with a hyperactive baby who would not stop singing ABC from start to finish over and over and over and over when she’s tired. Any requests otherwise were thwarted with an even louder rendition so we stopped asking and just learned to tune her out. (Sorry other D.C. folks subjected to the same torture, we really did try.)

This was the goofy kid we had to deal with while we’re enjoying our tapas. I suppose it could’ve been worse.




On the flight home, we were prepared for a meltdown because she refused to nap that day. It doesn’t happen often, but of course she would pick the one day she really needed one, especially after a morning at the National Zoo, to forego the shuteye, despite the fact that we planned our day around the all-important nap. I braced myself for the worst. Fortunately, the flight attendants were kind enough to seat us at a completely empty row right at the bulkhead, and Little Miss even had her own seat! (Yes, we’re milking the “kids under 2 fly free” right until the end because we’re cheap economical like that.) And on the last half hour of our flight, she finally succumbed to her fatigue and fell asleep.

We are crazy about our daughter but man, for two desperately tired people exhausted from a whirlwind weekend, that was definitely our favorite part of the trip day.




How do you cope with fatigue? What about your kids? What is your family’s favorite way to vacation? Lots of running around and sightseeing or plenty of rest and relaxation? (Clearly I picked the wrong one for our girl here).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Up all night

Having a sick kid who was throwing up her lunch and dinner all night means I got nuthin’ for today. So I’m digging into the archives and borrowing from my past. Here’s something I wrote when she was not quite a year old. And now I’m off to tend to the little one who seems to be doing much better than I am after a total of an hour’s worth of sleep. As she sings her now favorite song, ABC, for the gazillionth time, I think I’m going to go quietly pass out in some corner. Hope she doesn’t spot me…


Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.
Now women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.

                                            from THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, by Zora Neale Hurston


Recently, when Little Miss was plagued by an ear infection, she had a high fever for days, and it reminded me of the time when I was down for the count, where my mom never left my side. Now, I may sound like I’m stereotyping but I know I’m not that far off the mark when I say that most Asian parents, at least ones from my mom’s generation, aren’t very big on PDA (no, not the mobile device, although they’re not into that either). Their idea of affection is to make sure we’re fed to the gills at every meal and to work 15-hour days just so they can afford us a life better than the one they had.

So imagine my surprise when my mom sat beside me in bed when I was eight or nine, suffering from a 104-degree fever, tenderly stroking and kissing my face, my hair, my arms, my hands, and singing me nursery rhymes she knew by heart from her schoolgirl days. Alas, the woman couldn’t carry a tune, but on that night, her voice flooded me with so much love that even in my feverish delirium, I didn’t want it to end. These moments of tenderness were so few and far between that an overt display of her affections for me that one time left an indelible mark on me that I would carry with me the rest of my life.

However, this is in stark contrast to the other not-so-warm-and-fuzzy memory of my mother, when I clearly recall a vision of her swiftly walking towards 10-year-old me when I was playing with my friends outside my school when I was supposed to be home, brandishing a rattan cane. Oh the horror! Nothing commands the obedience of a young child better than public humiliation, especially when it involves her friends. So when I saw my mom approaching me with the cane, I saw my 10 years flash before my eyes as well as the next 10 of my friends unmercifully taunting me, telling everyone about my day of shame. Now, before you go all DCFS on my mom, note that she is a product of a different time and culture, as am I, where corporal punishment was acceptable. While not my favorite memory, it was definitely one of the most memorable, for obvious reasons. Needless to say, I always got home from school on time after that.

Now that I’m at the wheels of the mamamobile, I realize that it is my turn to shape someone else’s memories.  As Little Miss’ blurry world comes into focus, and forms become words, and words into thoughts, it makes me wonder—how she will remember me? Perhaps the more important question, which will define my role in her life, is how do I want to be remembered?


originally posted November 25, 2009


So, how would you like to be remembered?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pumpkin spice and all things nice

The Pumpkin Spice latte at Starbucks is back. In fact, it seems like the world around me was abuzz with this highly-anticipated latte last week. But I closed my ears and eyes to it. I just wasn’t ready. Pumpkin means fall in my book and on a week of 80-degree weather, I just couldn’t think past the summer. Where I live, these warm glorious months are fleeting, and since we are enjoying one of the best summers I’ve ever experienced this year, you can imagine how I’m kicking and screaming with every sign of its waning presence.

However, when we were at the pool the weekend before Labor Day, I knew it would be our last. The farmer’s markets are also beginning to show signs of Fall with the apples outnumbering the peaches. Today, I even saw winter squashes (WINTER! *shudder*). And when we traveled to Washington D.C. this past weekend, I also knew it was our final warm weather hurrah where we could traipse around the city in sleeveless shirts and sandals. These subtle acknowledgements in my head were my way of giving myself permission to let go. Slowly. Gently.

And today when I left the house, with the temperature in the low 70s (an average for the week), I stopped at Starbucks on my way to work and ordered my first Pumpkin Spice latte of the season. And it was delicious. With each warm sip of liquid gold, I was easing into Fall, and while I dread to think about what comes after, it reminded me of all the things I love about autumn: The warm colors, the chill in the air, the always chic jacket-scarf-boots ensemble, apple crisps, hearty and aromatic slow-cooked one-pot meals, hot beverage between my hands and plenty of snuggling under the blanket. Oh yes, I am now craving for my favorite season of the year. I just needed to be ready for it.

Speaking of ready, while I slowly embraced the idea of Fall, my daughter has apparently been ready for the big-girl bed long before I was. She had been requesting to sleep in the twin-sized daybed in her room but we weren’t sure since it seemed so big for her so we started with her naps there, and she did remarkably well. One day, a little over two weeks ago, she refused to get into her crib, demanding, “Big bed! Big bed!” and so we bit the bullet, installed the safety rail that same night, and she happily climbed into bed with her blankie and friends. And that was the end of the crib.

Well, except for the one time where at naptime, she climbed out of bed and came to find me. All I had to do was threaten her with, one more time and you’re going back into the crib, and that was all it took for her to stay in bed. Actually, she has not once climbed out of it since. When she wakes from sleep, she sings or talks to herself, sometimes up to half an hour, until one of us goes into her room. But she never leaves her bed.

What’s even more amazing about this switch to the big girl bed is that now when we travel, we needn’t worry about lugging a pack n’ play around for her sake. We went to our DC trip with just carry-on luggage - a miraculous feat with a young one, if you ask me - and at the hotel suite, she slept on the foldout couch in the living room without a fuss. Even without the threat of the crib anywhere near, she never got out of her bed. I guess when she was ready for a big-girl bed, she was ready.

I realize now that I’m the one who has been reluctant in ushering her from one stage to the next. She consistently amazes with how well she adapts to change and new environments, but I think it’s because she’s often ready long before I ever am. Just like the time when we completely did away with her bottles. Or when I had to wean her. I braced myself for a struggle each time, except I was met with little to no resistance. She probably craves novelty. The idea of being a big girl is exciting too. But for me, it’s that very idea that’s holding me back. Big girl? Big bed? Big shoes? Surely not my little one?

I need to learn to let go. Gracefully. To be a good parent, I need to recognize her readiness for change, hold her hand to help move her forward and then watch her beam at me from her destination with pride.

Not just proud of herself for making it there. But of her mommy, who was brave enough and strong enough to guide her there in the first place. Just like mine was.

And now it’s my turn.




How do you deal with change? Slow to adapt? Eager to embrace? How do you know when it’s time to let go?

Monday, September 6, 2010



We are still here. We took a moonlight tour in our nation's capital and explored many monuments and historical sites. But that's not the only reason why this trip is monumental.

Coming here, we were a little cautious. After all, our little girl's first flight has burned a scar in our memory, and she's also really fond of routine. But since we only had three days, we decided to push our toddler, delaying nap and bedtimes by three hours or more (which means an 11pm bedtime for our usual 7pm'er - yes, we're still OMG'ing over here!!!), eating out at every meal, and navigating the crowded museums and mass transit. To our amazement, so far nothing fazes her. She is an absolute trooper. No tantrums or meltdowns. Not even tears. Just smiles. And lots and lots of it.

We knew this would be a fun trip. We even hoped for great. But monumental? I guess, in D.C., that is the only way to go.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Anything but

We are a family of procrastinators. Well, at least My Guy and I are. But seeing as it’s almost 10pm 11pm and we haven’t even started packing for our trip to Washington, D.C. the next day, I’m going to say there’s no escaping for Little Miss either. This gene is strong.

What I’m really trying to say is, I’m going to have to scale back on the usual awesomeness long-windedness of my posts and settle for something quick. So I leave you with…what I had for dinner tonight.


Yes, it’s a cucumber sandwich. Exciting stuff I know. My rule of no cooking the night before a busy day of traveling meant I had to rummage my kitchen for something quick and easy, and this was the best I could come up with. A meal of cucumbers on buttered sourdough bread fresh from the bakery. With just a smidge of Fleur de Sel, one of my favorite kick-it-up-a-notch ingredients, and voila! Dinner is served.

Basic, uncomplicated, scrumptious. And just what I needed the night before a trip. Something really simple. Because, as you may know, traveling with a toddler is anything but.

Especially Even this toddler.




If you’re a parent, how do you feel about traveling with young children? What is it like for you? If you’re not, what do you first think of when you’re seated near a family with kids on the plane? Do you instinctively look for the emergency exit sign?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Once upon a daddy

We started a new family tradition this summer – Pool n’ Dogs. On weekends, we would spend a couple of hours at a family aquatic center with Little Miss, who loves the water, evident in her unbridled enthusiasm at the sight of the pool. And then we’d feast on hot dogs. Pool n’ Dogs!

This pool is a particular favorite because of its slides and play structure. She goes up the little slide in the toddler pool by herself and squeezes her tiny frame between the big kids distracted by friends or adults. She slips past them like an eel and though it mortifies me, I also secretly admire her audacity. She boldly slides down and emerges at the bottom triumphant, squealing as the initial blast of water hits her face. Two seconds later she’s up and back in line, jostling for a spot. My little fish in a big pond. Occasionally, her eyes would search for us but most of the time, she’s slip-sliding, weaving in and out, splashing, and delighting in her buoyancy. My eyes never leave her.


We then head to our favorite post-swim spot - the old school drive-in for some stellar Chicago hotdogs and fries where they serve us in our car. This place added a whole slew of words that otherwise would not have made it into her vernacular: Fries, ketchup, shake, hot dog. Oh, and napkin too, for the inevitable ketchupy mess. We devour our so-bad-but-so-good dinner before heading home with tired limbs and stuffed bellies.


When I look at Little Miss who is now five shades darker from the sun, finally matching my own skin tone, I see myself in her place, only I was just a little older than she is now. I was an aqua baby too, and many of my most vivid childhood memories were that of the time spent in the water. Growing up in the tropics meant it was always pool weather. But these particular memories occupy a sacred place in my heart because they are the ones of my father. The good ones, which are few and far between.

I remember him teaching me to swim in the kiddie pool, where it was shallow enough that when I dove in that one time, I hit and hurt my head. Not badly. Just something that stuck with me because I knew never to do it again. By the time I was five, I was no different than a fish, except I came up for air and snacks. My dad loved to swim, and he passed on to me the skills he had mastered on his own. I sensed his pride as I swam beside him.

Usually ravenous after a swim, we went to the nearest establishment for quick nourishment in the form of hotdogs from A&W. Fast food was not prevalent in Malaysia then so it was a special treat. Instead of a malted shake, which is Little Miss’ preference, I had a rootbeer (or two) but there were always hotdogs. I cherished those moments with my dad. He was my daddy then. And  I was his little girl. Before other priorities in his life replaced me.

As my mind wanders back to the present, to my own little girl with the hot dog belly and chlorine-scented skin, I realize that this isn’t a new family tradition. It’s an extension of mine from my past. She is living my childhood. I am living hers. This is all very familiar to me - the pool, the heat, the hot dog, the glow in her face, not from the sun, but from basking in the love of her adoring parents. The same way mine illuminated from being with my daddy. The one I wanted to always remember.

Back at the pool, while My Guy stayed close to Little Miss, I took some time to explore on my own. My body glided seamlessly between frolicking bodies and as my head submerged in the water, the noise turned into muffled silence. That was when I began to hear the distant voice of my daddy’s instructions to me in Cantonese and English on achieving aquatic perfection. These were the moments that secured my lifetime love for the water and unearthed the heartache of a little girl who pined for this version of her daddy not just on pool days, but every day.

He hasn’t done much else for me since but I know I owe my dad the confidence with which I treaded water when my feet began to lose the bottom of the pool. As I summoned the skills procured at the age of five, it dawned on me that I was sure of myself in the deep end of the pool long before I was sure of the depth of this memory of my father.

One measured six feet. The other, immeasurable.

This is a Wordful Wednesday post.