Thursday, May 28, 2015

Food for thought

Blueberry was not his usual self yesterday. He was struggling to swim, and was sticking rather close to the water surface in a very awkward lopsided manner. Considering that almost all of the fish that Xena's classmates got back from the fish farm have died, I've been prepping myself for the inevitable, and thinking of ways to break it to Xena if it does happen. So far, I've only got "Xena, Blueberry died." Sometimes, the plain old truth is the best approach.

Anyway, the three of us got together to do some medical research on his condition last night. By the three of us, I don't mean Viv, Xena and me. I meant Viv, Google (or as Xena prefers, 'Google uncle') and me. This article accurately seemed to diagnose his condition, so we followed the tips given, and *touchwood* he is so much better today. We are all breathing a sigh of relief. Until the next panic attack he gives us, of course.

The 'treatment' for the swim bladder condition he seems to have requires us to starve him for three days to clear his gut out, and, I kid you not, to monitor his pooping.

This evening, Xena suddenly exclaimed, "Mama, you forgot to feed Blueberry today!"

"No, we are supposed to starve him for three days, remember?"

"What is 'starve him for three days'?" She asked.

"We can't give him any food for three days."

"He won't eat anything for three days?"

"That's right."

"Why not?"

"Because he was not feeling well, remember?"

Xena thought long and hard, and then finally said, "Mama, I'm also not feeling well."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how much my kid hates food. :/

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Toe the line

Yesterday, I made a brave, brave decision.

I took Xena along with me for a pedicure.

Usually, I don't take her along when I go for pedicures, eyebrow threading or haircuts. She gets bored and restless and I feel helpless and stressed, strapped in my chair. It's usually not a very easy or enjoyable experience, trying to keep track of where your kid is headed and where your right eyebrow is headed. So usually I hand her over to Viv on a cricket-less weekend and go, or I just shrug my shoulders, say 'chuck it' and carry on living my life as Kroor Singh from Chandrakanta.

But yesterday, I told myself, "She's four. It's high time she learns to sit down and wait." I was in dire need of a long-due pedicure (Nail art on the fingernails is one thing; I like to do it by myself, but pedicures are best left to the professionals.) and my partner in most of such crimes, Clueless, was available. (Pedicures are SO much more fun when you go in twos or threes, isn't it?)

A small voice in my head was warning me that taking her along might result in disaster, but I was so glad I ignored it. Because, believe it or not, the three of us HAD A BALL. It was the most entertaining pedicure session I'd ever had in my life. Not only did Xena sit and wait patiently, she got involved. Her running commentary was making my pedicurist laugh so much, she almost nicked my toe. "So cute", she remarked. I wanted to retort with a "Totally. Cutie-cle, in fact." But I resisted. I didn't know what they did with customers who made bad nail puns. Paint only five toenails and send them off, probably.

Of course, Xena had a gazillion questions for the pedicurists and me.

"Is this hot water?"
"Is it very hot?"
"Can I touch it?"
"Why are you putting your feet in hot water?"
"Can I also put my feet in?"
"Are these real nails or fake?"
"Why is Aunty wearing a mask?"
"What are you drinking?"
"Why did Aunty give you a cookie with tea?"
"Can I have the cookie?"
"This cookie is not nice. Can you eat it?"
"Can I also get a pedicure?"
"Can you ask Aunty if she has children's nail polish?"

Clueless was about 15 minutes late, so my pedicure was slightly ahead of hers.
Xena was keenly observing the difference in stages. She pointed squarely at Clueless' pedicurist and loudly remarked, "WHY IS THIS AUNTY SO SLOW?"

Xena also helped us pick the colours for our toenails. Mine was straightforward because I'd shortlisted it down to three and let her pick the final one. Clueless was more, erm, 'open'.

Clueless - Xena, can you help me pick a colour for my toenails?
Xena - Yes. What colour do you want?
Clueless - Errr... you pick for me, baby.
Xena - Any colour?
Clueless - Yes. But something light.
Xena - YELLOW!
Clueless - Errr...

As we waited for my nail polish to dry, my pedicurist asked Xena, "How old are you?" Xena went into 'shy mode' and tried to hide in my lap. So I did what I always do when this happens. "She's THIRTY-FIVE. Aren't you?" Xena immediately emerged to correct me. "Nooooo. I'm FOUR." Works like a charm. Every time.

"Do you have any brothers or sisters?" my pedicurist asked next.

I was curious about what she would say, because I don't think she'd encountered this question before.

"No," she said without batting an eyelid. "Just a fish."

And so, we stepped out, with pretty feet and happy hearts, and a cheerful little girl in tow.

The future looks bright. And full of stress-free pedicures and haircuts.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Doctor's orders

I usually keep a small toy in my handbag when I go to pick up Xena from school. A toy car, a Rainbow dash figurine, a Transformers toy, a finger puppet, a book, a tiny soft toy, etc. She's usually hungry and tired and sleepy, and not really up for much conversation at that time. So the toy keeps her busy during the longish bus ride, and puts an end to the "Why is that boy playing with his mama's phone? Why don't I have anything to play with?" questions.

Last Friday, I forgot to take a toy. Luckily, it didn't result in total catastrophe. In fact, we ended up having fun.

Xena - Mama, which toy did you get today?

Me - Oh! I forgot to get a toy today. Sorry, baby.

Xena - Then what should I play with?

Me - You don't always need a toy to play. We can play something else.

Xena - Like what?

Me - Hmm... Let's think about what we can play in the bus without a toy.

Xena - Okay. (thinks) Doctor-patient??

Me - Sounds great to me!

Xena - Okay, I'll be the doctor first. You be the patient.

Me - Okay. Hello, doctor!

Xena - Hello! What happened?

Me - Errr... I hurt my finger.

Xena - Oh! Blood is coming out!! What should I do??

Me - Err... I don't know! You're the doctor!

Xena - Okay okay. Let's wash it, put some medicine and put a plaster on it!

Me - Okay!

Xena - Wait!

Me - What?? Quick, it's still bleeding!

Xena - Which colour plaster do you want?

Me - Umm... purple.

Xena - Which character do you want on your plaster?

Me - Umm... Tweety bird.

Xena - Okay, here you go. (mimes putting the plaster)

Me - I feel better now. Thank you, doctor!

Xena - You're welcome. Bye bye.

Me - Bye bye!

Xena - Okay, now I'm the patient and you're the doctor.

So we repeated the above. Yes, the whole thing.

And then...

Xena - Okay, now I'm the doctor and you're the patient.

Me (exhausted) - Again???

Xena - Yes.

Me - Okay. Hello, doctor!

Xena - Hello. What happened?

Me - I... have fever!

Xena - Nooooooooo! You don't have fever. Your finger is hurt!

Me - No, that was the last time. My finger is okay now. This time, I'm here for a fever.

Xena - Noooooooooo! You don't have fever!

Me - Why not??

Xena - Because I'm a finger-hurt-doctor!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Home affairs

So we have finished unpacking in our new home for two months, and have kind of settled in. Our flatmate is a very sweet chap; he'd actually stocked the fridge with what he thought Xena would like. Of course, he had no idea that Xena prefers air over ice-cream any day. But I've managed to convince her to try some of the stuff in there, saying "But Uncle A got this SPECIALLY for you!"

I'm also trying to get used to living on such a high floor. I've mostly lived in low-rise buildings in Singapore, so this oonche log, oonchi pasand life is new to me. We are right next to the expressway, so it's quite noisy all the time, but the spectacular views more than make up for it. In fact, I've been going a little bonkers taking photos of the view at different times. Check it out below.

The view at 6 am

The view at 3 pm

The view at 6 pm

The view at 9 pm

The view at 10 pm on another night

The view at 9 am yesterday, just before a thunderstorm

The view during the thunderstorm

In stark contrast, the current view of our old place is quite scary. We went to see it on Tuesday night after the first round of hacking was completed. I didn't take well to it at all. It can be quite unnerving to see your home all hacked up and plunged into darkness. I can't wait for the finished product.

This is pretty much what every room looks like. Yeah. 

Xena also wanted to come along to see "how contractor uncle has broken the old things so he can make new things", but she was quite horrified at what she saw. I think she kind of expected the whole thing to have been completed by now. 

Some of her questions:

"Where is my new room??"

"Why is it so dark?"

"Why is it so messy?"

"What are these things on the floor?"

"Why is contractor uncle not here?"

"Why did contractor uncle break all the old things and not make the new things??"

"Are we going to live here now???"

"I don't like it. Can we go back to uncle A's house?"

...and the one that cracked me up:

"Mama, our kitchen has exploded! How will we cook now??"

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Sounds of silence

So I went to see the doctor on Sunday, demanding my voice back. He prescribed a bunch of meds, including antibiotics, and asked me to practise the ancient Indian practice of maun vrat (vow of silence) for the next few days to speed up the process of getting my voice back.

For someone who is second only to Xena when it comes to non-stop chattering, it was really weird not to have a voice. Must have been a real respite for Viv though because Xena and I are constantly talking to him, and sometimes he has to issue a queue number system.

As I was talking less, I realised I was hearing more things around me. For example, I had the opportunity to hear a patient at the clinic ask the nurse, "Before or after food?" when she handed him an ointment and asked him to apply it on his injured foot twice a day. I also had the opportunity to really savour the 'dharti phat jaaye aur main usme samaa jaaun' expression on her face.

We had not fully unpacked so we had all our meals outside. We were at the coffee shop downstairs for breakfast. Viv was in charge of the easier job - standing in the queue to order our food, while I was doing the harder job - keeping Xena on the chairs that we had managed to bag with difficulty. I realised that the sum of all talk in our household is a constant. Because I couldn't talk, Xena was trying her best to maintain the sum. She wanted to go everywhere, talk to everyone, do everything at once. The two elderly ladies seated at the same table were very amused by her and asked her, "You how old ah?" Suddenly, Xena got all shy and refused to answer. Then they concluded, "OH! Cannot speak English lah!" Then they looked at me and said, "Cannot speak English ah?" I smiled and mouthed "Can!" which they interpreted as "Yeah!" and so nodded and repeated, "Ah. No wonder. Cannot speak English." They must be thinking, "Daughter cannot speak English. Mother cannot speak at all!"

Yet another task of mine had also been compromised. Xena's running commentary in the bus is usually controlled by me by either explaining to surprised commuters what she said/meant, or somehow distracting and stopping her before she said something really weird. This time, there was no chance at all, so when she pointed to a lady and said, "LOOK MAMA THAT AUNTY'S BRAID IS REACHING HER BUM-BUM!" I couldn't do anything at all. Except smile apologetically at everyone.

I was slightly panicky because there was a parent-teacher meeting in Xena's school on Monday, which I was supposed to attend. Fortunately, Viv took leave and decided to come along with me as my voice so that I didn't look like a fool miming all the questions I had for her teachers, "Does she finish her lunch? Is she respectful and courteous in class? Is she picking up Singlish from her classmates? Which kid taught her the term 'yucky smelly poo poo'???"

That last one would have been hilarious to mime.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

A moving story

So we have moved to our temporary accommodation. We are sharing it with a cricket teammate of Viv's (henceforth referred to as A). I'd noticed the onset of a sore throat at the beginning of the weekend, and now it's become a full-blown case of totally-lost-voice. I can't talk or sleep and so I'm up at 6:30 am, doing what I can at least do -- blog.

Over the last four days, we have done an amazing amount of sorting, throwing, donating, selling and packing. We didn't even have to go through the guilt of throwing perfectly usable stuff which we don't want anymore. We donated our washing machine through to a needy family. Also, I found a recycle group of Facebook where you can simply post stuff that you don't want but is in good condition and people will just come and take it off your hands within a day or two. In fact, there will be mara-mari over it. One person's trash is truly another person's treasure.

Here are some snippets of the chaos that our place experienced over the long weekend.


Xena (looking at all the stuff on the floor) - Mama, what is happening???
Me - We are packing to move, baby.
Xena - To a new house?
Me - Yes.
Xena - The new house with my own room? With the rainbow on the wall and the bean bag and the Elsa bed and Olaf pillow? Is it ready?
Me - No, not yet. We are moving to uncle A's house first, so contractor uncle can make your new room here. Then we will move back.

Viv - Why do we have such much stuff??
Me - Beats me.
Viv - We need to get rid of it.
Me - Yes, we do. Now is the time. If we look at something for more than 5 seconds and can't decide, toss it out.
Viv - Yes.

Me - Omg Viv, we need more cartons.
Viv - Again??


Me (spotting Viv poring over some Mumbai memorabilia for half an hour) - Viv, please don't get senti. Keep it or toss it.


Me (watching Viv open an old carton) - Omg what is in there?
Viv - An old 14" CRT TV.
Me - We have an old 14" CRT TV? Why??
Viv - I won it in a competition in NTU.
Me - Why do we still have it? Can we throw it?
Viv (testing it) - It works. See?
[For the record, I sold it for $12. The guy who bought it for his sons' room was thrilled. Kept thanking me for the 'very good deal'.]


Xena - Mama, why are we playing music on the iPad all the time?
Me - Because we don't want it getting buried under something and getting lost.
Xena - But I don't like this song!


Xena - Mama, are you making the carton without me???
Me - Of course not. I wouldn't dream of it. Come come.


Me - Xena, don't sit on that. Dangerous.
Viv - No, don't stand on it either.
Xena - Dangerous.


Viv - Where is the masking tape?
Me - It was right here. Where did it go??
Viv and me - XENAAAAA!

Me - Xena, please move out of the way.
Xena - But where do I go then?
Me - Go to the other room.
Viv (in 'the other room') - Xena, please move out of the way.
Xena - But where do I go then??


Viv - Are you excited about moving to Uncle A's place?
Xena - Yes.
Viv - Are you going to play with him?
Xena - Does he have children?
Viv - No, he's not married yet.
Xena - Maybe he can find an aunty and marry her, and then have children and then I can play with them.

Xena - Mama, are you putting all my toys in the storeroom?
Me - Not all. You can choose ten to take along with us. The rest will go into the storeroom till we return.
Xena (dragging her biggest and bulkiest toys over to me) - These three... and...
Me - Omg noooo....
Xena - But you said ten.
Me - Ten small ones, baby.


Viv - Where is the marker?
Me - It was right here. Where did it go??
Viv and me - XENAAAAA!


Xena - Mama, what did you write on that carton?
Me - 'Shoes'.
Xena - Can you write 'Xena's shoes'?
Me - No need to do that. All shoes are in here.
Xena - And what are you writing on this carton?
Me - 'Dressing table stuff. Hairclips.'
Xena - Can you write 'Xena's hairclips'?
Me - All the hairclips in this house are yours, Xena.
Xena - But can you write 'Xena's hairclips'?

Me - Viv, shelf wala banda aa raha hai.
Xena (when the doorbell rings) - Is the banda here??
Me - OMG. Erm, Xena, not banda. It's the uncle who is buying our shelf.
Xena - But you said banda.
Me - Sorry, banda is wrong. It's uncle, ok?
Xena - Ok.


Me - Viv, washing machine wala banda kal aayega.
Xena - Mama, you said 'banda'!! It's wrong. It's uncle.
Me - Yes yes, it's uncle. Sorry.


Xena - Mama, why are we giving away my clothes and toys?
Me - Well, you have so many. We are giving it away to a child who doesn't have a lot of clothes and toys.


Xena - Mama, why is daddy taking out the washing machine?
Me - We are giving it away to an aunty.
Xena - She doesn't have a lot of washing machines?


Xena - Mama, why is the house sooooo messy?
Me - Because we are moving.
Xena - Ok. Then the contractor uncle will come and make it clean and nice?
Me - That's right.
Xena - Can you ask him to put an Elsa bed for me?
Me - Errr... he won't do that. We will do that later.


Xena - Mama, can you ask contractor uncle to put a purple and pink tap in my bathroom?
Me - Errr...


Me (spotting Viv poring over an old X-ray of his titanium-ed hand from 8 years ago) - Viv, please don't get senti. Keep it or throw it.


Xena (watching me pull the masking tape off a carton) - Mama, slowly! You're scaring Blueberry. I'll go and save him!
Me - Huh?
Xena (running to Blueberry) - Blueberry! It's okay, baby. Mama is just pulling the masking tape off.


Xena - Mama, Blueberry is scared of all the noises. Let's feed her.
Me - Him.
Xena - Let's feed him.
Me - I've already fed him.
Xena - But she's hungry again.
Me - No, she's not.
Viv - He.


Xena (watching Viv carry a super heavy carton) - Daddy, you are so strong.
Viv - Yes. You can also be very strong if you have a lot of... (pauses)... Mama, fill in the blanks?
Me - ... dal and rajma... and milk... and vegetables... and fruits... and rice... and parathas!


Xena (carrying something incredibly heavy for her, such as a book) - Mama, look how kind I am!
Me - Huh?
Xena - I'm helping you. You said kind people help others. So I'm kind.
Me - Right. Yes, you're very kind. And thank you.