March 13, 2007

Back on home turf

I finally reached home after being away for two weeks. I boarded flight MH91 at Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday, 9.40pm US Eastern Time. The flight would stop over in Arlanda International Airport in Stockholm, a journey of seven hours. Dinner, or rather supper, was served shortly after take-off. I had the signature satay and lamb loin and shiitake mushroom as starters followed by shrimp skewer on lemon grass with rice as main course. The meal was nicely rounded up with chocolate timbale for dessert. Many passengers hit the sack right after dinner but it was just a short sleep as we were woken up for a simple Continental breakfast about two hours before arrival in Stockholm.

As I had some time after breakfast before arrival in Stockholm, I browsed through the inflight entertainment and found that the offerings were similar to those on the KL – LA flight. I managed to finish watching Madagascar, as well as one episode of Dharma & Greg. Shortly after, we descended into Stockholm and stopped there for about an hour.

Upon take-off, lunch was served and the starter was marinated skewered king prawns. I chose prawn and pineapple curry with rice as main course. Looks like shrimps has been a main feature of my meals for most of the flight! Dessert was by a fancy name of socher tarte, which looked and tasted like chocolate cake to me. After lunch, the plane crossed into a night time zone and I should catch some sleep as we would arrive in KL early in the morning. But since I wide awake, I caught up with some work on my laptop. As I glanced at the flight information and found that we were only six hours before arrival to KL, I quickly turned off my computer to get some rest.

My sleep was continually interrupted by the captain's announcement of fastening the seat belt every now and then as we hit turbulence, and before long, we were woken up for breakfast. I chose braised chicken with sweet chilli sauce with Chinese fried rice and stir fried mixed vegetables.

The plane touched down at KLIA on Monday, 12 March at 6.30am, 30 minutes ahead of schedule. After clearing immigration and collecting my luggage, I quickly boarded an airport limo home. Hubby was at the front door with Yiu Yiu to welcome me back but Yiu Yiu didn’t seem enthusiastic at all at seeing me. Not sure if it's because she's just woken up, or two weeks is just too long to be away from her. She seemed a little hesitant but when I extended my arms to carry her, thank goodness she was still willing. Hubby then asked to carry her too and she willingly switched side, which is not the case normally. After spending more time bathing and changing her, she kind of got used to me being around again and kicked up a fuss when hubby wanted to leave for work and send her to the babysitter. After they left, I took a quick shower before going off to work! (Sigh!) How I wished I could take a day off to recuperate but it was not meant to be as I've got two meetings scheduled for the day.

I had planned to blog of my trip while in US but the trip turned out to be so hectic, due in part to my eagerness to spend every possible moment exploring the cities. And I would be so tired out by the end of the day to write anything. I'll try to update details of my trip over the next few days.

March 02, 2007

16-month old

Yiu Yiu turned 16 months yesterday. Here's a snapshot of her development:
Physical: The last we weighed her was in early January when we were at the paed to give her the necessary jabs before leaving for Hanoi. She was only 7.6kg then. I'm not sure if she has gained any weight since then but she's still very petite for her age. She still only has four teeth, two upper and two lower. Another two on the upper and lower gums are clearly visible now. She's a bit slow in the teething department as her cousin, five months younger, already has eight teeth. Despite her petite frame, Yiu Yiu is quite strong. She could lift up a can of longan in syrup with just one hand. Here's a shot of her holding the can with both hands.

Mobility: Since taking her first few steps two months ago, she can now walk quite well, albeit still a little unsteady. She doesn't like us to hold her hands while she walks, and that poses a big problem especially when we are out shopping. Just the other day at Giant, there was such a big crowd as people were doing last minute shopping for Chinese New Year and this little champion walker refused to be held, and pushed away our hands each time we tried.
Comprehension: She can comprehend a lot more now, even long sentences such as when we asked her to sit down before giving her her biscuits or fruits. She also understands when we asks her to wear shoes, come here, stand up and walk walk, give to mummy, put back, shake hand and chong liang (bathe in Mandarin). She's also able to indicate if food offered to her is good, not by doing the thumbs up sign, but by sticking out her index finger. She recognizes familiar faces now and can point out people correctly such as ma ma, yeh yeh, po po, yi yi, ko ko, di di.
Language: Her vocabulary has increased a wee bit and among her repertoire of new words are (in Cantonese) po po (maternal grandmother) kai kai (going out), oi oi (sleep), tou tou (which is supposed to be kor tou, there) and cho cho (sit). And when she's asked, "Yiu Yiu mei bu mei (Is Yiu Yiu pretty in Mandarin), she'd answer softly "Mei". She has recently learnt to use "Oh oh" for exclamation whenever she drops anything. She can now say papa, mummy and bye bye clearly. She's also at a stage of learning new words rapidly. She will try to repeat after us simple words such as cat, dog, moon.
Feeding: She has yet to master self-feeding though she'd always demand to have her own set of bowl and spoon whenever we eat. And she's never contented just having an empty bowl; she just has to have something inside. Most time, we'll just scoop a little bit of rice of noodles and she'll be happily making a mess while we try to feed her. And she has developed this habit of just picking up pieces of food from her bowl with her hand whenever she can't scoop any with her spoon. Lately, it has been increasingly difficult to feed her, at least when she's with me. She'd take just a few mouthfuls and then clamp her mouth shut. Babysitter said she's OK while at her place. Maybe this little princess knows who she can bully. I get so frustrated and have thought of refusing to nurse her until 2 – 3 hours after a meal to teach her that if she skips a meal, she'll have to go hungry until her next meal, as some parenting books suggest. But I'm not sure if it's too early to use this method.
Social: She is getting a little more sociable, to the extent of waving bye-bye to strangers we passed by on the road. She now allows relatives whom she doesn't see often to carry her, unlike a couple of months ago where even my parents or parents-in-law were not able to come close. She's also an extremely generous child and will always offer a bite of her food to those around her. She has recently learnt how to plant a proper kiss by placing her lips against mine. When she was first asked to kiss kiss, she would extend her tongue out but later, she'd just extend her cheeks to be kissed. So I'm happy that I'll be receiving more kisses from my little darling.

March 01, 2007

Orlando, finally

The flight bound for LA left KL on Feb 27 at 3.15pm. Not long after take-off, late lunch was served on board and I had MAS signature satay, followed by prawn salad as appetizer. The main course was roast venison Italian style served with brown sauce and mashed potatoes and I must say that fine dining thousands of feet above ground was really not too bad. I then settled in to catch up on some work on my laptop before watching Happy Feet on the inflight movie on demand. It must have been my first full movie since Yiu Yiu was born. Not long after that, the plane touched down in Taipei for a 1.5 hours stopover for re-fuelling. I've never been to Taipei, though it's in my list of places to visit, so it's kind of funny that my first encounter with Taipei was only confined to the transit lounge.

The plane took off from Taipei at 9.40pm and soon, it was makan time again. This time, it was roast breast duck with mango as appetizer followed by spicy chicken breast on pasta as the main course. I knocked off at about 11.30pm and was awoken by the cabin crew who were up and about serving brunch. When I looked at my watch, I was surprised to find that I've slept for almost seven hours. The best (or perhaps the worst) thing about long-haul flight is they feed you non-stop. This time, I opted for something oriental in the form of shrimp wantan in noodles. After brunch, it was time for some movies again but before I could finish watching Madagascar, the plane started its descent into LA and the inflight entertainment was turned off. We arrived at Tom Bradley International Airport at about 4.50pm, local time.

(An aerial view of LA on the plane's descent)

Clearing immigation, to my relief, was quick and simple. The officer simply asked me some questions regarding my trip to the USA, and tada…I was through. After collecting our luggage, my two senior (in rank, not age!) colleagues and I took the free shuttle bus to Terminal 7 where our connecting flight to Orlando will depart. The bus driver, a young African American was shaking his head to the tune of his MP3 player all the while we were in the bus. We had to hang around the airport for close to five hours as our flight to Orlando wasn't scheduled to depart till 10.40pm.

The 4.5 hours United Airline flight departed on time. I had wanted to catch some sleep as by the time we reach Orlando, it would be 6.10am in the morning but I didn't managed to as the cabin was pretty noisy. So by the time we reached Orlando, I was feeling very tired. Luckily baggage claim was speedy and we were whisked into the waiting van to transfer us to our hotel at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. But the time I got into my room, I was so thankful that my 27-hours journey was finally over and I've never felt so happy taking an early morning shower!