Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Update on my mom

It was around 8 pm when my mom called me from her cellphone. She was concerned about my swollen feet and wanted to know if I feel better. As always, she would put everyone else before herself. Fifteen minutes later, I received another call from her cellphone but this time it was a man on the other end. He asked if I knew the owner of the cellphone. I said yes, and he informed me that the person has been in an accident and was unconscious. He asked if he could contact her family members. It was as if a dagger was stabbed into my chest as I gave him my dad's phone number. The Good Samaritan finally contacted my dad and by the time he got to the scene (which was very close to my parents' home), the ambulance was already there.

Being almost 500 kms (300 miles) away only intensified my panic and worry. Brian was out and it was the longest hour as I waited for news on my mom's situation. As my dad was frantic with worry and riding in the ambulance, I was calling my uncle and aunt who are in Ipoh to get an update instead. I felt so helpless being so heavily pregnant and so far away. There was nothing I could do except to pray and remind myself that God is a good God - one who loves, sees all things, cares and is omniscient. 

Soon Brian was home after I informed him of the situation.  We prayed and waited. And waited. By the time my sister arrived in Ipoh (from Kuala Lumpur) at 12:30 midnight, mom had been transferred to a private hospital from the General Hospital (a government hospital). We were finally able to get mom an x-ray and detailed scan to find out her condition by 2am.

We are so thankful that none of her injuries are life threatening. Her right fibula and right toe were broken. Her right arm was dislocated. Her elbows' bone are slightly crushed but other than these are external injuries. As her condition was not life threatening, she was only wheeled in for surgery in the morning at 6:30am. She was out by 9 am and the doctor says that she'll be fine.

As I'm so advanced in my pregnancy, no airline would let me fly to Malaysia and the 8-hour bus ride to Ipoh would be too difficult for me. I long to be with my mom but have been advised to stay put in Singapore. It hurts me so much to know that my mom is in so much pain. I'm praying that she'll find some comfort in the pain management medication and that God will give her peace in her soul as she recovers in the hospital. Knowing my mom, she'll be worrying about me, about my sister and a host of other things except about herself. I hope she'll have the peace to rest and heal. Due to her age, it may be awhile before she is mobile again.

We found out subsequently that it was a hit and run by a speeding motorcycle. We know for a fact that God was watching over her as her injuries could be so much worse than they are. Also, a Good Samaritan who acted so swiftly was truly God-send. As we reflect with much gratitude for God's mercy and goodness, we continue to pray that my mom would recover smoothly and quickly. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Baby update

We visited the gynecologist today to see how Craig is doing and found that he's doing great. He's big and long compared to an average baby in utero his age. An average baby at 31 weeks weighs around 3.3 lbs (1.3 kgs) but Craig weighs 3.74 lbs (1.7 kgs)! No wonder I feel so heavy! He also has been extremely active moving around inside and often we can see his movements as my belly thumps and swells. Sometimes he punches and kicks so hard it hurts!

Meanwhile, his room is almost ready. The crib and changing table were delivered over the weekend and we're slowly but surely setting up Craig's room. We find it hard to believe that in less than 8 weeks' time, it will be 24/7 - Craig!   

Friday, December 19, 2008

Heavy and tired

I (I'Ching) am glad that the weekend's here. I've been feeling especially heavy the last few days and tire easily from simple tasks. Today, I napped for 15 minutes on the train coming to work! I suspect that this depletion of energy will continue till Craig is done with his mothership.

We have lots to do this weekend. We went shopping for baby's crib and other outstanding stuff last evening. His crib plus changing table will be delivered on Sunday. Hopefully by then we would have gotten our act together in having all his clothes washed and room ready for the furniture. I also need to think about packing my hospital bag...

Meanwhile, today, on my way to lunch, I spotted the following which may tickle you...

If you see something strange in the neighborhood, you'll know who to call:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chivalry isn't dead, apparently

Pix credit:

It's just my observation so far and I could be wrong but I think men are more compassionate to pregnant women than women are! The number of men who gave up their seat for me on the train far surpasses the number of women who did the same. I'm pleased to announce that I did get seat today as a kind man stood up as soon as he saw me board the train.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bus, trains and automobiles

I (I'Ching) started commuting to work from our new home last week. From a mere stone's throw away, now I live 20 minutes away (by car) from the office. There are three options for me: 1) train (30 mins) followed by bus (15 or so mins); 2) bus all the way (1 hr 20 mins); and, 3) taxi: 20 mins but costs $15 or more one way.

I took option one the whole of last week. It was wonderful the first two days as even though the trains were packed, I got a seat - as I'm pregnant. On trains here, there are a few seats designated "Priority Seat" sort of reserved for the elderly, expectant mothers and parents with young children. I say, "sort of" as there is a sign above those seats that read, "Please be considerate - give up your seat for someone who needs it more." So, this means, the occupant of the seat can decide to not be considerate and not give up his seat. A needy person, like my present-self, has no right per se to ask him to get up. In other words, it all depends on the civic-sense (some call it commonsense but I do question how common that is nowadays!!!) of the seat-occupant.

On the third day of my commute, I boarded the train as usual and moved right up to where the priority seats are. Lo and behold, the two ladies occupying those seats did not give a hoot to the fact that I'm 7-month pregnant and need the seat badly (before my feet bloat to size 15). One gave me a look and continued to enjoy her iPod while the other continued to read. I was tempted to ask them for their seat but I remembered a recent story about how a pregnant woman asked a man for his seat and he shouted at her saying that he has no reason to give her his seat: "Why do you deserve this more than I do?" he asked!!!

So, afraid that I'd be publicly humiliated like that poor woman, I decided to stand till someone else with a seat leaves. Thankfully, a few stops later, one of the two UNKIND ladies left and I took her seat.

The same happened the next morning... So, nowadays, I do not take for granted that I will get a seat on the train just because I am a loadful. Kindness can be so rare in this society...

On a cheerier note, we put up our Charlie Brown Christmas tree last night. We made spiced apple cider, listened to carols, put up the tree and afterwards watched A Charlie Brown Christmas on dvd. A wonderful end to my birthday...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Settling in...

As I'm logging this in, the joints of my hands hurt with every tap on the keyboard - thanks to baby Craig, my joints and feet are swollen. As we enter the third trimester, we are experiencing all the related symptoms warned on every pregnancy website. When we visited the gynecologist last week, the remark was that Craig is big for his 29-week age. His thigh bone measured 5.3cm. Since both Brian and I are not exceptionally tall, we reckon that it must be someone else in either of our family that Craig is taking after.

Since we arrived back from the US, we've been busy packing and moving and finally we moved into our new apartment end of last week. We are enjoying our new place thoroughly! We are mostly unpacked except for a few boxes that are still in Craig's room. Once we get those out of the way, we will start work on the nursery.

My mom and sister came over the weekend to help with the unpacking and it was really nice to have them as first guests at our place. As always, their visit entails
much good food and shopping. We managed to squeeze in a home-cooked meal by mom which was wonderful! Nothing beats mom's cooking, huh?
Having tea at Ikea's Cafe with my mom
Hmmm... perhaps this evening we'll break out our Charlie Brown xmas tree...
Pix: Our first Christmas in Singapore in 2005

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baby shower

Family here in Maryland decided to throw us a baby shower on Saturday. It was a lot of fun - filled with gifts for the baby, good food, laughter and memorable anecdotes. As we won't be staying till Thanksgiving this year, the party was also kind of an early Thanksgiving celebration. In addition to the usual fare of turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, baby's Nana also got a very nice cake for the occasion:
Opening pressies after dinner:More onesies!!!Bringing home in our suitcases will be burp clothes, bibs, onesies, hooded towels, swaddling blankets, more bibs and soft cuddly toys. Thank you all!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our week in Virginia

Our week in Virginia has just ended and we traveled up to Baltimore two days ago. As always, it was good to see family and catch up with what we've missed the last year. The only difference is that this year, our luggage is full of baby stuff instead of books and shoes and purses. Below are some random pictures from our time in Virginia.
Otis fooling around:
Home of some yummy bbq sandwiches:Best hotdogs around: Hotdog King
Our footlong hotdogs:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Witnessing history being written in Chicago

Our week in Chicago for meetings is over and I'm presently waiting for my airport pick-up at the hotel lobby. In fact, Brian flew out to his dad's (in Va.) early Monday morning and I join him there today.

Last night was quite a night as I witnessed the victory of Chicago's own homeboy, Obama, soaring against all odds to be the first African-American President of the US. While I disagree with his ideology, I must say that his success only proves that the US is indeed a country that deserves emulation. I cannot imagine how in anyone's lifetime a Chinese would be the Prime Minister of Malaysia. In that respect, in the words of my immediate boss, America is a great country! Both candidates fought hard and McCain conceded so graciously.
iPod vending machine at the JFK airport!
We flew into Chicago last Thursday night and Friday was Halloween. I remember some weeks back a friend asked me what Americans do on Halloween with those huge pumpkins we happened to see on sale in a supermarket in Singapore. Well, the picture below should give you an idea! I saw the two pumpkins on the counter of the coffee shop of our hotel. Apparently one of the hotel staff is a really artistic guy and he carved those faces on the pumpkins - pretty cool.The hotel we're staying at is right on Chicago's Magnificent Mile - Michigan Ave. which is lined with retails shops and brand names; something like Singapore's Orchard Road but more historical.
The Magnificent Mile at dusk:
We also ate much of the famous deep-dish Chicago pizza. Giordano's Pizza, which is two blocks from the hotel, serves up the best pizzas we've ever had! There is so much in the vicinity but we didn't do too much sightseeing as I'm beginning to find walking too long very strenous on my legs. Overall, we had a nice time here in Chicago.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Weekend in Melaka

We spent our last weekend in Melaka conducting sessions at our bi-annual training weekend. As a friend was visiting from the USA this time, we stayed two days longer than we usually do. Following are some pictures from our trip. As always, our visits to Malaysia entail lots of good food and this time was not any different. We also discovered a cafe run by some Malaysian Chinese but serves up the best pizza I've had. This will not be a long post as we're getting ready to leave tonight to the US.
The main entrance to an old Chinese association:
The fabulous wood-fire pizza place:

Great friends, great food:
I'm all bloated from the pregnancy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Updates: Baby and apartment

We've two piece of good news: one, baby is doing great. We saw him on the ultrasound machine this morning and he was actively swimming and gulping in amniotic fluid! Not sure if the following scan pixs make any sense to you but basically the first one is a side view of him with his arm kind of over his head. The second one is a very faint frontal shot of his face. He was so much clearer and vivid on the scan machine screen.Second piece of good news is that we've found an apartment that we like. Located in the western part of the island-state, Clementi Heights is very accessible via the train and has all the amenities a family needs. Right behind the apartment blocks is a huge public swimming pool where we plan to bring baby to on a hot day. Now we can't wait to move into our new place and start setting up baby's room!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dowry and infanticide


The last two weeks had been good for me (I'Ching) and I'm suspecting that the sunny second trimester of my pregnancy has finally arrived - yay! I've hardly any serious migraine though my sinus still bothers me (apparently stuffy nose is a part of pregnancy). As of today, baby is 22 weeks old and growing fast!

My short trip to India was uneventful - in a good way. As always, I met interesting people along the way, had great food... The driver who works for RZIM India, Jabasingh, was also getting ready to be a father while I was there (they have since gotten a baby girl, born on the morning after I left Chennai).

When I first found out about his then-expecting wife, I ignorantly asked if they knew the gender of the baby. Of course not! I was reminded that in India, they don't tell you what gender the baby is for fear of infanticide and abortion.

In India, males are favored over females for many reasons. Dowry is one. You see, when a male is of age, his parents would find him a suitable wife. Families of potential brides would then have to meet the demands of the groom's family - usually in terms of cash or big item gifts (furniture, electrical appliances, animals, etc). Though the demand and giving of dowry has been illegalized in India, it is still very much practiced. Sometimes demands from potential grooms are so high that families with girls have to work and save for years to afford marrying their daughters to a husband of fine background.

Due to this, parents prefer to have sons rather than daughters. I hear that in some rural Indian villages, if a girl is born, the baby would be abandoned and left to die. And, if they found out that the unborn is a girl, they would abort the baby (as is practiced in China!). This is inhumane but so commonly practiced! As such, the Indian government tries to curb it by banning doctors from telling parents the gender of their unborn.

So imagine how surprised my India colleagues were when I told them that I know I'll be having a son!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Beautiful boy

We went to the hospital for a detailed scan of the baby this morning. Unlike the routine scans we do at the doctor's, today's was to determine if baby's development is normal and all. Preliminary views seem to show that baby is normal - I was able to see his heart clearly, his mouth (this was to ensure there is no cleft palate), his feet, etc. The doctor had to measure his head, his foot, etc to see if they are growing normally. I am thankful to God and to all who prayed for us and our baby boy!

Brian was not allowed in with me initially - so only I saw most of the action. Baby was so active - he was moving around so much that it took the doctor quite a while to capture his face and foot. (By the way, from what I saw, I think he's got his daddy's flat feet and not my beautifully arched ones!) He was kicking and tumbling around inside endlessly. I first felt his movements a week back but they are getting more frequent progressively.

At 21 weeks old, he weighs 377 gms (13.3 ounces). We'll make sure to post some of the shots of the scan once we get them next week.

Meanwhile, on a totally unrelated note, some of you may find it odd to know that chicken feet is a delicacy here in Southeast Asia. The Chinese love 'em braised or stewed with mushroom while the Thais like 'em deboned in a salad.

My brave husband, after having tried them, said that they taste "okay" but it' too much work (ridding of the bones) for so little meat. He's right there but that's not really the point. Part of the fun in eating well-stewed chicken feet is in the great skill of deboning the feet in your mouth and then spitting out the bones. (This is easier demonstrated than described!)Anyhow, the reason why I'm bringing up the issue of chicken feet is that a few days ago, we passed by a restaurant getting the feet ready. There were hundreds of pairs of feet that were being deep fried! We thought some of you would get a kick out of the sight! Ah.., amazing Asia!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

We're moving - again!!!

When we moved from our 3-bedroom, over 1,000 sq ft apartment to our current 2-bedroom 600+ sq ft place, we did not expect to be successful in having a baby so soon. But our needs have changed now that I'm almost 5-month pregnant. Other than the need for a baby room, we will require a guest room for the many family members who will be visiting once our son comes along (yes, it will be a boy!).

So, after having weighed all the options, we have decided that we'll move in December when both Brian and my schedule will be slightly freer. Besides, we would be traveling quite a bit from next week till the third week of November (India, Malaysia and then the US) and would not have the time to pack and move. We have started looking, though, for a larger place. With the economy dampening, we are hoping that rental would fall from its unreal height, making it possible for us to afford a decent place. Much awaits us in the next few months...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Current craving: Sweet and sour pork

(Image credit:
The last week saw me craving for sweet and sour pork. Much to the delight of Brian who loves this Cantonese dish, we've had it for dinner twice already in the last few days and I'm thinking that I'll have it again tonight for my dinner (I shall not subject my husband's palate to such torture!).

I continue to experience problem with my sinus and tension headache but today is a good day where I didn't have to start the day with a pain killer. As for my sinus problem, it has eased a little with the use of a nasal irrigation gizmo called the Neti Pot (click to read more). As we couldn't find it in Singapore, we had to ask our family back in the US to send us a set via express shipping (cost us a bomb!). We truly hope that with continuous use, it'll help alleviate my sinus problem.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Update on trip to KL: Friends and Food

It has actually been more than a week since we got back from Kuala Lumpur (KL) for a good friend's wedding and I've been dying to update the blog. But I've since been struck by a week-long bout of sinus-migraine (most likely aggravated by pregnancy) and the only thing I was able to do was lay in bed and groan in pain. Thankfully, the headache has eased a little the last 2 days and I've been able to keep the pain at bay with some caffeine-laced paracetamol.

Anyhow, we flew up to KL late Thursday (the one before the last) and were there till Monday evening. It was a good chance to catch up with our many friends there as we hardly get to stay longer than a day when we are there enroute to Ipoh. We stayed with good friends, Faith and Philip - haven't seen them in 2 years! Their dog,
Twinkle, has grown so much we could hardly recognize her:Other than catching up with friends, we also (well, I, mostly!) caught up on all the Malaysian food I've been missing. Our hosts also took us out a couple of times for dinner and fed us to the brim!

First, they took us to this road-side hawker stall that cooks up really good fried noodles Hokkien-style (we call it, "Fook Kin Min," literally Hokkien noodles). This particular style of noodle and its preparation is rare outside of KL. The secret to its yummyness is the lard!
(1st image credit:
Then, we walked half a block down to another restaurant that sells Malay satay (yeah - from completely non-kosher food i.e. lard; to Muslim food!) for the second part of the dinner. It was the famous Kajang Satay ("Kajang" is the name of a suburb here in KL). I was so full from the noodles, I could only stomach two skewers of the succulent chicken satay before us. Brian ate so much that night that his stomach was as "pregnant" as my 4-month baby-belly!
The next time our hosts took us to dinner, we had more noodles but this time cooked in a claypot and a kind of rice noodle we call, "rat noodles" (as they look like a rat's tail). Brian also sampled for the first time the "stinky pea/bean" ("petai," in Malay). It's called that not because it stinks - in fact, it's reputed to have beneficial properties for one's kidneys; but because it causes your urine to stink! Brian claims that he couldn't remember having any stinky pee afterwards, though.

The small, round green things are the stinky beans:Look out for the next post on the wedding!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hell money and hungry ghosts

(Image credit:
Typical Chinese all over the world greatly honor loyalty to community and family - a Confucian influence. Much importance and seriousness are placed upon respecting the older generation, particularly parents and grandparents. This obedience and respect is an unconditional obligation and is expected to evolve into veneration or even worship once they pass on from this world.

For example, the traditional Chinese death rite is such that at death, the body is buried and paper models of houses, maids, dvd players, cars and others are burnt so that the deceased would have them for their life in hell. A lot of spirit money (also called Hell money) is burned so that the deceased will have enough to spend in the afterlife. It is believed that hell is a world which parallels the world of the living.

Two festivals, which are synonymous with the practice of veneration of the dead, are Ching Ming and Hungry Ghost Festival. Ching Ming day, which also marks the beginning of spring, is focused on ancestor worship. On this day, family members would visit ancestral graves where special rites are held and offerings are made in honor of ancestors. Such events are related to the Chinese tradition of receiving blessings from previous generations when undertaking a new venture.

Meanwhile, Hungry Ghosts Festival takes place in autumn (15th day of the 7th lunar month). Throughout the 7th lunar month, prayers and offerings of food such as chicken, vegetables, fruits and rice are placed at street corners and roadsides to appease spirits that are set free during this time. The offering is believed to prevent wandering spirits from entering one's home and causing disturbances in the households. In fact, it is also common practice to hold outdoor concerts to entertain these hungry ghosts during this month.

During this month, superstitious Singaporean entrepreneurs would "appease" the spirits in front of their business premises with food, incense joss sticks and the burning of hell money.Of course, for Chinese who are Christians, many of these rituals and beliefs contradict what we believe about hell and the dead. Hence, it's always a challenge for individual Christians who have family members that subscribe to such traditional notions.

Silver for Malaysia

(Image credit: The Star)
After 3 intense weeks, the Olympics is finally over. Brian and I found ourselves cheering for Team USA and Team Malaysia (naturally!) but only Brian was cheering for Team Singapore. One reason why I was hesitant about my support of Team Singapore is that most of the participants of Team Singapore were not "pure/local" Singaporeans but rather imported talents from abroad (China, Indonesia, etc).

Team Malaysia's strongest bet was its badminton men's singles and while we did not achieve the gold we had coveted, we did get the silver. But silver is not good enough... Following is a letter written by a good friend on why that is the case. The letter which was published in The New Straits Times (one of Malaysia's national newspapers) is self-explanatory on our disappointment in our badminton "hero," Lee Chong Wei:

Like many other Malaysians, I was hoping that Lee Chong Wei will be able to perform to his ability and bring home the elusive Olympics gold. After all, he has provided us with many reasons to believe he can do it (from previous results) while we Malaysians pour out our endless emotional and financial (yup, we pay our taxes don't we) support to him. His only setback would be lack of mental toughness but wait...I believe that weakness have been identified and overcame. Remember? Lee entered the 2006 World Championship as the world ranked number one and as the top seeded player. In the 2006 World Championships, he lost to Bao Chunlai of China in the quarterfinal despite dominating the first game. Prior to losing this match to Bao, their head to head meetings record stood at 8-0 in favour of Lee. After the shocking loss, Lee suffered many more defeats with dismal performances which resulted in the end of his reign as world no.1.

In the Indonesian Open 2007, the old Lee Chong Wei reappeared by winning the title and beating Bao Chunlai in the final. After that, his fine form continued until the 2007 World Badminton Championships in Kuala Lumpur. Yes, again Lee suffered a shocking defeat in the last 16 to Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia and blamed the defeat on us Malaysians who supported him. Lee blamed us for putting too much pressure on him with our vociferous support for him. Fortunately, it didn't took Lee long to rebound from his second meltdown. From there, he chalked up more impressive wins and it seemed that Lee Chong Wei has finally managed to overcome his mental meltdowns from the loss in the 2006 World Championships and 2007 World Badminton Championships.

Then came the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Prior to Sunday (the fateful day - August 17, 2008), I was quietly confident that Lee could steal the gold medal from the Chinese players. In fact (in my opinion), Lee was the only player who could defeat Lin Dan or at least give Lin a run for his money. Lee has the required skills, power, speed and stamina to match Lin. My only concern was his mental strength but again we are talking about the Olympics. I'm sure BAM would have looked into that area (as I have read in the newspapers) for Lee who has a history to suffer mental meltdown during crunch time. As the badminton competition of the Olympics progressed, my confidence in Lee grew as he showed that he was able to handle the pressure and he has matured. I was indeed impressed with his mental recovery to win the semi final match, after uncharacteristically losing the second game in such tame manner to Lee Hyun-Il.

The final day for Olympics badminton competition started with such an exciting match - the bronze medal playoff for Mixed Doubles. The four players were battling so fiercely as if it was a gold medal match and their life was on the line. Then came the gold medal match for Mixed Doubles. Wow an upset! The no. 1 seeded Indonesian pair fell to the Korean pair. Inspiring. In fact, Zhang Ning's win over Xie Xianfang was also very inspiring. Could Lin Dan fall to Lee Chong Wei just like the other top seeds that have previously fell in the Olympics badminton?

Unfortunately, we have to witness an embarrassing defeat of Lee by Lin. Don't get me wrong. I'm not angry or disappointed that Lee lost to Lin. I'm angry and disappointed by the way Lee lost to Lin. It makes me even more upset to find out that Lee was given a hero's welcome and untimely praises by Malaysians. Why are we celebrating? What is there to celebrate? The silver medal is the least that Lee should deliver. Anything less than a silver from Lee would have been a disaster and money wasted. Why are we Malaysians treating him as a hero while Lee was just merely doing his job and performing his responsibility. Malaysia has spent our tax payers' money (all these years) to fund Lee and the badminton team to bring home a gold not a silver. Why are we Malaysians toasting Lee as a champion when he has ended up second best? Are we so desperate that even losing should be a reason for us to celebrate and crowned a hero?

If we do not put a stop to the "loser" mentality, Malaysian sports will never produce another world champion or Olympic gold medalist. It was very obvious that Lin shouldered as much pressure as Lee (if not more - just compare China's population to Malaysia to do the math) but Lin shown the winners' attitude and approach. Lin was determined to win and prepared well for the match while Lee was merely trying to win. The attitude and approach proved to be difference in separating the winner and loser for the match. I sincerely hope that this experience will open up the eyes and mind of all Malaysians that in order to win, it all starts with having the winning mind set. There is no point in giving a wrong illusion by toasting second best and treating them as heroes or Malaysia as a country will never win any area. Lee should be given a pat on the back for a job done but not hero's treatment. The development of badminton in Malaysia is falling into the trap of other sports that are spiraling downward like football and hockey (just to name a couple). The main area that we lose at is lacking the winning attitude and mindset. Datuk Nicol David truly deserves a hero's welcome and Malaysians should learn how to be world champions from her - the only true champion and hero of Malaysian sports.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Singapore's Independence Day

Singapore celebrated her Independence Day last Saturday. As always, a huge party with much pomp and pizzazz was held downtown - thousands took part in the dances, parades and various other performances but having just witnessed the Olympics opening ceremony the evening before, what was put up paled in comparison. Nonetheless, we salute their effort.

As Singapore is a relatively small city state, one can almost always observe any airborne performances if one looks from a high floor. On Saturday, we could see the Singapore flag being paraded around the city (see pix).
On a related note, on the streets of Singapore today, you find that every other person you meet is an immigrant from either the Republic of China or India. With an aging population and the birthrate of local Singaporeans at a low 1.29, the only way to sustain the growing economy is by liberalizing its immigration policies.

Two of our neighbors, for example, are immigrants: one is a household from Myanmar and another from Taiwan. The only "real" Singaporean neighbor we have is an old retired couple. It'll be interesting to see how the future of Singapore pans out...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The President, our neighbor

A week ago, while waiting for the bus near our apartment, we spotted the President of Singapore, S.R. Nathan, returning home from a day's work. Yup, though a large Presidential residence is available to him, he has chosen to stay put at his own home - which is on the street adjacent to our apartment block.
Other than an obvious guard booth outside the terrace house, his home is no different or fancier than his immediate neighbors. I walk by his house whenever I have to catch a bus to my office but that day last week was the only presidential sighting we've had so far.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Introducing... " *** Chan Thomas"!

We went to the doctor's today and here's the report (I know that Grandma A is anxious about baby's update!):

Baby is 9 weeks and 2 days old as of today and is 2.5 cm in length. When we looked at him/her on the ultrasound this morning, he/she twitched a few times - very cute! You can see on the above printout limb buds that would grow into hands and feet. So beautiful!

I'Ching isn't feeling too awful overall except for the occasional mood changes (from exhilaration to depression) but she's thankful that she has no real morning sickness. She's beginning to notice a pattern of her so-called cravings where she finds herself constantly thinking of foods she grew up eating - like Ipoh fishball noodles, "chee cheong fun" (Chinese rice noodle roll), Ipoh-style curry noodle and "chu chap chook" (congee with deep fried pig intestines) (Don't worry, baby's Grandma, such crazily exotic food will not harm the little one!)

Brian has been a most supportive husband where he would patiently endure his wife's whims and fancies. In fact, today, though he loathes being seen with a women's purse, he carried I'Ching's all the way from the doctor's to home as she was advised not to stress herself after her blood test. Ah...parenthood changes everything!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And baby makes three

Most of you who read this blog would know by now that Brian and I are parents. I am seven weeks and three days along in my pregnancy. It still feels surreal sometimes that I have a human person growing inside of me but reality kicks in in the form of extreme exhaustion and intense hunger pangs.

It is predictable what the first questions are when someone finds out that I'm pregnant and I'll spare you the inquiry:

Oh, how far along are you?
Seven weeks and counting!

Any morning sickness?
No, I don't think so, except for the occasional nausea.

Any cravings?
I'm not sure if you'd consider them cravings but I'm always hungry for something! I guess, you could say that I'm craving for food, in general!

Brian reports that I also do not have radical mood swings (good for him!) and things have been rather smooth so far. There have been moments of anxiety and uncertainty but the awareness and reminder that this child is a blessing from God assures us that even now, the life of our little one is in his hands.
*Disclaimer: Belly in picture is NOT mine!!! :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Have a hamburger, it's July 4!!!

Yesterday was July 4 and just like the past few years, we try to have an all-American dinner to celebrate the event. Last year we went to Hard Rock Cafe. This year, we decided to have our bacon beef burger at Singapore-originated American diner, Billy Bombers.

We took one look at the menu and we "painfully" knew what we wanted - a burger named after presidential candidate, Obama! It took Brian an especially long time to decide on it! On paper, on the menu card, the burger did look like it has all the right stuff BUT the taste is in the pudding (as they would say). (Please read between the lines here!) Well, we must say that we were satisfied with the burger. Not so pleased with the name, though and Brian made sure the establishment is aware of our feelings towards the name!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Family in Singapore

Since we moved to Singapore three years ago, we have been attending a small church called Evangel Christian Church. We decided on this church based on two things: the Sunday preaching (Mark Chan, our pastor, is a top-notch speaker!) and the size of the church (fewer than 150 people). We reckoned that it would be easier for us to integrate into the life of the church i.e. be involved, establish relationships, etc, if the congregation is smaller. And that has been the case since.

Two weekends ago we attended our first church retreat (we've not been able to make it in the past) and had a really good time. We had to "work" a little while we were there (Brian had to facilitate a theological forum while I had to teach a workshop) but overall we had a lot of fun catching up with everyone.

Top to bottom: Our small bible study group; Brian , the facilitator; I'Ching hard at work; Brian caught with his mouth full!

Spectacular view

It's almost been a month since we moved into our new place. I am still getting used to the small space (where wherever I turn, I bump into Brian!) and getting into the habit of NOT stocking up on anything as we simply do not have the storage space.

Nonetheless, we are beginning to enjoy our new nest (more so Brian than I) and I must say that the view from our kitchen window is breathtaking - especially at night. It faces south where the Straits of Singapore is (that's where the East Coast Park beach I mentioned in an earlier post is). In the evening, we can sometimes hear ships sounding their horn. In fact, on a clear day, we may even catch a glimpse of an Indonesian island far in the horizon. Following is the view in the day and at night: