Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We're still here

While it may appear like I've abandoned this blog, reality is that I've been consistently taking notes of the various adventures and misadventures of the Thomas family but just have not had the time to post them here. Now that my work schedule is slowing down for the year, I shall attempt to recount our days in the last six weeks or so which included:

1) Visit with Grandpa J and Grandma V in Williamsburg, VA.
2) Visit the the G's in Charlotte, NC.
3) Visit with Nana and Pop Pop in MD.
4) My brief work trip to San Francisco where I witnessed a gang/mob fight!
5) Hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak at C's creche upon our return to Singapore ...

As I write this I'm still basking in the lingering pleasant recollection of my visit to Turkey after having left the country ten years and three months ago (I left on September 11 itself!). Much has changed and the city I used to live in has developed beyond my recognition. Besides savoring the sweet memories of my life back then, I also made sure I reacquainted with my favorite Turkish culinary offerings - from sweet sesame paste pizza (Bursa tahinli pide) to fiery Iskender kebap. Photos of my trip will be up soon...

Another significance of my trip was that it was the longest I was away from Craig - ten days! Needless to say we missed each other terribly (notice I say, "we" as he's now old enough to express his feelings clearly). But thanks to modern technology we were able to "hang out" virtually and at practically no cost. But nothing beats the first squeeze-hug and slobbered kiss I got when I arrived home. Here are some screen shots of our "conversations":

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grumpy's day out

On one of the days during our second assignment on the Logos Hope, we decided to take an excursion to Kuala Lumpur which is merely a 45-minute drive from Port Klang where the ship is docked. I had the day all planned to the amusement of Captain Craig: first a visit to the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) Aquaria, then a brief stroll at the KLCC park to see the magnificent Petronas Twin Towers before adjourning to lunch at one of the fancy local restaurants at the KLCC mall. Next we would proceed to my sister's place where C could spend the rest of the day with his YiYi. Perfect? So we thought.
Hi, I'm Grumpy McGrump:
Against the Petronas Twin Towers:
On the morning of the day out, our little man woke up on the wrong side of the bed! He was mostly grumpy throughout the day - was not too interested in the swimming sharks, stingrays and beautiful fishes around him at the Aquaria; had a meltdown during lunch (rather out of character for him) and was not too happy to see YiYi. We don't remember him ever having such a bad day before and we attributed the foul mood to both his residual cold and homesickness. Thankfully, he woke up a happier boy the next day and when we returned home from the ship a few days later, he was thrilled!

P.S.Click here for pictures of our KL excursion.

Monday, September 26, 2011


No, not the burger joint - though we miss it very much - but us! We arrived back from our long work trip which included Penang and Bangkok (detouring in Ipoh) last week but we're packing to leave again this week for another assignment onboard Logos Hope.

Our time on the ship was delightful - we enjoyed both the work we were assigned onboard and the experience of living on a vessel as a volunteer family. We were checked into a family cabin which meant we had two adjoining cabins to ourselves. This is a luxury considering how little space singles on the ship get. Most volunteers are on a two-year contract and we can imagine how hard it must be to live in such confinement for that long! The sacrifice they make to serve onboard is admirable.

As a family, we also had the privilege of having a table to our name at the dining hall. This worked out great as it meant we will always have a table during the oft busy mealtimes. As the ship was docked in Penang's central Weld Quay, we also took the chance to reacquaint ourselves with the island's local hawker food. Click here for pictures of our time on the ship.
A visit to a stud farm when we detoured in Ipoh to see PohPoh and GungGung:
 How special is that? Our very own dining table:
On the day we arrived, we were given the grand tour of the ship including the bridge. While taking pictures of Craig on the Captain's seat, the officer who was watchstanding could not resist but offer the Captain's hat as prop. It's Captain Craig from now on...
  S, who's German-Swede, a new-found friend on the ship:
We board the ship again when it's docked in Port Klang near Kuala Lumpur. Port Klang will not offer as much as Penang did in terms of accessibility to the city but a kind friend offered us a car to use - so that's a big plus. We look forward to catching up with friends and family there - some of which have yet to meet Craig!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ship Ahoy!

As the weekend approaches, we are counting down to our boarding the Logos Hope ship, aka World's Largest Floating Bookstore, as she docks in Penang, Malaysia. Brian and I have been invited by the organization that runs the Logos Hope (Operation Mobilization - read all about it here) to conduct a series of private and public talks on board the vessel. During our ten days there, we have been offered accommodation in one of the family cabins. (Watch this space for more pictures!)

The last time I sailed with an OM ship (the now defunct Logos II) was in 2000 when it sailed from Albania to Turkey. Then I was invited to do a series of workshops on the Turkish culture and language. The experience was unique in so many ways - one being the interaction of so many different cultures within such a limiting confine. And now, eleven years later, I have the privilege of serving on an OM ship again. I anticipate another memorable episode but this time shared with the two men of my life.

I broke the news of our impending adventure to C a few nights ago before bedtime and his response was that he wants to stay on on the ship and not come home! But as certain as the sun's rising in the morning, he would be asking to go home after a few days.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back to the routine

When Craig was in utero, whenever I'm in the presence of my sister, he would somersault excitedly - especially at the sound of her voice. And then when he saw his YiYi when he was 9 weeks old, he gave her the broadest smile we've seen from him. We knew then that he has a special attachment to her:
From his fondness for eggs to his love to talk, he resembles her in ways that we didn't expect. Though they only see each other once every few months, he asks about her often and a day last week commented that he hasn't seen her for a while. The situation was immediately rectified when YiYi drove down from Malaysia after work to see the little boy. He was a happy camper all weekend with a house full of family.
Face of endearment:
After more than a week at home, Craig is finally fit enough for the creche today. So off he went and though he was reluctant to go, we know that he will have a good time with his teachers and friends there - he always does.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Little Trooper

The day finally came:
We are grateful to all of you, friends and family, who sent good thoughts our way and prayed for us today. After an early start at the hospital, we were finally discharged to go home at 3pm. The little one handled the surgery like a trooper. When he finally got over his anesthesia, he was back to his normal happy self and asked for lunch (rice, specifically!). However he was advised to refrain from a heavy meal till much later. This led to some fuss but nothing a little distraction wouldn't help.
Post-surgery exhaustion:
A few hours later:
We are so pleased and thankful to our doctors and the staff at Mount Elizabeth Hospital for their warmth and professionalism. Our wonderful doctors even gave C a new train set! Our little trooper will now have to be brave as he endures some initial discomfort and pain during this recovery period. Needless to say, we are relieved that the operation is over and we can now focus on helping the little one heal.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Getting theological

The few minutes I spend with Craig before he turns to his side and falls asleep at night are precious mommy-son bonding moments. I'd ask him about his day at the creche and he'd sometimes sing and rattle on about a story he read or something he saw ("the grasscutters were working hard today, mommy").

Two nights ago, whilst explaining to him that we're talking to God and he should try to keep still while we pray, he asked the million dollar question which we didn't think would surface so early: "Where is God?" Of course I should expect no less from a boy who is constantly in the inquisitive mode! So, backed by my investment in Christian Apologetics studies, I tried to engage this age-old universal concern only to be asked, "Where is God now?"

This engrossing conversation went on to discuss the identity of Jesus ("Jesus is an uncle" "No, honey, Jesus is the Son of God.") and ended with C exclaiming, "I love the Son of God!" While we doubt he fully comprehends all these, we are thrilled to be having such conversations with our little boy and look forward to a future of theological-philosophical talk at the table during mealtimes. Good stuff!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Waiting Game

From the time when Craig was born, we had been informed that he would need a minor corrective surgery before he turns 3. After consulting the pediatric surgeon, we decided to schedule it for December last year. But a few days before his scheduled surgery, C caught a cold - deeming him unfit for the operation.

Since then we have not been able to find another suitable date until a few weeks ago. And again, he caught a cold a week before the scheduled date. We postponed it - this time to week later which was to be today. We were sure that this time was going to work. I was so confident that I had him pre-registered at the hospital so to spare an hour of waiting in the morning when we arrive.

All systems were set to go but on Friday evening we received a call from the doctor's office. The procedure has to be postponed yet again! This time, it was at the request of the anesthesiologist. Since she's our preferred specialist, we decided to accommodate her availability. So, the new scheduled date for the surgery is August 1.

All this waiting has not only increased our anxiety but also our impatience - we just want to get this episode over with! Consolation - my mom arrives in two days' to the render moral and domestic support that is very much coveted.
A few weeks short of two and a half, we are running out of time!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Avifauna adventure

A week ago, Craig's class at his creche organized an outing to the Jurong Bird Park here in Singapore for both the little people and their parents. Brian and I took a day off from our work to join the jaunt. Lots of fun on many fronts - especially when we got to meet the parents of C's few girlfriends! Click here for more pixs.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Birthday week

We celebrated two birthdays this week: Brian's dad and my mom's. On Monday evening, we surprised B's dad by calling him on his cellphone (it was Monday morning at where he is and he was at work) and had Craig sing to wish him happy birthday.

Then, last evening, immediately upon arriving after a long coach ride from Malaysia, my mom was greeted by a party of singing toddler, cake with candles and pizza as we celebrated her birthday. My mom's visit also signals a work trip for me - this time to Indonesia for a week. It will be an intense week for me as I would be conducting ten seminars during the week for university-level students.

Till then, a toast to the birthday boy and girl - may they live long and prosper!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The face of mirth

A candidly shot expression of Craig captured our joy this weekend. We did nothing spectacular - we simply played: Duplos, Playdough, trains; we read tons, we cooked and enjoyed our meals; and we took strolls around the neighborhood as the weather was surprisingly co-operative. We caught a glimpse of mirth this weekend and we love it!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

In good hands

For the past year since I started back at work, it is almost predictable that Craig would fall sick either before I leave or when I'm halfway through my trip and at least 500 miles away. My trip to Chennai this time was no different other than the fact that Brian was home alone with him i.e. minus the maternal wisdom and hand of my mom who could not make it to us this time. Both did wonderfully over the weekend which was packed with amusement of every kind: breakfast at McDonald's, meet-and-greet Thomas the Tank Engine at the mall and a pizza party at a friend's.

But come Monday evening, I received report that C was down with a fever. The news did not come to me with great surprise for many reasons - one being, it is just the way things almost always go (mommy gone, baby's sick); and two, it is almost about time for another bout of cold to hit (BabyCenter informs that a child C's age gets at least 9 colds/flu a year. This works out to be one every 5-6 weeks. The last time C was ill was 7 weeks ago).

While some of our friends and family expressed concern that C is falling ill so often, his teachers at the creche had warned us about this phenomenon - kids fall sick frequently in the first 6 months of them being in a creche. And in checking with mothers of C's peers affirmed that toddlers falling sick this frequently is indeed normal (Phew!). Besides, we noticed that C's health has been slightly more stable in the last 3 months. Shout out to C's strengthening immunity!

At the conclusion of my meetings in India, after a grueling red-eye flight, I arrived home to a bleary-eyed little boy who was up early at 7am. I was greeted by smiles that portend victory against the viral onslaught. Sure enough, after another day of heightened temperature, his appetite and zest for all things fun returned. So off to the creche he went today...

Through all of these, I greatly applaud B who so confidently and patiently cared for C all by himself which meant little rest and sleep in the first 48 hours after the onset of fever. Yet another milestone is set - not by C but by B who is looking like he will bag the Daddy of the Year award again this year in our books!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Creating fun on weekends

For many the weekend is a time to catch up on sleep, leisure and even work. Though what I do requires me to work on most Saturdays and Sundays, once in a while we find a reasonably flexible weekend on our laps. Last weekend was one such. Though I had to work for a few hours on both days, we were able to put in some fun family activities (which unfortunately did not include my favorite form of fun - naps!).

On Saturday, we pulled out the Playdough. Craig's idea of "playing" with Playdough is him dictating what he wants us to make for him. Requests span from a swimming pool to a bee and a plane. When Yiyi was visiting two weeks ago, he was able to cajole her creativity to produce a sailboat, a bee and a swimming pool. No such luck with his mommy - she's creative elsewhere. B's skills were tested last weekend and he rose to the occasion producing a few pieces that won the approval of the other two members of the household.
Acting surprised to deflect responsibility: "Oh, a big mess!"
Both C and I were impressed by B's white-eyed dog:
On weekends, too, it is hard to predict how much we can do in the evenings as it all depends on a certain someone's inconsistent nap. (It still baffles and frustrates us that he would nap easily at the creche but not a home) Last weekend was perhaps a fluke as C napped on both days! As a result, we were able to accept the invitation of some dear friends, S and K, to dine at their place. We all had a wonderful time in different ways: C loved the supply of Dr Seuss books Aunty K keeps and was extremely impressed by Uncle S's fancy motorcycle; B could not get over the amazing view from their 24th floor balcony while I learned a new and simple, but oh so delicious, recipe for pork.
Bad pix but notice the glee on the men's faces when in close proximity to a fancy Ducati bike:
Happy Memorial Day to all our friends and family in the United States!
P.s.: Check out some new pixs here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Yes! to a No

Last Wednesday morning saw me waiting impatiently for my turn at the Indian High Commission in Singapore to plead my case to the officer - why he should approve my visa within three days instead of five - as my flight was scheduled on Sunday evening. To my dismay, he said, "No" before I had a chance to explain to him how I got into this visa-pickle i.e. too frequent travel coupled with poor planning (can you imagine me poor planning???!!!)

As a result, my scheduled work trip to India was canceled. While I felt sorry that my colleagues in Chennai had to scramble and find a substitute to teach my classes at the very last minute, I was secretly relieved that I was granted an unexpected break from traveling. The last few days were spent in the office catching up on writing, planning and office lunches with friend-colleague, D. In fact, today, we took off for an early break to lunch at a favorite Japanese restaurant that offers a respectable buffet spread. We realized that though favorite, our last patronage there was three years ago before I was pregnant with C!
My hotpot soup - Japanese food presentation is so delicate:
Speaking of C, here's a conversation that has taken place three times now and I think we've to do something about it:
C: Mommy, I need a new bed.

Me: Why do you need a new bed - this one is fine.

C: This bed is too small. I want this bed to go away.

Me: This bed is too small for you?

C: Yes. I want a big bed. I want Mommy to buy me a car-bed.

Me: Car-bed? What car-bed???

C: I want Mommy to buy that car-bed in the store.

Me: Ok - let's talk about this tomorrow (My attempt to digress... as I wonder where in the world did he see a car-bed???!!!)

Tomorrow we're doing a role-reversal where Brian would be traveling to Shanghai to teach while I get a few good mommy-toddler bonding days. But this is only half the fun. The other half is the fact that my mom is still around and my sister would be joining us here for the long weekend ahead. It will be three gals, a boy and a blast!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The unstoppable force

Craig is quite the unstoppable force in our home nowadays. His language development has been most impressive for a boy his age where he speaks mostly in sentences now and makes funny remarks of all sorts. Recently at bedtime, despite a temperature, when Brian offered to read him a story from his Bible Storybook, he responded by saying, "I want a happy book. The Bible book is an angry book!"

This ability to communicate also means he makes his will and preferences known more forcefully - from what to do, which book to read, to where to go and what to ride. And we noticed that in just the last two days, he is behaving so much more like a preschooler than a toddler. He would play pretend - running around the house saying that he is either a helicopter or a plane flying; or he's a doctor dispensing medication to his exhausted mother.
Imagination coupled with creativity - building a crane:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In memoriam: Edna Radcliff

Brian's paternal grandmother passed away yesterday morning (April 13, 2011). She was 94 and lived a full and purposeful life. We are glad that Craig got to meet her twice and we know that this is not our final goodbye.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Annica personified

Annica is an essential Buddhist doctrine that expresses the belief that nothing about existence is permanent. While I may not agree with it entirely philosophically, as parents to a two-year old, we can certainly identify with the idea of impermanence.

As I write this, Craig is in the hospital being treated for high fever and dehydration that left him debilitated last evening. However, if you saw him this morning, you would not imagine how sickly he was just mere hours ago. Nor did we expect his mild fever that began on Saturday evening would take such a radical turn on Sunday that saw us rushing him to the hospital. A persistent high temperature and his inability to keep any fluid down gave the doctor reasons enough to admit him.

By this morning, his fever had stayed at a consistently low level and he was asking for food and getting bored in his room - all good signs that we are praying will lead to his discharge soon.
Happiness of a Breakfast Happy Meal:
Great start to the weekend:
Waiting to be admitted at the hospital - we hate bad endings:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Full life, full sentences

Between a full schedule of work trips, house guests and plain toddler mirth, I realized that we had completely skipped March here! The month of March began with our travel to Malaysia for work. As we were required to be in Kuala Lumpur and then immediately in Bangkok, we decided to have Craig spend the week at my parents. It was a milestone in that it was the longest he was away from us - 8 days. And boy did we miss him! While he loved his PohPoh and GungGung, he was ecstatic when he saw me. The sentiment was mutual.

In just the week we were apart, C's expeditious language development was quite evident to us. Not only was he picking up Cantonese (Yay!), he is speaking in full sentences most of the time. Two weeks ago, when we woke up to a wet morning, he looked out the window and muttered, "Cannot go out there because it is raining."Along with this ability, emerges the chatterbox who comments and asks about anything and everything. He is definitely the household source of endless entertainment when he is not the fount of tantrums and whine.

Work also took me to Beijing for two days. However, for C, my departure was sweetened by Yiyi's extended weekend visit with her friend, AK. Needless to say, cuddles, kisses and toddler amusement were in abundance!
Favorite activity with any friend - a Curious George book:
Yiyi's goodbye banner:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Summer during winter in Perth

A family-wide influenza infection that began on the last day of our Lunar New Year holiday did not stop us from embarking on a plane again a few days later to the beautiful city Down Under that's experiencing it's hottest ever summer. With work commitments for both Brian and me scheduled, it was impossible to cancel our trip at the last minute despite our feverish fatigue. Thankfully one of the friends we stayed with was a Pediatric doctor. This came in handy when C developed a fever on the evening we arrived.
"G'day, Mate!"
Despite our sickness and the 37 C (99F) degree heat, we are pleased to announce that we fulfilled our work obligations albeit losing our voices at the end of each day! During our six days there, we wished we saw more of the beautiful city but alas. On our last but one day, we decided to rise above our exhaustion and hit the highlights the city has to offer - the Botanical Garden (King's Park) and the beach and rounding the day out off with fish and chips at Fremantle. Our hosts, A and C, were wonderful in every way - took wondrous care of us three sick patients and took tonnes of pictures for us.
"Thank you, God, for chips!"
C, I believe, had a GREAT time. He loved the space and the new friends he found in our hosts and their son, J. He was, by the time of our return, the healthiest among us three! We are all still sickish at the time of this posting but we're definitely on the mend. For more pixs, click Perth.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The terrific two year old

Two nights ago I tried to relive what it was like a little over two years ago when I was all bloated and ready to burst followed by some intense few months after Craig was born when Brian and I had to manage being first time parents all by ourselves. But it was difficult for me to imagine those challenging days anymore as they are like vague memories now compared to the joy that we have since experienced.
C turned two yesterday and parenting this little sweet kid continues to be a ball. Everyday brings us new surprises as well as new scare. Hard to believe that the tiny bundle we could once hold with just one arm is today a big boy with a big vocabulary and an even larger heart.

As his birthday falls right after the Chinese New Year weekend, we decided to celebrate the occasion earlier when most family members are still around for the holidays. Unlike last year, we opted for a store-bought cake set to the face of C's favorite book character - Curious George. He loved it! The only thing he loved more was when we sang him the birthday song. Having celebrated a few friends' birthday at the creche, his turn finally came.
Our new year break is soon coming to an end but we are determined to enjoy our last few days here in Malaysia with loved ones. See some pixs of our time with family here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Year of the Bunny

I'm still in Chennai as I write this but I wanted to go ahead and wish all a wonderful start to the year of the rabbit before I head home to Singapore tomorrow and then the next day to Ipoh for the Lunar New Year. As with previous years, family traditions will ensure that we will be feted to feasts throughout our visit and we cannot wait!

Meanwhile, C's creche held a Chinese New Year party/concert today. Unfortunately I missed it being here in India. Nonetheless, Brian was able to get us some pictures from the performances that C took part in - the toddlers are all SO cute! Click CNY to see the pixs.
Drum roll please...here's my Honey Bunny wishing you,
"A Hop-py New Year!"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Of Dim Sum and Wantons

A mere few days before our long anticipated visit to Hong Kong and while I was concluding my work trip to Indonesia, I received a call from home that Craig has the stomach flu again and has to be hospitalized for dehydration (he wasn't keeping anything down - poor guy!). I hate getting such calls but I also knew he was in good hands as we have a really good pediatrician (we have come to accept his thrift with words and appreciate his wisdom in diagnosis); and PohPoh was in town to lend her maternal instincts.

After three nights C was allowed to go home as he was getting so bored in the hospital and was driving us nuts! A day later, we found ourselves on the A380 enroute to Hong Kong for our first family holiday (though the first part was a work trip for me). Friends there treated us to Dim Sum, beef noodles and all kinds of Cantonese delicacies. It was also very easy to please C as he is so Cantonese in his eating habits - soup and rice are all he'd ask for. And in Hong Kong, both are in abundance.
We spent a day at Ocean Park and the highlights there for C were the cable car ride and the Chinese drums that were on display. When he saw those drums being played at a lion dance in Singapore recently, he was mesmerized. So, to finally get his hands on one, it was an unforgettable experience for him. Click on Hong Kong for pictures from our trip.
With the Lunar New Year just round the corner, I have two more solo trips to make before we head to my parents' for the festivities. I look forward to that as with my parents and other relatives around, C's parents can take it easy, plus it will be the little boy's SECOND birthday!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Christmas and New Year's both came and went. And before we knew it, we are smacked right back into the thick of work, studies and, well, life in general. We had an unusual Christmas this year where we played host to relatives who came to visit from Malaysia. We have never had so many stay over at our small apartment before but despite the squeeze, everyone had a jolly time.

This year Craig was more interested in what he calls, "prenens." Days prior to Christmas he was already pestering us to open the "prenens"! When it was finally time, he was thrilled to discover what were behind those nice wrappings. In fact, he had so many presents, he took a few days to finally open them all! His love for musical instruments led to his receiving a set of baby drums and a toy guitar. His passion for trains, especially Thomas, got him several Thomas engines and numerous Thomas and Friends books.
Christmas morning jam session:
Joining the rest of the world which thronged the Singapore Zoo on Christmas day:
New Year's was a great contrast to Christmas where we three spent the day at home contemplating and planning the travels for the year ahead. It was a good day of rest as we prepare our body and soul to launch into another year.