Monday, April 25, 2011

Eliot on Holiday

The good news is Eliot, unlike her mother, has very good eyesight and can spot a tiny ant on the wall from across the hotel room.
The bad news is ...Eliot can spot a tiny ant on the wall from across the room.

(Eliot in her Head Chef attire at the Kids' Club)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Heidi is Coming to Singapore!

Yeah, I am so excited, my freshman hallmate from college is coming to visit! She is the very first girl I remember meeting at Vassar. I recall thinking: "Ok, I'm out of here. Nobody should look that good." The fresh-faced beauty from Vermont (first and only girl I've ever known who doesn't use make-up...ever), the girl who introduced me to Elvis Costello, ripped jeans, and chocolate truffles. Think Betty Boop meets Betty Blue. When I showed my friends back home her photo after freshman year they summed it up in one word: "Madonna..." (Italian expression of amazement, not the singer). Can't wait to see you, Heidi!!!

(As you can see from the photo, modest preparations are underway for your arrival.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On Sleep Deprivation

An old friend recently asked me what to do about getting her toddler to nap. That got me thinking about when Alexander was a toddler and how maybe I'm not the best qualified to give that sort of advice. I could possibly write a book on what not to do to get your child to be a good sleeper.
Alexander was the 'challenging' child, the one who had me walking around in sleep-deprived stupor asking random strangers on subways about the kid standing with them: "Does he sleep through the night?" Uhm, yeah. He is a teenager.
The one who had me shooting murderous looks at my husband when he returned from work and asked me sweetly: "So, how was your day, honey?"
Well, let's see, it was pretty good at 10 am, we had only been up five hrs then. Already watched The Jungle Book, built a lego tower, read books, made our own books, played impromptu game of hide and seek, gone out to see the construction working site...but, now at 7pm, I don't even remember what my name is. I've had the life sucked out of my brain. In retrospect, what mostly did it were those daily depressing hours spent trying to get him to nap while singing painful renditions of Les Miserables as he watched wide-eyed from his stroller, probably thinking: "Show tunes? Come on, you can do better than that."
A good friend calling me as I was pushing him in the stroller while holding his bottle to get him to sleep, when she heard what I was doing she just murmured: "Oh, Jen."
Or telling friends to never drop by at 7pm. Why? Because he cries at that hour.
The first time I ever went out in the morning without the baby was when we still lived in Dublin and he was 2 months old. I was going to get root canal. I remember feeling elated. When the dentist asked me how I was, I wanted to hug him. I was so sleep deprived in those days that when a car almost hit me, the very first thing I remember thinking was how soft the hospital sheets would feel.
Later on, he wanted to drink baby bottles all night long. I put him to sleep by feeding him two bottles, fell asleep with another two behind my pillow and still around 3 am, in a voice similar to that of Attila the Hun, he would yell out: "Latte!" In his defence, I was so quick at getting up and concocting mixtures of milk, water, and chamomile tea he probably thought we lived in a cafe'. And when he threw the empty bottles against the wall after downing the 'latte' my husband and I secretly thought: "Help."
But, dear Laura, it does get better. And the silver lining is that you will never (EVER) take for granted your child sleeping through the night. Or sleeping, period.
I would end this post on a positive note and tell you that (as you can see in the photo) he sleeps now, but I'm too afraid of jinxing it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thank You!

I just figured out how statistics and audience on this blog work and would like to formally thank all the kind people who have been reading and leaving comments. A big shout out to the two people in the Netherlands who have also been checking out my blog.
Italy, US, and Singapore I somewhat expected. Netherlands? Not so much.

The Unthinkable: Me Signing Up For Boot Camp

I don't usually upload pictures of myself (see never) but for this special, momentous occasion decided to make an exception. I just hosted a special fitness talk/coffee at my house given by my good friend/wellness coach Jen. Those of you who know me may view my hosting a special fitness talk as something of an oxymoron. My husband once gave me 10 sessions with a personal trainer as a birthday present...let's just say we still refer to it as Black Sunday.
As Jen enthralled us with knowledgable talk on cardio vs. strength resistance, I surreptitiously offered macaroons and blueberry muffins. She talked about excercise regimes while I secretly wondered whether dipping oreos in coffee counted toward burning calories. She also nixed my breakfast of cereals (which I thought was incredibly healthy as opposed to my college handful of m&ms) as lacking in proteins. She even had us do an excercise and guess the name?
"Crunches?" I volunteered. "Uh, no, Jennifer, those would be lunges."
More coffee, anyone?
So, how did I go from eating macaroons to signing up for her boot camp next month? Wildly optimistic desire to finally get fit or anthropological experiment, who's to say?
Anyway, if I don't get a heart attack during my first session, it should be interesting, stay tuned.
Mojito anyone?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Kindergarten Woes

School? Again?
I knew it could happen. I just didn't expect it after 7 months of Eliot entering the classroom every morning and yelling back happily: "Goodbye Mommy, I love you, have a great day."
Eliot, suddenly holding onto me at the door, not wanting to let me go.
"I want you to stay here with me."
But Mommies can't stay inside the classroom, they're not allowed. Only children. I wish I could stay here. It looks so fun and you're going to read stories..."
"I don't even know how to read. And look, there's an ant and I don't like ants."
Look at that table full of exciting projects which you'll be doing today.
"That's not my table. I'm at the red table."
Oh? Well, I'm sure you'll have an amazing day. Eliot's friend comes over and wonders: "Is she going to cry because she misses you?" Eliot nods vigorously. Oh no...
Brings back memories of what my Mom used to tell my little brother every morning after she dressed him up for kindergarten: "How cute you look. You'll see everybody is going to say how gorgeous you look." Inevitably, at the end of the day, he would inform her in a deep voice: "Nobody said I was gorgeous."
Are Moms, albeit lovingly, the first to set you up for a fall?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Is the Easter Bunny a Boy or a Girl?

People often ask me why I keep a blog. I can think of a lot of reasons. It's fun, it's addictive, it beats jogging.
But the main one is so I don't forget these years in Singapore when the kids were little. During the rebellious teenage years, it might help to remember that years before, the night before Easter, five year old Eliot said: "You're the best Mommy in the world." And that Alexander, from his bed, looked up from his book to agree, "She really is."

Genuine feeling of love for their mother or the hope that I have connections with the Easter Bunny...who's to say?

(Eliot and Alexander, Easter 2011)

Not Just Any Visitor...

In these days, it seems like many of my friends are having family come to visit them from abroad. When that happens I usually get visitor-envy (a common complaint among expats who live half way across the world from their loved ones). You get to hear all about the delicious champagne brunches they're planning or the family villas in Bali they are renting. But I shouldn't complain too much. I've gotten to see my entire family this year. Even Julian, my concert pianist bro all the way from New York City! When Julian comes to Singapore it's usually to play concerts or it's en route to play...well, concerts. That's fine with me.
The open-air gig he did at the Botanical Gardens (the Central Park of Singapore) was an inspiring event. And I don't say that because he's a blood relative. The audience kept asking for encores and not even the sudden rain made people leave... beautiful music or impossibility of getting a taxi, who's to say? Either way, an unforgettable night.
So Jules, when are you coming back?
(Julian playing Chopin at the Botanical Gardens in Singapore)

Easy Like Sunday Morning...

Alexander: "Mommy, why don't you have any more children?"
What do you mean?
"I would really like another family member."
Oh really...Well, you know it wasn't easy for me to have you two, and it would be a baby, you know, you couldn't play with it or anything.
"I know, I remember the way Eliot was like a baby. She had those cute, chubby cheeks, I wanted to play with her. Party..."
Eliot: "Why doesn't Alexander want me anymore?"
Alexander: "No, I do."
What about you, Eliot, would you want another brother or sister?
"No, just Alexander."
Alexander (hugging Eliot): "Okay, Eliot, we can party today."
Whew, that was close. Another request for family enlargement resolved nicely.

Monday, April 4, 2011

And Then God Bought Me...

"That ant keeps following me."
He's not following you. Ants are actually very nice. If anything, they are scared of you because you're so big and they're so small. Maybe he's climbing your leg because he thinks you're a tree.
"But why does he think I'm a tree?"
It's 7:20 am, there's only so much mental energy I can devote to this topic. The words of Robin Williams in Live from the Met come back to me: "Who the $@# do you think I am? Carl Sagan?"
"Is there anywhere with no ants?"
No, no, no. There are ants everywhere, Singapore, Italy...New York. Just get used to ants.
"But not in a snowy place."
That's right, not in the snow. Maybe Alaska. Hmmm, I've never been to Alaska.
"Mommy...yes you have. You've been everywhere. You know, before you were born. Before I was born I was just bones...and then God bought me. Right?"
Where is the bus?
('Ant-wary' Eliot trying to get a pigeon to eat crumbs from her hand last summer in Verona.)