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Friday, January 27, 2006

It's all about the Ang Pow?

I was just thinking to myself the other day how much Chinese New Year has diminished in celebratory magnitude for me. First, the conjugal commitments meant no more collection of ang pows and then bitching about who gave how much :).

Next, with the demise of my last grandparent three weeks ago, family reunions have shrunk to just the immediate family.

BUT....CNY gets festive again when you have a kid. This CNY is Alicia's second one and to try and increase her level of cuteness (or rather for my own amusement), I've been trying to teach how to say "Gong Xi Gong Xi" with her hands and offer two kams in exchange for her ang pow.

Never one to perform on demand, she'll only do the "Gong Xi Gong Xi" fisted hand rocking when she's in the mood to please. And when I placed the two kams in front of her, she decided to do the taste test first.

Now that she can run around, I couldn't resist putting her in a cheong sum.

Presenting.....Miss Chinatown 2023......

Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Androgynous Look

(My primary school friend Shimian commented that she wished I could blog more often so I'm going to try and accede to that request especially since I spend so much time reading her blog and empathizing with it quite substantially.)

In terms of hair thickness, Alicia unfortunately was not one of those babies blessed with a full head of hair. In spite of the Chinese tradition that shaving the head would stimulate an abundance in hair growth, I could not bring myself to do it, largely due to the fear that it might not work and then I'd be stuck with a bald baby instead of one with just the thinning hairline.

So for the first ten months of her life, I kept getting comments like "Aww...what a cute baby (big grin on my face)....how old is HE? (grrr....)" or the perpetual "Is it a girl or boy?" even though I had painstakingly picked out pink clothes or dresses to accentuate Alicia's gender. And on the rare occasion where I decide to retort with "She's a girl, that's why she's in pink", I get the inane comment of "boys can wear pink too..especially Indians". Err...excuse me but in what way does Alicia even look like she has Indian blood in her?

I could have tried little bandannas or hats as other mothers do but my highly opinionated child would have nothing to do with it. She was an au naturel baby and chose to remove any foreign objects placed on her that were detachable (ie. hats, socks, bibs etc). She even tried removing clothes at one point but soon realized she was fighting a losing battle.

Fortunately, her hair finally starting growing out and having inherited her Daddy's hair colour and texture, she also inherited the little curls at the ends which helped perpetuate her femininity. She got vain as she got older as well and loves checking herself out in the mirror and getting her hair brushed.

One day, my cousin brought a bag of 'hand me down' clothes over to my place and lo and behold, there was a little red cap in it. They were all keen to put it on her but I thought, no way, that would last less than a second on her head. Seems like her vanity got the better of her and once she saw her reflection in the mirror, she was thrilled to strut around the house with the cap on.

It was a cute look, I must admit but I figured if I took her out wearing that, it would be "Is it a boy or girl?" all over again. So for now, the cap's only for home wear.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Beginnings and Endings

Can't believe my first blog entry for 2006 is on the 11th of January. So many things have happened during my extended blog silence and I'll try and squeeze them all into one entry.

We went to Australia to spend Christmas (click for all pics) with the family at a place called Blacks Beach to be exact. It's actually quite a ulu place that's like 12 hours drive from Brisbane or an hour by plane. For our sanity's sake, we chose the plane route. Alicia was quite wary about re-uniting with the extended family again given the long absence and was extremely sticky to mummy for the first two days, after which she had a ball exuding her charming and cheeky self to the rest of the family. She also made great strides (pun intended) in her walking ability.

Despite not having much to do at Black's Beach, this Christmas was infinitely more pleasurable than the last where Alicia was only slightly over a month old and as we later found out, just on the brink of becoming colicky (ie. extremely grumpy for no apparent reason). Here's grumpy Alicia 12 months ago and one of her this Christmas.

After a week with the family, we moved on to Hamilton Island for the rest of our vacation. Hamilton Island is like the idyllic vacation spot. We actually planned to have our wedding there before we decided it was too much of a hassle to do the cross continent thing (kudos to Alicia Altorfer-Ong and Jo-anne for pulling it off! =)

Well, here's the catch - Hamilton Island with a toddler is far from being idyllic. With no "baby sitters" around, that meant we were on our own. The island had a day care centre, but our darling pint size Princess was so used to one on one attention, she would have nothing to do with the 1:4 caregiver:child ratio present and she established that stance by severely exercising her lungs and screaming the house down.

After that, we decided that no one at that centre would want "that kid from hell" back so we were on our own. That meant no jetskiing together or snorkeling amongst the glorious reef and marine life either.

So we spent a rather quiet and uneventful New Year's eve there with the exception of a chicken pox scare from Alicia. She went down for a nap in the afternoon and woke up with large red spots on her cheeks that threatened to erupt through the rest of her body. Being a first time mum that's fiercely protective of my baby's pristine, unblemished porcelain complexion, I was understandably (?) frantic.

Trapped on an island with limited media facilities, we had to page the doctor to come back to the clinic and have a look at her. His prognosis was either a heat rash or chicken pox (man, kinda extreme right?). If
vesicles appeared in the next 24 hours, it would be most likely chicken pox and we would be quarantined on the island till her scabs fall off.

After a whole night of waiting, hoping and praying and directing huge blasts of aircon at her, she finally awoke the next morning her usual self again, flawless skin and all! Phew, I still shudder at the thought of having to deal with a sick kid with no help =P.

As if that wasn't enough, 2006 really kicked off with a series of unfortunate events. During our little excursion to the golf driving range on the island, I get an SMS from my mum saying that my paternal grandfather has passed away. Sigh...more bad news.

Not that it was totally unexpected - he was after all a nonagenarian and went peacefully in his sleep. Given the amount of babysitting we were doing, we weren't that distraught to cut the last part of our vacation short and return home for the funeral.

I have a feeling this is going to be a rather 'suay' year for me given that it's only been 2 weeks into the new year and I received another piece of disruptive news on my FIRST day back at work.

My boss is leaving and with his departure, my role becomes questionable. Not that my unemployment would have such a devastating effect in the large scheme of things, one could also argue that I should just get back to the cushy 'tai tai' life and live it up. But I would have liked it to be on my terms instead of being the victim of corporate restructuring. Sigh....oh well, we'll see what happens.

To look on the brighter side of things, I could simply follow the lunar calendar and deem all these events the END of a bad year. So goodbye year of the rooster and hello year of the dog!