I was at an army camp yesterday afternoon for my bi-annual medical check-up to certify Singaporean males past 35 years old whether they’re still physically fit to undertake the yearly physical fitness test. I cleared all the stages – but at one stage, the attending medic remarked; “Sir, you’ve got high blood pressure.”

That really pretty much killed the rest of the day and week, though that I’ve got HBP has not come as a surprise. Since September last year’s receipt of new work ‘appointments’, I’ve been coming home each night physically weary and emotionally drained. I do not innately enjoy management roles, and even though I’ve got 7 years of it under my belt before joining my current institution, I still find myself out of my natural element. As I remarked to my own reporting officer, I’m an exemplar of a product coming out of the Singapore education system – I can’t think creatively and ‘out of the box’. Nor am I especially clever at reading nuances or subtlety in communication. And I absolutely suck at differentiating between being forthright versus exercising discretion on when it’s best to hold one’s peace. All I can offer is determination, honesty, a good work ethic (hopefully), and an ability to see patterns, rhythm and organization in everything I do, see or hear.

I’ve found joy each night though especially in Hannah. We were at Hougang Mall for a kopitiam dinner again, and while Ling was away to buy and bring back her usual plate of noodles, I took these few pictures of Hannah:

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Hannah seemed completely lost in thought again as she gazed at some distant object at kopitiam. But as I watched her, there was again that indescribable sense of having been blessed with a lovely daughter whom we see growing each day, better using her senses and better able to understand the world around her.

25. February 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Baby Blues, Baby Recipes

This has to be my wildest attempt in cooking Hannah’s meals so far.

I was trying to use another mother’s recipe which calls for chickpeas and fish to be cooked with pasta the other day. And it turned out to be a disaster. Even after soaking the chickpeas, they were still very hard when I stir-fried them. Knowing the goodness of chickpeas, I searched for other ways of using this wholesome legume in preparing Hannah’s meals. Hummus showed up and I thought why not dilute it as a sauce for pasta.

I tried to do home-made hummus (without Tahini) but it was rather bland. I remembered that I had a tub of pesto sitting in the fridge and like Remy in Ratatouille movie, I imagined the tastes if I combined pesto with hummus. Hmmm, I thought the combination might just work. And it did!

After combining the two sauces together, I freeze it in small portions for later use. The next day, I warmed up the sauce in a frying pan with some water and milk, and then tossed in cooked macaroni pasta and small fish chunks, and mixed everything up. The photo taken (see below) did not do justice to the wonderful taste Hannah enjoyed that day. :)

BTW, this combination is not new – as I found out using Google search later. Hee hee.

Still in catching-up mode from the absence of Hannah posts and pictures in the last 2 months.:)

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Hannah now tots around a little handbag ($2 from Daiso LOL) whose contents she frequently rummages through, empties out, and puts them back.

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Pretty comfy around escalators nowadays too, though one of us will still hold her hand in case she falls or gets off too late.

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A little fidgety around supermarket trolley carts though. She'll turn around, fish through all the groceries we pick up, and not haul them overboard only if we're lucky!

My apologies for the tardiness in blogging! Work has been dreadfully busy, due in most part because of changed responsibilities at work. Over the last two days I’ve been trying to make up for all the lost time I’ve not been taking pictures and writing about Hannah, upon realizing that each day she grows without us keeping a memory of it is an opportunity lost.

Hannah’s certainly undergoing many changes. She, increasingly, wants her way and with her growing physical size and strength, isn’t disposed against pushing the both of us away when she wants one thing or another! For instance, she used to be perfectly happy to sit on her own when we had dinner in the living room. These days, she’ll insist on sitting on Ling’s lap, and will raise a terrible din when we don’t let her (Mommy needs to eat too).

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Thankfully, she still loves spending time with the both of us. Words like ‘read read’ are a trigger point for her, and when we let her know we’re going to take time to read to her, she’ll immediately brighten up, and bring us one of her books.

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Hannah’s been also experiencing difficulties sleeping at night with the mosquito net. The instant the net comes down, she’ll holler. We’ve been getting by only because the both of us take turns to sit beside her cot, sing, play with her until she feels secure enough to go to bed. We sure hope it’s just a passing phase, though if not, at least I’ve been able to get Hannah to sleep much easier than Ling (Ling snorts in response that so therefore, Daddy should put her to bed more often!).

blog-2011-family-DSC_5232-CNYHannah is somewhere between 20 and 21 months old now. For the past couple of weeks, I have been musing over the ups and downs we faced as her parents.

We are almost through with level 1 of the parenting game, i.e. the baby stage. Yay :D Looking back, I think we have obtained a decent report card. In a few months’ time we would be entering level 2 where the ‘terrible two’ might show its ugly face.

I observe that patience is necessary for successful parenting. Ever since Hannah started to make sense of her surroundings, teaching her good habits and manners put my patience to the test. Babies (and anybody for that matter) need time to learn new skills and form good habits. Giving Hannah time and space to learn to pick up her toys and return them to their proper place and reminding her to do same thing over and over again = patience. And I strongly believe that being patient towards a person is impossible if there is no love for that person. If we love our girl and want the best for her, we would be patient and give her time to acquire a new habit. It would be unfair to expect her to understand us immediately, learn a new skill and repeat it. As a side, I observed that our girl learned faster when either one of us did the activity with her.

Although we have a relatively easy baby to care for, life with her is not without its challenges. It can be so trying just to be patient in our modern day context where we are so used to having things happen instantaneously! I tried waiting like forever for our girl to understand my instruction to pick up her water bottle to drink water, to put away her legs from kicking mommy, to stop playing with the drawers, to stop protesting having her soiled diaper changed, etc etc.

It is a good thing to have the husband to take over whenever my patience is wearing thin for the day. Two is better than one. :)

02. February 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Baby Blues

Just a quick entry on Hannah’s milk diary.

1st-3rd month: Breast milk + supplement with formula milk (brand: Similac)

4th- 14th month: Formula milk (brand: Similac and then Mamil Gold)

15th-20th month: Formula milk (brand: Mamil Gold) + fresh milk (Dutch Lady UHT Fresh Milk)

Hannah loves milk. She gets excited when she knows that I’m going to prepare milk for her. While waiting for her milk to be made, she would get ready a cushion to lie on and grab a handkerchief to tuck it underneath her chin.

She will be switching to 100% UHT fresh cow’s milk in a month’s time once her last pack of formula milk powder runs out. We gave her milk 3 times a day: morning, tea-time and just before bed at night. Initially, she drinks about 190 ml each time. As she has been also getting her source of calcium from other foods, the quantity has come down to about 150 ml each time. Doc recommended that the quantity of milk for her age should be 400-600ml per day. So far, so good :) And she has a tummy to prove it!

01. February 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Entertainment

blog-a-team-03The A-Team (2010). Another ’80s TV series that was making its rounds was The A-Team, an action-oriented series based around four ex-military soldiers wrongly accused of a crime, and as escapees from justice taking on mercenary jobs that the normal military or government agencies can’t handle. The series was all camp, but it had several iconic elements that continued to stick in the minds of those of us old enough to remember. There’s the cigar-chomping Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith who’s favorite refrain was “I love it when a plan comes together!”, the mohawked Bosco Albert “B.A.” Baracus (played by the then very famous Mr. T), the institutionally-declared insane Murdoch, and smooth talker and conman Templeton ‘Face’ Peck.

When interest in turning the classic TV-series from three decades ago into a feature film surfaced, there was a lot of online discussion on who’d be playing those iconic characters, especially “B.A” Baracus since the role – as defined by Mr. T – would likely involved an American-African actor of equivalent girth and capable of demonstrating similarly bad attitude. The role eventually went to a professional fighter but relative unknown in filmdom, Quinton Jackson. Complementing him is Liam Neeson in the role of Hannibal, TV actor Bradley Cooper in the role of Peck, and South-African and immensely multi-talented Sharlto Copley as Murdoch. The four are supported by two other relatively well-known faces; Jessica Biel as Captain Sosa, a military investigator who pursues the four when they each escape prison, and Patrick Wilson (last seen in The Watchmen) as Lynch, a CIA agent.

The film version is distinctly multi-act and episodic in structure. The first act sees the team getting formed, the second where they are set up and then accused, tried in military court then incarcerated for a crime they did not commit, and finally the third when they seek to clear their name. While the plot is easy enough to follow, its logic isn’t The A-Team strong point. Lots of all too convenient situations. But as Sosa remarks wryly, “They are the best, and they specialize in the ridiculous”, and in this regard, the film doesn’t disappoint with its action set-pieces. Some of it has already been hinted at in the film’s preview trailers, but for those of us who’ve yet to see those, be prepared to get surprised by them. While they’re of Michael’s Bay equivalent in terms of audacity, it’s still stuff you wouldn’t have seen before. There are gags involving attack dogs, flying tanks, a helicopter that’s flown like a jet fighter, and 3D glasses.

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The A-Team, from 1983.

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The A-Team, from 2010.

The individual personalities and character to character relations are front and present too. A running joke throughout the film is Baracus’ fear of flying, and that’s mined for maximum laughter mileage here. And another one about Templeton Peck’s ability to have every woman swooning for him in minutes. Even the one-shots are funny, especially in one scene involving mixed-up passports.

Of the four lead actors, it’s Sharlto Copley’s “Howling Mad” Murdoch that will leave viewers with the biggest impression. Copley has shown his acting chops playing the mild-mannered company man turned alien in District 9, and in The A-Team, he’s insanity personified and steals every scene he’s in. Quinton Jackson’s Baracus while somewhat looking the part doesn’t display a quite sufficient level of angst and aggression. Compared, to the rough and tumble and perpetually scowling Mr. T, Jackson’s Baracus is almost like a timid rabbit (partially the fault of the film’s story). More serious though is Neeson’s Hannibal – just disappointing. The late George Peppard played the character as an unflappable leader, but the Hannibal in the film version sees him demonstrate negative emotions, though to be fair that’s the consequence of how the story progresses. That famous line of his fares even poorer – Neeson adds an unwelcome and unnecessary grunt and smirk to “I love it when a plan comes together”.

Still, the film got it right for me more than what didn’t work. It’s a fun two hours ride, with the usual caveat of not thinking too hard about the logic in the script or action scenes. Ling enjoyed the film for sure.:)