Something strange has been happening of late: I’ve become increasingly forgetful – and not of things that I did a week ago, but just barely seconds ago!

The typical scenario goes like this. I’ll lock the car door, and walk off. Barely 5 seconds later, I won’t for my life remember for certain if I’d just locked the door – and I’ll have to walk back to double-check. And the funny thing is that at least 19 out of 20 times, the door would be indeed locked still.

I’m thinking it has to do with the fact that lots of little routine things we do are mechanically wired in our brains, so that when we actually perform the action, it doesn’t actually register into our memory imprint. So, when we’re uncertain if we just did something – whether it’s if we switched off the water heater, locked the front gate, or the car door – it typically comes down to whether we trust our mechanical routine behavior, or the absence of a visual memory imprint of us performing that action.

Still… it’s an inescapable feeling of resignation that I’m getting old. Gah.:(

30. August 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Baby Blues · Tags: ,

The play yard we picked up several months ago has been experiencing minimal use recently, since Hannah doesn’t react very well anymore to roaming about with plastic partitions. We routinely let her walk around the living room and study these days, and she’s learned to sit by herself at the entrance of the kitchen and not enter unless one of us asks her to. Wonderfully learned behavior of the part of our little girl.:)

That said, our favorite spot – as in for Daddy and Daughter – still remains our bed in the master bedroom. She’ll climb all over the mattress and linen, play hide and seek with the little red clock, and – of late also – sprawl herself on the bed, giggle and on the occasion stone too. All under my watchful eyes though. While she’s learned to recognize the danger areas, e.g. where the edge of the bed mattress is, there still is always the possibility of her accidentally falling and hitting herself on the bed’s wooden frame.

Plenty of photo opportunities when she’s at play with the little red clock, though it no longer works very well anymore since she’s been pulling at its knobs and dials.:)

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This one’s probably an old one! During the counseling class last week, there were jokes aplenty with the very lively and animated instructor we were having. One of those jokes that came up was as follows. Apologies to those of us who’re not Chinese as the humor might be lost in translation.:)

A bao (包, steam filled bun) and a mantou (馒头, steamed bun without fillings) went to see a sad show.

During the show, the bao ended up crying but the mantou didn’t. Why not?

Answer: because the mantou had no feelings.

Ok; lame joke! I thought I’ll jot it down on our blog because I haven’t heard of this one before until the class.:)

29. August 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Baby Blues · Tags:

There’s a very useful facility at church: a cry room for worshippers with infants and toddlers! It adjourns to one side of the sanctuary, and reasonably sound proof so that whatever goes on in that room won’t bother the Sunday services too much. Ling has made use of the little room before but not for myself. So, this Sunday morning I decided to join Ling and Hannah in it.

The room’s pretty cozy with wood parquet flooring, toys and baby books. Hannah seemed to like the room a lot, and interacted also with the other toddlers in the room. The first three pictures here were taken just after service ended and before leaving, and the last three at NTUC Hougang Mall where we’d just had morning brunch. I passed her a box of Earl Grey tea bags I was picking up to keep her occupied.:)

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28. August 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Baby Blues · Tags:

Playing the Frontierville Facebook game has been a bit of a bonding activity for me and Hannah at home. I’m quite certain that she doesn’t understand what the game’s about, but she’s attracted to its colorful visuals and folksy and rhythmic music for sure.:)

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Hannah learning how to harvest crops on Daddy’s homestead.:)

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But in reality, I’m just lucky if she doesn’t delete any of my neighbors, the way she goes about banging the keyboard!

I finally completed the last day of the certification course on basic practical counseling this afternoon, and boy – has it been utterly draining! Not in the physical sense, but learning the procedures for counseling and suicide assessment intervention, the underlining principles involved and also of the many case incidents shared has on one hand been really illuminating, has also been at times both shocking and sobering to the point that you start feeling pretty inadequate with what your meager skills can offer.

I’ll be reflecting on the lessons learned and experiences shared in the coming days and maybe writing a post or two more of my experiences in the course – but not at the moment as the mind’s pretty much saturated.

The one comfort each evening has still been getting home and or going out with dinner as a small family. Hannah was in a pretty chirpy mood when I met her and Ling for dinner at Hougang Mall. We didn’t bring along a camera, so the Samsung Galaxy S phone camera had to do:

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Yeah – decent pictures of Hannah and Daddy for a change.:)

25. August 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Entertainment

blog-expendables-01 The Expendables (2010) – AMK Hub; last Saturday morning. Back in the late 80’s, the three ‘big’ action-film stars that were churning out box office hits were Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis. There was frequent talk about attempts to get these three – or heck, even just two of them – into the same film. Sort of like a made in heaven pairing along the lines of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro.

Time has long gone and past. Arnold’s now a Governor, Willis never lost steam, and Stallone was low-key for a while with just a couple of personal projects running before coming back to the forefront with new films wrapping up two key characters he was most closely identified with: Rocky and Rambo.

So, hats off to Stallone for pulling it altogether for this new film that sees the three of them together and as a tidy bonus also starring more recent action-film actors. He’s assembled quite a cast for his new film that he directed, wrote and starred in – and the list of actors include the threesome, former Olympic swimmer turned actor Jason Statham from the Transporter series, Jet Li, and Mickey Rourke. Even Stallone’s old nemesis from Rocky IV, Dolph Lundgren shows up.

The Expendables is the name of a band of mercenaries who take on jobs that the government routinely can’t. Sort of like the A-Team. The lot are led by Ross (Stallone), his knife thrower Christmas (no kidding, and that’s Statham), his vertically challenged but very kungfu expert Yang (Li), and the violent lunatic Jensen (Lundgren). The lot take on a job in a fictitious Latin American drug producing country that’s now taken over by a former CIA operative in cahoots with its banana dictator.

That’s basically the film in a nutshell. There’s no substantive character development, no subtlety, just lots of bullets flying about, mayhem and explosions. The film is quite a throwback to the loud and noisy action films of the 80s with larger than life characters, and film settings that would get panned today for their lack of realism. All explosions in this film seem to be napalm-driven, guns rarely run out of ammunition, and the a good bulk of the faceless bad guys don’t even get screen time to show they get wounded first when they’re shot. Every bullet fired by one of the Expendables is a kill shot in short.

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The Expendables and their ridiculous berets.

But hey, it’s a Stallone film and if nothing else, the film isn’t pretentious. The film is enjoyable, if at a superficial level without leaving lasting impressions once you walk out of the theatre.

That said, there are still missed opportunities. The much anticipated scene between the Three Action Film Gods of ‘80s was a bit of a let down. For starters, if you watch carefully, you might notice that the three of them aren’t really seen in the same frame apart from the last bit of it. There’re plenty of camera angle switches as the three talk to each other in antagonist fashion – Arnold and Stallone are the competing and rival mercenary leaders, Willis is the job offerer – but a good part of the scene centers on Stallone and Willis together only. You start wondering if the Arnold was actually filming his scenes separately from the other two.

The information I’m gathering online says that’s untrue – but if so, the film then did not leverage on the presence of the three greats. It would had been a real hoot to see Stallone, Arnold and Willis eyeballing each other in the same scene and in the same frame.

The violence in the film might bother some too. Granted Stallone’s Rambo films have always taken gore right to the acceptable limit when they were each released in their time. If you think about the second, third and fourth Rambo films for instance, the amount of blood splatter and limb explosions and amputations got increasingly ramped.

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Bad guy about to get perforated.

In The Expendables though, the film’s has reached a new high level in this regard, and some of it feels gratuitous. Like bad guys getting their hands chopped off, heads chopped off, bodies exploding midriff sort of thing. There’s also a torture scene involving a woman victim that’s a little disturbing to watch too.

It sure gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand, the film is clearly a homage to all the old action films and its highlight is supposed to be the ensemble cast of action actors doing what they are best at. The film has stuff that the audience is supposed to take tongue in cheek. But on the other hand, the very high degree of realistic gore and violence seems to counteract that underlining none-too-serious tone. So, one minute you’ll be chuckling as Christmas mouths off a funny line to Ross, but in the next minute, when some enemy soldiers get blown into pieces in very visceral ways, you might not be smiling anymore. Or maybe that was just me.

Still, Ling liked the film and I thought it was still Ok. The best line in the film? Something about Arnold’s political ambitions. That was a hoot.:)

25. August 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Baby Blues · Tags:

Now that Hannah’s happily seconded during day hours at the nanny’s, our weekday morning hours have become pretty routine. On Wednesdays though, Ling starts in school a little later, and that’s given us a weekly opportunity for us to get prepped a little more leisurely, and also for some pictures in the new morning light coming into the house.:)

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She’s become quite attached to Mommy, and will always gravitate towards her when she has a choice between Ling or myself. Not unexpected since Ling’s still the primary caregiver between the two of us.

That said, this morning there was a really lovely bonding moment between Hannah and Daddy. She was happily contended to rest herself while hugging me as I sung to her.:)

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Hannah now loves to pinch things from around the living room, study and her own room, and walk around the house with them. She’s a little less attached to the sheep doll these days too, an item she could not tear herself away from earlier this year.

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These days, her repertoire of toys include memory card boxes, talcum powder bottles, her baby books, dinner mats, coasters etc. At the end of each day just after we set her down to bed, we’ll have to scour the entire house to pick up all the ‘litter’ on the floor.:)

Our baby girl has been grumbling quite a bit at home. She’s become increasingly assertive, and will become quite vocal if the adults around her aren’t doing things that make sense to her. E.g. if you take a toy away from her, or if you try passing her from one person to the next.

In view of this, I was remarking to Ling just now that I can’t wait for Hannah to grow up quicker. But Ling rejoined that we’d just be trading one set of challenges for another haha.:)

Anyway; here’s a small selection of pictures taken at a family event: the first month baby bash for cousin Ying Jia’s daughter. The event was at Peach Garden @ Novena. Greatest impression of the lunch: the wasabi prawns were marvelous.:)

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Outside Revenue House. Parking on Sundays just $1 per entry. Cheap.

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With Mommy. Hannah was pretty cranky for a good part of the event.

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Auntie Jasmine to the rescue. Thrilled Hannah’s not an iPhone fan.:)

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Completely knocked out in the car on the way back.

Just some random sampling of cute and endearing moments with our little girl. Such behaviour of hers might not repeat again.

  • When I squat down, open my arms and call Hannah’s name, she would giggly make her clumsy baby walk towards me and hug me.
  • She’d let us hold her hand and walk with her.
  • When she stood up on her high chair to play, I would give her a displeased look and told her firmly to sit down. It might take her a while but she would eventually ‘guai guai de’ squat down. I would continue to stare at her and say “leg leg” and then she would slowly put her legs down to a sitting position. She might avoid my glare and then afterwards check whether she had gotten my approval by making some eye contact.
  • Hannah would shake her bum bum to the beat of songs played to her.
  • She would walk over and sit on my laps when I hold out a book to read to her. Sometimes she would look up to me and make eye contact while I was reading to her.
  • She would laugh at us when we make funny sounds.
  • She would put her little finger to dig my nose and poke through my lips.
  • She would sit at the entrance to the kitchen where I prepare her meals and ‘wait’ for mommy to play with her.
  • She could understand the meaning of my words even though she could not utter them herself yet. For example, I have asked her to hang her towel back on the rack where she had pulled it off (I didn’t expect her to do it actually) and she understood me and tried in her own messy manner to spread the towel on the rack.
  • She would blow me a kiss after I put her down to bed for the night.
  • She would open her mouth widely and say ‘ahh’ for ‘amen’ during our bedtime prayer.
  • She plays ‘hide and seek’ with me when it is time for bath. She would disappear from my sight and then reappear to check whether I’m still around. Upon seeing me, she would giggle and go back into hiding. :)
  • She yaks on her pink diaper cream tube (pretends it to be a mobile phone).

Of course, we had our share of exasperating moments with her too. For instance, she would sometimes cry without apparent reason.

Below is a recent video taken of her trying to get her hands on her wet laundry and her latest play-thing (green cushion). :)