Things that bring us happiness these days tend to revolve around Kai. His name in Japanese means “The World”, so he’s our world after all.

We’re happy all of the time because we have Kai. Happiness tends to be an enveloping state of mind. But there are little moments that happen throughout that are just simply moments of joy.

You can put a finger on it.

What’s your finger on?


IMG_0677 Last weekend when we went to visit my parents at their home, my father looked a little worse for wear because of Parkinson’s. His stiffness and gait was more pronounced than it had ever been.

As it was a hot day, Kai was a little more than cranky when we arrived, and Naomi and I had wanted to let his grandpa hold him, if that was at all possible, for a little while.

It was possible, as grandpa was seated on a wide armchair, so he didn’t really have to carry Kai, who was all of 8kg last week, but just allow him to settle across his lap.

We were kind of worried Kai would start wailing once we placed him there, and were at the ready to pick him up again if he did.

More than the opposite happened. First, Kai smiled at his grandpa, and grandpa reciprocated the best his facial muscles knew how.

Then Kai laughed. For a baby who’s only started how to chuckle a few days earlier, he let out a stream of chuckles, complete with deep audible intakes of breath in between.

Grandpa really, really smiled, and then as he cradled Kai in his arms, they both gurgled and cooed nonsense to each other.

Kai’s starting to drool a lot these days, and he’s making a mess of grandpa’s hands and arms just as grandpa is doing the same to himself because of Parkinson’s Disease.

It’s a slimy, icky, gummy, grinny, gurgly bonding session between Kai and his grandpa, who suddenly looks like he’s turned back a decade.


Monitoring baby Yesterday afternoon, as I was struggling to put words to a song and a skit, the baby monitor I had on the desk crackled to life, its blue lights flickering and its speaker letting me listen to Naomi’s mother patting Kai and singing twinkle twinkle little star, which is the only song she sings to him.

But because she’s trying to put him to bed, she’s singing it lullabye style, which is slower and softer and doesn’t have any hand actions because you are carrying the baby after all.

She sings and pats for a good five minutes or so, and Kai doesn’t sound like he’s anywhere near sleeping, and keeps gurgling and cooing at Twinkle Twinkle Grandma, who is tiring quickly.

The patting stops for a moment, and then starts again, so I think she’s put him down in his cot and then resumed patting and singing.

Kai’s still gurgling, and Grandma gets a little impatient and tells him in Mandarin and Taiwanese to “quickly go to sleep”. She sings another few bars, and then says again “go to sleep, go to sleep”.

The patting becomes erratic and the singing stops, but the verbal urging picks up and Grandma says, “Come on Kai, go to sleep, go to sleep”, and starts to snort loudly and sharply in between saying “go to sleep”.

This snorting startles me for a few seconds before I realise she’s merely trying to mimic snoring in the hope that Kai picks up the cue, since he’s already missed the verbal and singing ones.

The snorting continues for a few minutes as I listen in, trying to control my laughter. Then abrubtly, it stops, and I hear in Mandarin a very resigned, “OK, since you don’t want to sleep, so be it. Grandma wants to sleep”.

Within seconds, real snoring is heard – a lot more rhythmic than the imitation ones, and in several more minutes, Kai stops gurgling. Some more rustling is heard, then all becomes quiet.

I will not eat full-grain mustard again

Grey Poupon
Photo by Cynthia Blue

We haven’t hit the sweet spot yet where Kai sleeps through a night. He made 5 hours for two nights this week, but we’re now resigned to them being flukes.

Maybe he’s not eating enough and sleeping too much during the day, we’re not sure. And going on guestimates based on books and the Confinement Nanny’s advice can be a bit tiring because all you want to do is try to get a few hours’ unbroken sleep.

Kai is too young to know that he needs sleep, and although it makes complete sense to us that he shouldn’t be over-stimulated lest he can’t lull himself to sleep, our son can find all sorts of ways to drive himself batty – he starts babbling once there are toys in his line of sight. You take away his toys, he stares at the patterns on his cot. You turn out the lights, he cries until you turn them back on, so that he can stare at the patterns on his cot.

We are grateful we haven’t yet found Murphy’s Law of Diaper Change to be irrefutable – he keeps his diapers clean for at least 2 minutes after I change them, but all new and prospective parents need to know that there are duties that include examining your baby’s poop, because the colour and texture of your baby’s faeces is one of the signs of whether your child is ill or not.

Because of this, Naomi’s and my mealtime conversations have evolved. Whereas once we might have talked about how stupid local tv programs are, now she asks while I’m tucking into lunch, “Do you find his poop a bit runny?”

And I might answer, “yes, but isn’t it always like that?”

To which she’ll say, “not that runny”.

And I’ll ask, “then what’s it supposed to look like?”

And she’ll say, “like full-grain mustard, you know?”

Baby Kai’s Day Out


OK, it was our day out. Having stayed home for almost a month (trip to Mum’s house for celebration not counted), Naomi and I thought it’d be good to get out and let Kai announce himself to the world, H1N1 notwithstanding.

And announce he did, with big, heartfelt cries when it was feeding time when we were almost done with the supermarket shopping at Tanglin Mall, which, by the way, if you’re with child and pram, is the place to be. There is a nicely equipped nursing room (although the wallpaper featuring a sofa was an unforgivable tease), and everyone else seems to be with child and pram, so they’re mostly considerate and forthcoming with all manner of advise (such as: no, you should not use your pram to hold the lift door open).

After too many hours out because our timings for running simple errands like eating lunch and buying groceries have gone slightly awry due to accumulated suakuness, we came home with a few cakes to celebrate Kai’s official one month day (Gregorian Calendar), but the little bugger decided he wanted to have a long snooze instead, so we’re having the cake today.

It’s good to be finally able to go out.

Ginger and Fred

Days 10 & 11

A couple more things struck me about having a newborn – your home becomes like the opposite of a zoo. Your friends want to come visit and see the new baby, and you have to tell them, sure but not during feeding hours.

The other thing is, with the help of the confinement nanny, we have raised the price of ginger. There’s about two tonnes of ginger in our kitchen, waiting to be prepared and incorporated into such culinary delights as pork with ginger, fish with ginger, beef with ginger, vegetables with ginger, and ginger with ginger.

We’d have gone bonkers if Baby Kai wasn’t the cutest baby in the universe who doesn’t mind his parents and nanny having ginger breath.

Hello world

Baby Boy Minejima-Lee

Apart from not knowing what day of the week it is, and from almost burning down the house because I fell asleep while sterilising things the old fashioned way (we have since purchased an automatic steriliser), Naomi and I are settling in to parenthood very well.

Our son is 8 days old today, and the confinement nanny tells us that he’s probably having one of many growth spurts today – he demanded to be fed more frequently, and his skin appears drier and stretched. Dunno… she say one.

A stint under the UV light and and increasing food supply seems to have reduced his jaundice a fair bit, and we’re very happy to have been home for three days now.

Last Friday when Naomi and I checked in to the hospital at 3am for the elective general anaesthesia caesarean, we knew it was going to be a long day, and all the nerves and jitters had already dissolved into tiredness by the time we got to the hospital.

I was shown into the delivery suite to wait, while Naomi was wheeled in, together with the camera for the anaesthesiologist to take pictures of our newborn because I’m not allowed into a GA caesarean theatre.

I’d always known it would be quick, but I wasn’t prepared for how fast our baby announced his arrival by yelling his lungs out – I could hear him in the delivery suite, outside the operating theatre, and I hadn’t even had time to finish my hot drink that I had made at the pantry before they wheeled him out for me to say hello.

I don’t think anyone could’ve heard me greet my son because he was louder than any baby I have ever heard.

I don’t care if he punctures my eardrums though. He’s the most beautiful baby boy in the whole wide world.

And his name is Kai.

Say hello.

Kitting out baby

I’ve not been too busy to blog, and I blame Twitter.

Even then, I’ve not been twittering properly either. But with that out of the way, we have been busy getting the house ready for our still nameless baby, who arrives in 7 weeks.

We’ve been shopping around but not necessarily buying, and putting things on gift registries so our friends can buy stuff for us that we’ll use.

It’s bewildering (and tiring) for first time parents – the slew of baby monitors, thermometers, carriers, slings, sacks, sleeping bags, full body suits and other gear you wouldn’t expect a newborn baby to need. But they do.

We even saw what I think is a baby astronaut trainer. I could be wrong though – I think I saw buttons for spin dry and gentle washes:

Baby Astronaut Trainer from Benjamin Lee on Vimeo.

Naming rights (and wrongs)

It’s getting late in the game, and we’re no closer to settling on any name for our baby. It also doesn’t help that my surname (Lee) is not a very friendly name to pair with.

An old schoolmate has suggested a very memorable Righteous Valentine Lee. We are not considering it, although you have to admit that and Pilot Inspektor Lee do have a good ring to them.

Looking around for inspiration when I’m out and about town doesn’t really help either:

Baby name ideas