A woman's romance with motherhood, green living, finance, and this heady thing called life.
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Saturday, February 17, 2007
It's the eve of CNY today and we spent the day lazing around and playing with Jack who seems to have a 9 month developmental thingy where he suddenly cries and seems inconsolable. He does get bored real fast however, and now can dart into another room by himself on his very own adventures. He loves grabbing onto furniture and pulling himself up.
We went for lunch at KFC and then visited Tom & Stephanie to see if they stocked the rubber mats to line our floor for Jack's safety. Aside from being nice and spongy to walk on, they also protect Jack if he falls. Despite him being steady on his feet 95%, 5% he gets excited and reaches for something that causes him to lose his balance.
He'll be walking very soon, my Mom estimates perhaps at 11 months, it's high time to childproof our home even more. He'll be running faster than any of us can catch him and at least the floor is safe if he falls. Worth the investment of $16.90 per 4x 1m square mat. Green too.
We let the cats out to hang with us. We've missed them so much and I think the enzyme cleaner should have killed all the old scents by now. Jack is rather entralled by them and now Buffy is shyly approaching Jack as their Dad pets her lovingly. We hope that by example, he'll learn to love them very much too. More supervised playtimes ahead. :)
Tags: cats and babies
, cats and children
, enzyme cleaner
Every bit of literature
I've read, scientific and otherwise, advises that children under the age of 2 should not be watching TV. I happen to agree.
Of course, implementation can be tough, especially with TVs just about everywhere - at home, at Grandma's house, at other family members' homes. Plus, it is tempting. Dump child in front of TV, yay free time. Dump child in front of TV, yay no fussing about eating.
So what we've implemented in our household is that no one watches TV. In fact, in my final month of pregnancy, I passed my cable box to my brother and asked him to return it. We'll only watch DVDs or movies in the cinema, if ever.
The strange thing is I don't miss TV. Not all that much. Aside from a couple of films - Xmen III and Superman Returns - I really wanted to watch, I haven't caught anything else scheduled. Sure, there is the occasional viewing of some random news or movie on my brother's TV but that's about it.
Plus neither of us is tempted (him by the remote) to spend endless hours on the TV. Instead, he plays and I read a book or magazine, we play or read a book together, or we go out to the park or for a swim or to meet some friends to catch up.
Maybe some day in the future when he is back to school, I'll catch the 2nd and 3rd seasons of Prison Break but for now, I'm quite happy to relish my bittersweet memories of Buffy and Angel, and enjoy watching Jack, my real-life TV star in my very own extended version trilogy.
Tags: TV and children
, TV and babies
, Prison Break
Friday, February 16, 2007
Hey Dude, Where's My Car?
Every parent to a teen and every child to an aging parent must have experienced this fear: will he or she get home safely? Jack is not a teen yet (and I am sort of dreading those years) but I do worry about my Mom and Dad driving around at their age. Sure, they're safe drivers and very experienced, but bad things can happen on the road.
GPS is heading mainstream and becoming more affordable for both companies and families. As people start spending on security systems for their homes and offices, they are slowly realising their vehicles on the road can be reliably monitored too.
With Brickhouse Security's very user-friendly LiveWire Real-Time GPS Tracking with Unlimited Use
, families can get a GPS system installed for their cars and monitored round the clock for under $500. Worth it for peace of mind. Check out their übercool demo
.GPS Fleet Management
is flexible enough to be used for both companies and families. As a huge proponent of security, at home, on the roads, and online (and everywhere else), I highly recommend it.
This is a sponsored post.
, Brickhouse Security
, GPS Fleet Management
Jack turned 9 months yesterday and he's been making leaps in bounds in his development. Plus he enjoys sitting in his rear-facing car seat now so that's a huge bonus!
He claps with sound now and looks most gleeful when doing so. :) I encourage him by clapping along. When he achieves something, it is always greeted with delight from everyone and claps too. In the past 2 weeks he's mastered climbing the stairs all by himself (with close supervision of a Mom-shadow just behind him). He also stands very firmly now and loves letting go of the furniture with one hand and then grinning at me arms splayed as if to say, look Ma, no hands.
I noticed he's been making different sounds in response to different things. When greeting his old and familiar dolls Humpty and Tigger, he coos and pats them gently smiling widely. He's also reserved a special coo sound for his Grandma and me, and a unique shriek when he sees his Grandpop and Dad.
He's been having supervised playtime with Boy as well. Boy likes to wander the house sometimes just to get away from the kids so I let him in to interact with Jack. He likes sitting and watching us play, and Jack's more and more keen to stroke his feline brother. I have to remind him to be gentle when he gets excited but more interactions have been happy and fulfilling.
More fun this long CNY weekend! :D I must remember to take more photos.
Tags: 9 months baby
, baby development
, car seat
, cats and babies
Make your own Doll at The Doll Palace!
This got me totally hooked on the spot... There's nothing like playing dress-up with a zillion (okay, not literally but pretty darned close) dolls, faces, hair, make-up, clothes, accessories. It is like Barbie but better. Here's mine below looking as close to what I do on a good day except I am a bit less heavy on the make-up IRL. :)
You can use these amazing dolls as avatars for forums, blogs, chats, or even competitions. For someone who spends half a day customising my character before I play any RPG - yes it must represent me - this is sheer heaven.
And it's really easy to play. Go to Dress Up Games
and simply follow the instructions. After you've customised your doll, this is the part that gets interesting.
For starters, you can send it to yourself in an email or extract the HTML code they offer (as I have) to paste in your blog, forum profile, etc. The Doll Palace also offers you the option to turn your doll into an animated icon, include it in a card, enter it into a competition which they run, use it in a fashion show, and even create a story with it.
Here are a few more samples of the dolls you can create:
Head over to play some Dress Up Games
This is a sponsored post but I like it so much I'm going back to play some more. :p
Tags: dress up games
, games for girls
, doll maker
, fashion games
Sleepless Activity: Flickr Badge
My old friend Insomnia paid a visit this evening, engaging me in a pleasant evening of flow
... (see earlier article on happiness
) meddling with my kids' photos in Flickr
Now I've been a faithful Picasa
user for eons now (in Internet time of course) but I have to say, the Flickr Badge
got me hooked. Their nifty upload tool helped some although not being able to edit offline like Picasa's app, niggled at me. The tagging, failure of really, annoyed me some too as The Baking Tray's
remarkably delicious pineapple tarts burned in my stomach.
Finally I had to add all the baby pix to one set since Flickr doesn't allow me to add 2 sets, nor did it recognise my tags. Never mind, now I have a neat Flash badge with my babies' pix on both this blog and the cats' blog. I feel actualised.
, Flickr badge
, pineapple tarts
, The Baking Tray
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Articles on Immortality, Consciousness, and Happiness
A special report by LiveScience: Toward Immortality
For about 50 years, caloric restriction (CR) was the only proven method to extend an organism's maximum life span in a healthy way.
Why Great Minds Can't Grasp Consciousness
Then in 1996, scientists discovered a type of mutant dwarf mouse that lived up to 70 percent longer than its non-mutated peers. The rodents' stunted growth was due to a change at the genetic level that reduced production of hormones related to growth.
Using mice, the researchers found that mothers fed protein-rich diets during pregnancy, but low-protein diets while breast-feeding, had pups that lived up to 50 percent longer than those for whom this feeding pattern was reversed. If a similar approach could work for humans, this translates into a difference between reaching 50 and living to be 75 years old, the researchers said.
Important for Susan Greenfield, a professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, her theory is a distinction between 'consciousness' and 'mind,' terms that she says many of her colleagues use interchangeably, but which she believes are two entirely different concepts.
The Keys to Happiness, and Why We Don't Use Them
"You talk about losing your mind or blowing your mind or being out of your mind, but those things don't necessarily entail a loss of consciousness," Greenfield said in a telephone interview. "Similarly, when you lose your consciousness, when you go to sleep at night or when you're anesthetized, you don't really think that you're really going to be losing your mind."
But whereas the mind is rooted in the physical connections between neurons, Greenfield believes that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, similar to the 'wetness' of water or the 'transparency' of glass, both of which are properties that are the result of -- that is, they emerge from -- the actions of individual molecules.
For Greenfield, a conscious experience occurs when a stimulus -- either external, like a sensation, or internal, like a thought or a memory -- triggers a chain reaction within the brain. Like in an earthquake, each conscious experience has an epicenter, and ripples from that epicenter travels across the brain, recruiting neurons as they go.
Happiness is 50 percent genetic, says University of Minnesota researcher David Lykken. What you do with the other half of the challenge depends largely on determination, psychologists agree. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be."
One route to more happiness is called "flow," an engrossing state that comes during creative or playful activity, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has found. Athletes, musicians, writers, gamers, and religious adherents know the feeling. It comes less from what you're doing than from how you do it.
Make lists of things for which you're grateful in your life, practice random acts of kindness, forgive your enemies, notice life's small pleasures, take care of your health, practice positive thinking, and invest time and energy into friendships and family.
"Research shows that people who are grateful, optimistic and forgiving have better experiences with their lives, more happiness, fewer strokes, and higher incomes," according to Gregg Easterbrook, author of "The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse" (Random House, 2004). "If it makes world a better place at same time, this is a real bonus."
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
I've been thinking a lot about what I want to teach Jack, particularly when it comes to food. A lot of the turmoil I feel is the conflict I have within myself about eating meat. Now, I have gone vegetarian twice and suffered immensely nutritionally. It doesn't help that I dislike eating vegetables, although I do try to eat at least a portion a day for health's sake.
I love my burgers as much as the next person. When I take a tally of what I eat every week, it comes up mainly fish. I am not ecstatic about chicken, pork, or beef. I don't touch duck, deer, quail, or any baby animals (I used to love baby squid when I was a kid but stopped when I decided it was cruel to eat an animal that never got the chance to live out its life - read: no suckling pig). I have not touched shark's fin since I was in my teens and have never failed to tell people why.
Yet making the permanent transition has not been successful.
There's been much documentation about the cruelty of many slaughterhouses. In fact, there are many images of the fact I'd like to erase from my mind. Still, I truly enjoy ham, bacon, and the occasional KFC or burger - food that has become depersonalised from the animals they came from. I go into denial when I eat. That's nothing to be proud of.
Now, onto the most popular food I relish: fish. Asphyxiating is not the best way to die, not on a hot sunny day on a fishing boat, or any other day. I looked into the eyes of several catfish and groupers in a seafood restaurant recently and it saddened me greatly. They travelled miles from their own home in the sea in undoubtedly what must have been a tiny transport and now swim in a small tank waiting to be eaten.
All that is said, I need to eat to survive. Plus I need to stay nourished enough to continue breastfeeding my son. My humane eating plan has always been to limit the number of lives that have to die to sustain me each day, but there are a few more things I can do.
So this is what I have decided.
1. Stop eating LIVE seafood - those fish in the tanks.
2. Be informed about slaughter methods of the food I eat.
3. Don't order meats I don't enjoy eating anyway.
4. Don't waste any part of the animal.
5. Eat more nuts and cheeses for protein instead of meat.
6. Eat more fruits instead of meat.
It's not perfect but it is a start. Only by reconciling with myself my stance on meat can I sufficiently teach it to Jack.
, live seafood
“Never explain — your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.” ~ Elbert Hubbard