November 21, 2006

My little vainpot

Yiu Yiu is demonstrating typical characteristics of being an XX-chromosome-bearing being. At the tender age of one, she already know the importance of taking care of her skin. Whenever she's out from her bath, she will take the lotion bottle, tap at the top of the bottle and rub her hand against her body, imitating the action of applying lotion onto her body.

She also knows the function of a comb. Whenever she sees me holding her baby comb, she'll grab that from me and put the comb against her head. Of course she'll mess up her hair even more but it's just so fun watching her preening herself in the mirror.

November 13, 2006

Birthday celebrations

All along, I wasn't keen on having a big do for Yiu Yiu's first birthday as I've read and seen how other babies cry and fuss through their first birthday celebration. Dad's passing compounded my reluctance as I felt it just wasn't right celebrating so soon after losing him.

Nevertheless, parents-in-law suggested that we have a small bash just among relatives and I relented. We went back to Kuantan during the Deepa-Raya holidays and had an early celebration on October 24. Hubby bought Yiu Yiu a new dress for the birthday bash. We wanted to look for a white floral dress but as the selection in Kuantan was limited, we couldn't find a nice one that could fit Yiu Yiu's petite frame. We had no choice but to settle for a Kiko corduroy dress in orange, complete with a matching pair of baby shoes.

Mum-in-law, an excellent cook, dished up some fried meehoon, fried Hokkien mee, nasi lemak, curry chicken, fried chicken, yong tau foo, red bean soup, agar-agar, and of course, the ubiquitous red eggs. Her friend baked Yiu Yiu a cake for the celebration. Before the guests arrived, mum-in-law asked hubby to help feed Yiu Yiu some red egg. Apparently it's auspicious for the birthday girl to get first bite of the red egg. Something new I learnt that day.

Yiu Yiu was a little cranky that night, and just wanted me to carry her. Perhaps she was tired as she didn’t sleep much in the afternoon. But she perked up when we sang Happy Birthday and was happily smiling while hubby snapped away with the camera.

We had another small bash at home last Wednesday, with my side of the family and several close friends. I took a day off to help mum prepare the dishes. We cooked pretty much the same fare as we had in Kuantan. I ordered a mango sponge cake in the shape of numeric one from a freelance baker and decorated the apartment with some balloons. Yiu Yiu was a lot more cheerful this time, maybe because she's in familiar surroundings and among familiar faces. Our friends brought their babies along so she had plenty of company.

Mum bought Yiu Yiu a gold chain as her first birthday present. Several weeks before dad's passing, mum mentioned to dad that she was thinking of buying a gold chain for Yiu Yiu for her birthday but lamented that the price of gold is so high now. Dad had a gold chain which he hardly ever wore and suggested that they sell it in exchange for a smaller chain each for both Yiu Yiu and Yihao. In honour of dad's intention, mum bought a chain each for Yiu Yiu and Yihao last weekend as a memento from dad to them. The chain will be a commemoration of grandpa's love for them. I hope Yiu Yiu will cherish this last piece of gift from grandpa to her and it will remind her of the grandpa whom she doesn't have a chance to know.

November 09, 2006

Happy 1st birthday

Yiu Yiu turned one last Wednesday, November 1. It’s simply amazing how time flies. It's as if it was just not too long ago that she was this scrawny looking 2.5kg being placed in my arms, and now, she's this active little toddler crawling around all corners of our apartment. As with all young children, she never fails to amuse us with her antics. One of her favourite past time is playing hide and seek behind doors so we have to consciously close all doors behind us. Another favourite habit of hers is putting every single thing she picked from the floor into her mouth. Several occasions we caught her chewing on something and upon prising open her mouth (against her fervent protest!), we would find bits of paper stuck in her mouth. We realize that this is really no laughing matter and we ought to be really careful now to ensure the floor is clear of anything that could pose a choking hazard to our little darling.

She can now walk by holding on to furniture and we always encourage her to practise walking by pushing her high chair. Besides waving bye-bye when leaving the babysitter's house, she will also blow kisses to the babysitter and her family. And recently, whenever I sing the song "If you're happy and you know it you clap your hands…", she'll put her hands together and clap. She also moves her hands to mimic the action of twinkling star when she hears "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". She will do that even when she hears the Mandarin version of the song! Another new exploit is pointing to herself when we ask her "Who's Yiu Yiu?" and looking up to the ceiling when asked "Where's the fan?"

Two days ago, she finally learnt to drink with a straw. Yihao has this plastic water container with a soft collapsible straw and she caught me by surprise when she took a sip from it while I playfully offered it to her. Hmmm…looks like it's time to wean her from the bottle. The next step is to train her to drink from a cup independently.

Physically, she's still rather small at only 7.3kg and about 70cm in length. That puts her in only the 3rd percentile of the WHO Child Growth Standards for Breastfed Baby Girls. Her head circumference measures 44cm, putting her at the 50th percentile. She does seem to be really petite for a one year old and many strangers have thought that she's only six or seven months old. Her paediatrician doesn't seem to worry about her petite size so I guess I shouldn't too. Anyway, she doesn't look thin but I guess she's got a small frame, just like mum. As long as she's healthy, I'm happy.

On the teething front, at the ripe age of one year old, she only has two front teeth on the lower gum. The two front teeth on the upper gum are only beginning to emerge. Some people said it's just as well, as the later her milk teeth develop, the later would they fall. This will also result in later development of her permanent teeth and hopefully, she'd have learnt to care for her oral hygiene by then and maintain a nice set of teeth.

I am eagerly waiting for her to be able to stand on her own and subsequently take her first step. As much as I look forward to her growing independence, I can't help but feel a tinge of nostalgia thinking about the times she depended on me totally to fulfill her every needs. But watching her grow day by day certainly brings lots of joy to our lives.

November 08, 2006

Dad, in loving rememberance

Dad was born in Kuala Lumpur on April 26, 1944 to a Special Branch Detective father and a homemaker mother. He grew up without a father figure as grandpa requested to be posted away to Mentakab to avoid the constant squabbles with grandma. Grandma then raised dad and his only sister in her maternal home in Tronoh. Despite the unstable domestic situation, dad had a happy childhood. He always regaled us with tales of his naughty antics of skipping school, stealing neighbours' rambutans, swimming in forbidden abandoned mining pools and getting a good beating from grandma for all these. Dad wasn't a particularly bright student and upon completing his secondary education in Batu Gajah, he took up a course in typing and shorthand.

He started his career with the Malaysian Mining Corporation (MMC), which owned many tin mines around the country back then. He had a short stint at Sungai Besi Tin Mines before being posted to Bidor Malaya Tin, where he spent nearly 25 years of his life. He married mum and brought up his four children in Bidor with his meager salary as a store clerk. I remember his last drawn salary, before he was retrenched due to the collapse of the mining industry in 1995, was only around RM800. We got by with mum chipping in by working as a canteen helper. It also helped that the company provided free housing and utilities for its staff. Because of the hardships, dad instilled in us the importance of education and from very early on, we excelled in our studies. We also knew that dad couldn't afford to send us for higher education overseas or in private colleges so we worked very hard to enter the local universities, with three of us securing scholarships along the way.

Dad was a good father to us. He would try to take us on trips most weekends in his old, trusty Datsun 120Y, which was upgraded years later to another old, trusty Nissan Sunny. We would either be splashing in the cool waters of the waterfalls in Kampung Poh or Kuala Woh, or sightseeing around Perak visiting the cave temples, Kellie's Castle, or the then famed Taman Tema Air of Batu Gajah. Or we could be found enjoying seafood dinner followed by shopping in the two departmental stores in Teluk Intan. Occasionally, we would go picnicking at Teluk Batik, Lumut or Pangkor Island with home-made sandwiches, chicken curry, fried meehoon and boiled eggs. We also made many trips to Ipoh, Menglembu and Tronoh to visit relatives. These simple trips and outings were so much fun for us children and I must thank dad for giving me such fond memories of my childhood.

Following his retrenchment from MMC in 1994, dad got a job in Ipoh and our family moved to Menglembu. I just started varsity then, as did elder sis. Several years later after the three of us elder siblings started working, we bought the family house. Dad had always worried about us buying the house as we had other commitments here in PJ. He always said that he would pay off the house loan if only he could strike the lottery.

Dad retired at the end of 2003 at the age of 59. Since then, he spent his time at leisure playing mahjong with friends, and helping mum take care of Yihao. Mum and dad had also taken several short trips to Bangkok, Haadyai, Betong, Langkawi and Pulau Ketam. They had also been to Guangzhou and Kunming together. We took a family to Phuket in 2004 and were planning another one to Hanoi in January next year. Dad was very much looking forward to the Hanoi trip as he had been talking about visiting Vietnam for the past two years but alas…

Dad was a simple man who enjoyed the simple pleasures in life. Among his favourite food were roast pork, stir fried bitter gourd with pork, stewed pork with salted fish, steamed ikan kembung with bean paste, steamed/boiled peanuts and ais kacang. He also loved the popiah sold at the pasar malam near our house every Friday night. What amuses us is that he would always buy two pieces even though he knew he wouldn't be able to finish. His rationale is that he felt awkward buying just one piece from the vendor. So mum would end up having to share the popiah with him even though she doesn't really fancy it. He also particularly loved iced cham (coffee plus tea with milk) and never failed to take it at breakfast at the neighbourhood coffee shop. Whenever I see these foods nowadays, it would invariably remind me of dad.

I'm glad I spent my confinement months at home after I gave birth last year. That was the longest I've ever spent at home since leaving to KL for further studies and subsequently work. During those precious months, I got to spend quality time with mum and dad, having meals together and just while away our time as we pleased.

I know I have not been as filial a daughter as I'd like to be. I can recall the times I got impatient with his nagging and sometimes seemingly redundant questions and requests. And each time, I'd feel guilty and promised myself that I'd make it up to him on the next trip home. I am guilty of taking him for granted and thinking that dad would still be home the next time. I am guilty for not telling him that I love him. I hope he knew that deep down in my heart, I loved him a lot and I hope he was proud and happy to have me as his daughter.

I shall keep him close in my heart, now and forever…