March 11, 2015

Girls' beloved nanny


This is the woman who helps me raise my daughters. She is the reason I can work and travel with absolute peace of mind knowing that my girls are in excellent hands. In the 9+ years that she's been taking care of them, never once have she pulled a long face when we are late to fetch them - and when I say late, it can be really late like 10-11pm if it so happens that both hubby and I have work commitments, though it's quite rare. She even offers to lets the girls stay overnight... when I have to travel to give hubby a break.

She treats them like her own and my girls in turn love her and her family to bits. Yiu Yiu doesn't go there anymore since she started primary school four years back so she always look forward to going to the her house during the school holidays.

Besides taking care of the girls, she also cooks our dinner so I get to eat home-cooked food without having to lift my fingers :-) She's also entrepreneurial, selling home-made moon cakes during Mid-Autumn Festival and prawn crackers during CNY. I seriously don't know where she finds the time and energy to do this, having to babysit during the day.

She turned 55 last week, and we wish her many more years of health and happiness.

I am really blessed to have found such a gem of a nanny. Yan Yan will go into primary school next year and will stop going to her house too, so we are all going to miss her and her cooking.

December 31, 2014

Adieu 2014, hello 2015

Another year is coming to a close, and it’s time to reflect back on the year, and plan for the year ahead…

Yiu Yiu attended Standard 3 this year and as per previous years, she does ok in her studies, except for Bahasa Malaysia, which never fails to pull her average down.  Much as we tried to resist, we will have to enroll her for BM tuition next year.  She participated in class performance for the school CNY celebration, Chinese story telling and singing competition, school sports day, and won an award for her entry for her school’s comic drawing competition.  She stopped attending gymrama classes as she was losing interest but made some progress on the musical front by passing her Grade 1 violin exam in May with Merit.  She surprised me by falling short of a Distinction by a mere three points.  She is now preparing for Grade 3 exam for violin and Grade 2 exam for piano.  She also appeared in a print ad for the MDEC, and caught the Rainbow Loom craze.  She attended the Money Tree Holiday Camp but we didn’t enroll her into the program as there were some changes in the management of the centre so we decided to wait a bit.  Just two weeks ago, she attended the Starters Camp at Radiant Retreats.

As for Yan Yan, she seems to be falling behind in her languages.  She’s doing rather poorly both in her Bahasa Malaysia and English, getting sukukata and phonics all mixed up, and can hardly read yet.  I am seriously torn between being concerned for her lack of progress, or taking a more chillax stance as some educational approaches advocate play, play and more play (instead of “academic” achievements) for children as young as her.  Nonetheless, we consulted an occupational therapist for an assessment and bottom line is that I have to spend time reading with her.  So that would be my 2015 resolution.  That aside, I also need to work on her self-confidence as her teacher has consistently commented on her lack of self confidence and fear of making mistakes in class, though I don’t really see this in her at home.  Happier times for Yan Yan this year would be her first field trip to Aquaria KLCC, attending her kindy mid-year party, celebrating her 5th birthday with her classmates and dancing in the awesome kindy concert.  Like last year, she missed her year-end party as we were in Korea for our year end holiday (which I haven’t got the chance to blog about).  Unfortunately, she had to undergo the ordeal of fixing her dental problems under general anaesthesia.

 A glimpse of our Korea trip which I haven't blogged about

On the personal front, work wise, it had been a fantastic year with incredible achievements for my team, and I’m hopeful this will translate into a good increment and performance bonus J  Hubby also gave me a (not so) surprise birthday celebration at the Majestic Hotel, complete with dinner and spa.  I didn’t travel much for work, except for Taipei, which I took the opportunity to take mum along and had a short holiday in Tainan with some colleagues.  I also attended a conference in San Francisco in June, another trip which I’ve yet to blog about.  As part of my 2014 resolution, I’ve also started exercising regularly and juicing, besides going on two rounds of juice fast this year.  I’ve lost 3kg so far, and have a more toned physique.

Biking in San Francisco, another long overdue trip which I've yet to blog about

Yiu Yiu helping with the weekly juicing routine

Other things we did this year include hunting down the street art in Ipoh, watched an awesome musical (Ombak) and took a short holiday in Phuket and the year end holiday in Korea.  The girls also participated in an art exhibition and had their first professional manicure.


Looking back at my year end post last year, and the resolutions I made for 2014, there were some hits and misses:
- start exercising again and lose some weight (check)
- spend less time at work and come home earlier every day (somewhat check)
- have more patience with the girls (fail)
- go for facial, massage and pedi regularly (fail)
- enroll Yan Yan into a ballet school, as she’s been asking for it for a long time now so I should seriously start looking for a class for her (fail, and she has stopped asking over the last couple of months J)
- enroll Yiu Yiu into a Money Tree program, and Beginner’s Camp at Radiant Retreats (check)
- encourage Yiu Yiu to read more, as she hardly reads (fail)
- teach the girls to cycle (check – Yiu Yiu can now cycle on her own, while Yan Yan is still on her four wheelers)

So for 2015, here’s what I look forward to doing:
Continue
- exercising and choosing healthier food options
- spend less time at work and come home earlier every day
Start
- have more patience with the girls
- spend more time reading with Yan Yan and helping her overcome her challenges
- encourage Yiu Yiu to read more

Wishing everyone a blessed 2015 ahead.
 

December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014

This Christmas season, we visited the Pavilion, Sunway Pyramid and 1-Utama.  The décor at 1-Utama was most forgettable so we didn’t take any photos.

At Sunway Pyramid, the theme was “A Hoopful Christmas”.  The theme centred on a circus featuring polar bears, vibrant hula hoops and stacks of colourful presents.
 
 
 
 
 
The theme at Pavilion was "Christmas Magnificence", and magnificent it was indeed.  The centerpiece was a 40-feet LED Santa Claus surrounded by dazzling Christmas trees, singing snowmen and animated elves.  There was also a mini ferries wheel for the little ones. 










People say a picture paints a thousand words…in this case, I think the pictures still couldn’t do justice to the decoration at Pavilion, and so here are some videos for those who missed Pavilion this year.

video
 
video
 
video

video


December 27, 2014

Sek Yuen Restaurant (适苑酒家)


I don’t normally blog about food but decided to blog about this one coz I find it rather unique.  Sek Yuen Restaurant in Jalan Pudu has been in existence since 1948, and believe it or not, they are still operating in its original building!  The restaurant was supposedly the place to be for wedding banquets of yesteryears.

The original building - photo from here
 
They added another shop just next door, which comes with air-conditioning, and we were there at the “newer” shop on Boxing Day.  The interior of the restaurant exudes that old time 70s feel, with old tiles and red table cloths with multiple holes J and the cooks still cook on wood fire instead of gas.

The "newer" air-conditioned restaurant. The white building next to it is the original restaurant building - photo from here 

Interior of the restaurant

Since there were only four of us (2 adults + 2 children), we only ordered the Cantonese fried noodles (广府鸳鸯), Char Siew & Fish Paste Sang Meen (叉烧鱼滑生面), Stir Fry Kung Po Fish Head and Sharks Fin (imitation of course) Omelette (桂花翅) served with crunchy lettuce.  The omelette is to be wrapped in the lettuce (like the Peranakan joo hoo char) and savoured with a dash of black vinegar.  They have many other signature dishes like the Four Seasons Platter (四式冷拼) that is normally served at Chinese wedding dinners, Pei Pa Duck (琵琶鸭) and Eight Treasure Duck (八宝鸭), some of which needs to be ordered in advance.

 
Service by the middle-aged and elderly staff was extremely prompt and efficient.  Our tea was repeatedly refilled when there’s half-cup left without any prompting.  And they kept offering fork and spoon to the girls, and repeatedly asked if they were fine with the chopsticks – extremely good service by today’s standards.

If this isn't that far away for us, we would definitely visit more often.

December 24, 2014

Radiant Retreats Starter Camp


One of my 2014 resolutions was to enroll Yiu Yiu into the Radiant Retreats Starter Camp, which she did just two weeks ago.  I’ve been trying to get her to write an account of her 3D/2N trip but the queen proscratinator is at work L  Nevertheless, she really enjoyed herself and have asked to go for the Level 2 Camp next year.
 
Since I’ve not been successful to get her to write about it, here’s a glimpse of what she did (pictures taken from Radiant Retreats FB page).
 
The camp schedule

Day 1 - self/team introduction 

Day 1 - nature hike

Day 2 - Basic survival skills 

Day 2 - Basic survival skills

Day 3 - checking out from the chalet

Day 3 - participants were given a choice of either Genting Highlands (as per the schedule above) or paint ball + river tubing. My adventurous champion opted for the latter.

Ada gaya...even her mum had not tried paint ball...jealous :-)

November 30, 2014

Phuket – Marriott's Phuket Beach Club

Day 3 was the day we were scheduled to listen to the sales pitch of the Marriot Vacation Club.  We left the girls at the Kid’s Club while we were busy at the sales gallery.  I honestly think it’s a great program, and if it wasn’t for the price tag, I would probably have signed up.  Good thing that the sales consultant was very professional and never once pushed us.  However, he was very visibly disappointed when we finally said no.  The presentation took us the whole morning, so we went for lunch at Turtle Village, a short walk away.

 
 

In the afternoon, we wanted to go cycling but unfortunately, the hotel doesn’t have any bicycle that could accommodate Yiu Yiu as a pillion rider (she didn’t know how to ride a bicycle at that time, so we made it a priority to teach her cycling when we got back, and she very quickly learnt it J).  We abandoned the plan and spent the rest of the day at the pool and beach.








November 27, 2014

Phuket – Hong by Starlight by John Gray’s Sea Canoe

The next day, we signed up for a canoe tour with John Gray’s Sea Canoe.  We were picked up from our hotel at about 11am and were driven to the jetty.  Once we boarded the boat, we were served with a simple lunch of salad, fried noodles, spring rolls and fruits.  After lunch, our guide gave a safety briefing and shortly after, the boat was docked near some limestone caves.
 
At the jetty

The captain welcoming all those on board, followed by safety briefing



The canoes were lowered into the water, and each canoe was helmed by one of John Gray’s staff member.  I was on one with Yan Yan with Yiu Yiu on another with her dad.


We canoed into limestone caves and hidden lagoons populated with macaques, water monitors, kingfishers, mudskippers, egrets and eagles.







We also had some time to canoe on our own and swim in the sea before going back onto the boat in the early evening to make kratong, with the help of the staff.  Dinner was served after all the kratongs were prepared.
 



Once darkness falls, we went on the canoe and released our kratong into the water.  After the spiritual experience, the boat headed back to the jetty, wrapping up a tiring but extremely enjoyable day.  Both girls have been asking to go on this tour again :-)