Archive | May 2014

No Soup For You

What is your favorite food? Mine is cheese. Cheese is versatile and varied. It can be anything from appetizer to dessert. And there are enough different kinds of cheese that you can find one to match any mood you are in. That is not the point here. The Better question would be what is your favorite dish category? Mine fits all the same criteria as my cheese addiction. It can be hot or cold, salty or sweeter, it can fit any mood since under its umbrella are everything from creamy bisques and chowders to crystal clear consomme. That’s right soup. The problem with soup is even though it can be cold (gazpacho anyone?) it still must be boiled, simmered, or stewed……a hot cooking method.


When I attended Jonson and Wales for Culinary Arts, my first class was also my favorite of the them all. Stocks, Sauces, and Soups, taught by an old French chef named Jean-Michel Vienne . It introduced us all to proper knife technique and taught the most important concept (in my opinion) in cooking: balance of flavor. On a plate you can get away with some flavors that don’t exactly mesh, but in a bowl of soup if something is out of place it can’t hide as a side dish. I love making soup, and eating it too. I am missing it. Every time I think “Hey I think I’ll make soup today”, I then walk Emmet to school and realize at eight in the morning it is already approaching ninety degrees.


My taste buds yearn for a thin acidic French Onion, or a thick creamy Clam Chowder, or even a visually busy Minestrone. But alas my internal water content says I cannot have the stove going all day and consume enough water to stay conscious at the same time. The other issue I’m running into is finding proper ingredients for soups I wish to make. Soup is an important part of Asian ( especially traditional Chinese) cooking as it is served with most every meal. All I can say is acclimation to a climate since birth must work wonders. But it is not the same soups I am used to. Bitter Gourd, or Old Cucumber soup or not the same as Italian Wedding soup or Pumpkin Bisque.


So therefore I must branch out and every now and then bite the financial bullet. Today my craving has overtaken me. The air conditioning is on, there is soup on the stove. A base of vegetable stock, carrots, and onions. Cubed pork shoulder, pan de-glazed with lime juice and simmered with the addition of lemongrass, coriander, and ginger. All flavors that should in theory go together. If it doesn’t the rice cooker is going as well so at least there will be that!


The Porcelain God Demands Sacrafice

Supplies are being gathered. The cupboard is stocked with snacks. There are new movies still in the plastic. Play-doh cups with new molds have been acquired. There is even a block of stone analog with a dinosaur trapped inside waiting to be chipped free. 4 bottles of juice are chilling in the fridge. Beer will be needed, on the “to purchase list”. Also on that list are more new toys, a large posterboard, and new exciting stickers. You may ask why? Is there a large storm coming? An imminent volcano eruption? A camping trip? The answer is better and worse than all of these.


We have decided that this weekend starting Friday after school is (cue ominous background music) “The Great Potty Weekend”.


I am ready to be completely done with diapers…..OK maybe not completely, I think overnight will still take some time. The potty stalemate in this house however must end. We have reached a tentative armistice with the little dictator, in which when prompted he will use the potty but only then. He will offer no indication that he must go, nor will information of prior goings be admitted to until said action becomes nasally apparent.


We have tried stickers, candy, all sorts of interesting toddler potty books, the wife even downloaded a game to her phone in which Emmet helps a teddy bear use the potty. He is unmoved by any of this. He is still content to fill his diaper. And honestly who can blame him? (Apart from the general grossness one feels when thinking of sitting in an undergarment full of urine, this seems to be an “adult” thought as the three year old finds nothing wrong with it) When wearing a diaper play doesn’t need to stop for something as inconvenient as using the toilet..


So we have been talking up this weekend to him for a few days. The excitement seems to be building. He does get excited to use the potty when you can get him on it. Hopefully we will be daytime potty free by Monday. Or I will have spent an entire weekend in the house, and have nothing to show for it but a stained couch……Maybe I should add a plastic tarp to the “to purchase list”

I Feel Like Bill Murray

Lately I have. In a horrible movie (sorry if you are a fan), a repetitive slog through the same day over and over. All I can think of sometimes is that one scene “Phil! Phil Connors! Its me Ned!”, hmmm I guess for a bad flick it kind of sticks with you.


I wake up every day to the same little feet, its a rare day I actually drag myself out of bed at my quarter to seven alarm, instead catching another fifteen minutes of almost sleep before he makes his way into our room. We get up and have breakfast, well he has breakfast I have the coffee that is requisite for any stay at home parent. More so than when I was working it seems. I bring the little man to school to commence the two hours each morning that help me retain sanity. I walk to the market and get breakfast. I’ve become a regular at the wonton noodle stand. They are absolutely delicious and for two fifty you can’t beat a big plate of noodles with fried wontons, pork, and veggies. I buy whatever we are going to have for dinner, then head home. I do the dishes and check facebook before going to pick up E. Then we have lunch and play, maybe go in the pool or go run some errands. Around five thirty we have dinner then go play outside with the other children. Seven is time to head upstairs have a little snack and get ready for bed. I putz around till I’m tired and go to bed. All to be repeated in a few hours.


When I was home and working we had a routine as well, but each day was different at work. There were friends with things happening in their lives to talk about. Dogs and cats are never quite sick in the same way. I never knew if today was going to be a fluffy kitten day, or an angry mastiff with bad ears day. Things changed. I had a network of friends to hang out with. I was busy. …….Now I feel like I’m in a rut. It’s my fault. There are many things to go do and see here. But I worry about breaking his routine, and there are days I dread packing everything we’ll need for a day out to carry along with us.


Days like today though, when the wife has the day off and takes Emmet out for some Mommy/Emmet time, I have the house to myself. I rejoice for the first hour or two. I clean without having it messed up as I go, I watch a show I want to watch, type my blog. But very soon after I find myself missing E. He’s always here. Its nice, but a little disconcerting as well. Also like a victim of inertia I haven’t gone anywhere or done anything with my free time. Sure I’ve accomplished a bit around the house but I could have gone to that nature preserve up north I’ve wanted to visit, I could have taken pictures at the chinese gardens without him complaining of the walk, I could have done a lot yet I didn’t


Sorry for the pity party. Hopefully like most of the times I’ve whined on my blog here once its out of me I feel better and can move on. Tomorrow is another day and Mommy is working all weekend so E and I will have to find an adventure to go on. I think it will be the bird zoo one day and a hike another. Hopefully forcing us into action will make me feel better!

How Heavy Is A Polar Bear?

It was once said around a poker table that the group of us were still friends because no one else would make friends with us at this point. We were in our mid twenties. There was beer involved. It was still a valid statement. It has, however, been proven false, at least in my case.


When we came here we came alone. Just Emmet, Mommy, and Daddy. Mommy had one friend from work that came as well, but being a single guy with no kids his social life and ours don’t exactly mesh. Mommy had work so she has met a few people and made a couple friends, but again mostly single or young without children. Enter E the social butterfly.


It follows a fairly standard formula.

“Emmet whose toy is that?”

“It belongs to….”, sometimes there is a name most times not.

Or “Emmet where is your ball?”

“…. has it”

Which invariably leads to meeting the other child, and therefore the parents. Which has about a fifty percent success rate as a lot of the children are outside with their nannies.

Smiles and toys in the pool at the serviced apartment we were in the first month let us meet Lily. Emmet’s little Irish friend has two wonderful parents who we have traded babysitting evenings with. Once when Lily’s aunt was visiting all four of us parents went out together. We get together with them once a week or so for play dates now that we are both out of the serviced apartments and in our own places we are about forty minutes apart by train.


There are Adam and Sybil whose child Ethan likes to steal soccer balls. Pretty handy since E loves to chase people who steal soccer balls. Raymond and Winny, daughter Amelia, who honestly believes she is a disney princess….on days she is not spiderman. Lita and Kevin with their progeny Kian and Reese, who both like to play pretend hockey with Emmet, well I they are Canadian so its kind of a gimme. Marcel and his son Christian the Dutch/Indonesian family who introduced E to the wonders of Nerf guns. Lastly Ali and his daughter Nila who possess the coolest remote control car in the whole complex.


Thanks to E we have been invited to play dates (which involve conversations with people who speak coherently in full sentences), birthday parties, and BBQ’s. We see these friends almost every night that it is not raining at the playground. All the kids are between three and six so dinner and bedtime line up. The children play, laugh, and cry together…..scraped knees and bruised feelings are part of the deal right? The parents chat and watch. I’ve gotten to discuss hockey, UFC, cooking, books, and beer. All conversations that are tricky at best when its just me and the little man.


I guess the conversation around the poker table still has merit. As we get older it may be tough to find new friends of our own, but lucky for me Emmet is big enough to break the ice.

Score One For The Sun

The community pool. The aromas of chlorine, sweat, and sunscreen. A drab rectangle with too many bodies and a lot of splashing. Cries of laughter punctuated by the shrill whistle of the orange trunked overly tan lifeguard. Not in Singapore….well mostly. The smells are the same just add chili and curry from the lunches people bring. Also add the pasta restaurant, KFC, and Pizza Hut on site. The sounds of laughter and whistles could be any pool, I’m guessing anywhere in the world. Children and water are a perfect match no matter where you are. Where it differs greatly is appearance. Yes that plain rectangle is there if laps or diving is your thing. But wait there’s more.


The Jurong East “community pool”, the one closest to us is one train stop down and a ten minute walk. Or a thirty minute walk with no train. We walked. Well I walked Emmet snoozed in the stroller since it was just after noon and we had just had lunch. It cost Emmet and I two dollars and eighty cents to get in. On a weekday it would have been half of that. It is like no community pool I’ve ever seen. There are two children’s splash pools. One is knee deep on E, its got starfish and crabs in the tiles. It was good for about ten minutes of playtime. Its cute but not interesting enough to hold the attention of my little fish. The second is up to his hips and has a bridge with sprinklers spouting of it like an aquatic porcupine. Lot’s of fun and we returned to it multiple times throughout the day.


We rented a large inner tube for three more dollars. It made the wave pool a lot of fun. Oh that’s right there’s is a wave pool, A Wave Pool! At the “community swim center. He thought the waves were great fun but the the times between wave times it was just a pool, and well we have one of those at home so it wasn’t very interesting. There are three large water slides as well., but unfortunately he doesn’t quite meet the height requirement. The last feature though, is the one where we spent the most time. The lazy river. Right? I think you are now as amazed as I was when I heard about this place let alone when I saw it! Apparently the Singaporean concept of community pool is far and away different from mine.


Back to the lazy river. It actually moves at a pretty good clip, so perhaps it should be called the moderately sedate river. He was a little too small to use the tube so we went without. He was just tall enough to have the tops of his shoulders out of the water. The smile on his little face as he bounced along through the tunnels and water sprayers throughout the river were awesome!


“Daddy look how fast I run!”


I could have done that all day. And we did do it often. So often in fact that by the time four rolled around daddy’s shoulders were more akin to a fire engine than flesh toned. Thankfully the little man has his swim shirt, or mommy would have been upset with me for letting his delicate skin crisp. So the sin scores, but I think the hat trick of attractions we had made it a win for me and E when all was done.

We Are Family

First I must apologize for the delay. It seems with the shift change back to days I find less time to write. Not that I am not thankful for the change! Mommy went back on day shift as of last Friday and we have been busy! The first day we wandered Chinatown and picked up some small gifts to send home to a couple of people ( Watch your mailboxes!). It was a good day, we even sampled Singapore’s national dish…..Chili Crab. It was delicious. One is enough for two people. It was spicy, and fruity, and saucy, and delicious. Have I said delicious? On the waitress’s suggestion we also got some fried buns, which are absolutely key to enjoying the chili crab. Once the claws, legs, and body have been thoroughly cracked, scraped, and sucked clean of meat you are left with a large bowl crab laden sauce. These buns were the perfect vehicle for delivery of said sauce to the mouth.


Saturday Emmet and I took Mommy to the bird zoo. She had so much fun we decided to buy a membership there for the year. Now we can go as many times as we would like. Emmet showed her the penguins and flamingos. He particularly liked showing her the ostrich, beaten out only by the splash park. I think her favorite part though was the treetop suspended bridges where the tropical birds come and eat sugar water out of little cups that you hold.


Sunday we took a day trip to Sentosa, Singapores’ little island playground. To get there you have to take the train all the way to the other end of the island, then cross a mile long bridge. There are three options for the crossing, taxi, monorail, or walking (with the assistance of those fun George Jettson-esque moving sidewalks for most of it). We chose to walk, which was fun because there are some great views on the bridge. Note to self, bring the camera with you more places. We had a good day walking around, seeing the shops and restaurants. We also walked by the entrances to Universal Studios, a water slide park, and the aquarium. Supposedly there is a beach to swim at there as well, but we didn’t find it. Oh well I guess that means we will have to go back!


It’s been great having Mommy awake and part of the family during her days off. I still did change a diaper or two, make breakfast, and put E to bed…..just not all on the same day. He is very excited to show her all the things he can do and has seen. He is also happy to not have to use his whisper voice in the house during the day. So I’ll try to make sure I find things to write about going forward to alleviate and more public shaming on facebook from my lack of productivity!