My "Too Cute"s

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Caterpillar lives in a raccoon?

Usually, when we go back home at night, I'd slow the car down when we approach the rubbish area coz if you're lucky, you get to see the three little pigs. Not exactly accurate. You'd get to see a papa wild boar or a mama wild boar or both and their two kiddie wild boars or just with one of the kiddies or any one of the boars. One morning, we saw a huge monitor lizard. We love going by the rubbish dump area coz it's like our very own safari adventure. But alas, that night, we didn't get to see anything. So Inez thought that we were too late, the wild boars must be home sleeping. I looked at the time and told her since it was still quite early, they're probably on their way.
"You mean they're still awake?"
I said, "Yes, there are some animals that are only awake at night, Do you know any?"
"Is it like raccoon ah Mommy?" Inez asked.
Suddenly Mika was saying, "Caterpillar lives in raccoon."
I'm like, "Huh? Do you know what's a raccoon?" which sent Inez going, "I know, I know, I know! It's like [what'shername] in PB and J Otter!" and Mika went, "Yes! Caterpillar lives in raccoon and then it push its way out and it's a beautiful butterfly!" I laughed. Was I slow at getting what he was trying to say or what? Should've guessed he was going in that direction.
"Oh, Mika, you're a clever boy but it's pronounced COCCoon!" and he dutifully repeated coccoon after me, and said, "Yeah, caterpillar lives in coccoon and pushes its way out and becomes a beautiful butterfly!"
They are back home by the way. Aah, missed them so much!

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's all about Sushi

If you had asked me a year ago if I liked sushi, I'd have straight out answered, "No!" followed by an "Eeuuw! I think sushi is an acquired taste," and I'm the type of person who'd give it a try before coming to a conclusion whether I like something or not. And that was based on eating sushi some time back. But if you ask me again today, I'd answer, "Yes!" Somehow, over the months, I have acquired the taste for sushi. It all started with my friend Mums, (pronounced Mooms), who made me sushi when I went visiting. It wasn't the typical sushi, so I ate some. My friend sorta tempura-ed her crabstick and carrot stick before rolling them up. Then my friend Yap brought back some sushi she bought from Carrefour. And then I went to another friend's house for berbuka and she made sushi and some Korean dishes. Then Yap gave me some homemade sushi, and suddenly I was craving to eat sushi. I started buying my own sushi and had spent a small fortune; so I decided to learn to make my own.

I called my friends up and to start off, I bought Japanese short grained sticky rice, wasabi, and seaweed/nori, Japanese mayonaise, and Japanese rice vinegar. For the filling, since I'm new at this plus we don't have a Japanese specialty shop here, I made do with Japanese cucumber, carrot sticks, crabstick, and fried omelette. Yap did a combo with tuna and Japanese cucumber.

According to my friend you can cook the rice as you normally would in a rice cooker but add extra water. Actually there are instructions on how to cook the rice on the back of the packet. So cook 1 cup of Japanese rice. When it's cooked, in a bowl put in 4 tsps of rice vinegar, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar. Stir and add to hot rice; mix well.

Usually you don't spread hot rice on the seaweed or it'll melt, and always wet your hands when dealing with the sticky rice or the rice will stick to your hands/ fingers.

Okay, now on a sushi mat/ cling wrap, place a sheet of nori, shiny side down. First time I did it, I didn't have a mat yet, so I just used a cling wrap - okay laa. But you can also use aluminium foil.

Lightly press rice on bottom two thirds of nori, and then squeeze the Japanese mayonaise along the bottom edge of the nori on the rice. Put your preferred filling such as cucumber strips on top of the mayonaise, and if you like it hot, finish with a few drops of wasabi. My friend Yap uses crab sticks (which she bakes in the oven for a few minutes), egg omellette, and hot and spicy Ayam brand tuna as filling for her sushi.

Then using the mat, roll up sushi tightly, moistening the edges to seal and let rest.

Cut sushi with a sharp knife and arrange on a platter. Serve with wasabi and soy sauce. Usually, it's Kikkoman soy sauce.

For the uninitiated, here below is some info on different types of sushi. By the way, according to my sis, if you have thyroid problems, you shouldn't eat sushi b'coz seaweed has a very high content of iodine.

Types of sushi

The common ingredient in all the different kinds of sushi is sushi rice. Variety arises in the choice of the fillings and toppings, the other condiments, and in the manner they are put together. The same ingredients may be assembled in various different ways:

* Nigiri-zushi (hand-formed sushi). Arguably the most typical form of sushi at restaurants, it consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice which is pressed between the palms of the hands, with a speck of wasabi and a thin slice of a topping (neta) draped over it, possibly tied up with a thin band of nori. Assembling nigirizushi is surprisingly difficult to do well. It is sometimes called Edomaezushi, which reflects its origins in Edo (present-day Tokyo) in the 18th century. It is often served two to an order.

* Gunkan-maki (軍艦巻 - warship roll). An oval, hand-formed clump of sushi rice (similar to that of nigiri-zushi) has a strip of nori wrapped around its perimeter to form a vessel that is filled with some ingredient that requires the confinement of the nori, for example, roe, natto, or less conventionally, macaroni salad. The gunkanmaki was invented at Kyubei restaurant (est. 1932) in Ginza.

* Makizushi (rolled sushi). A cylindrical piece, formed with the help of a bamboo mat, called a makisu. Makizushi is generally wrapped in nori, a sheet of dried seaweed that encloses the rice and fillings, but can occasionally be found wrapped in a thin omelette.[1] Makizushi is usually cut into six or eight pieces, which constitute an order.

* Futomaki (large rolls). A large cylindrical piece, with the nori on the outside. Typical futomaki are two or three centimeters thick and four or five centimeters wide. They are often made with two or three fillings, chosen for their complementary taste and color. During the Setsubun festival, it is traditional in Kansai to eat the uncut futomaki in its cylindrical form.

* Hosomaki (thin rolls). A small cylindrical piece, with the nori on the outside. Typical hosomaki are about two centimeters thick and two centimeters wide. They are generally made with only one filling.

* Kappamaki, a kind of hosomaki filled with cucumber, is named after the Japanese legendary water imp fond of cucumbers, the kappa.

* Tekkamaki is a kind of hosomaki filled with tuna. The "tekka" (鉄火) means "gambling" as they were often eaten while gambling.

* Uramaki (inside-out rolls). A medium-sized cylindrical piece, with two or more fillings. Uramaki differ from other maki because the rice is on the outside and the nori within. The filling is in the center surrounded by a liner of nori, then a layer of rice, and an outer coating of some other ingredient such as roe or toasted sesame seeds. Typically thought of as an invention to suit the American palate[2], uramaki is not commonly seen in Japan. The California roll is a popular form of uramaki. The increased popularity of sushi in North America, as well as around the world, has resulted in numerous different kinds of uramaki and regional off-shoots being created. Regional types include the B.C. roll (salmon) and Philadelphia roll (cream cheese).

+ The dynamite roll includes prawn tempura.

+ The rainbow roll features sashimi layered outside the rice.

+ The spider roll includes fried soft-shell crab.

+ Other rolls include scallops, spicy tuna, beef or chicken teriyaki, okra, vegetarian, and cheese.

Brown rice and black rice rolls have also appeared.

* Gimbap, a Korean dish, is similar to makizushi. It was adapted into a Korean dish sometime during colonial rule.[3]

* Temaki (hand rolls). A large cone-shaped piece, with the nori on the outside and the ingredients spilling out the wide end. A typical temaki is about ten centimeters long, and is eaten with the fingers since it is too awkward to pick up with chopsticks.

* Oshizushi (pressed sushi). A block-shaped piece formed using a wooden mold, called an oshibako. The chef lines the bottom of the oshibako with the topping, covers it with sushi rice, and presses the lid of the mold down to create a compact, rectilinear block. The block is removed from the mold and cut into bite-sized pieces.

* Inari-zushi (stuffed sushi). A pouch of fried tofu filled usually with just sushi rice. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, whose messenger, the fox, is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu. The pouch is normally fashioned from deep-fried tofu (油揚げ or abura age). Regional variations include pouches made of a thin omelet (帛紗寿司 or ukusazushi) or dried gourd shavings (干瓢 or kanpyo).

* Chirashizushi (scattered sushi). A bowl of sushi rice with the other ingredients mixed in. Also referred to as barazushi.o Edomae chirashizushi (Edo-style scattered sushi) Uncooked ingredients artfully arranged on top of the rice in the bowl.o Gomokuzushi (Kansai-style sushi). Cooked or uncooked ingredients mixed in the body of the rice in the bowl.

* Narezushi is an older form of sushi. Skinned and gutted fish are stuffed with salt then placed in a wooden barrel, doused with salt again, and weighed down with a heavy tsukemonoishi (pickling stone). They are salted for ten days to a month, then placed in water for 15 minutes to an hour. They are then placed in another barrel, sandwiched, and layered with cooled steamed rice and fish. Then this mixture is again partially sealed with otosibuta and a pickling stone. As days pass, water seeps out, which must be removed. Six months later, this funazush can be eaten, and it remains edible for another six months or more.

For sushi recipes, do visit these sites:

The above site has step by step pictures.

So far, I can't bring myself to eat the raw stuff yet but the cooked toppings, and fillings, I'm okay with.

Did I just die and go to cupcake heaven?

Inez's birthday is coming. So this time round, after that disastrous episode with Mikael's cakes, I thought I'd make cupcakes. Inez would love cupcakes! So I started searching for recipes and this is what I found. I lifted these pix off a cool blog called Cupcakestakethecake. The blog doesn't really provide recipes but they have some interesting links including:

which leads to:

which leads to other gorgeous sites, all have which have beautiful cupcake recipes. No way I could come up with cupcakes like in the pictures but they are sooooo pretty, don't you think? Wouldn't one be inspired? I'll find one easy recipe that is managable and see if it turns out anything like the pictures.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Casino Royale at long last!

The moment the movie was out, my husband was excited about watching Casino Royale. The first time we went, we were 20 minutes late and were too early for the next show that was at 9:40 p.m. as the children would be sleepy and cranky.
The second time we went, the guy in front of me bought the last tickets for the 9:05 p.m. movie. Yeah, no luck again. But had we bought tickets, we would have been cricking our neck from the first row.
But we did finally watch it. Do remember that my kids aren't with me at the moment. So, we took the opportunity to have a be-early anniversary western dinner of Black Pepper lamb Chops and Grilled Salmon in Lemon Butter sauce and yea, watch James Bond! When we finally got to watch it, I was more interested to see if the new Bond smiled at all. Yes Nell, he didn't just frown the whole time though he did have a Zoolander pout going on, but yes, he smiled and quite a number of times too! The first was at the Ocean Club when he snuck into the security control room after posing as a valet, banging the Rover into a fence. (Hah, even I can do that!) And when he was chatting up the receptionist, and next when Vesper Lynd noticed "perfectly-formed" tush and he replied, "You noticed," and after that I stopped counting.
Anyway, after all the reports about Daniel Craig this and Daniel Craig that, you know: can't drive a stick, too short, too blond etc., etc., I must say I kinda like him being Bond. I mean, he's got big boots to fill, yet he filled them very well. He was very cool, had this air of nonchalance about him and wears his clothes well. Must applaud the director for bringing out the best of Bond in Craig. Or should it be the best of Craig in Bond? Whatever. I say this because the movie shows a very deliberate Bond, a guy who assesses the situation before acting on it, and makes calculated risks.
Does this movie seem to you like it has the most fight scenes? I think so, coz I keep seeing Bond beating up one dude after another. And I do think this is the first Bond movie ever to exploit Bond himself rather than the Bond girls. Then again, this is the prequel. So I guess the exploitation of Bond girls comes later. Haha Also, you get to see the lovey dovey and tender part of Bond though the death scene was a bit overdone, and I think if not for the dialogue, there wasn't that much chemistry between him and Vesper. I mean there was, but not enough. You know how in some movies, you'd go, "Oh kiss each other already, why don't you?" in exasperation but in this movie, not really. So the script was good though the ending was a wee bit abrupt but on the whole, if you haven't yet caught the movie; go watch it! Daniel Craig portrayed Bond as realistic as a Bond can get, OR go watch for his abs! Mmmm Doesn't he remind anyone of a more rugged version of Nick Lachey, Jessica Simpson's ex?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What to do? What to do?

"Inez, wake up! You are going to KL today!"

"Today? So fast ah Inez is going to KL already?"

"Yea, come and give Mommy a hug."

"It's okay, Mommy." She came to give me a hug, and then sat facing me. "Now you can go to work early," she reasoned. "The house will be tidy because there's nobody to mess up the house and you don't have to go to the beach."

BUT oh! How my heart crumbled into a gazillion pieces and how I felt like a horrible and bad mommy but in my defense, it takes 1 hour to get to my workplace, partly due to traffic light jam and distance, unless one leaves the house just before 7 or after 8, then you won't be stuck in traffic light jam. And if classes begin at 8:00 a.m., you can just imagine what time I have to get them to their nana's. I take turns with my hubby. If I am in no rush that morning, I'll be the one sending them. As long as I work at least a 40 hour week (8 hrs average per day), I'm okay. But it means that if I clock in late, I'd have to clock out late. So nearly every morning, it's "Hurry up! Mommy's late for work!" We have especially more of this when we have to clean up unexpected accidents, courtesy of Mikael. As for going to the beach - if I leave office at 5:30 I'd reach home by 6:30 and it'd be too late to take them to the beach sometimes. As for the toys, Inez is very good at tidying when she's in the mood. She's hardly in the mood, and Mika's worse. He's never in the mood! I usually tell them that if I have to clear their toys, I'm putting their toys away and they won't be seeing those toys for some time. Hahaha and I have a special box for that.
That gets them to tidy up. Mika though usually needs some alone time in the corner to reflect first before he decides to clean up.

Well, back to this morning's conversation, here is my reaction:

"Oh, Inez, Mommy doesn't have to go to work early all the time, except for when Mommy has classes or meetings. Today, for example, Mommy is not early. (The clock shows 8:24 a.m) And Inez has been going to the beach nearly every day except for Tuesday. Is Mommy a bad mommy?"

God bless that child's heart. She shook her head and gave me a hug.

I still feel like I am a bad mother though, that she feels like she gives me trouble. And that it's good for me not to have her around.

Well, I explained to her that my workplace is faraway and that is why I have to leave early and why I have to work. She is a good girl. She understands that we are all victims of circumstances. I wish I could spend more time with my kids too. I am working on getting a job nearer to home. Hopefully, by next year or mid December, I'll get that post I want.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lohicimos! We did it, hooray! The trials and tribulations of toilet training

I think we finally did it! I hope it's not too soon to pat ourselves on the back, though. We have been toilet training Mikael for some time now but we really took off his diapers about two months ago, just before Mikael turned 3. We also have been trying to ween both the kids off sleeping in their diapers, and for the past three days, we have not been cleaning up any pee or poo, accidental or otherwise.

Training Mika is not as easy as Inez because you could tell when she wanted to poop and you could quickly carry her to the toilet. Then I told her how proud I was of her and I praised her for being so clever and I promised her THE INCREDIBLES underwear if she could do it every day; and she did. And she got 2 INCREDIBLES undies to show for it. If I'm not mistaken, it's RM10 per undie. Training her to tell people that she wanted to pee was harder. But we never had to wash or clean her accidental poo. And she liked to control to the very last minute.

Mika on the other hand, seemed to be very comfortable in his poo and wouldn't tell anyone that he's done it unless the stink lets the cat out of the bag. Then only, he'd be dragged to the toilet to be cleaned. Even when his diapers came off and he was only wearing his big boy underwear, he would treat it like his diaper and poop in it. One public holiday, we thought we could laze around all day. Hmmph, we spent half the day cleaning up after Mika who was worse than a cat. We had the wash the floor, wash the carpets, wash his underwear, and wash the boy himself. By the time we were done, it was already 3 p.m.! So much for the idea of lazing around.

When we first took off his diaper, we took him to the toilet every half hour. Sometimes he did and sometimes he didn't. Sometimes, he said he wanted to but his real intention was to play with water at the sink. Sometimes, we missed his pee time and he'd pee wherever he was: on his toy motorbike, in the drain, on the carpet, on the floor. We told him if he pee-ed everywhere again, he'd have to stay in the toilet. NOT a good idea, coz he LOVES playing with water. His one joy is playing with the spray and spraying water everywhere. One cannot put a toilet roll in the toilet without it getting wet, courtesy of Mikael.

With Mika, peeing in the toilet was easier but getting him to poop took longer time. (FYI, that was an understatement, but you know what I mean.) It was like he was afraid to poop in the toilet bowl. I tried to train him using the potty but he only used it to play with water. Whenever we took off his diaper, he would not poop the whole day. Sometimes, he would control for two whole days! Finally, we purposely wore him diapers so that he'd poop. Then when it seemed as if he was was about to do it, we quickly took him to the toilet. When he got used to using the toilet, we took off his diapers completely. Then I got him to poop standing up and that helped reduce his fears. I promised him a big fire truck if he could pee and poop every day in the toilet bowl. Now, every time he goes to the toilet voluntarily, he will ask if he can get a cement mixer truck. I told him it is very expensive and we need to save up for it. We actually do coz it costs nearly RM70. Crazy!

Anyway, since Inez is going to be 5, we decided to stop wearing her diapers. The first few days, there were some accidents but no more on Inez's part. Usually, Mika would give me a lot of work. The first week, 2 'no clean-up' days. Then, when I was about to celebrate, 5 days of clean-up in a row! Though I put 'protection' in the form of medical underpads and a plastic sheet underneath the bedsheet, I find that sometimes these move or the children move. Then, we got to know of the existance of DISPOSABLE TABLECLOTHS which costs RM5.60 for 10 sheets. It's very soft like a plastic bag and 1 piece covers 7/8th of a queen sized mattress! I use 2 sheets.

I hope this lasts! I will keep you guys updated if it doesn't.

Parenting isn't easy

Recently, we had an episode with my son, and we sort of left him outside at night. Of course we made sure the gates were locked and we kept him within our sight. Here goes:

One night, about two weeks ago, upon coming back home from an 'open house', I really needed the ladies', so I rushed into the house leaving my husband to deal with Mika. Mika refused to come out of the car and refused to have my husband carry him in. He said he wanted me. So my husband got the other stuff into the house first, and when he got back to the boy, Mika still refused to come out on his own or be carried. Still, my hubby carried him out but he struggled with my hubby. He still insisted on me going out to get him! My son can be really stubborn when he wants to and I was not appropriately dressed to go outside. So I was like telling my hubby to go get him. My hubby though, got so ticked off with Mika that he threatened Mika that he either came in or Daddy closed the door. Since Mika didn't budge from where he stood and crying, my hubby turned on the porch light, and closed the door.

After about half a minute, I opened the door, called to him but he kept saying, "I want Mommy to carry."

I said, "Why do you want Mommy to carry you? Why don't you walk here? Come, baby. Come in."

He simply continued to cry and waited there for me to come out and carry him.

Finally, I took a square basket, lined it with a pillow, and pushed it out the door, "Here, if you don't want to come in, you can sleep outside in this basket. Are you coming in or not?"

Haha, finally he came in, still crying. He saw that I was serious. I held his hand and walked with him to the sofa. Then I carried him to my lap and hugged the silly boy.

"Silly boy, Mommy sayang(i.e., Mommy love you). Why didn't you want to come in by yourself?
He hugged me back and then fell asleep.

"Silly boy," I said to the sleeping child.

Now, thinking about it, I think I know why he kept insisting on me to carry him though when my husband asked me why the other night, I said, "I dunno!"

When we were out visiting, I asked my son to 'salaam' (something culturally similar to a handshake) and he refused to do it. (BTW, I finally got my 5yo to 'salaam' though I can't remember what I promised her in return for her to 'salaam' people forever but I know i've fulfilled that promise coz if I hadn't, I'll never hear the end of it from my girl.)

Anyway, since he wasn't wearing slippers, when he asked me to carry him back to the car, I told him, "Ask Daddy. Don't expect Mommy to carry you after that horrible display of behaviour." So I guess that was his way of getting back attention from me.

Sigh, it's sure not easy being a parent. But that doesn't give a person the license to be a vindinctive parent.
Were we too strict? I dunno. All I know is that my hubby and I should be a united front coz no matter what, he's still the child and not the boss of us. Giving in to him would have just given him the upper hand and the knowledge that he can simply cry until he gets his way.

Oh-oh, somebody left the Astro Card

This morning, just before I left for work, I received a phone call from my mom.
"Are you still at home?" she asked.
Apparently, when my husband left them at my mom's, the kids were making so much noise outside that my mom went to see what all the ruckus was about.
"What's going on?" she asked.
Mika answered, "Somebody left the Astro Card at home."
Inez was like, "Stupid! It's WE! WE left the Astro card at home!"
Clearly she exasperated with her brother, who was then suggesting to her to telephone Mommy.
"I don't have a phone! How am I going to call Mommy?"
So, they asked my mom to call me and luckily for them, I hadn't left yet, and so made my way to my mom's just to send them their lifeline. If I did not, ooh, poor Nana! I can just imagine them driving her up the wall!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Activities to do with your kids

My son is crazy over anything with wheels. I'm sure any Mommy with boys say the same thing. If it isn't cars, it's dinosaurs or pirates! Though Mika isn't that crazy over dinosaurs, he loves pirates yo ho ho ho ho! But most of all, he wants to be a firefighter!
Interestingly, I didn't teach Mika to like cars. It seems as if this great love for cars is natural and innate. Inez has a toy cookie monster cement mixer truck and we had to literally teach her how to play with it. When Mika was old enough to play it, he was pushing the truck all over the place and making engine sounds!
Once I observed Inez and Mika playing with cars:
Inez: I think this car is cold. Let's cover it in with a blanket.
Mika: (banging two cars together) Acdent! Acdent!

This was a year ago or so.

Nowadays, the children are into colouring. Every day, Inez will draw and colour flowers, and rainbows, sometimes, fairy princesses. Her princesses used to be stick people, but now they are getting more meat. Sometimes, Inez will draw a car or two for her brother, who is now also very much into colouring as well.

Mikael doesn't draw on his own, prefering instead to get other people to draw for him. So, every day I have to (or their daddy has to) draw cars, trucks, buses for Mikael, and the boy would take any one of his three fave colours (i.e., yellow, green and blue) and colour all the drawings in one colour! Sometimes two, but usually it's just one.

Recently, I searched the internet for Firetruck printable colouring activities and the ones Mika liked are from:
This one can be printed and you can also colour online. The drawing is nice. Other things like frog and caterpillar and fish are nice as well.

If you want to make your own firetruck box toy, I'm sure the kids will enjoy painting the box and messing themselves up. Have just found this just now. So, methinks this will be my weekend project with the kids since they love sitting in boxes, pretending it's a boat or car etc.
From the same site, you can download a whole other load of activities to do with fire-fighting.

Another thing my children love is artpad on I got this from watching TechTV quite some time ago. You need to have Macromedia Flash player to get started.

Favourite TV shows

"Mommy," a soft voice whispered, "Can I watch my favourite show?"

It was Mika. It was barely 7 a.m. and he wanted to watch Bing and Bong's Adventure or Tiny Planets. And Mika, being Mika, could watch it again and again and again. He also still likes to watch Dora the explorer though Inez is bored of Dora already. How can one not be bored, I ask you? When they like it, that's all they want to watch. And because it's educational, we indulge it.

When Inez was a baby, she was an MTV baby (she was around 1 plus and my two youngest siblings always turned on MTV, or V) . Though I tried to introduce Barney at that time, she refused to watch Barney etc. I didn't have playhouse Disney then. I bought her quite a number of VCDs, all of which she rejected.

If you wanted to get her to drink her milk, MTV had to be ON! Or she wouldn't drink. And as long as she was eating, I was okay, until I noticed one day she was listening to Jenny on the Block and she began to pull up her top to reveal her navel. I stole a glance at the TV. Oh my GOD, she was imitating J. Lo! That was it, from that time onwards I screened her MTV and allowed her to watch 'proper' music videos only (Avril Lavigne was okay, she loved Craig David, and Nelly and Kelly's Dilemma) and more children's shows, which did not really interest her until Dora the explorer. Thank God for Dora. I don't think Inez remembers she used to be so crazy over MTV the rate she's watching Playhouse Disney now.

Anyway, Inez doesn't like to watch Dora that much now, unless it's an episode she's not watched before. To date, she is also now bored of Little Einsteins, Lazy Town, Hi-5, Blue's Clues and these are shows she used to watch avidly. She also likes Higglytown heroes and PB & J Otter. She is still also okay with Barney provided they are the all new episodes of Barney. Her all time favourites are Madeline and Bananas in Pyjamas. I think B1 and B2 tickle her funnybones.

Mika is less fussy but totally loves Tiny Planets, and Pokoyo.

Mommy's fave shows are
Grey's Anatomy
CSI Vegas (best CSI by far, I think)
House M.D
Gilmore Girls
Amazing Race (at the moment, am following the Asian edition)
The Apprentice
Project Runway
Oprah (so difficult to catch this nowadays coz of work)
Desperate Housewives (was more excited about the 1st season though)
love home makeover shows; saw Debbie Travis's Facelift on Channel5 Singapore TV. Wish we had it here. Love Nate Berkus on Oprah. Also like What Not to Wear (too late at night though!) and cooking shows too!
sitcoms (whenever I can catch 'em) and MTV's Boiling Point and Punk'd and I caught the premiere episode of the Ultimate BoyBand or The Return of something, I can't remember (we sorta stumbled onto it) which was interesting to watch coz you get former boy band members getting together to form the band! Also like talk shows like Letterman or Leno, Conan O' Brien and Jon Stewart'. However, we swapped the news package for Discovery Channel package on Astro, so we won't be watching talk shows for a while.
Charmed, Criminal Minds, NCIS and Vegas whenever I remember.

Interestingly, my hubby likes watching most of the shows I like except for Desperate Housewives, and Charmed which he can go without. He also likes documentaries, which I watch too sometimes when he's watching.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Of Teachers and Aliens

Inez has stopped going to school. Or rather I stopped her from going to school upon her refusal to go to school. However, she has promised to go to school next year. And she doesn’t mind going back to the same school if her brother is also going. It’s really going to be a busy year for her next year coz I also intend to send the both of them for Iqra’. That will take 2 hours of their mornings daily. In the meantime, it is back to homeschooling for Inez. She’s giving my mom a hard time coz it takes her hours to finish an exercise. No wonder she doesn’t like school. I talked to the kindy teacher and she said that once upon a time, they didn’t give homework to students but parents came back and told her that once kids start attending school, since they were not used to homework, so they couldn’t cope. So this school started giving homework as well to train the kids that school life sometimes involves homework.

Did anyone hear RedFm this morning? Nell and David played an interview about a little 8 year old girl who had vomited in class and was smacked on the shoulders and was called ‘Pengotor!’ by her teacher? So many comments! Teachers are rolemodels, they are teaching the students to behave and be like them! One caller gave an example of 4 friends who so happened to be laughing when a teacher walked by, and this teacher wrongly assumed that they were laughing at him, and so went over and punched each student in the back. Parents reported this to the HM and the teacher called them out in class the next day and somewhat challenged them, saying that he was not afraid of anyone, so they can go report to whoever they liked. Sound like brave words from a scared man, I’d say. So this caller disagrees that it should be handled locally or internally first, as suggested by an earlier caller! She suggested that the Ministry should prepare a guideline for when things like this happens. Ideally, the teacher should’ve instructed one child to call for a cleaner and another to get a cup or glass of water. The child could have been very sick. Another called up to say that the teacher should apologize to the student and the class for the bad behavior exhibited because that’s the adult thing to do. Children should be treated with respect.A lady with 6 kids of her own says not to blame all teachers; treat it like an isolated case. Maybe she’s had a bad day and this was just reflex. Teachers are human too (prone to err). Another called up to say that he had a similar experience and it happened back in 1988 and it was in the papers. The headmaster himself was involved in the incident. Another SMSed to say it’s difficult to find quality teachers. Some say it’s because of the pay. Some say it’s not. But alas, no teachers came out to give their two cents worth about what was being said.

Then again, would what they say change anything? People seem to have a preconceived notion of what a teacher should be and shouldn’t be, of what a teacher should do and shouldn’t do. Sometimes people forget that teachers deal with so many many many students a day and each student has a different behavior and stories.

Just before I stopped Inez’s school, I was feeding the kids dinner and Inez said that she didn’t want to eat anymore because she didn’t have an alien in her tummy anymore.

“How do you know?” I asked. Then she told me that the teacher said I had lied to her. I was upset. “What exactly did your teacher say?” I asked.

“Teacher say there is no alien in my tummy and that Mummy lied to Inez,” Inez answered.

“Why did she say that?”

Apparently, Inez told her teacher that she has an alien in her tummy which will grow if she doesn’t eat and which will shrink if she eats. Okay. Then? Then, the teacher said that there was no alien and that I, the Mummy lied.

“Who are you to negate what I tell my daughter?” I thought, “especially when you don’t know the circumstances.” Because of the alien, my daughter has been eating very well since the 2nd day of Raya. She keeps pulling my head so that I can listen to her stomach to tell her that the alien is getting smaller.

On the 2nd day of Raya, Inez wore a fitting T shirt which revealed the roundness of her tummy. I sighed loudly, saying, “Inez, Inez, so skinny, and yet your tummy is so huge like a balloon!”

Suddenly, my sister-in-law said, “Inez, I think you have an alien in your tummy. So you’d better eat. If not the alien will grow and grow and then come out to eat you!”
I joined in and said, “if you eat, the alien will shrink and grow smaller and smaller and disappear. But it’s not easy to get rid of the alien, because you’ve not really been eating for a long time.”

So between the two of us, we created an alien that doesn’t like to eat rice, or vegetables or drink milk. So a lot of this will cause the alien to shrink. The alien loves junk food and even fries and sausage if she eats too many fries and too many sausages. This was backed up by my husband and reinforced by surprise, surprise! Senario XXX that was shown on TV that night, which featured aliens! Wonderful!

So when we got back, my mom also got her to eat using the alien, and Inez started eating more. I was so proud of Inez and so happy to see her eating well….until she came back and told me there was no alien b’coz I made everything up. She’d only been eating for like 5 days!

So to continue the story, I asked my daughter, “Eh, who do you want to believe, your Mommy or your teacher?” In my mind, the teacher should ideally ask who said it and why. There must be a reason why a mommy would tell her daughter that she has an alien in her tummy.

So when I went to work the next day, I was telling my friend all about it and told her I felt like confronting the teacher for telling my daughter that I was lying without knowing the circumstances. After listening, she said, “The teacher is not in the wrong. It’s true, you are lying la.”
“I know I’m lying but the teacher shouldn’t tell my daughter that or she should check with me first! Why would I be lying unless it’s for a very good reason!” I maintained.

“Well, it’s a teacher’s job to tell the truth. If there’s no alien, of course, she’ll say that there’s no alien, you cannot fault her for telling the truth to your daughter.”

“Yeah now she doesn’t want to eat!”

“Well, you have to train her to eat without resorting to lies.”

Hmmph, easier said than done. I’ve tried everything I could think of, including getting her to help in the preparation to making shapes and faces, everything’s been tried and tested and so far nothing has worked. I never thought of using aliens to get her to eat. Common sense, health, science and beauty reasons don’t work on her. Not force, nor threats nor coaxing.

“Well, can’t she just say, ‘Okay, if that’s what your Mommy told you.”

“Do you know, nie laa susah jadi cikgu (this is why it’s difficult to be a teacher). Do you know how many students a teacher is in charge of and how many stories a day she has to listen to and figure out which ones are made up or true or false? Takkan laa nak call up every parent for verification?”

So my friend has a point. I can just imagine the situation for the teacher. I still believe she shouldn’t be so quick to negate my alien, but I understand her position.

I managed to re-convince my daughter of the alien. She has been eating very well again after two days of not eating so well. My mom had a hand in making her believe again too, I’m sure of it. As for teacher in RedFm’s Mid Week crisis, I think she needs to clear the air, have her say and explain things from her point of view. I know kids are honest and they don’t mince their words. Sometimes, however, their honesty is also selective. I remember my daughter telling my mom she’s eaten nothing even though I gave her fried mee-hoon that morning, or telling me that she learnt nothing from school because whatever she did for the day, she was not interested in. So, it’s not that they are lying but telling the truth about what matters to them from their own point of view. Therefore, we are only viewing this from one perspective, and should listen to the other side as well. And we shouldn’t be so quick to judge before we understand everything fully. However, if the teacher was in the wrong, she should apologize and change her approach and methods in dealing with this. Since she’s teaching 8 year olds, this is bound to happen again.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Birthdays! (Part II)

Mikael's birthday was on the 20th of October. Last year, I ordered a Dora cake for him. This year, I thought of making him a cake with the help of my friend Mona (though she's a bit out of practice, due to not baking for a long time.) Because, the 20th was a Friday, we had to celebrate his birthday the next day. So the next morning, we got together and made a bumble bee cake for Inez and one fire engine cake for Mika (Mona had already baked a vanilla butter cake and a chocolate cake the night before to save time). He was so excited that he'd be getting a fire-engine cake. After 2 hours of hard work, I took both cakes home. We would celebrate his birthday at iftar (when we broke fast). It was still fasting month then. But guess what happened? I had put the cakes in my boot and unthinkingly, I took the cakes out of the boot and stacked them at the back of my car, you know, not on the seats, but at the top. I dunno what I was thinking and I closed my boot, I forgot that the boot door slopes down and as I pull it down, it pressed down on my cakes and sorta penyek-ed or squashed the top of the cakes and most of the icing. I felt so bad the rest of the day. Luckily, everyone took it well, even Mika, I told him the cake looked like that coz it was involved in an accident, which it was. He was so cool about it, almost excited actually to imagine his birthday cake being involved in an accident. hahaha I think I imagined that last part but seriously, he was really cool about it. I don't think I'm over my guilt. I phoned my friend up and she thought I was involved in an accident. I said, "Noooooo, the caaaaakes." She was like, "Never mind the cakes, how are you?" I said, "I'm fine but the cakes look totally mutated!" Poor woman couldn't really register what I was saying cause I was talking in a rather shrill distraught voice, which was the state I was in. She said, "Talk properly, were you or were you not in an accident?" I said, "I can't talk properly. I was not in an accident but I had an accident with the cakes, they're all penyek-ed! Aaaaaaaaarrhhhh!" She was so relieved that I wasn't involved in an accident that the cakes didn't matter. So, that's why I didn't take any photos of the cakes. They were a wreck! and it's all my fault. I shall remember this day for the rest of my life and hopefully don't repeat that dumb*** mistake for the rest of my life!

Birthdays! (Part I)

My birthday this year was overshadowed by Hari Raya but I'm not too upset about it coz my hubby promised me a private celebration later and I did celebrate it with the rest of my family on the fifth day of Raya. All of us met up in KL to attend my cousin's wedding that evening. So before the wedding, my brother Juhan and dad chipped in to get us (us being anyone in the family with a birthday from July to October onwards) a cake from Cake Sense (Mango Yoghurt cake? Sorry, I don't remember the name but the cake was delicious - not too sweet). It was nice. Everyone was there! A pity we didn't have time to stay on in KL to have a big family dinner or lunch somewhere nice. That's how we usually celebrated birthdays-with FOOD!
This morning, my little came to me and asked me if anyone is celebrating his or her birthday this month. I said noone was but you will be 5 next month.
She got so excited.
"Next month is December ah, Mommy?" (She speaks with a Chinese accent. I do too, a little, a lot, I dunno.)
"Do we have to wear winter clothes?"
"No, we don't have have winter in Malaysia?"
"Then what do we have?"
"What's that?"
"So much rain that it gets into your house and things."
"Oh...what about autumn?"
"No, but some trees turn yellow though."
Then she looked a little downcast. "But I opened all my presents already....."
I smiled at her and said yeah coz she couldn't wait. Suddenly her eyes lit up.
"Mommy, you know the money your friend gave at the office, aunty, aunty...I forgot her name, what is her name Mommy? She gave me some Hari Raya money, remember? Can I use that money to get myself a present?"
How could I say "No?" So I nodded and she was so happy. I'm sure she's thinking about what she wants to get herself. I hope it's not a PET!

Inez Wants a Pet

One day, recently, Inez comes up to me and says, "Mommy, can I have a hamster?"
I say, "What?" in slight disbelief. Did I hear correctly?
She repeats her question and okay, apparently I did. So I said "No."
"Because Mommy doesn't like pets and cleaning up after pets.
"Oh, okay."
"Besides, you had fish before; what happened to your fish?"
Till today, she hasn't asked again. Maybe when she's much much older like when she has her own kids, I'll let her get a hamster or something. Actually, I bought her pet Siamese fish before and guppies to put in my mom's fish bowl and that whatchamacallit, wooden water fountain contraption that every house has got to have coz it's like the trend? A pergola or something. Anyway, the wooden thingy was not deep enough and the fish jumped out the very day we bought it. Then a cat jumped to eat it. So there went one fish and the other fish disappeared too not long after. And before that, my youngest sis and mom went crazy about fish, I dunno what started the craze and we bought so many fish, including a pufferfish. We also bought those beautiful Siamese Fighting Fish and of course housed them separately. My sis had one and so did my daughter, and she took joy in feeding it. My sister kept the water clean.
Do you know that a tiny pufferfish could be quite vicious and that it attacked other fish? It's like there's a Bermuda Triangle in there and fish were going missing, but there were no remains. I swear to you it was spooky at that time. Turned out the pufferfish was eating all the other fish and we caught it in the act. It was tearing off the flesh of a fish that was floating by pulling it down to the bottom of the bowl to press it down so it could take a bite. I guess the fishbowl was kinda small and there was not much room for escape for the other fish. So we took the pufferfish back to the shop and exchanged it for another. When the last fish moved on, we did not buy fish again until my mom bought herself that pergola thingy and you know what happened to the guppies...
Also, that thing started leaking and it became very messy; so now my Mom puts plants in it, on it and around it.