Mommy Growing up: August 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My girl is now socializing

Aron excited at first day of school
My little 5 year old daughter Aron is kind of shy but kind of aggressive if provoked. That’s why I’m kind of afraid she won’t make any friends at school.

One time while shopping for dresses, I saw this little Taiwanese girl making faces to my daughter. I was kind of worried why such a cute girl would quarrel my sweet baby. However, I was mortified when I saw my baby doing exactly the same angry face to her. I can’t believe it.  I asked my daughter to stop and never to do it again because it’s bad. She should be making friends and not enemies.

At the day of her orientation, she made once again an enemy out of her colleague. My daughter was moving the chair beside this little pretty Taiwanese girl but the latter didn’t want it and stopped the chair’s movement. My daughter was mad and the little girl too was mad and both of them were exchanging angry faces at each other. When I found out what happened, I asked my daughter to stop it, to behave and be a good girl. She did behave while sitting at my lap but  still was not in the good mood. I asked her if that little girl can be her friend, and she exclaimed "no, she can’t be!" Again, shaking my head I wondered if my daughter could ever make a friend.

After two hours of leaving our kids to their teachers while the parents proceeded for our own orientation, I can’t wait to see my baby on how she fared with her very first day of class. While on my way to their room, I caught sight of her coming from the rest room, holding hands with another cute female classmate while walking towards their seats. I can’t believe it. I was beyond ecstatic. When she saw me by the window, she turned to run on my direction but this sweet classmate of hers ran after her and together they went back to their chairs, holding each other’s hands. That was the sweetest thing I ever saw! My baby after all was able to socialize and can make friends. I'm never been so proud of her.

As for the enemy she made that morning, thank goodness she belonged to another section. Otherwise, it might  be a disastrous way to start the kindergarten school year fun. 

Can't help disappointing myself

In response to Mama Kat's fabulous weekly prompts, I was inspired to write something about the times I disappointed myself. Ahhh about this topic, I have a lot to say  ~ since I'm always been disappointed on "me".  I just can't help it.  I am not a perfectionist but I always disappoint myself for being so imperfect (oops please be warned that I am weird, sometimes).
I disappoint myself for always been so disappointing ~ for always being late and for being an avid procrastinator, for being so clumsy, stubborn, impatient, irritable, tactless, immature, insecure, selfish, lazy, rebellious, paranoid, and simply for doing something stupid (oh please help me stop the list).

I disappointed myself today at my 5-year old daughter's first day of kindergarten class. I realized I failed as a perfect mom for her. Interacting in a community filled with competitive parents, I realized my daughter is academically falling behind from her peers. It's really my fault. I should have done better. I should have properly tutored my child this whole summer vacation instead of spending too much time watching movies or ogling on Facebook lol. I should have been a better mom *sigh*! Oh  come on, she's still a 5-year old kid, what's wrong with me? To hell with these competitive people lol. On a lighter note, we really had fun this summer.

Exactly ten years ago when I accidentally (lol) got pregnant, I disappointed myself for failing my dreams and for failing my family's dreams for me. Well, at least that was just temporary. I survived. I resolved to move on and catch on with my dreams~ together with my loving hubby and kids. Isn't that great!

When I was heavily pregnant with my first daughter, I disappointed myself for not controlling my diet hence I ended up like an overstuffed elephant. I really looked terrible and inherited a continent of cellulite! I learned my lesson the hard way (as always) thus I was very careful with my second pregnancy. 

When I delivered my first baby, again I disappointed myself for having an impromptu CS operation, the reason ~ too big baby, again because of stubborn me eating too much sweets at my last trimester (again a lesson learned).

And the list goes on and on. I'm afraid I will never have enough space for all of them.
Overall, how ever disappointed I may be with myself, I learned from all of my experiences. I took such disappointing situations as challenges to conquer. Though I'm imperfect, what I loved about myself is my will to look at the brighter side of anything. From there, I try to move on and sometimes just letting go...

Thanks Mama Kat for getting the drama queen out of me. I enjoyed this awesome event. Moving on to read what others wrote about your prompts  :)

Lessons I learned today

Aron at the day of orientation 

This morning, we went to my 5-year old daughter’s school for her supposed to be first-day-of-class. Upon arriving early at 8:00 AM, we were instead directed to the school’s auditorium. I just found out then that today was the school’s orientation for new students. Poor me, I was clueless. Blame it to my poor Chinese language skills. I was only informed there will be fittings for their school uniform but nothing about an orientation program. Again, probably some miscommunications happened in between.

Anyways, the parents, together with their kindergarten and first grader kids congregated inside the auditorium. Student IDs were handed out (with my daughter's Chinese name by the way is pronounced as Anya, isn't this cute) and different activities/games were on display. The first activity was to walk while balancing on a narrow wood. My baby walked on it in a breeze and occasionally holding my hands as not to fall down. I’m so proud of her bravery.

The second activity was a simple task of arranging the shapes according to the illustration puzzle (e.g. put the square in a square area, etc.). But embarrassing it may sound, we have not played this game in a long time. We only had her legos to form a house or a tower. I was kind of expecting that she won’t know how to figure this out and indeed she didn’t, save for the last two shapes. I was kind of sad that my daughter had a hard time while most of the kids did it easily.

The third activity was to connect the dots to form an animal picture. Again, I failed to teach her such activity but I thought she would know because it’s so easy. Yes she knew how to make a line but failed to connect the dots in a sequence. Now I was really worried and sadder and resolved to teach her when we get back home.

The fourth activity was a little game about jumping with one or both legs in a designed mat. Well, this one I knew she would not know since we haven’t played such game before. But she tried anyway. Again, we should play this game sometime.

Observing first hand her performances today, then I thought I was a kind of lackluster, irresponsible mom, failing to teach my poor little girl with some basic skills. Such was the price for being separated from her for almost four years in pursuit of my own career. I felt so bad and terribly sad for me and my baby. It's high time for me to make up for all the lost times. My daughter kind of felt the pressure too and she told me she’s tired and don’t wonna play anymore. In my mind, I made a promise to make it up to my baby, to teach her all that she needs to know and to let her enjoy such activities at the same time. Today, indeed I learned my valuable lessons.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The ABC Me

Being a newbie in the blogosphere, VoiceBox is one of the few communities that welcomed me warmly and I instantly felt at home. When I got invited to this event to write an ABC list about myself, I decided to take the challenge. I think it’s really fun to share about ourselves in a chic way. Here goes my ABC, hope I will not bore you…

A – Aronne Tanya. She’s my delightful five year old little rascal who’s always been so sweet especially if she knows she did something wrong. She then comes kissing and embracing me all over and whispering “I love you Mom”, which often raises my subtle suspicion.

B – Blogging. I just found a new way to release my stress and keep my sanity.

C – Cats. I love to volunteer with Taichung PAWS, an organization dedicated to reduce the sufferings of animals in Taiwan. They trap, neuter and release stray cats, a humane way to reduce its population.

D – Dancing queen. I always love to dance especially ballroom and belly dancing. I’m not a good dancer but I’m taking it as a fun way to exercise.

E – Extrovert. I always thought I was an extrovert until I realized I easily got tired hanging out in big crowds.  I recently took this personality test (Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers typological approach) and results showed that I am a moderately expressed extrovert, with slightly expressed sensing personality, distinctively expressed feeling personality, and slightly expressed perceiving personality. Hmmm sounds interesting.

F – Franje. I love my married surname.

G – Grades. I’m obsessed with good grades lol. A bad grade freaks me out, which happens always by the way lol.

H – Hyperactive. I was once a hyperactive kid so I could relate with my own hyperactive kids.

I – Ice cream (favorites are chocolate-mint and rocky road) is on the top list of my guilty pleasures.

J – Joey. My sweet and smarty 9-year old eldest daughter grew so fast, almost as tall as I am and we now have the same shoe size, omg! It seems only yesterday when she was our little bundle of joy, teaching her how to walk and talk. Now she's our giant baby, runs faster (always winning first place in track and field competitions at her school) and knows Mandarin better than I do. Indeed time ran so fast.

K – Karaoke. My family just loves to be a Beyonce for once or even an Abba. A party is not a party without a karaoke fun lolz.

L – Laugh. I love to crack jokes and laugh at funny jokes but I don’t love the way I laugh. Too loud, I can't help it!

M – Mango, the best tropical fruit ever. I so love it. Yum yummy!

N – Neil Johann, my husband. He loves his status of being the alpha in the family lol, surrounded by his submissive beautiful girls. He loves to be the king of his jungle so I just play along (sometimes).

O – Olive oil. I use it not only for salads but for my home made beauty skin regimens.

P – Parents-in-law. They are the best. When I became a baby mama ten years ago, they did all the major jobs for us for our wedding (bookings from flower shops to hotels, etc.), became my personal research consultants for my thesis, and took care of all our domestic problems (hiring house helps, etc.). They tried their best to make our lives comfortable in spite of the disappointment we caused them. Indeed I am so lucky or shall I say blessed.

Q – Queen. I’m always been a drama queen. Please bear with me.

R – Rain. When I was a kid living in a countryside, I always love when it rains. My parents would sometimes let us play outside in the rain with my siblings. But now living in the city with acid rain problems, playing in the rain is a big no-no for my kids. Too bad!

S – Siblings. I’ve got four of them: three pretty and loving sisters and a shy handsome brother, and I’m the eldest by the way. J

T – Taiwan. I’ve been living in Taiwan for four years now for my graduate studies.
U – University. I taught in a university for two years (College of Veterinary Medicine).

V – Veterinarian. I am a veterinarian by profession but fancies to be a SAHM.

W – Weight. I was so happy I lost 4 kgs in 3 months.

X – X-men. I always love X-men movies and even the TV cartoons in the early 90’s. Storm has been my all time favorite.

Y – Younger days. I enjoyed my younger days. I enjoyed the perks of being active in our student body council, student publications and government youth councils. I guess I was better with my time management skills back then.

Z- Zombies. I’m always been a zombie movie junkie. I just love the creeps it gave me considering that it’s not real. I don’t like the other horror movies about axe-wielding murderers though. I’ve been waiting for the second season of TV series “The Walking Dead”. The show really scares the hell out of me. I give it five stars.

Thank you for reading my list till the end. Can't wait to read your ABCs too. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The lazy student in me

After a year of rest from my studies, I'm geared to go back this coming semester. My kids are already settled. Their classes will start by next week, 3rd grade and kindergarten for my 9 and 5 year old daughters, respectively. On the other hand, the new semester for my graduate studies (PhD 2nd year, Veterinary Medicine) will start by next month. But still here I am, unable to work. :-(

I need to go to my office/laboratory or to the library to gather literatures for my experiments. I badly needed to finalize my research designs. My husband's schedule to work in his lab is in daytime so I couldn't do it in daytime.  I can't fully work at home either since home means the absence of online journal subscriptions, which are only available in the university. This means I need to work in the campus. Since I can't leave my kids at home (no way) or bring them to the library, my schedule hence allows me to work only at night time, (best) right after early dinner when my husband arrives home until early dawn. A good friend of mine is willing to keep me company at night time in her cozy study office. However, I just can't work at night time either. For two weeks now I've been lagging behind from my program. Why? I just can't bear to leave my kids at home (with their dad), knowing that they can't sleep without me by their sides (*sly grin*). All right guilty. I know this is just an excuse (yet true, wink*). The truth is, I am enjoying home, being lazy, with my kids ~ this is life. But how can anyone blame me? I'm still enjoying the vacation. Come on it's still summer vacation, gimme a break, lol. Being a WAHM (part-time researcher for my professor) for a year, believe me it's not that easy to get back out there. I know, I need to toughen up. I just need more determination, more discipline and a good time management. But I never thought it could be this hard. Oh I need my mom, I am so weak, so lazy...
but I will try my best to overcome this before the vacation ends! I promise!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Frugal fashionista

I always love fashion. Whenever I got the chance, I would indulge myself to a cute fashionable dress or cute shoes on trend or with some lovely accessories. However, though I love wearing trendy get-ups, I only buy them when on sale. Such is the price to pay when we already have adorable growing kids on tow, with their own sets of needs. I love to dress them with cutee clothes too. I often marvel how fast they grow and that how often I need to update their wardrobes, again signing up the help of discounted apparels. I don’t mind window shopping though, in fact I love it.  Acquiring a good buy makes me feel good.  I know, I’m such a frugal fashionista. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Mom’s dilemma

My decision of having my kids over to live with us oftentimes leaves me pondering, was this the right decision?

I and my husband went abroad to pursue our graduate students. We survive mainly on our respective scholarship stipends after quitting our respective jobs back home. Our part-time jobs as research assistant help too. As graduate students, we need all the time and effort to finish as soon as possible. So it is just rational enough that we shouldn't be bringing our kids over. On the other hand, I couldn't completely focus on my studies. I couldn’t help thinking about my poor little kids being left behind. Sure their grandparents took good care of them, but don’t they deserve their parents?

Then again I thought about the perks of not having kids over. When I came here alone four years ago, the absence of my husband and kids made me play around with my schedules – working at night till dawn with my experiments or having late night outs with friends without thinking of a child waiting for bedtime stories. However, I still longed for their company. When my experiments failed or beat deadlines, I wished my husband was here to comfort me. When I felt depressed and thought of giving up, wished my kids were here to kiss and embrace all my anxieties away.  I never felt so alone in the midst of the bustling city and beer drinking friends. The laughter, the yelling, the tantrums my kids had thrown - I missed it all.

When my husband decided to join me a year later in pursuit of his own PhD studies, I felt so happy. Life was good. Somehow, years of living apart had strengthened our marriage. Indeed we enjoyed our second honeymoon. When I finished my masters studies and got accepted for a PhD program, then I realized that both of us will be missing 5 or more years of our kids’ lives. No way! Missing my younger daughter’s first steps and first words were sad and terrible enough. I don’t wanna miss anymore of their birthdays, Christmas seasons or their everyday growth! No way, enough is enough. Then, I made a big decision. I will bring my kids over no matter what. My husband and parents-in-law were very apprehensive of the idea. Debates were thrown but in the end I won (*grin*).

Indeed God is good. He makes all things possible. Things worked out as planned. Our kids finally joined us here. We’re making up for the lost years we missed. Now I could enjoy all their kisses and embraces to my heart’s content. Now I can be a real mother. Life is never been better. Every day is a blessing. Together we will journey this life. Sure there will be hardships we meet along the way. But that’s what makes life more interesting and challenging. I learned to be grateful in little things that I took for granted for years. Indeed life is full of surprises and we live to enjoy them.

As for my dilemma on whether I made the right decision or not, well, let’s forget about it lol. More than ever, I am resolved  that I made the right decision.
I would not enjoy such a bliss had I chosen to leave my babies behind.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Working 10 hours a day!

New semester is coming!

I'm up for new strategies, be a new Mommy Kate - more disciplined, more focused, and hopefully smarter.  

I would start fulfilling these new goals by doing a simple task – and that is to work at least 10 hours a day. Question is: how in the world would I manage this?

My proposed schedule then:

6 – 7 AM – prepare breakfast; breakfast for me and my kids
7:15 – 7:30 – send Joey to school
7:30 – 8:15 – prepare me and Aron for school
8:20 – send Aron to school and me off to my college
8:30 – 4 PM – Laboratory/ school/ classes/ experiment (that’s 7.5 h)
4:15 – fetch kids from school
5 – 8:30 – prepare dinner, dinner, laundry, household chores, let kids study and do their homework, let Neil tutor kids their homework
9:30 – let kids sleep
8:30 – 11 – study for my own stuff (that’s 2.5 h)
11 PM – 6 AM – sleep (7 h)

Hmmm, this schedule may not be bad.  It’s quite interesting and way far challenging. Let’s see if Lazy Kate can handle this. So working 10 hours a day is not after all impossible to achieve (?). If I would just stick to my program, devote a little bit of hard work and practice a scary heap of discipline, I might accomplish my goals in no time… 
Aaahhh!!! I don't know! Hopefully…

Friday, August 12, 2011

My daughter is a video game pro

My daughter is supposed to study Chinese today through Rosetta Stone program. However, after waking up from my afternoon siesta, I found her ogling on the computer – not with some Mandarin but with some online video games. Looking at her, playing like some pro, hitting the keyboards at the right places, I now can see her future, and it spells D-O-O-M.

I know what she’s doing isn’t right. But I just can’t help myself from smiling, from admiring her ability to learn such game by herself. I am no fan of video games or rather I don't wanna waste my time with such. Well, a waste of time, a conclusion from scary stories I heard from some nocturnal friends getting addicted by such, sleeping late or rather not sleeping at all, ending up like zombies on class, stoned and learning nothing.
Okay, fair enough, I had my share of confession too. I got addicted with plants vs zombies once. I felt like a zombie myself, can’t wait to wake up and kill some zombies first thing in the morning. I found them too adorable to resist. Discovering my vulnerability on wasting my “precious” time, I am now dodging away from video games. Well, ironically I often ended up equally wasting my time on Facebook. In fairness to video games, its benefits can't be ignored too. As my husband used to insist, video or computer games are said to improve the players’ multi-tasking/hand-eye coordination skills, as well as their problem solving, motivation, cognitive and decision-making skills. Hmm sounds interesting.
Now going back to my daughter, crawling out of my bed, I hugged and kissed her. She’s just like her father, a cute smarty video game addict.  Then just in time, I saw her score printed on the screen, and I can’t believe what I saw, O points!  That’s right, zero points. Gosh, this is so hilarious. Judging from the way she raced out from her enemies’ reach, I thought she was some gaming pro. The gigantic silver screen on my head printed with some soothing words of “It’s alright, I have a video game addict but smarty kid” was slowly shattered into pieces. My daughter after all is just a normal curious 9-year old little girl, far from being a video game addict. As to how she fared with her gaming skills, fair enough, she’s got my genes, a video game slow learner hehe.

Sour-graping it may sound, this is good, she should be better off concentrating her way on learning Mandarin or Mathematics, than with such well they said, brain-stimulating video games, but I call it, life-wasting games LOL. Nevertheless, I can’t disagree, a video game played in moderation may not be that bad.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Nightmares at work

Summer vacation is finally here, no more schools till 6pm for my kids thus both of them (9 & 5 yrs old) are staying at home. Unfortunately for me, I have no one else to leave them with when I will be working in my lab. My husband is “busy” (or pretending to be) working in his lab, thus can’t be disturbed. So I have no choice but to bring my kids over at work with me.  

The first time was a disaster. I had no problem with my eldest daughter though. With laptop and headphones, there she was quietly playing games with Dora or Sponge Bob. I got headaches with the younger daughter. She easily got bored with games and movies. She wanted to play actively, like running or crawling or jumping all around. Before bringing them at work, my daughters fully agreed and promised me to behave well. But lo, after observing them in the lab for a while, I then realized the 5-yr old can’t keep any promises (I'm doomed I know!). So to keep a good eye on her - keeping her from breaking any glass wares or from tasting toxic chemicals, I brought her with me wherever I was working, may it be in the office, or in the lab, or in the next door lab.

While I was busy mixing some chemical buffers, there she was, still sitting on her assigned high chair but was busy tapping the ELISA reader machine as if it was some computer keyboard.  I asked her to stop and moved her chair away from any reachable fragile stuff. I dragged her chair towards the middle of the aisle. But when I got busy again, I heard the same tapping noise again, just in time when my professor came in the room and caught her in the act. I was so embarrassed and mortified.

I told my little girl to sit still in her chair as I got busy preparing antibiotic samples for CE analysis, which she reluctantly did. However, the moment I got engrossed with my work, she was gone. I found her sitting in the office with her sister complaining that she’s tired and sleepy.  My labmate was kind enough to give her a pillow and blanket to sleep with on top of the desk. But alas, this just gave her an idea for her next stunt. She went up in the desk then jumped down onto the floor like some power puff girl.  I came in with my professor just in time she was enacting her second stunt. I was so embarrassed. 
my chemical filled laboratory
To further restrain her, I brought her with me to the Capillary Electrophoresis room, gave her a pen and paper to get busy with and to practice her writing skills. While I got busy keying in methods for analysis, she also got busy writing all over the pearly white desks in that lab, not with a pencil but with a purple marking pen that she somehow smuggled from some corner of the room. Now I am on the verge of crying. My husband came in to my rescue but not until 6:00 pm. He gladly brought them home with him while I got busy cleaning up the mess my daughter left behind. Thank goodness we have good bleach in the lab to wipe out all her vandalism and sense of art.

For two weeks they stayed with me in the lab and for that two weeks, my cute 5-year old little rascal never failed to exhaust me, pushing me to the edge of my sanity. She never took her promises seriously nor my pleads nor my threats. She always slipped quietly from her chair and out of my sight. We brought their toys over to play with but she always got bored easily. We brought all sorts of snacks to keep her busy but she’s not that interested. She preferred running around with paper towels and pretending to be some winged cartoon character in the midst of my chemical-filled laboratory. One time, I bargained with my husband to take the little girl with him in his lab so I could concentrate on my work.  Oh, that was the best day ever for me. Indeed, my little girl was well-behaved with her father around. But while he was in the middle of bacterial isolation experiment, she blurted out that she needed to pee and few seconds later, she urinated on the floor, much to his embarrassment. Ahhh, those two weeks at work were a nightmare. Thank goodness it’s over. 

My professor asked me if I wanted to work full-time in his lab this summer. As tempting as the salary can be, but at the cost of my sanity and my daughters’ well-being, I declined the offer.  I preferred to stay at home and be a mom for once, to enjoy the vacation with my kids, and to simply play in the park or bring them somewhere else special and fun.

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