Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reason for my inaction... for two whole months!


Rosabelle Shi Yue
Born: 24 October 2008, 1328 hrs (for you 4D fanatics)
Weight: 2.74kg / Length: 48 cm

It's been a whirlwind two months, and I just about have enough time to just upload two collages from the past two months - so there (signing off for now to go do baby stuff!) She is now 4.5 kg, measuring 56 cm (as of two weeks ago), and bringing joy into our hectic lives every single moment...swoon...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Still Around!

It's been more than a month since I blogged! No Internet access at home, and my work laptop screen died on me...haha! I realize it's possible to survive without emails/Internet...and so many things have happened in the past month since I came back home to Singapore.

Some quick updates since I am doing this post from the StarHub Customer Service Centre in Vivo City (trusty StarHub - yaaay!) -

- Nope, not popped yet, but am growing bigger by the day, and Rosabelle's kicking well!
- Wayne's already in Singapore with me, and is working part time from his SG office - he brings me down for swims (I can't swim, but waddling around in the pool takes the weight off my tummy...haha)
- I celebrated my first birthday at home in as long as five years (thanks to friends who sent well wishes and to Jeannie for remembering and craftily sending me a Noel hamper!)
- I visited the library for the first time in about 7 years and have been getting alot of baby knowledge from books there (and it's nice to go back to paper for books and newspapers alike now that my main source of info isn't the Net!)
- My family seems geared up for baby and I've bought most of the stuff for Rosabelle...next check-up's on Monday, but I'm hoping she hangs in there till at least November! And Wayne and I have decided on the Chinese name Shi Yue (instead of Shi Yi Yue)...hehe. Vanessa also has yet to pop, but it's exciting times for us all!
- I've been catching up with my friends over this period..real nice to just hang around and not have a packed schedule...

No pix for this post for obvious reasons as this is done at a public place...but stay tuned for Rosabelle's upcoming appearance!

Till then!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pressies and pressing times

My rare update for the week, now that I am officially on leave (i.e. off work) for the coming 7 months (woohoo! thrills me whenever I think of it, to have zero mails in the Inbox, to "gently" remind people to remove me from their mailing lists)...

In any case, it's not a few days of 'horreeday' (holiday) for me at home before I head off for Singapore ok - I've been:

  • catching up on farewell meals
My team was really sweet and even got me an early birthday cake on my last day (don't mind the writing on the cake that was decorated by two of my colleagues themselves at the cake shop - that's a heart, with some flowers, on top of the 'See U Soon' wordings, if you can't figure it out - haha) --

In addition to the really sweet jumper suit and oh-so-cute pink rabbit-eared shoes for Rosabelle, they also bought a Pigeon bedding set that is ideal for the cold March winter weather when we get back - we can even strap her in so she does not wriggle into the covers, and it can be unzipped to serve as a blanket when she outgrows it --

We had a good team farewell dinner that night, where some of the ex-team members also nicely turned up - they will be toiling hard even in my leave of absence, and I look forward to seeing them when back!

  • buying stuff that are needed in China
Even though I'll be getting/using loads of things from my Sis/Simon/Marianne when in Singapore, we figured things like a bath tub can/should be bought in China, instead of being lugged all the way back from Singapore in March. My mum's advice for a bath tub was that we "no need to buy such a fancy one lah!", and she thought the SGD12 we spent was slightly too expensive at that! We got an 82cm one (should last Rosabelle till she's taller/older/bigger), and chose one with rubber grips by the side. Wayne purposely wanted a brightly-coloured one, and there was nothing we could do about the disturbing wrong English printed on the base of the tub (what on earth does 'Wi Mr. Bcan Clob' mean???)...
  • eating with friends

We brought some local colleagues, along with a colleague from our Singapore office, Adeline, for Singapore food at Lau Pa Sat restaurant on Saturday night, and thereafter headed for ice-cream at Cold Stone Creamery.

On Sunday, we headed to Tim and Van's house for a good round of home-cooked food that included heavenly chicken curry with toasted french toast (yummy!!!).

Last night, Tim and Van joined us as we brought Adeline to another nice Chinese restaurant (那家小馆) for dinner. Van got me an early birthday gift, to no doubt spur me back into sexiness (wahahaha! I... must... perservere... and shake off my fats accumulated during pregnancy!) --

They also wrapped an early angpow for Rosabelle (to be opened when she is born) - thank you to Uncle Tim and Aunty Van!

We then adjourned for desserts and wine at W Dine and Wine (standard of desserts have dropped...so sad...).

Enjoyed the company and look forward to seeing Tim and Van when they head back to Singapore over CNY next year so our daughters can meet for the first time! (Though Van still strongly feels she is expecting a boy..heh...we'll see, we'll see, so exciting!).

On my last two nights, there will still be more serious chomping as today, we'll go Outback Steakhouse together (just us both, as we enjoy some together time and my early 'birthday cake' from Awfully Chocolate - courtesy of my company that has gotten cakes instead of mooncakes for staff for the mid-Autumn Festival). Tomorrow, we'll be meeting an ex-colleague couple for yet another dinner... BURP.

  • cleaning up/packing stuff in the house

In case you think it's all fun, food, and drinks, I've been working hard at home too, going through all the rooms and cupboards to (i) throw away anything that is useless/expired (e.g. cooking oil we bought from two years ago and have used less than 5 tablespoons!) (ii) rearrange things so that we can make full use of the space for Wayne's Mum and Rosabelle's things when we are all back next year (iii) clean/wash anything that are mites/dust hoarders (e.g. sending mats for cleaning, washing plush toys lying around (iv) do up a list for Wayne to continue the housework action when I'm away (haha... he still needs stuff around the house and will need to send them for cleaning when he heads back to his hometown, Zhengzhou, in end-September so they can be ready for collection when he comes back to Beijing before heading to join me in Singapore in early-October)...

I'm done with most of the housework already, and have more or less already packed my bag for Singapore - just fingers crossed that Wayne's work visa stuff gets sorted sooner rather than later!

Of course, I've been rewarding myself with facial, manicure/pedicure sessions, and it helps that with quite alot of rains these days (was raining whole day yesterday), the weather is nice and cool for us. And Rosabelle has been so active these days it's quite hilarious to see my tummy heave from side to side at times - there was once I even felt her head bulge out, and patted her on her head, so cute... But it's not so cute when I at times stay awake for up to two hours in the middle of the night from being "kicked around" (it's also me being worried that her kicking means she is being uncomfortable...so I have to shift positions like every other 5 minutes...)

Well, it's likely the next update is after I am safely in Singapore (my flight's this PM on Friday, and Wayne's sending me off, where we can enjoy a Burger King lunch at Beijing's ONLY BK outlet...haha!). Looking forward to homecoming!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Longest. Break. Ever. (or not...)

Today is my last work day - I fly off to Singapore next Friday (yaaay! can't wait!!), and am going to take a few days to just rest, pack, and make sure I can put as much in place as possible before I head home (e.g. need to get translated versions of our Chinese marriage certificate notarized at the Embassy here so that they can be recognized for use in Singapore for whatever purpose)...

I'd already started packing my work station and handing over my work a few weeks back, so there really isn't anything particularly outstanding to do on my last day. I got some really sweet well wishes from fellow colleagues when I sent out my mass email farewell note (not strictly a farewell, since I will be back at work in April 2009 - April Fools', no less!).

The total duration of my 'break' from work is seven months - this marks my longest 'holiday' of any kind since I embarked on my work life some eight years ago, though a colleague reminded me that having a baby would not be a 'break', but be the start of a hectic life. No doubt, and I'm looking forward to this life-changing experience/role!

When I got into work today, my colleague had left me a nice note and a pair of pink booties/jumper suit - Rosabelle's first pair of shoes/clothing, how cute! Tonight, Wayne and I will be heading out for a farewell dinner with my team members... I hope enough of them hang long enough to be around when I am back next year, but I know they are in the good hands of some great team leads I have around...

Well, given that I will not be in the office from next week, I might not be posting blog updates as diligently as I do now (am afraid the workholic in me will be tempted to start checking on work-related emails once I get online at home, haha!), but do continue to stay tuned on our progress!

P/S: Time really flies. We were having dinner with Tim and Vanessa last night - it dawned upon me that Vanessa is going to deliver NEXT MONTH, and I'm going to follow shortly after. Sheesh, you can never be too prepared, can you? I'm going to just crash-course through with my Mum and Sis on all-things delivery and baby care-taking when I get back to Singapore...

A hairy case of bad Freudian slip

A Director-level from the EU arm of a certain PR agency sent a note to his global colleagues (with HQ head honchos/management included, I assume), asking for help in sharing input for a new business they were pulling together.

The email header read: "Any gorilla PR tactics?" (Hmm...were they going to pitch to WWF, or maybe a local zoo? But wait, this company does not do any animal-like Clients...)

The contents touched on the 'hairy monkey subject' with: "Can you let me know if you have any good examples of gorilla tactics that you've discussed or implemented for any of your clients?... are looking to build a series of new and different gorilla tactics...".

It dawned upon many on the recipient list that this Director was referring to "guerilla" tactics. Somebody in their US office was 'kind' (or not) enough to hit the 'Reply All' button, with no input into any 'guerilla' (or 'gorilla') tactics, but with just a picture attached as below. This brave Account Executive left his contact details as well - I'm not sure how much flak he's going to get from his bosses for putting down a Director-level in the EU office (or it could be the case of them seizing the opportunity to take the 'EU versus American English' spate to another level...).


In any case, I give the American Account Executive top marks for bravery and sarcasm, and zero to the EU Director, whom I'm sure is reeling over from being humiliated badly - on a global level. Ouch.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

This is NOT supposed to be so darn funny

Spotted on TV yesterday (a show reminiscing the hot hits of Leslie Cheung) -- MTV of his hit 'Monica' (I can only assume the eyeshadow-no-need-money girl with the triangle fizzy hair is the protagonist in question... how...alluring.)

What is with the leotards? Leopard-print leotards, and neon leotards at that?

What is with the wriggling/electrocuted-dance step?

What is with the Maggie noodles hair-do?

What is with the male breakdancers (one looks like a construction worker with his out-of-step sequence)?

What is with the chopping-tree action they all do during the chorus?


And here we girls go moaning about why somebody like Leslie Cheung wants to turn gay (when the women in his MTVs who are trying to 'seduce' him all look like that)...

I had a good laugh, and then I think - well, it's all forgivable - this MTV was filmed in 1984, so the balloon and Powerpoint-like effects, along with all the fashion faux pas, are all acceptable, really. But still, I'm sure this MTV was not meant to be so hilarious...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Killing trees... and everything else

Grrr.

In my last week at work (last day's this Friday, hurray!), I am inundated with finding out the various to-dos/documents I'd need for:
  • getting back into China after my work permit/visa expires in end-Dec - this involves a series of steps, organizations, as well as me having to get started on preparations at least 6 weeks in advance... (don't get me started on why it's taken so long for my company to get the extension of their Beijing office company permit beyond end-Dec in place)
  • getting Rosabelle back to China in line with my above
  • Wayne's papers in Singapore for him to stay for the five months, as apparently a work permit will not do given he does not get salary in Singapore... (ask his HR, you say? heh. hehheh. hehhehheh.)

Looking at the various websites and liaising with the various entities (Singapore embassy in China, Chinese embassy in Singapore, Ministry of Manpower, Immigrations & Checkpoints Authority... and being put on hold for a full 15 minutes before I got to speak to a non-machine for the last one).

Do the government leaders in both countries know what they are talking about when they say they welcome foreign talent, or when Singapore talks about attracting Singaporeans back home (without their foreign spouses, maybe)?

Not to mention the amount of forms we need to fill in, the different visits we need to make, and the trees we are killing with the amount of paperwork (copy+original blah blah blah) we need to submit.

Enough. Grrr.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bad back, back home, and going back

Poor Wayne is suffering from a mysterious onset of bad back - he only starting feeling the pain late yesterday afternoon, and had to take time off work to see two doctors today - of whom diagnosed him with a bad spinal ache, and also that he could have worsened an existing condition with bad posture/recent exercise. He has been given three full days of medical leave! Hopefully, the doctor's medicines can alleviate the pain, and it does not worsen further (we have friends whose conditions are so bad they are permanently hunched as they cannot straighten their necks/backs due to the pain - yikes!). I also suspect it got aggravated with his recent visits to the blind masseuse parlour in our neighbourhood (nothing sleazy), though Wayne swears by it...

Before he experienced the pain, Wayne and I went for my 30 week routine check-up at the hospital yesterday morning. This time round, I took a heavier breakfast of two toasts+milk since my glucose level was too low in the previous visit, and as I needed to fast for my two-hour glucose reading. Since there was also a trace of protein in my previous urine sample, I also took a urine sample at home after ensuring I had a good wash-down so as not to taint the specimen (haha, oops... too much info!!!). My two-hour GTT this time round was a healthy 6.6, so doctor advised I maintain such levels of breakfast intake, but there was still a trace of protein in my take-at-home-urine-sample, so guess I need to monitor closely when I get back to Singapore.

Since it was our last trip to Amcare Hospital (as my next check-up due in two weeks would be back home in Singapore's KK Hospital), we took the chance to ask our last few questions with the local doctor:
But Wayne thinks there is still some truth somewhat, so moderation is key lah!
  • Q: I at times feel baby kicking more when lying on my sides - is it because I am pressing on her? (A: You could run into the danger of pressing onto the umbilical cord, so just shift positions if she's kicking more actively than usual. Monitor carefully and go to the hopsital if after a bout of violent kicking, the foetal movements do not resume a normal level.)

Yikes, I was so conscious of my sleeping position last night as I wanted to make sure I wasn't hurting Rosabelle! However, it's been really uncomfortable sleeping flat on my back now (which I have to do when doing simple stretching exercises) - I can feel my chest area becoming heavy (NOT to be confused with being heavy-chested), and feeling short of breath.

  • Q: I've heard of side effects from taking medication before getting on the plane. Will it affect baby's oxygen levels? (A: Nope. It's safe to take such medicine.)

We also did our last ultrasound of Rosabelle in China at the check-up yesterday (no photos this time round as our girl's face was closely adhered to the placenta, and she refused to face the screen, haha!). But according to the doctor, everything is in order, and she is actually bigger than predicted by my LMP - calculating with the latter, she should be 29 weeks 4 days old, but according to her size, she is a full 6 days ahead at 30 weeks 2 days. Wowee... she is growing fast and strong, attagirl!

She now weights 1,464 grammes (how cute is that?!), and doctor also remarked that the length of her thigh, at 6 cm (how cute is that as well?!) is quite long - good girl, go take after Daddy's height! We also caught sight of a sequence of her opening and clutching her fingers closed (think the action you do when singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars')... (again, how cute is that?!).

Well, Rosabelle and I have been given a clean bill of health to get on a plane in two weeks' time, and we also made copies of our case file so that I can share with the doctor back in Singapore. Thank goodness I've been rigorously taking my own notes after each session, so it's a case of summarizing key findings/concerns (or I'd just faint from having to translate all the medical reports/terminologies from Chinese into English!).

After the check-up, we went for a magnifique, oh-so-wonderful lunch at WISH restaurant in the area (slightly pricey by China standards, yes - about SGD60 for two persons), but our ordering of a divine pumpkin/cod soup (below pic) + beef (below pic) + mashed tofu + kailan + cheese dumplings + signature chocolate cake was all... so.... good. Yummy... and it helps that the service was good (attentive, but not imposing - i.e. not the kinds that whip your plates from under your nose when you are putting that last morsel of food into your mouth), and the ambience was nice... Good food, coupled with good service, always make me really happy, heh! Will try to make another trip there to try out other tempting foods on the menu before we head back!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Succumbing

I. took. my. third. serving. of. ice. cream. in. a. week. Today. A Meiji treat creamy chocolate a colleague bought for all of us.

I had Haagen Daazs on Monday.

And a Dairy Queen cone on Wednesday.

Bad mother, bad mother! STOP!!!

(If you aren't aware of why I shouldn't be taking so much ice creams, other than the fact that 3 treats of ice-cream a week is already in excess by normal standards, for normal people, much less for a preggie lady... you can read more here.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yin Yang - cool, or not...

There are two Chinese medicine students who are in our office this week, with some cool gadgets that have attached tendrils/pods to be stuck onto various muscles on your body to alleviate shoulder/back/leg (etc etc) pain. They (the students, not the gadgets) can also take your pulse/blood pressure and advise you of any health conditions. Cool!

As I am not allowed to do massages of any sort during my pregnancy, I decided to let one of them take my pulse (another pregnant lady in the office told they can diagnose the sex of the child from the pulse) - he indicated I have cold/clammy hands (my hands/feet get cold easily, whilst the rest of my body remains very hot/heaty).

I was happy to hear that baby's healthy, and he confirmed it's a girl - hah! - but he said I should take less cooling stuff (e.g. watermelon, pears, ice cream, cold drinks), as it might make Rosabelle have cold hands/feet like me, and make her suffer from menstrual cramps in future. Hmmm... from now on, no more ice creams and cold drinks for me (might even need to cut away my daily cup of Manuka honey)! He said that baby girls are naturally 'yin', and I should then take note to cut down on such 'yin' types of food, so as to strike a balance. Well, according to these websites, I should eat less of the following foods then (classified as 'yin'):

Almonds. Apple. Asparagus. Bamboo. Banana. Barley. Bean curd. Bean sprouts. Beer. Broccoli. Cabbage. Carrots. Celery. Clams. Corn. Corn flour. Crab. Cucumber. Duck. Eels. Fish. Grapes. Honey. Ice creams. Lemons. Mushrooms. Mussels. Oranges. Oysters. Peppermint tea. Pineapple. Salt. Shrimps. Spinach. Strawberries. Soya beans. White sugar. Tomatoes. Water. Watercress.

I love deep-friend stuff, which is 'yang', so good news for me then? Haha! But hmmm... lesser water? Goes against all my anti-water retention measures, and the Chinese medicine student told me I should drink more water (albeit not cold water)... Lesser bananas? What about constipation problems faced by pregnant ladies? Lesser bean curd/broccoli/fish/oranges? But I thought they are great sources of nutrients!

Guess Wayne sums it all up very aptly when he said "Aiya! Baby's already 7 months, it's too late to change anything now - so long as you are happy, can eat what you want lah!"

True, true... but I had my dose of Haagen Daaz and Dairy Queen ice cream this week, and I don't think I will be touching ice cream/cold water for some time to come... just to play it safe, heh!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Newborns and Kodak moments

Before I go into the contents of this post, a random musing: is it by mere coincidence that the core Line 1 of the Beijing subway (the longest east-west subway in Beijing spanning some 31.04 km) broke down during evening peak hour (no less) last evening - the day right after the Beijing Olympics ended? Woe betide the Beijing organizers if there was any transportation breakdown of sorts during the sacred Olympics season, and it's funny to see the same chaos I've come to expect of Beijing at the subway station yesterday. (I wasn't going to take the train, but was going into the underpass that links my office building to the shopping complex across the street to meet Wayne for dinner - subway personnel were ready to padlock-grill up the entrances to prevent overcrowding of people...)

Anyway... Rosabelle has been kicking/twisting/turning more and more these days - she is very, very active, and these past few mornings, I could not sleep in late as she will kick me awake (maybe she's hungry and wants me to get my lazy bum up to eat breakfast). Whilst sitting down still, I can at times even see my tummy heave from her wriggling, or see pokes of her body out of my tummy, so much that it's all quite cute to me, haha! Mum was advising me to give her pats on my tummy when she moves too much, to reassure her and put her at ease - it's a fun way to "interact" with her as well.

As Rosabelle grows from day to day, I was looking through photos of my dear nephew and niece (Simon and Marianne) when they were born, to get an idea of what my newborn might look like (bloody/grimy/wet/big/small?)...

Judging from the photos of Simon and Marianne on the day they were born, newborns look alike, are very sleepy, have "blur" looks on their rosy and chubby faces, and in both their cases, have very thick hair (maybe cos my sis drank alot of bird's nest...). And both of them look oh-so-cute, but when I think of how big Rosabelle has to grow before she pops out (and what I have to go through to pop her out), I am just amazed at how much more she, and my tummy, is going to grow over the remaining 2.5 months...wowee... Goodbye waist, hello backache!

Looking back at the photos when Marianne was born, Simon was only a "baby" himself at about 16 months old - but see how he tenderly stroked and "sayang" his baby sister - I remember when I saw these photos some three years ago, I was thinking to myself "How sweet...".

I was never present for the births of either of them, which is really a pity, and am really glad that my family will be around to witness Rosabelle's, and that she will immediately have Kor Kor Simon and Jieh Jieh Marianne to learn from, and to play with.

On a more practical note, Wayne and I have also started thinking about the paperwork of bringing Rosabelle back to Beijing next March - we'd need to apply for a Singapore passport for her (a passport for an infant - how cute!). I am also in the midst of getting information from the China Embassy in Singapore on the visas for her passport for her to get into China for long-term stay - the last thing we want is for our infant to be retained at customs for lacking the proper papers to get into the country, or get deported! Shudder...

When anybody talks about passports, they will think about how good/bad they look in passport photos, and I'm thinking - Rosabelle is going to use this passport for travels until she's five years old - but we all know infants change their looks hour to hour - how is the immigration officer going to ever ascertain that Rosabelle at three years of age is the same infant in the photograph taken at say, three months of age??? That, I leave to the experts to make their own judgements... but I then started looking around for tips on how to take photos of infants for passports. Passport photos have very strict guidelines, and I found a site that gave some tips for how to get best passport photos of babies and kids.

According to Singapore Immigration rules as stated on their website, Rosabelle's photograph must, amongst many other things, be:

  • Taken full face with her looking directly at the camera with head straight and eyes open with no hair across and/or covering your eyes. Both edges of her face and the top of her shoulder must be clearly shown. She must not look over any shoulder and her head must not be tilted
  • Taken with the image of her face measuring between 25 mm and 35 mm from chin to crown of head
  • Taken with uniform lighting with no flash reflections, no shadows, no uneven bright spots on the face and no red eyes (her eyes have to be open in the first place, of course...)
  • Of white background, except that where if her hair, hat or head covering is white, the background must be light grey
  • The photograph must show her alone with no chair back, toys or other persons visible

So... my daughter has to prop her own neck up at 3 months of age, preferably without any clothing on that will risk blocking her face/shoulders, look straight ahead at the camera, open her eyes and close her mouth for the perfect shot.

It's probably going to be a nightmare for us to do it , as you can see from the below examples that are rejected (I think the final photo of this poor infant isn't exactly the cutest, but who needs cute when you are passing through customs, I guess):

Maybe we'll just have to hire a professional, like how Simon and Marianne took day-old photographs that look lovely, and meet all the requirements of a passport photo if they are close-ups. (Now, don't you think newborns all look quite alike? That's Marianne in pink, if you are trying to work out who's who...)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Shots at Fame

This guy on my left in the photo - familiar? No? If his face does not strike a chord, I can only assume (a) you are a non-China person (b) you did not follow the recent Olympics (c) even if you followed the Olympics, you do not follow badminton.

Because this person next to me is LIN Dan,
winner of recent Badminton Men's Singles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics leh! Well, this photo was taken some time back over dinner (nope, not a candlelight rendezvous) almost two years back, in November 2006, when he was already a world champion. He's a good, personal friend of my boss and when we brought an out-of-town Client out to dinner that night, he was also asked along. I did not go ga-ga over him, but thank goodness I was sane enough to still ask him for an autograph on my namecard (no less - to prove that he signed for me, and not for anybody else)... My personal "Shot at Fame"... a personal photograph/autograph with a gold medal Olympiard... how cool is that? Tee hee.

Still on the Olympics (though I almost had to stab myself to not get bored to tears watching last night's closing ceremony...), Beijing, and China, and has really done themselves proud this time round with such a great show of the Games, and topping the medal tally with a record-breaking 51 golds. You really have to be here to soak it all in - all I can say is that I wouldn't want to be facing the international pressure organizers of the London 2012 Games must be feeling! 38 world records were broken at the Games, Usain Bolt can put "Fastest man in the world" on his business card (and you can imagine the play on the surname "Bolt" by his sponsors in their future ad copy), but my highlight of "Shots of Fame" instead would focus on the dismal... for the following athletes in question, at least:
  • Team USA, on the very same day, got disqualified from the finals of both the 4x100 meters relay - for the exact, same novice slip-up - they dropped the batons whilst passing. You would think that the ladies, after witnessing their men go through such a traumatic mistake less than 30 minutes ago, would think to hold on tightly to, and pass, their batons more carefully?

  • Sydney Olympics 2000 Taekwondo gold medalist Cuban Angel Matos, was disqualified for taking longer than the one-minute injury time in his match against Kazakhstan. Angel decided not to live up to his name, and showed off his remaining skills with a Taekwondo kick to the poor referee. Both Angel and his coach have been banned for life from this game.

How about our very own sunny island, Singapura's, "Shot at Fame"? Well, issues of foreign talents in table-tennis matches for the Games set aside, I think Singapore has now made its mark as a pro-marriage/pro-pregnancy/pro-baby/pro-family country. Our Prime Minister announced in his National Day Rally Speech that amongst other benefits, maternity leave have now been extended to four months (instead of three months), and the baby bonus for first kids are now SGD$4,000 (up from the previous SGD$3,000), with an additional maximum matching government contribution of SGD$6,000 for Children Development Account activities. Woo hoo! Now, I only need to be around long/often enough to tap the use of the latter set of funds.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

3 of us @ Olympics 2008

View full set of pix here.

It was a very fulfilling day for Wayne and I on Tuesday as we caught some Olympic action (we did not want the tickets to go to waste even though Wayne's parents could not stay around to watch the events) - we both took half a day off work and headed off right after lunch to enjoy a leisurely trip to the event venue (even though our events started at 6pm). As we weren't sure whether the roads around the Olympic Green were open to public transport, we took the subway (my first time in many, many months), where we then had to walk about 200m to catch a connecting train (Line 8) right to the doorstep of the Olympic Green.

I was wondering prior whether Beijingers would be civic-conscious enough to offer their seats to a pregnant lady on the train. On my first ride, I stood in front of a couple in their late 30s/early 40s, who continued chatting on happily, oblivious to my tummy, until about 5 minutes into the ride. The woman gave up her seat, and (hopefully) the man was embarrassed enough and also gave up his own seat to his girlfriend/wife - shame on him, tsk tsk!

The new train stations in Beijing are very erm...new, almost like Singapore, and we even took shots at the Line 8 station which had special porcelein-like paintings on the walls/boulders/notice boards. The train rides weren't as scary as I thought, and on the Line 8 trip, a man nicely gave up his seat immediately for me (his wife even joked that his tummy's as big as mine)! However, I'd heard alot beforehand about the strict security measures/checks, and true enough, there were alot of security posts set-up before we entered the Line 8 station, where they checked on your tickets (only those with tickets to Olympic Green venue on that day were eligible), and that you do not bring any food/drinks in (Wayne and I had to finish off the packet of milk and apple I brought, right after a filling lunch - BURP!). However, the volunteers all have to be commended as they were all very friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient - kudos! And I've long heard about the various scalpers who positioned themselves strategically at the entrance to Line 8 - in spite of signages all over the place stating that scalping is punishable by law - haha!

After coming out from the train, we arrived at the door step of Olympic Green, where if yesterday's reports are anything to go by, we experienced Beijing enjoying its cleanest air for 10 years (and the blue skies are set to continue long after the Olympics), according to a top environment official. It wasn't sweltering hot, but luckily I had my shades and cap on, as I'd read before that there aren't too many sheltered areas in between the various sporting venues, and the walks can be quite long.

We were lucky to be minutes from the start of a float parade of the various Olympic mascots, where they displayed the 'Fuwas', and had dancers dressed according to the themes of the five dollies. The poor dancers were all so 'chao tah' (blackened), presumably from being under the hot sun for so many days. My photos/photo-taking was not helped by alot of brollies poking into my view, and of overly-excited aunties wanting to get a good view (had to tell an aunty to stop pushing me).

The reason we'd gone earlier than needed (other than the fact that we didn't want to have to rush during peak hours on public transportation) was that we'd heard of the various hospitality tents of the sponsors, and were eager to get into them and have a look-around. (Note: tents here do not refer to the canvas stuff you put up for sports days/company BBQs, but are actual, nice buildings put up to hold sponsors' exhibits/showcase.) Just a few days ago, I was reading in reports that the sponsors were piqued that there was not enough traffic, but from the massive crowds Wayne and I witnessed on Tuesday, looks like the organizers took the complaints seriously and there were throngs of people around, with snaking queues outside each tent!

In the end, we only ended up viewing the Omega tent, since that was the only one that did not have a queue. My guess is that the "higher powers" have instructed for the crowds to organize visits to the tents, as when we were queuing up at security checks, there were old aunties/uncles with "visit passes" (not for events) that they said were handed out by their companies - state-owned companies, I presume; and we saw volunteers/army boys milling around. Not exactly target audiences of a sponsor like Omega, but still it added loads of people to the place - guess the sponsors have nothing to complain about anymore!

So after a twirl of the various sponsors' tents (I just took photos of the exteriors of them, for memory's sake, haha), we proceeded around the various venues like the famous Bird's Nest with the lighted Olympic Torch (or perhaps infamous, depending on if you are somebody like Liu Xiang and have bad memories of the place, poor thing), the Water Cube, the International Broadcast Centre, the Beijing Olympics Broadcasting Tower ('玲珑塔')... I was quite impressed with the layout, massive space, upkeeping, and the grandeur of the various architecture - am sure this place will remain a huge tourist draw and source of national pride long after the Olympics is over.

Only grouse is there weren't many areas for proper food - they only sold snacks like Chinese hot dogs, ice cream, cakes, instant noodles (at an exhorbitant SGD6 a bowl!). Well, they had two McDonald's restaurant in the whole area, and I was hoping to hitch a ride on the trolley bus to get to the restaurant in time to grab a burger before the event (such rides are only for the pregnant, elderly, and kids - but these "golf carts" have limited seating space and we gave up waiting). In the end, Wayne walked over to the nearest McDonald's and also similarly gave up...there was a long queue to get into the restaurant, and ANOTHER queue to place your order...

Well, we then decided to head on in to the National Indoor Stadium where our events were held - see me gloating with my tickets in hand! There were more snacks sold inside so Wayne bought us bread and a Snickers bar, heh - have to prepare for my hungry tummy as we were going to be in there from 6 pm till 9 pm!

Upon entering to get to our seats, it was quite awe-inspiring to see such a huge stadium, and with all the flags of the participating countries hung up. We were 37 rows from the top gallery, so you can imagine how small the athletes looked below. Luckily there were large screens around, and we had a small pair of binoculars (that made me have a headache from straining to focus...).

The seats were mostly filled (since it was the finals), and the next three hours can only be described as shiok!, as China went on to sweep golds in three of the four events we watched (men's parallel bars, men's horizontal bar, and men's trampoline - got a bronze in last event too, and China also managed a bronze in women's beam). This meant that we stood up to sing the Chinese national anthem three times (I only knew how to sing the last line '前进、前进、前进进!' - 'forward, forward, forward!'). But still, it was a very overwhelming experience to see and hear Chinese supporters cheering loudly for Team China, and seeing the Chinese flag in top place for three of the events. Speaking of supporters, the family sitting next to me was particularly loud/vocal, with the Daddy decked in red and cheering China on, and his daughter was dressed up in Chinese costume and dancing enthusiastically (also caught photo of German fans with their mohawks)...

There was a five-minute interval between the gymnastics and trampoline events as a group of 16 helpers matched out to set up the trampolines... in military precision - was an interesting watch. Also, I tried to take photos of the Chinese athletes doing their sequences, but most were blurred or too small.... I was particularly irked by the many people who used flash photography despite being reminded countless times by the volunteers that it will affect the atheletes. So irritating and inconsiderate...

After the events, we headed out to eat McDonald's (situated near the subway station), and since there were so little seats indoors, we packed the food outside to eat on the benches - yummy as I was practically starving by then, haha! The McDonald's here seems to have a slightly different menu from the usual outlets - seems more Americanized and healthy (e.g. has chicken salad). We were lucky to capture some nice night shots of the place and various sporting venues - looks nice and different at night!

In total, we'd spent about 7 hours at the Olympic Green, including catching a wonderful series of gold-studded events, and capturing day and night scenes. By the time we headed home, I was frankly quite tired from a packed day (with alot of walking and sun), but I think it was all worth it. Before coming here, I was not keen on attending any of the events for fear of the crowds and noise, the hassle, as well as wondering if Beijing's security levels at such an important event/venue were safe enough for a pregnant woman like me (I saw no more than 10 pregnant woman at the grounds, heh!).

I guess all my misperceptions have been corrected, and my fears put at ease, heh! The Chinese have really done their country proud... I'm glad I took the trouble and brought Rosabelle (no doubt still in my tummy) and enjoyed a day with Wayne - his first time there was brief since poor Dad was feeling unwell, so he at least spent time touring the place and soaking in the atmosphere on Tuesday.

I'm proud to have been a part of the Olympics in my own, small way, and to enjoy the experience with my loved ones - absolutely priceless.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Becoming parents



Name: Carina He Hui Xuan
Popped out on: August 12, 2008
Mom & Pop: Tang Bei and Jeff He

Jeff was my ex-colleague in Weber Shandwick Beijing and is now studying at Wharton University in the US for his MBA. He was with the Agency as well when Wayne was around, and they were both even room mates before. His wife also joined him in the US, as did her parents, when they found out she was expecting. They never managed to find out the exact sex of the child during the scans, and it turns out they have a healthy and beautiful baby girl as well, Carina He.

I particularly like this photo of Jeff cradling his newborn - the shadowy, peaceful lighting; his hidden expression; his careful and tender cradling of the baby... it just speaks volumes.

Congratulations to a dear ex-colleague and our friend.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who you calling a Chinese dumpling?

I went for my 28 week check-up yesterday morning, and it was after a very fitful sleep since I made the mistake of drinking 'teh tarik' (milk tea) at dinner the night before (I have zero tolerance for caffeine and get high even on green tea and coffee sweets, really!). Even Rosabelle seemed to be on a caffeine high and was moving, twisting, turning, kicking throughout the night...aiyo, I was so afraid my blood pressure readings would shoot up (not helped by the fact that my eczema was making me itchy, and I had to wake up extra early to eat breakfast, since I needed to fast for my two-hour blood sugar test reading)!

Luckily, my blood pressure readings were at a normal level, but maybe it's due to the fact that I don't have a habit of eating too much at breakfast, my blood sugar at two hours after food was at a low 4.9 (normal is 6.0) -- the nurse who took my blood thought I had purposely starved to clear the test (haha!). I normally have a cup of milk and eat about 3 biscuits for breakfast, before heading to office for a cup of Manuka honey water, and a serving of fruit an hour later, so my stomach doesn't normally go empty for 2 hours flat.

Upon checking my tummy, my doctor indicated that I have a smaller-than-usual tummy for baby's term. Coupled with the result that I seemed to have low blood sugar level, she was worried I wasn't eating enough and affecting baby's growth, and asked me to go for an ultrasound. Aiyo, got me worried for awhile as I was wondering if I was over-doing my cut-back on sugars/carbos after the last GTT re-test. What if baby's really too small, or what if my tummy's not growing fast enough to accommodate a growing baby?

Anyway, the ultrasound cleared all our fears and doubts, heh - Rosabelle is now 1,103 grammes, and the scan doctor even said at such a size, she's actually 27 weeks 6 days old (instead of the previously measured 27 weeks 3 days). This means that she has about doubled in size since the last check-up, and we could even see her mouth opened during the scan (so cute!). Wayne remarked that her nose seemed quite big (like mine!), but after seeing photos of all the newborns at the hospital - we've reached a conclusion - there is NO infant born with a non-big nose (see Simon's and Marianne's at right - they in fact look alike).... haha!

Little Rosabelle was cleared with a healthy slate of major organs, and my womb fluid is also at a normal level (I thought if baby's size is ok, could it be due to the fact that I don't have enough amniotic fluid..phew!).

So my doctor was quite relieved at the results of the ultrasound and encouraged me to continue with my daily walks, and the level of food I was eating. She mentioned that I could be one of those women who are "薄皮大馅" (i.e. in reference to Chinese dumplings that have very thin outer skin, but can actually hold alot of fillings - hahaha!). However, I have been "punished" with having to do a two-hour blood sugar test for my next check-up at 30w as well, so as to continue monitoring if it is within healthy levels.

I have also been instructed to keep close track of the foetal movements - Rosabelle has really been getting very active these days (I read that babies from 28-29w sleep/wake in five-minute intervals, my goodness, so busy, this daughter of mine!). When I sleep at night, it helps for me to prop my leg up to a level in line with my heart, and to sleep on my left-hand-side (but I do get breathless at times when there is a constricted feeling on my chest from the increasing weight).

Oh well, am happy as a lark all's nice and normal for Rosabelle and I. Only glitch is - I have met quite a lot of people who tell me "Oh, you're expecting a boy, right?", just from looking at the shape of my stomach. Our neighbour downstairs who has a one-year-old boy, some of my colleagues, and even some people I meet for the first time. They assume because from the back, I do not look like I am pregnant (yaay..I still have an outline of a waist, albeit a thick one; though Wayne says "From the waist, you can't tell. But from your butt, can tell you are pregnant." - haha!). Also, maybe it's because my stomach looks slightly pointy, and is low, not round and flat if it was a girl inside - you can read other (some rather ridiculous) old wives' tales about how to tell the sex of the child here.

In any case, the three scans we've done all show Rosabelle to be a girl, but I've heard stories of how it turns out to be a boy at the end of the day (because for various reasons, the boy's "part" does not show up on the scan), and for obvious reasons, I am not going to name my friend (you know who you are *wink*) who had to bear the childhood humiliation of wearing a pink, knitted sweater his Mum prepared for the daughter she thought she was going to have ("Oh, so is this a boy or girl?" relatives asked at the one-month celebration where the pink sweater was proudly shown off...with him wearing it).

Well, as we always say, boy or girl, so long as it's a healthy child, we are blessed - and we also have not bought any gender-specific clothes/toys/furniture etc (except that the poor kid, if it ever turns out to be a boy, would be confused as to why I now keep calling him by a girl's name and saying I would buy beautiful dresses for him...). I have a back-up name if it's a boy - Jayden Shi (yet to have Wayne's blessings, but again, that's also the name of Britney Spears' kid...ewwww....).

Since we're on baby stuff, we also took the weekend to look at baby bath tubs. As I'd mentioned before, I won't be buying alot of things in China before I leave (as I will be doing my confinement in Singapore), but we'd considered getting:
  • a cot (now realized we don't need one as our study room can accommodate a sofa bed and a super single mattress side by side, demonstrated during Wayne's parents' visit - so good, Rosabelle can sleep on the mattress next to our Mums)

  • a hot water flask so we don't have to keep re-boiling water in our electric kettle (I redeemed a free one using my mobile phone points - yaaay!)

  • a heating plate (we'll get this when we are back in March when the stores have more of these, as there will be a few days before it gets cold in the house since central heating stops only on Mar 15)

  • a wardrobe (we'll also get this after we come back, to assess how much storage space is required for Wayne's Mum and baby stuff - we've amazingly managed to clear a fair bit of space from our spring-cleaning a few weeks back)

  • a drying rack (for nappies and baby clothing - we now have a minuscule balcony that we use for hanging out clothing, but the racks are high up and inconvenient for me to reach, so the kinds that can you can spread out on the floor would be more practical - but we also have to consider the space issue and where to place this...heh...)

  • a bath tub (we saw bath tubs ranging from SGD8 to SGD55 - Mum said "no need so expensive one!", where the 'high-end' tubs had fitted measures to prop baby up so she can lie down comfortably - such features are actually quite a hindrance when baby grows bigger and needs the extra space to kick around in the bath tub, so guess we'll settle for an ordinary one and place an anti-slip mat at the base)

Goody, not that much to-dos before heading home, but knowing me, I will likely be pottering around here and there before I leave for Singapore!

The things parents do for their children

Shortly after I posted my last entry on Friday evening, Wayne told me his parents were going to head home the next night on Saturday, as Dad's fever did not seem to subside even after countless visits to the hospital. He was actually feeling better on Saturday, well enough to go with Mum to the National Grand Theatre (again), to sell off the tickets they bought for a performance this week, and to take an inside tour of the place. But guess they decided to play it safe and go back to the comfort of their homes where Dad can rest well.

Over dinner before they headed to the train station at night (brought them for Malaysian food at a local restuarant, Malacca Legend), Dad revealed that he was also afraid he would pass his bad flu to me. Aiya, there was no way I could convince him that Rosabelle and I are hale and hearty, but they were adamant about leaving, so it's a pity Wayne, I and Rosabelle could not spend more time with them and bring them around more.

Well, at least they managed to get some of the Olympic action on Friday, taking in sights of the renowned Bird's Nest, Water Cube, and 20 minutes of the All-Around Women's Gymnastics...

With them being away, Wayne and I have decided not to let the remaining sets of Olympic tickets go to waste. Instead, I will go with him for tomorrow's gymnastics events (yes, with Rosabelle too!) - we are setting aside more time to get to the venue so it won't be too hectic for me, I shall report more on my Olympics experience!

For Dad and Mum, they reached home safely on Sunday morning and thankfully Dad's feeling better. With such an episode, Wayne and I are hesitant about having Mum stay with us for too long in future to take care of Rosabelle - Dad is also at an age where he needs her to be around (as Wayne put it, they are really each other's "老伴" - companions for life), and it won't be fair to keep them apart for long, so guess we'll have to make longer-term plans for Rosabelle.

Still back to the Olympics subject, as I caught various events on TV over the weekend, there are some highlights and moving moments that stood out for me - it's not about Michael Phelps and his personal achievement of 8 golds (or a total of a record 14 Olympic golds); or the fact that China is leading in the medal tally over arch-rival USA; or even the trials and tribulations of Team China who managed many firsts this time round.

It's more of the personal stories like that of the below that show the selfless love of mothers and loved ones...
  • that of Chinese 75kg weightlifting champion CAO Lei, who dedicated her win to her mother who passed away just two months ago. Her family had tried to keep the news from her, and since her mother was the first person CAO always wanted to talk to whenever she called home, her father had to lie and told her to concentrate on her training and not call anymore. Upon urging by CAO's coach, the news was broken to her only much later.

  • that of 33-year-old German gymnast Oksana CHUSOVITINA, whose son Alisher was diagnosed with cancer before his third birthday in 2002, and she then moved from Uzbekistan to Germany, where better medical care saved him. In an arena of young 14-year-olds doing flips and stands, this mummy gymnast is also the first female gymnast to compete in five Olympics. She came out of retirement to take part in competitions to be able to earn enough for her son's illness then, and has been quoted as saying "If I don't compete, then my son won't live... It's as simple as that. I have no choice." Although her son is cured, she is not resting on her laurels.

Or even closer to heart is Mum's support for the China team when they were up against our own Singapore team in the finals of the Women's Table Tennis Team event last night. My sister even called her a "叛徒" (traitor) in jest...haha! China President HU Jintao was even present at the finals last night, so you can imagine the pressure on the China team (they obviously won). I heard that there were Singaporeans present at the stadium, cheering LI Jiawei (Singapore's strongest paddler) on, but they were screaming "ai zai, ai zai!!!" (Hokkien for "steady, steady!!!) - erm..maybe it's because she's a Beijing native and did not understand the cheering...

In any case, it's no mean feat for Singapore that last got an Olympics medal (bronze for weightlifting) 48 years ago - even our Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong delayed his National Day Rally speech by a day to await the results of this match. Just managing to see the Singapore flag raised at such a mega international sporting event as this is really quite an achievement (though the paddlers are mainly from China, heh). Looks like the $750,000 awarded by the Singapore National Olympic Council to the silver medallists will pay for a big party...(oh, in line with all things Singapore, the amount is taxable, by the way, heh!).

More about Mum - she has been updating me of the various preparations she and my sis (and guess everybody else at home) have been doing for Rosabelle's homecoming: re-painting the house (and finding out there were white ant nests lurking in parts of the home in the process - yeeks!); getting a new set of dining table/chairs (in her own words: "scared that when the fat, pregnant woman sits on the old chairs, they might give way and fall"!); dragging out Simon's/Marianne's infant clothing and washing them clean; cleaning out the cupboards for baby's and Wayne's/my clothes; re-varnishing the wooden furniture;...

They really have been kept busy, and even my sis, who has started part-time work in a friend's law firm, informed her boss that she will not be working in November, as I was going to deliver then. So sweet of them all, and I'm also getting all excited about going home in less than a month!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Totally sapped

One definition of "sapped" from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
- to gradually diminish the supply or intensity of
- to weaken or exhaust the energy or vitality of

The above is exactly what Wayne's poor Daddy is feeling now. As you know, they are now in town to catch the Olympics action but perhaps it's due to a hectic past few days (where they both woke up really early (like, before 7 am) to head out in Beijing's hot August weather to places like the National Grand Theatre, Qianmen, or to scout for a place for Dad to play his favourite game of table tennis. Or the fact that the room aircon was too cold for them the first night. Or maybe it's due to new surroundings and they have not been resting well.

In any case, it has caused Mum to come down with a red eye (not conjunctivitis, but burst blood capillaries - too heaty), and Dad to come down with a bad flu. Bad enough for Mum to have to take him to the hospital this morning for a jab and glucose drip, and bad enough for them and Wayne to have to leave just 20 minutes into the finals of the Women's All-round Gymnastics this morning (which China got a bronze medal for) to go to the hospital again for further checks.

Poor thing...his nose was all red last night, and he was running a slight fever (he even told Mum he wanted to go home for fear of infecting me, aiyo!). Anyway, hope he gets better in time to catch the next event - the finals of Men's Parallel+Horizontal Bars/Women's Beam on Tuesday, 19 Aug, if not it'll be a wasted trip for them to not be able to enjoy the Games, not to mention him feeling terrible all the time...

On a lighter note and to celebrate the coming weekend (am going for my 28w check-up on Sunday!), enjoy some Dilbert clips showcasing some other work situations that I would certainly NOT miss (luckily I don't have to encounter them in my current job...). TGIF!




Thursday, August 14, 2008

Woe betide whoever dares say my kid isn't cute enough!!!

Warning: If my blog or this post disappears overnight, you know it's due to some mystical forces of the Chinese government.

I'm brought up to write proper English, and am sickened when people over-use exclamation marks (e.g. Wah lau eh!!! This noodle is very nice to eat leh!!!). But, I simply had to title my blog with (at least) three exclamation marks to convey the strong feelings I have for the subject of this post.

Sad news about the Olympics, and it's not about the fact that (obviously and NOT suprisingly), Singapore has yet to pick up any medal, or that some Chinese hot-for-gold medallist got silver or bronze instead. Instead, my sadness is linked to the story of two Chinese girls (that's LIN Miaoke on the left, and YANG Peiyi on the right).

Quick question before you read on: Do you think both girls are cute, or is "angel-faced" Lin cuter than short-haired, crooked-teethed Yang?

Now, read on:

Pretty, pixie-faced Lin Miaoke became an overnight star (or in her own father's words, "an international singing sensation") after she appeared in the opening of the Beijing Olympics, singing the all-too-famous patriotic Chinese song "Ode to the Motherland". She became a hit with her sweet voice, beautiful red dress (and what I think is an overdone plastic smile and too much make-up for a nine-year-old). Fair enough.

Problem arises when reports have surfaced that Lin was lip-synching (oh well, international pop stars lip-sync too, and it has also been reported that Luciano Pavarotti's performance at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin was pre-recorded as the wintry cold made a live performance impossible). However, this has been pushed to the limit when horrors of all horrors, it was also revealed that Lin was not lip-synching to her own voice, but to that of another young girl, seven-year-old Yang Peiyi.

In China's keen attempts to present its "best" on the international stage, Yang was not deemed good enough to sing at the opening. You can read more about the details in this report, but details are summarized as such:

Chen Qigang, the ceremony's music director, had been asked last minute by an unamed Politburo official to replace Yang with Lin, according to an interview with Beijing Radio. This is what Chen said (I've combined various parts of his quotes into the below abstract):

"The audience will understand that it's in the national interest... The national interest requires that the girl should have good looks and a good grasp of the song and look good on screen... Lin Miaoke was the best in this. And Yang Peiyi's voice was the most outstanding.... We had to make that choice. It was fair both for Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi...We combined the perfect voice and the perfect performance."

Obviously, the end results are far from perfect - Yang's looks were just not cute enough for some official (who I'd assume does not have kids of his own and thus judges innocent kids harshly based on looks).

In my personal view, China's quest for perfection has really extended beyond acceptable boundaries - it's quite shameful and saddening (as well as maddening!) to think that poor Yang has to live in the shadows of being deemed uncute, and even Lin is a victim for being deemed to have a lousy voice. Who needs "perfect" when you are just a kid, for goodness sake?! There are many comments online with debate and disgust about this and obviously, alot of local media have been told to remove the story, suggesting that Chinese authorities are indeed uncomfortable with the fact that they've been exposed.

Of course, as with all matters, the other side of the coin has a camp of people who agree with the lame "national interests" excuse that China needs to present its best to the world at such an important event. However, who cares about "best" when your "best" turns out to be "fake"? And isn't one of the key elements of Olympic spirit about "fair play"? Hubby Wayne offers his two cents' worth as he's more in tune with the psyche of his fellow Chinese citizens: if Yang were to appear on stage, there would also be criticisms of why a "cuter" girl was not chosen - you can't please a nation of 1.3 billion, and it's easy for us non-Chinese people to look on and criticize; guess you can't please everybody whilst balancing "national interests"!

However, even more heart-tugging is Yang's sincere response (and hopefully nobody had to hold a knife to her dad's neck to force her to make such a politically-correct statement), that "just having her voice used for the opening ceremony was an honor". Now, why can't we adults and the folks in question exercise such innocence?

I shall end my rambling outburst with the mission of the Olympic Spirit:

"Our vision and purpose is clear - To be an icon of Olympic values and ideals, to inspire and motivate the youth of the world to be the best they can be."

Mark R. Dzenick
Chairman - Olympic Spirit Group
Note to guilty parties: Key phrase in above is "to be the best they CAN be", and certainly, definitely, absolutely not "to be the best they APPEAR to be". (Cue: Shake head and give a heavy sigh...)