Saturday, October 30, 2010

See who loves her Dada? :)



[Words Sophie picked up this week: ah-poo (apple), up, sit, read, pour, no!]

When there's a will...

There I was, sitting across from the lawyer at student legal services and literally fighting off the tears that were threatening to well. The past thirty minutes were spent talking about trustees, guardianships, executors, estate, medical emergencies, etc. And between my grandma's recent passing, watching too many past episodes of Grey's Anatomy, and just thinking about all the "just in cases" and "in the event ofs", I was starting to get emotional.

Jude and I are making a will.

It's something we've been meaning to do for a long time now and although it may seem a little morbid, it's also the single most important thing we can do to make sure Sophie is cared for by the people we want if anything should happen to us. It's even more important what with us being so far from home and family. We have little assets to speak of-- not here in the U.S. anyway-- and it's more about Sophie and her future more than anything else. Right now, it's unfathomably painful for me to think about not being with her forever and ever and ever, but as a parent, it's also irresponsible to not think about what would happen if we can't be.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Random Daycare Daily Report #3

Sophie had a really good day today. She's been so chatty lately. I'm not really sure what she's telling me, but she sure has a lot to say :) This morning, we scooped out a pumpkin and explored the insides. Sophie was really interested in that especially trying to sample the "guts" and the seeds :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More please



Jude and I were lying in bed just chatting about Sophie when he made a comment about how she no longer cries when she's hungry. I thought about it a little and realized why- she's almost never hungry. These days, whenever she wants food, she just signs for it. It's something we've really come to appreciate even though according to ASL (American Sign Language), she's technically signing "again". But honestly, as long as it helps her communicate to us what she wants, I could care less. It helps too that she can articulate "more" although she never says it without also signing at the same time.

You should see her asking for more crackers when she's in her carseat and I'm driving; since there's no way for me to give her any (and she doesn't understand that), she ends up signing so insistently and jabbing her palm so hard I'm sure she's going to hurt her finger one day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And now, we celebrate

Thanks to a wonderfully generous graduation/birthday present from my parents, we threw a little post-defense/birthday party at the Corner Brewery yesterday for some of my closest friends. I felt much love, with almost everyone we invited turning up, many bearing flowers, gifts, and cards. Our life here in Ann Arbor has been so enriched and sustained by the amazing friendships we've developed and it was really nice to be able to celebrate finishing grad school with the people most important to us here. The combination of yummy food from Zingerman's (their catering team really rocks), always reliably good Corner Brewery beer, their amazing space, a play corner we set up for the kids, and just all-round great company, I think a good time was had by all :)

To all of you who came, thank you so much for being a part of the celebration! And to our family and friends near or far, who for one reason or another couldn't be with us, we missed you and wished you had been with us!


1. @ the Corner Brewery, 2. Sophie holds court, 3. Good friends, 4. Food from Zingerman's, 5. The baby corner, 6. The baby table, 7. Sophie loves pushing her cart, 8. With the Cooneys, 9. I felt so loved :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Now what?

It's been 10 days since I defended the dissertation and I think it has finally sunk in that I'm done. For some reason, I haven't been that less busy- getting final paperwork done, running errands that were long overdue, and replying to non-urgent, non-dissertation related emails managed to occupy all my time these last week or so. And now with at least two months ahead of doing not much (I have a fellowship that runs through to the end of the calendar year so I'll still be getting a monthly stipend), I find myself having to think of (productive) ways to occupy myself. Some things I've already done, want to do, or should do:

1) Watch TV guiltlessly.
Check. Thanks to online streaming video and the good people at Hulu, I've caught up on all the past episodes of my now favorite comedy, Modern Family. Wednesday nights are Top Chef nights again, and I no longer feel remorse or shame saying that I watch Say Yes to the Dress on TLC at 11am almost everyday... :)

2) Start working out again.
I haven't been to the gym in 19 months. Since I was 4 months pregnant with Sophie. Now that's a long time for the body to turn into mush. The half-marathon seems like a lifetime away and the thought of returning to the gym terrifies me. I go back on Monday. It's going to be painful.

3) Yoga
The gym I haven't missed as much, but yoga, oh old friend, I've missed so much. I've been telling myself to go back to it for the longest time. But between Sophie, the research project I was on, and the dissertation, I really had no time. Thankfully, I still have 4 sessions left to my pass at A2 Yoga and I'm going to redeem them starting next week. I don't think my body can remember how to do a downward dog anymore but if I managed to train it into submission after never having done yoga for 31 years, I can re-teach it after a 15 month hiatus.

4) Cook
Since we came back from California and the dissertation-writing kicked into high-gear, I stopped cooking as much and we ate out quite a bit. It got expensive but we really didn't have a choice in terms of time. But I'm back in the kitchen again and it's been fun. I finally got round to making Momofuku's famed Crack Pie just for the fun of it, and while it was painstaking (15 hours in total, folks!), I really enjoyed just taking my time in the kitchen and not have to worry about whether it's eating into my writing time. The weather's also turning cooler and I'm looking forward to re-visiting the stews and soups I love to make this time of year. More importantly, now that we're slowly trying to expand Sophie's diet, I really want to take the time to explore recipes for her that are tasty, age-appropriate, but that also take into account her dairy, egg, and nut allergies.

5) Get Sophie's photo album in order
Over the past 14.5 months, we have taken more photos than we ever had in our entire lifetimes until the day Sophie was born. We're talking into the thousands, people, and only a fraction make it onto Flickr. And of those, we've made a couple hundred prints that I haven't had time to properly organize and label. I know, in this day and age of digital photography, why still keep physical photo albums? For the same reason I will always love proper books even though we've started to buy e-books. One day soon, we'll sit Sophie on our laps and go through the photo albums like storybooks, telling her about the different stories of her life and what happened when. As much as I love Flickr, I think some of that storytelling gets lost between the clicking and the scrolling...

6) Find a job
Oh, right.

Having said all that though, maybe I should just give myself a couple of weeks to be magnificently unproductive as a reward- to just veg out on the couch, watch copious amounts of mind-mushingly bad-for-you TV, read things that have no intellectual merit whatsoever, and indulge in guilt-free middle-of-the-day naps.

[Crawls off to do just that...]

Friday, October 22, 2010

Random Daycare Daily Report #2


Sophie has been all waves and smiles again today. She's our little welcome wagon for the rest of the school! She also loves to give high fives. This morning I was asking Lucy to give me high five and Sophie heard me from across the room and she came crawling over with her arm out to high five us :) What a little social butterfly!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The lady's got much to say

Sophie got bitten by a friend in school today. It was nothing serious-- there's a bruise on her arm in the shape of teeth marks but apparently, Sophie was less annoyed by that than by the ice-pack her teachers then put on it. Our little girl's a tough cookie :) She's also become quite the chatterbox. Like how she had much to say about her little incident while "reading" her accident report from school:



[Words that Sophie picked up this last week: hi, walk, baby]

Saturday, October 16, 2010

To remember


It is my grandmother's funeral today. She is probably being buried as I type this and my heart is aching desperately that I'm not there with the family. It's been about four days and it's taken me about that long to sort out the bundle of emotions I've been feeling.

I defended my dissertation on Tuesday, the same day (Singapore time) that my grandma passed away. She's been really ill for a long time now, which is why I dedicated my dissertation to her. And now it's almost poetic that I did... She had actually passed the day before but my parents kept it from me knowing that if they told me, that I wouldn't have been able to go through with the defense as I did. And they were right. Till now, I don't think I've quite come to terms with the fact that I'm done with grad school. The initial relief and euphoria of having defended has been mixed up with all these other feelings of sadness and guilt. The last leg of the dissertation writing was also when my grandma's condition took a turn for the worse and writing up that last chapter will forever be associated with me thinking of my grandmother virtually all the time. I jumped at every unexpected phone call, prepared to hear from my parents that my grandma was gone. I even dreamed of her a few times, one of which involved her taking me to a hair salon in Hong Kong (don't ask...) to get my hair permed. She did love to perm her hair...

I want to write some more eloquent about my grandma, something nice to remember her by but I can't seem to. Either I'm all worded-out from writing that 241-page tome of a dissertation or all this jumble of emotions is just getting in the way. So I'm re-posting something I had written last year when we were home for Christmas.

I love you, Ah Ma. I miss you...

-------------------------

[from 26 December 2009]

Some of my fondest memories of childhood are spending Saturdays at my grandma's in Bukit Ho Swee. My aunts and cousins all gathered for the lunch my grandma would make and while the adults caught up with each other on their week, my cousins and I indulged in the kind of carefree whimsy and mischief I can only hope Sophie will be able to enjoy with her cousins one day. The image of my grandma looms large in these memories- she of that kind face and doting disposition. I remember her constant laughter, perfectly coiffed hair, and gentle affection for all her grandchildren. These days, as she ages into her eighties, she doesn't always remember us all anymore. Over the past six years, seeing her only once or twice a year constantly reminds me how old she now is- her body becoming thinner and more frail, her posture and gait weakening. But the light and laughter are not gone from her eyes. Nor is the desire to painstakingly maintain her beautiful perm every week. I visited her with Sophie yesterday and while she probably doesn't remember me very well, and I had to tell her several times that Sophie's a girl and not a boy, she responded to Sophie the same way I remember her looking at me when I was a child- always with a smile. She could even say that Sophie looks just like Jude, no mean feat for someone who sometimes can't recognize her children's faces...


I'm glad Sophie got to meet her great-grandmother. It was a beautiful visit, seeing the youngest member of the family meet the oldest. It was also a little sad, looking at how much my grandma has aged while Sophie's little life has only just begun. I know how trite and hackneyed it is to evoke the whole circle of life thing but it was hard not to think that as I watched my 20-week old daughter and 87 year old grandmother in the same room.


When Sophie's older, I'll remind her of her great-grandma. And how much she loved me. I will tell her how special a grandmother's love is and impart to her one of life's greatest wisdoms I learned from her- a woman should always take care of her hair...

Saturday, October 09, 2010

What our 14-month old needs to learn

Sophie is 14-months old today. Amazing. And what difference a month makes. Sophie at 13-months is nowhere near Sophie at 14-months. It's like she went through some kind of cognitive spurt and has grown into such a walking, talking, thinking little person with a mind of her own in the past four weeks. Everyday, we discover something new that she's learned how to do-- like this morning when she neatly tucked her socks into her shoes after she removed them (the socks) herself-- and it is just so wonderful. In particular, we've just been floored by her language skills. Right now, she can say mama, dada, po-po (for my mom) ball, flower, sit, mo-mo (Elmo), night night, no-no, dog, ba-na (banana), bye, water, and hah-oh (hello). She can also sign (and say) book, milk and more.

But there are some things our little Sophie still needs to learn:

A grapefruit is not a ball.

Bath water is not for drinking. Neither is rainwater that has accumulated in her wagon.

Weekends are for sleeping in.

Applesauce is not hair product.

Shoes go on the feet, not in the mouth.

It will not hurt to eat other foods apart from cantaloupe and crackers.

Diaper change is not a form of torture.

Not everything that has four legs is a duck.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Watch out...

We're letting Sophie loose into the world!



Today, the neighborhood... tomorrow, the world!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Sophie's new wheels

Since she started walking with our help, we've been looking around for a walker wagon for Sophie to push around the house. There are of course plenty of these activity wagons around but the ones we've seen are either really poorly made or have too many bells and whistles that distract more than they engage. And with the Fisher-Price recall of close to 10 million toys recently, we're glad we didn't get any of the FP ones that the folks online recommended. Our first choice was actually this Haba walker that we first saw in a toy store a couple of months back. We love Haba toys-- like Chicky and her first rattle-- but we just couldn't bring ourselves to pay $150 for something she'll probably outgrow in less than a year.

Then today, we found the perfect one- the Original Toy Company Baby Walker. It's just the right height for Sophie- sturdy, simple, thoughtfully designed in all the right places, and it has great reviews on Amazon. And at a price that we could live with. It's strong enough that it won't topple when she tries to pull herself up on it, and she can not only put her toys in the wagon, we can even put her in it and push her around. Needless to say, the afternoon was spent traversing the length of our second floor, back and forth, back and forth. She's so enamored with it that we wondered why we didn't her one sooner. When the weather gets a little nicer tomorrow, we'll bring her outside and see how far she can go with it by herself :)