Monday, January 28, 2008

Week 25 : You Ain't The Boss Of Me

Sophia threw her first real tantrum. It was a no holds barred screaming jag. I discovered just how shrill her screams can be and how much lung capacity she has. And just how persistent she can be.

It started off after I picked her up from her walker. She'd been in it for a while, watching me prepare dinner. I picked her up to give her her milk feed for tea. I placed her on the mattress before preparing to lie down next to her but she would have none of it. Our little miss screwed up her face and let out a yell. When I didn't pick her up but tried to reason with her, she started belting it out. Oh-kaaaay. So she didn't want her milk, she didn't want to lie down and I as sure as hell wasn't going to pick her up. Naah, she was NOT going to dictate when I should pick her up. So I left her there on her mattress, clutching her security blanket, screaming her pretty little head off.

I went into the kitchen to cook. Luckily the sound of the ventilation hood somewhat drowned off her screams, but only a little. I could still hear her screaming high murder in the room. I peeked in a couple of times. She was just sitting there, tearing at her cloth and screaming for all the world to hear. It was hilarious really, seeing this little ... thing ... that was my daughter show her displeasure and screaming because she couldn't get her way. I was NOT going to raise a brat. So I went back into the kitchen, chuckling to myself at her little antics. After about 10 minutes, she sounded like she'd lost some steam and was calmer, so I went back into the room to console her and pick her up. No way!! Our little miss decided she did not want mommy to pick her up after she'd left her to cry by herself. She started pushing and kicking me away even as I held her up.

Fine, be that way. I left her alone on her mattress again. More screaming. Back to the kitchen to finish up the vegetable stir fry and then wash up the mess in the kitchen.

When I was done I realized all was quiet. I peeked around the corner into the room and found the little monster flat out. She was face down on the mattress, slumped over from her sitting position, dead to the world from the exhaustion. Twenty minutes of throwing a tantrum will do that to you, my dear. Let this be a lesson to you: Mommy will not be cowed into kowtowing by screaming and yelling.

This week we tried spinach, pear, peas and carrot after her introduction to and initial staple of baby rice cereal. When I went shopping for baby food some weeks earlier, I found out just how much junk baby food manufacturers 'fortify' their baby food with: all manner of important sounding initials such as DHAs, sugars disguised as sucrose, palm oil, and loads of vitamins which I'm not quite sure babies really need from their first foods. All they really need is iron and vitamin C for absorption. And hold the gluten, please. At least for a month or two even though the books say it's ok from six months. The safest option of baby rice cereal: Heinz. It was the only box which had five or less ingredients listed. Less IS more.

I am proud to say that Sophie is taking to eating solids like a fish to water. She loves her food (in general, the only food which she thrust out with her tongue was avocado) and eats so fast it's as if she's afraid that if she's too slow, mom will gobble up whatever's left in the bowl. That said, she can get quite distracted at times if the cats are about or the food's a bit bland.

All in all, solids has proven to be an enjoyable milestone. I can't wait to start her on her savouries.

Her crawling prowess has bumped up several notches; she's faster and stronger. And she'll grab onto almost anything that will help her come to a stand, including climbing all over mom, going to the extent of grabbing my hair. I feel like a human obstacle course.

We've now made a comfortable nest for ourselves on the bedroom floor. My ever doting parents went out and got us a couple of thin, foldable mattresses after they heard about Sophie's fall from the bed in the middle of the night (Rizal panicked but I couldn't find a single red spot or bruise on her body). She still has a habit of waking up at the ungodly hour of 4am or thereabouts to have a romp. She doesn't make a fuss or cry but having a playful baby crawling around or onto you guarantees that your sleep is somewhat interrupted if not totally dashed. And yet, there is the comfort of co-sleeping because it's just the two of us at home anyway. And my wrist doesn't seem to be getting any better now that she's getting heavier. Yup, excuses, excuses for not training her to sleep on her own in her own bed. We'll get her one soon. When we get to Singapore.

Where did the time disappear to? In a flash, six months has dawned upon us and she's babbling more and more each day now. Have I had her for so long? I can barely remember when she was a newborn. She's coming into her own now and I still call her 'baby'. But then again, she still is one. She's not even a toddler yet, even though her dad says she is. How fast this little one is growing. I wish she'd stay a baby like this for a little longer, if not forever. Adults are so difficult to deal with.

This coming March, my column and feature appear in Mother & Baby. Sophia's pictures are slated to appear. It's been a while since I've seen my byline in print. It will be interesting.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Running On A Full Load

Pant, pant. Huff, puff. Pppbbbtthhhhhh!

Work due and overdue, little monster keeping me on my toes, client meetings, running around on assignment, impending deadline coming up (yes! I'm back into writing and will have a byline soon).

And I still haven't the guts to finish the other two-thirds of Earthlings.

In the meantime, the little monster has started crawling and is using me as an obstacle course.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Earthlings : III

I'm a coward, I'll admit. And no, I haven't watched this either but I will. I must.

Earthlings : II

Here's part two even though I haven't watched it yet. I hope to, soon...

Earthlings : I

A friend sent this to me via Facebook. This is a documentary titled 'Earthlings' and it's narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. The documentary is split into three parts. It's not an easy programme to watch. It is very, very painful. It's as bad, no, actually, worse than the time I watched the video of the Indonesians slaughtering turtles live and I hyperventilated and started bawling not even 5 minutes into the documentary. It was being shown at a SEATRU gathering a few years back at an art gallery in KL. They had to stop the video and I had to be taken outside for a breath of fresh air. They didn't show it again. Then I didn't have to watch the whole thing. This time I forced myself to watch it all, at least the first part.

I've only included that first part of this documentary here. There's only so much I can take in one sitting. It's slightly over 30 minutes long and by the time I got to the part where they were dumping the stray dog live into the garbage truck compactor, I was hyperventilating.

If you think that slaughtering animals the kosher way is really less painful to the animals, think again. Watch this. It's more kosher not to eat meat. We just aim to reassure ourselves that the animals feel the least pain; ultimately, if you need to kill an animal to eat it, there is no inhumane way to do it, especially not when industry, economics and the human nature are involved.

Anyone who enjoys their meat should at least get a good idea of how it gets to their table and where it comes from. You at least owe it to the animal who suffered and died to be your food.

Right and Wrong

I seem to be picking up on and agreeing with Malaysia Today, and by default RPK more and more often these days. So I might as well direct you to this link.

Note what he says about perceptions on food. How very sad and true.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The little monster appeared to be hungry over dinner time today. It seemed more than a little unfair that everyone else was eating and she was not.

Here's proof that you can do damage even without teeth. Three hours later and my hand is still sore.

Week 23: Up Yours!

Mommy bowed down to pressure and started Sophia on solids: baby rice cereal. Here's what she thought of me.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Easily Swayed

Been following the debacle over the use of the word Allah.

Here's my two bits: Malaysian Muslims are not only an easily swayed bunch if they are to be so easily confused over the usage, they are also a bunch of elitist hypocrites. Or maybe it's just those who are in the throes of power. Either way, whatever the people in power say affects the grassroots. Hang on, and I mean the Malay Muslims. And then I get to thinking, wait a minute, being elitist probably is a cover for an inferiority complex. And that's the gist of it: in order to be better or seem better than everyone else in the country, the word Allah can only be used by the Muslims (read: Malay) in Malaysia.

"Only Muslims can use [the word] Allah. It's a Muslim word. It's from the Arabic language. We cannot let other religions use it because it will confuse people," deputy minister for internal security Johari Baharum told the press in explaining the rationale for the controversial decision. "We cannot allow this use of 'Allah' in non-Muslim publications; nobody except Muslims [can use it]. The word 'Allah' is published by the Catholics. It's not right," he said.

Someone obviously didn't school him in world history or religions of the world, nor does he know what's happening in other parts of the world because believers other than Muslims use the word Allah to refer to God as well. Hang on, he was probably locally educated so it doesn't make a difference anyway.

One wonders, if the Malaysian Muslims are so easily swayed or confused, isn't their belief in their religion nothing but a shallow facade? One would think that if your faith is true and you have a personal relationship with God, nothing is going to shake you of your belief.

Yes, we make the rules therefore we can claim Allah for ourselves, others be damned. Context be damned.

Remind me again why we keep insisting we are a developed nation?

Note: This entry of course doesn't apply to certain quarters of the population, also to those whom I know.

Loving Islam, Hating The Muslims

Intrigued? Check out this link to find out.

Pointing The Finger

I've wanted to write this entry for a while now but just never found the time nor the energy to do it but it's something that I feel needs to be written, somewhat like the Britney post.

Malaysia has had its share of child abductions, abuse and murder. Many of these cases have not been solved nor the perpetrators been brought to justice. The same goes for the most recent sexual abuse and murder cases: Nurin Jazlin Jazimin and Preeshena Varshiny. The grief of all parents who have lost their child cannot be measured, we can only guess at the depth of their suffering.

And yet, the authorities presume to compound that grief by slapping the parents with a negligence charge. For a quick fix and for someone to put the blame on because they are unable to find the perpetrator, they conveniently say that the parents are negligent.

What they fail to understand is that it is a problem with society, not the parents per se. What is wrong with allowing your 8 year-old out alone to the market if it's been regularly done? Parents are only negligent if there have been repeated cases of neglect. A one-off case which fatefully resulted in an abduction or murder does not a negligence case make.

What is wrong with our society when we cannot even let our children out of our sight for one second? When there are 'community service announcements' on the radio to remind parents to 'keep your children safe, keep your children alive'? These announcements irritate the hell out of me because it makes the presumption that parents do not know how to look after their kids or do not have their kids' best interests at heart. It annoys me because we as parents have to be fearful for our children's safety because our society is so fucked up that if we are careless for just one second, our children's lives may be in danger. What do they think parents worry about and think about all the time? Do they think we need reminders about how fucked up society is? It is not the parents' fault when a kid goes missing, more often than not, all precaution has been taken. It is society that is to blame.

It is the society that we live in that creates these black holes for our children to fall through. As parents, we do our best to ensure the welfare and safety of our children. We don't go out there deliberately not keeping an eye on them so that they can be taken away, sexually abused and then murdered. It is society that needs to be watched over and corrected; washed out and bleached with mental chlorox, if only it were available. I would readily support the most torturous forms of retribution for these perpetrators because they readily deserve it; those who see fit to abuse and torment innocent lives deserve only the worst form of punishment and should be made to suffer as much, if not more than what the children have suffered.

In Malaysia we are told not to allow our children out of our sight, not to let them wander off alone. Well then, it's Malaysian society that's screwed up, not the parents. And charging parents with negligence is only a short term solution; it's so much easier to put the blame on the parents than to try to fix society.

I remember my visit to Japan a few years back. I saw nursery and elementary school kids walking from home to school by themselves either in groups or in pairs, sometimes alone. Without adult supervision. I couldn't believe it. It was an awesome sight and I was pretty much dumbfounded. I was struck by what a 'safe' socitey it is that parents could let their young children walk alone. It was a sight I'd never see in this godforsaken country. And I remember thinking to myself, "No way will it be safe for me to allow my children to walk unaccompanied no matter the distance or the destination. If they don't get abducted and abused by some sicko, an errant motorist would probably run them down".

That view holds even stronger today. Four long years after taking office and only today our PM realises and acknowledges that our crime rate has increased. Wow. It seems his frequent trips overseas has put some permanent blinkers on his eyes. Of course, the requisite action plans will be put into place to combat this social ill. Election is, after all, around the corner. We'll find a solution to fix the problem all right: set up an action plan, spend a whole load of money unnecessarily and then watch the crime rate skyrocket again. At best, it'll just remain stagnant.

We are a society of quick fix-its. And that is why we are so screwed-up.

Don't They Know When Enough's Enough?

It seems as if almost everyday brings with it worse news about the pop princess's personal affairs. One after another, she's had it all piling up: the custody battle for her kids, the reportedly lacklustre comeback performance at the MTV Awards, drug charges, losing the battle for her kids, being hospitalised...I'm not sure if I've even got all of it listed down.

What's really worrying and sickening is the way the media seems to make light of her problems. They report it as if it is nothing more than some kinda of sport. Local DJs are even worse, they make fun of her situation, e.g. Hitz.FM.

Don't these people realise that her spiral downwards is a clear cry for help? I don't know what Ms. Spears family and friends are doing to help her but the media could at least be more of a concerned watchdog than churning up news of her woes and making them into entertainment fodder. What is wrong with these people? Don't they see that she's probably suffering from post-partum depression (that is the only reason I can think of for her actions; and it all started to go wrong after the birth of her second child)? Doesn't the media realise that this is not a joking or laughing manner? If people can be considerate and concerned about their loved ones' health, can't they extend that concern, as common courtesy, to someone who so obviously needs help?

I find the snubbing and joking that some local DJs poke at Ms. Spears is totally uncalled for. These men should go out there and have a few kids themselves then try to make a comeback as the entertainment industry's pop princess. Let's see if they can manage that. Utter idiots they are. They should be taken off the air for their insensitivities.

As a new mother, I can only watch and listen in despair as this new mother herself digs herself deeper into her hole. Because I know that the ones who will suffer the worst from her 'episodes' and the custody battle are her two young sons. Any child does not deserve this. The mother of any child does not deserve such treatment from the public.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Silly Of Me But It Irks Me To No End

I was having lunch today when I noticed a woman sitting at a table in front of me; she was chewing and what got my attention was the fact that she was chewing with her mouth open and also talking at the same time. Some people when they chew, especially with their mouths open, look as if they are engaged in the most obscene activity in the whole wide world. Maybe it's just me, but I swear, if you saw this woman chewing you'd agree with me that it looked quite obscene. I don't know what it was about her chewing, can't even begin to describe it but it was gross. Almost couldn't finish my lunch.

And there's one of my pet peeves: people who chew with their mouths open. It wouldn't bug me if they managed to chew with their mouths open and not make a sound. But if we're in a quiet restaurant and I can hear you munching away in stereo surround sound and to the point of being able to tell what it is you are eating, and if I have to subject myself to that torture, I swear, I will tell you to shut your mouth.

Call me petty but my mom brought me up to chew with my mouth closed and I can see the beauty in that. I say beauty because it is: when you don't have to subject your fellow lunch or dinner mates to the full view or sound effects of what's in your mouth. It's common courtesy. I know you're eating and you don't have to demonstrate to me how fine you chew your food. Nor do I need to hear the process. I like sea food but I'd prefer not to see food.

And that's when I opened my eyes and noticed that most people eat with their mouths open. I'm not an elitist nor am I a stickler for etiquette but it did make me wonder why people weren't brought up to chew with their mouths closed.

Stick a knife in my back, but I'm gonna be sure that Sophia eats with hers nicely closed. And no chomping.

Week 22 : The World Is Her Oyster (But She Prefers Her Stroller Handlebar)

Spending the holidays with her daddy in Singapore was a welcome change, for me at least. Caring for Sophie on my own takes a lot of energy and patience: it's all about her and whatever time I have left over for myself I'm glad that I can just take a breather or crash on the couch or bed. I don't know how single parents do it all on their own and still have a life.

She still looks like a boy. It doesn't matter if we dress her up in pink; she still gets mistaken for a boy. We don't have to worry about gender stereotyping at this stage I suppose; seems like no amount of pink is going to make people think she's a girl.

She still loves her stroller bar to bits. Bites on it every chance she gets, attracting amused stares when we are out at the shopping malls. She bites the thing as if her very life depended on it with her two arms gripping the bar tight, bent over the bar from a sitting position. Looking at her, people probably wonder if we haven't fed her for a few days.

She's developed this system of moving forward while she's on all fours; I call it the shuffle-hop-flop method. It's done exactly as the name suggests: she shuffles forward on her knees or cuter still, she hops forward and then she flops down on her tummy from the exertion. She'll rest a second or two and then get up and do it all over again till she gets her hands on the desired plaything. She still uses her forehead to leverage herself forwards sometimes but there's less of that now; she's less of a grub more of a rabbit.

Her Hep B and Pneumoccocal shots were due yesterday. Where she was all smiles and acquiescence during her last visit, she made her displeasure very clearly and loudly known this time around. Right after the first needle had gone into her thigh, her face screwed up in a grimace and she emitted an ear-piercing howl. It took a couple of minutes to calm her down and then the doc had to administer the second shot. She let rip a yowl which quickly escalated into an all out scream, not as if she was in pain but more like an I-know-you-did-this-to-me-and-since-you-did-this-a-second-time-this-is-payback-time! kinda scream that could be heard from miles away. Well, according to my mom anyway who stopped by the clinic to hand me some things from work. Yes, our girl knows her mind and it seems she is not afraid to let us know it.

It's going to be a roller coaster ride...

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