Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today was better

We all strive on a daily basis and in our own little ways to make every new day a better one than the day before. Given the low standards we achieved yesterday, this morning was easy.

The Son took one long sniff of the contents in his breakfast bowl and said "Is that the white food from Grandma's house?"

He's got a pretty good nose. I never said a word about the origins of this morning's breakfast.

This white food from Grandma's house is Da Bomb. It takes a week to plan and prepare. No one else is allowed to eat it. It's like they're preparing a meal for The Emperor.


Japanese rice - the stuff that sells in the supermarket for S$20 a bag, boiled in
Home made chicken and pork bone stock, reduced from fresh chicken and pork bones, onions, garlic and celery boiled together for hours and then strained off,
mixed with carrots and a few choice soft vegetables, finely minced
and some finely minced lean pork, maybe chicken.

It's not unusual to arrive at my mother's house to find that only the Emperor's porridge has been prepared and there's no cooked food for anyone else. The rest of us have to dig in the fridge for leftovers. Once I got so hungry for something that was hot that I ate a bowl of the stuff and then got scolded.

Anyway, The Maid has left me with a long list of instructions on how to make porridge. The first 2 lines deal substantively with the relative locations of the uncooked rice and the pot. The 3rd line details how we wash rice. The 4th line deals with the water level in the pot before I start cooking. Or something like that. I haven't read it. If I do embark on this wondrous adventure, it will be the first time in my life I'm making porridge.

"Didn't you tell me before we were married that you make good rice?" asked The Husband.

"I lied. So what are you going to do about it now?"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Descent into the Wilderness

So The Maid is back with her family for a holiday for the next 18 days, and we are left to fend for ourselves. The last time this happened, back in December 2008, she returned to find us all thin and depressed in wrinkled clothes, with the fridge full of takeaway food and the laundry basket overflowing with dirty clothes. I did resolve at some point that this time would be different and that I would try to take charge of at least something. At least something. I don't know what that is. Perhaps I could take charge of emptying one of the wastepaper baskets. I could do that and do it well.

Woke up this morning early and determined to feed The Son with a huge bowl of oatmeal and get him ready for school. First thing I discovered was - there is no more milk in the fridge because I drank it all last night (who knew?). So I substituted the milk in the oatmeal with ... Greek yoghurt, then tried to mask the smell (oatmeal and Greek yoghurt combined smells amazingly like vomit) with cane sugar and peach syrup.

"That's not my breakfast, right" was the first thing The Son said when I walked out of the kitchen.

"It doesn't taste nice" was the second thing he said, after the first spoonful.

"I don't like this not nice-tasting breakfast" was the third thing he said, before he started to cry.

The Husband walked in on Weeping Son and I, just as I was getting the fourth (and last) spoonful in, substituted the whole thing for bacon and buttered toast of which less than half was consumed by the intended recipient. Sigh. We are so in for it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

It just looks like a giant uni-boob

So the Bump has gotten a lot bigger and to top it off, literally, my belly-button has inverted itself and the silhouette is highly visible through every piece of clothing I have, even if it's a double layer. People on the street stare. People I meet stare. Colleagues stare. Everyone stares. Why? Why? Why?

In other news, I gave a 15-minute seminar the other day on employment law and received a rather unexpected token of appreciation - a beautifully wrapped parcel. In these times, a token of appreciation extending beyond a handshake and "thank you for coming" (with a quick glance at the Bump) is extremely rare. Being cynical, and because it was so beautifully wrapped, I assumed it was something completely useless, like a large plastic bookmark. Or a paperweight.

So I gave it to The Son, unopened. Happy Birthday, Son.

Five minutes later, there's a shout from the living room. Mom! It's a Water Pen! It's so nice!

"It's a Waterman pen," says The Husband, with a most peculiar expression on his face. "You just gave our son a Waterman pen for his 4th birthday."

I dashed out of the bathroom to see The Son waving a gorgeous blue lacquer and gold pen. Grabbed it from him.

Oh dear, said I. Let me check. I think it's spoilt! I had better take it back to the shop to be repaired. I'll give you something else.

So for the last 2 days, the moment I come home from the office, The Son has sidled up to me with a hopeful smile to ask if he can have his Water Pen back. By today, hopefully, he has forgotten about it. It has been a gorgeous addition to my office stationery and I've already misplaced the pen cap.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Local Woman Boggled By The Ambiguity Of It All

As I advance into this pregnancy, I am reminded once again of all that I had forgotten from the first experience, and I am also reminded yet again that I am still forgetting. My brain is in a fog - it's both terrifying and frustrating how I can forget so much in the midst of making a special effort to remember things. It's like trying to catch tadpoles with my fingers. I tried it once. Didn't get a single one. Nothing much has changed, judging by this morning.

I was en-route to the meeting. Had to check the address more than 5 times because I kept forgetting it. Then when I got there, I checked the floor number before I reached the lift lobby, checked again when I pressed for the lift, and checked again when I got into the lift. Now that's dumb.

Went to teach at NUS for my yearly stint. I have to admit I was surprised and astonished when word got back to me later on that the students were wondering whether I was pregnant or whether I had just been leading a very sedentary lifestyle. Something must be said about how fleeting and rare that kind of innocence is. Clearly they haven't been within 1 kilometre of a pregnant person for quite some time, if ever. Also, they must never have seen anyone with a paunch. Well, I would have liked to retort, just try looking in the mirror sideways a year after you've graduated from law school.

My latest visit to the gynae last week went well. Have noted that even my writing style has changed to vague aimless babbling because at the moment I can't remember what I had set out to write. Gynae did another full organ check on the baby, and confirmed:

1. an anterior placenta
2. all organs in place and growing as planned
3. she has managed to position herself so that her feet are right up against her face. Why, I'd like to know. Possibly so that she can kick me just that little bit harder.

I started to wonder about the state of my mind when I clean forgot what I was supposed to do before getting on the examination table and had to get instructions from the gynae all over again, like we had never done this before.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Local Woman Eats Her Way Through London, And Other Sad Tales

I went a-travelling for 11 days at the beginning of March and found out, the hard way, that it is impossible to blog by blackberry. It just doesn't work, whether the attempt is being made from within La Fromagerie, possibly the most wonderous jamon and cheese joint in London, or the little cafe at the top of the National Portraits Gallery. I was therefore forced to eat alone, and unable to share my culinary experiences with anyone other than the waiter who passed me the bill.

Anyway, I was in London for 11 glorious (but cold) days, for 2 days of plane ride, 3 days of (kinda) work, and the balance of the trip for a mixture of culinary and cultural experiences. My cultural experience included a trip to the British Museum, the National Portraits Gallery, the Tate Modern Museum, perhaps a play or a musical or three in the evenings.

The closest I got to a cultural immersion was a 20-minute chat with a London cabdriver en-route from Baker Street to Cornwall. He had just completed a course on tourism in London, and was keen to share. I did actually enter the National Portraits Gallery and managed to view a painting of um.. someone famous ... en-route to the elevator which was to take me to the rather lovely cafe on the top floor where I enjoyed an excellent grilled mackerel (with 30 small bones), a glass of white wine topped off by an expresso. So exhausted I was from my culinary efforts that I left directly after the meal, skipping all other portraits. After all, when you sit above all the portraits for 2 hours picking tiny little fishbones out of your mouth, you feel like you have kind of seen them all.

The rest of the time was spent, quite frankly, eating. For the sake of next year's trip, here's a record of memorable places eaten at.

Truc Vert, Mayfair
La Fromagerie, off Marylebourne High Street
Royal China (off Baker Street)
Bocca di Lupo (off Soho)
Tapas Brindisa (Burrough Market)

There is one more tapas place which forever has changed my world view of black rice. But I cannot remember the name.

This is a natural consequence, I suppose, of staying with a great friend who is not just a foodie but also a food reviewer. Even the stuff we bought off the supermarkets had to be great, not just serviceable. My world view of ham and green pea soup bought off a supermarket shelf has also changed forever. So will hers when she returns from her business trip to Moscow to find half of the tub of soup still sitting in her fridge, together with some leftover olives.

BTW, Kerry, I met up with the guy who is coming over to stay with you for 3 weeks in August (?) and he sends his regards.

In other news, The Son celebrated his 4th birthday recently. Due to lack of time, but mostly laziness, his parents did not plan a birthday party for him, but decided to rely on the excuse that they preferred to spend quality time with him on his birthday instead. One of his parents still managed to make the whole birthday thing much more complicated and difficult by promising his teacher that we would hold some kind of party at school next week, resulting in the other parent having to put together goody bags for x number of kids. In the course of this week, that other parent has ascertained from third party experts that:

1. "goody bag" means a bag full of goodies
2. it cannot be substituted with a handshake and a "thank you for coming"
3. our reputation and the reputation of our son would be put at risk if I gave everyone a packet of Milo instead
4. fruit does not count
5. 1 Pez dispenser plus a packet of Pez sweets also does not quite cut it
6. the wretched goody bag itself (basically an empty but colourful plastic bag) has to be purchased from a speciality shop, and I cannot replace them with recycled Cold Storage plastic bags.

I am really quite surprised by all this. After all, I myself had a childhood full of birthdays and some birthday parties, and the gift-giving thereat was always a one way street. I throw the party, I get the gifts. Who started this goody bag nonsense? Why why why?

Maybe I will just absent myself from the school party and let someone else deal with the consequences. After all, the kids can't exactly refuse to leave (their own school) just because they didn't get a goody bag right?

Also for posterity, and in case The Son wonders what we did on his 4th birthday in lieu of a party, here is the action items list:

1. 9.45am to 2.30pm: Went to the Zoo, ignored the animals, headed straight for the kids' fountain play area.
2. 2.30pm to 3.30pm: Blew out candles, cut a cake (Awfully Chocolate, plain choc cake), took pictures, Daddy gave him 3 presents. Later that evening, The Son asked the other parent in private why there were only 3 presents ("I want four"). The other parent made vague promises to deliver up a birthday card today (note to self).
3. 4pm: The Son and Daddy went to the beach to fly a paper aeroplane. The other parent fell asleep, cannot verify what actually happened.
4. 7.30pm - 8.10pm: The Son ate a bowl of porridge which had hidden in it the contents of two MarineOmega 3 capsules and 3 spoonfuls of mashed potato.
5. 9.30pm - 10.30pm: The Son painted various pieces of RyanArt for his RyanArt album under my supervision. I have at this moment almost gotten all the black paint out from under my fingernails and skin, and no longer look like I fix cars.
6. 10.30pm: Read 5 stories to The Son. He fell asleep during the 5th one, making it the first time he has fallen asleep before me during storytime. The last time I read to him in bed, I dozed off and let go of the book, which fell on his face. People were not happy.