Archive for December, 2004

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Eating with hands

There is something intrinsicly Malaysian about enjoying food with our hands. From banana leaf rice to nasi kerabu to nasi durian to putu mayam, eating with hands is what I believe distinguishes Malaysians from the rest of the world.

Nowhere else can you find people of so many different races in one place, partaking in cuisines from different cultures that can only be appreciated through the mashing, melding of palm and fingers.

Digging into a small mount of rice holding a crater of fish curry, peeling the freshly fried skin off a piece of kurau, licking the last remnants of durian off your fingers – eating with hands is no doubt a sensual exercise.

It is an art form as well, handling something as friable as rice with just the one hand (you’re not supposed to use two – it’s considered rude). Watching the experienced cutlery-less diner (such as Malay or Indian ladies having lunch at a local Malay stall I like to frequent) weave fingers through a plate of rice, chicken curry and spinach, serving food to mouth in graceful locomotion, can be fascinating (and not to mention the best advertisement a restaurant could have). Terrific way to get the gastric juices working.

What do YOU like to eat with your hands? Aside from the aforementioned for me, it’s:

1. Cake, especially moist chocolate cake!

2. Petai with sambal and rice – nothing like ‘fragrant’ petai on your fingers!

3. I like to mash roast chicken in mayonnaise with my hands for sandwiches – somehow, it tastses better in the end 🙂

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Eskimo Sky

No, this isn’t the title of another Terry Pratchett bestseller. It’s just a series of pictures of my second baby daughter Skyler,1.5 months old, all swaddled up.

Yesterday night, the nurses finally allowed me to try nursing her. Suffice to say, her little mouth was too small for my gargantuan neeps and after a while, she was in danger of drowning :P.

Sigh. Anyway, enjoy. She’s so tiny isn’t she? *sniff*

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To drive is freedom

Did I tell you that at 31 years old, I finally got my driving licence (my mother-in-law and her sisters think it's the stress of taking a driving exam that pushed me into early labour!)?

For the last 1.5 months, I've been driving The Hubby's wheels around and in exchange, he's been taking the LRT to work (his office is in KLCC) and legging it. I must take back all my words about not really having the – well, drive – to drive.

There's something about being able to control a moving machine that takes you places, doesn't it? For the two decades I've been relying on public transport (you'll be surprised to know how many members of my profession don't drive hehe – journos don't really earn the big bucks!), I was contented. I even thought I was quite cool, and not to mention thrifty, for not owning and driving a car simply to declare my entry into adult life when I was 18.

Of course, I didn't know then what I know now – that taking and then actually EARNING that licence was all it took to embrace you into the Camarilla of Carhood. Now I can't imagine not driving ever again. Yesterday, when The Hubby took the car, I honestly felt handicapped.

We agreed not to buy another car because we don't exactly need another financial commitment. I'm not THAT desperate – not yet hehe – but if I were to consider one, I really fancy the Honda Jazz.

Does anyone know how much it is and if there are any good deals around?

I can hear The Hubby's eyeballs popping out *lol*

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Out of the incubator and into my arms

This morning when I stepped into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where my second daughter Skyler has been staying the last 40+ days, to my utmost delight, the nurses and doctors had deemed her fit enough to be removed from the incubator and into a normal cot.

For the first time in over a month since I gave birth to her, I held Sky. Swaddled in two blankets and covered in a sheet, she looked like a tiny little eskimo, sleeping peacefully. As I picked her up, I whispered a prayer of thanks. Tried to surpress a tear but could not. Nonsensically paranoid, I wondered if my tear contained any germs that would contaminate my freshly scrubbed hands. Nevertheless, I was silently overjoyed and could not contain my proud smiles as two clucking nurses came and fawned over mother and daughter.

It’s nice when people are happy for you, isn’t it?

Since the nurses were everywhere, I could not sneak in a photo/video session. Am hoping tonight with the help of big hubby aka The Wall, I can take a few and post them up here for your viewing pleasure.

Because it’s nice when people are happy for me 🙂

Sigh. So relieved. Nurses say she still needs more time to train her suckling (area around her mouth became blue this morning, which isn’t a good sign). Sister Ching, the neonatalist, said that this is common with premmies because they still can’t do sucking, swallowing and breathe simultaneously. Well, slow and steady.

It’s a good day.

No.

It’s a great day :).

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My first party after 3.5 years!

Yesterday, along with a few lui paos (Cantonese slang for girl friends), I went for my first club outing after a three-year hiatus from the scene, and for the grand re-opening, I went to the opening of Cream in Renaissance Hotel.

Purveyed by the owners of the ex-Viva, Cream looks a lot like its Eastin predecessor. For someone who’s not clubbed in a while, I experienced a slight cultural shock. One stark realisation: the men dress better these days. Is Queer Eye here and nobody told me?

Realisation #2: Progressive house does not go well with soda. As I was the designated driver for the night and more importantly, a nursing mom, I allowed myself only a wine cooler and that was only later in the night when my pals and I advanced to Velvet (also a first time for me).

Wednesday nights at Velvet are a treat for a child of the 70s such as me. As I stepped into the moving darkness, Freddy pounded into my bones and brains, telling me another one has bitten the dust. Now this is more like it!

Realisation #3: Mambo nites attract people of my age – and my past. After 16 years of wondering where the bastard went after being used to get rid of another girl, the guy who was my church youth group president in ACS Church Ipoh is seen kissing air in Velvet. Wait a minute – he’s kissing a guy. OMG. My friend Janice asks me,” What did you do to him?!”. Hey, he dumped me and effectively ended our childhood friendship. Perhaps he already knew. I sure didn’t!

Realisation #4: KL is a dangerous place to be at night, despite clubbers and ice cream vendors – is this another new cool I’m not aware of? – thronging the streets. My friend’s clutch got snatched at the corner of Jln Ampang as she and her hubby was legging it to Velvet to join us. That took away my appetite for soda and Rick Astley. With an empty bottle of cooler in my hand, my two gal pals and I linked arms and snuck behind a group of guys to get to our car, schemes of how to dismember snatch thieves all the while spinning in my head. When I reached home, my hubby locked me out ‘accidentally’ (hehe) and it was only 2am!

Ah well, so much for old girls wanting to have fun. Could not wait to slip into my responsible parent role again. Note to self: Next time, bring hubby – so that I have a body guard and another glass of wine!

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Parents: Love ’em, hate ’em, you just can’t get ’em to shut up

When I got married three years ago, one aspect of my life changed dramatically: my mother stopped her incessant hounding at me to lose weight, to watch what I eat, because apparently, my social life was on a slippery slope, descending straight into hell due to my increasing bulges.

And then I met Lokes. Two years later, we tied the knot. And miraculously, the complaints stopped. Now, it’s my sister’s turn. Ha-ha.

Eunice just returned from Sydney for her friend’s wedding and for the birth of my second, Skyler (see below). The first thing my dear mother said to her as she stepped into the arrival hall was “You’ve put on weight!”. Not exactly polite, but according to my Mom, niceties are reserved only for strangers and people who aren’t close enough to be insulted without thinking of disowning you. Sometimes, I wonder if she thinks expressing everything in her mind is good for her health. She confuses freedom of speech with honesty.

After a month of playing confinement lady for me, I realised something about my dear old mother. That alone, she can keep her thoughts to herself quite nicely. However, when Dad is around, the both of them turn into a couple of ill-mannered people whose sole enjoyment seems to be putting people down. My sister tells me it’s living in the kampung too long, and when know-it-all ex-teachers resolve to stay in a small village for an extended period of time with nobody to boss around, they take every chance they can to judge and bitch about all and sundry when they hit civilisation.

For example, my father insists, upon his experience some 25 years ago, that KL drivers are the most courteous in the country, when I tell him that they are in fact very aggressive, particularly during jams. After a while, this opinion ‘becomes’ fact simply because he said so, and to avoid a full-scale argument, those of us who ‘know better’ automatically cut it short simply by keeping quiet. Because you don’t want my dad becoming angry. Because when he does, he becomes unreasonable. And when he becomes that, pretty much anything can happen in the name of making a point.

Yes, even an insignificant conversation where NO ONE is an expert can escalate into a bloody battle of who is loudest (and essentially, most idiotic).

Having gone through decades of this sort of behaviour, my mother has, most unfortunately, become a lalang. To avoid my father’s tirades, she will either shut up, or agree with him, despite his baseless allegations and opinions. In our early years, it was for our benefit. These days, it’s just a force of habit, and one that’s beginning to annoy me because ALL her opinions are no longer her own.

After over a month of hearing my parents bitch about my cousin, other relatives, friends and total strangers, they, with my sis in tow (poor girl), have returned to Batu Gajah where they can once resume their ‘normal’ lives. My dad plays his golf. My mom goes for her line-dancing. And both of them bitching to my sis until her ears fall off.

*guffaw*

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Everyone, meet Skyler Tan

Finally, I’ve drudged up enough courage and energy to blog about this.

Everyone, I’d like you to meet the latest addition to my little family, Skyler Tan Hui Ern, born 5/11/04 at 29 weeks 6 days, three months premature.

So yes, the reason I haven’t had the time to sit down and write a proper paragraph, much less a few these days, is because I’ve been busy worrying sick about Sky, busy expressing milk every three hours, busy visiting her in the hospital everyday, busy working (no maternity leave for the wicked! – sorrylah, small company), busy eating ginger infused food, and just, well, being busy, trying to remain positive as my baby girl clings on to her first month of life with the help of a ventilator, antibiotics, tubes and her mother’s breastmilk.

Why am I blogging now? Because it’s the second day Sky is officially off the ventilator, and for the first time in 43 days, I’m sleeping easy. Today, as I watched her snooze with what I thought was a contented smile on her face, breathing the same air we all breathe because the small duct in her heart had finally closed, enabling it to slow down to a comfortable rate as not to cause her as much energy as it did during her first 41 days of life, I said a small prayer of thanks to God for finally bringing her – and my family – to the end of what I’d thought was a very long tunnel.

Having led a relatively comfortable life, I’d always wondered when my turn would come, to experience a character-building tragedy that would change my life – and attitude towards it – forever. As such, I’ve always been conscious of taking things for granted, be it my job, my relationships, the people in my life.

Never in a million years did I expect it to be this, although the fear of the worst is something a woman with child always feels from the moment her pregnancy is confirmed. When I was lying there in the hospital, knowing that my baby was coming whether or not I was ready, whether or not I liked it, I could not help but wonder if I had taken my pregnancy for granted. I thought about all the cultural superstitions that prohibited me from eating or drinking anything ‘cool’ – how I had shunned most of them. I thought about all the times I’d forgotten to eat my folic acid pills. Against all odds, as steroids coursed through my veins to help my baby’s lungs mature while drugs tried to oppress my contractions and delay labour, I prayed to the Lord to keep my baby safe, and that for whatever good it still might do, I was sorry for whatever I may have done – or didn’t do – to bring about such an early delivery.

Even now, I thank God for this lesson. I may or may not be to blame. Other premmie mothers tell me I’m not so I should not feel the guilt. But when your child lays in the hospital breathing and feeding through tubes, you cannot help but be a little egocentric because after all, she came out of me. I should have all the control, pre, ante and post. As such, only I am to be blamed.

Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise, first and foremost because now, the motivation to breastfeed was, and still is, overwhelming. Premmie babies require breastmilk to grow optimally – and only breastmilk. It is what I can do to make up to my daughter, to start and never stop giving her the best I have to offer. As I told my husband, each time I see her feeding, I imagine sending my troops in, comprising combatants and engineers (essentially antibodies and proteins) to help her ward off all manner of bad infections and to help her finish building whatever that needs finishing.

It is just my way of regaining some measure of control.

To all parents of premmies, I want to salute you. If this is the last of life’s lessons that I have to learn, it has become my most important.

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