January 31, 2009

Bento #11 - #15

These were her bentos for the 3rd week of school. We left KL for Kuantan for the Chinese New Year break last Friday and I had forgotten to bring with me the cable for downloading these photos from my camera. So these photos had to wait till we got back to KL.

Monday – french toast in the shape of dolphin and heart, chicken nuggets and pear in the shape of butterfly and fish.

Tuesday – skewers of white bread with cheesy sausage, and pear in four different shapes of butterfly, fish, bear and rabbit. Yiu Yiu didn’t touch the bread and sausage, and only managed to finish the pear slices while in school. Everytime I asked why she didn’t finish her food at school, she’ll not fail to give me this excuse, “Teacher Esther says KEEP.” She’s generally a slow eater and I suspect she’s too busy being kaypohchee when it’s time to eat. And since their break time is only 30 minutes, she cannot finish her food when the time is up.

Wednesday – Yiu Yiu brought back two pieces of potato bread from the babysitter yesterday and since I was a little disheartened by my unappreciatiative audience, I just packed one piece of the bread, together with some fish fingers for her. At the side were some guava slices. All my fancy cutters were too big for this small seedless guava so I ended up using only a simple round cutter. The small bits and pieces of guava were cut by my little kaypohchee, using several really itsy bitsy cutters in various shapes.

Thursday – potato bread again, with a heart shaped hard boiled egg for protein. The bento box wasn’t wide enough so the heart was a little squashed. I followed this veteran bento packer’s tips and kept stirring the egg while cooking so the yolk stayed in the centre, unlike the previous time when the yolk sank to one side. In the pink bottle was some soya sauce to go with the egg, and guava slices in the shape of bear. There were again some itsy bitsy pieces, handiwork of little miss kaypohchee.

Friday – I didn’t want to stock up on food in my fridge since we would be away for the Chinese New Year break, I just prepared some spaghetti bolognese, using my frozen bolognese sauce. Gave her some peeled grapes but she wanted to use the itsy bitsy cutters again so I had to oblige and gave her some guava to work on.

Kindy will be starting again next week, and I’m contemplating whether to still pack her food for school, since she almost always doesn’t eat them at school. Maybe I should just take shortcuts and pack her off to school with breads/buns/pastries from the local bakeries.

January 20, 2009

Online shopping

Several years ago, when online shopping started becoming popular, many people, including yours truly, were skeptical about the reliability and security of online shopping, especially when shoppers need to disclose confidential information such as credit card details as well as a shipping address. Now, many years on, online shopping has become a part of life for many. I normally shop online for flights and hotels, while hubby typically shops for electronic products. Just recently, he bought an iPod, specifically an iPod shuffle.

I fell in love with his new toy the moment the MP3 player was shipped to us. It is only 1.62 inches long and weighs only half an ounce. I love the light blue colour that hubby chose but apart from light blue, it’s also available in silver, green, blue and red.

January 19, 2009

Bento #6 - #10

These were her bentos for last week.

Monday – bread coated with egg and panfried, chicken nuggets and peeled grapes.

Tuesday – spaghetti blognese with peeled grapes. I made a batch of the spaghetti sauce and freeze them so in the morning, I had only needed to cook the spaghetti and warm up the sauce.

Wednesday – hard boiled egg in the shape of a flower. It was my first attempt at using the egg mould so it didn’t turn out very nice. The yolk was way too near to the side. In the pink bottle was some soya sauce to go with the egg. I also introduced peanut butter sandwich (in the shape of bear and butterfly) but her verdict was, “I don’t like it mummy.” In the silicon cup was some oranges cut in cubes.

Thursday – I tried to be adventurous again and made some banana pancakes for her. It was my first time trying out the recipe and the batter turned out too watery as I had poured in too much milk. I used a flower shaped pan to fry them and as it was my first time using the pan, I didn’t quite know how to turn the pancake over so they turned out looking quite ugly. At the side were some fish fingers and oranges.

When I got home, I asked her,
Mummy: How was the pancake today?
Yiu Yiu: Yucky! No need to make pancake for me again lah, mummy.
Mummy didn’t know what to say liao!

Friday – chicken luncheon meat sandwich rolled up, with skewers of orange pieces and grapes. She only ate one piece of the sandwich, and left the others untouched, including the fruits, which she normally likes. Babysitter told me she came back with some biscuits in the food container, and finished those biscuits while at her house. Sigh! Looks like she prefers her kindy’s biscuits to her “wake-up-early-in-the-morning-and-rush-like-a-mad-woman” lovingly prepared home cooked food.

3/5 not nice or untouched, according to my picky eater. So last week's bentos were a resounding failure. :-)

January 17, 2009

Short weekend trip to Singapore – Part 2

After breakfast the next day, we went to the Singapore Zoological Garden. I’ve not been to this multiple awards winning zoo so it was as much fun for Yiu Yiu as it was for me. We practically spent the whole day in the zoo, and left about 6pm.

At the main entrance

Notice how Yiu Yiu frowned. She said these are not real elephants. I wanna see real one.

Yiu Yiu konked out at about 3pm, just after we finished visiting the main exhibits. She woke up just in time to have a snack and catch the Splash Safari show.

We then met up with BIL and his family for dinner at Ngee Ann City. After dinner, we walked along Orchard Road to look at the Christmas deco before calling it a day.

The last day was dedicated as shopping day. We had wanted to buy a buggy stroller and clothes for Yiu Yiu but even after discounts, the prices were not that attractive so we only ended up with some Avent bottles and teats. We visited another Daiso shop at Plaza Singapura and I got more bento supplies.

The decoration along Orchard Road - much subdued compared to few years ago, probably a sign of the economy.

We left our hotel at about 7pm after dinner. We had thought of using the Second Link but hesitated as we were not quite sure of the way, so we stuck to the Causeway. BIG MISTAKE, again! We were stuck in the jam for 1.5 hours and when the checkpoint was in sight, hubby mistakenly followed the bus lane. The traffic police made us turn into Woodlands Town Centre and we had to make our way back to join the jam from the expressway. We decided to take our chances and made our way to Tuas. It only took us 30 minutes to reach the Second Link and another 30 minutes to clear Customs. I guess it was a blessing in disguise that hubby followed the wrong lane, as we may be stuck even longer at the Woodlands Customs. We reached home at close to 2am, as hubby made several stops along the way to freshen himself during the long drive.

January 15, 2009

Short weekend trip to Singapore – Part 1

We went to Singapore during the long weekend of Awal Muharram in December. We drove there early on Saturday morning, and reached the hotel at about 1pm. While checking in, we saw hubby’s cousin who happened to be there with his family for lunch. We chatted for a while and by the time we went out for lunch, it was almost 2pm. After lunch, we made our away to the cable car station to Sentosa – big mistake, the queue was so long and we had to wait for more than one hour before our turn came. When we reached Sentosa Island, we realized that we made an even bigger mistake going there on a weekend – that little island was simply swamped with people.

Our main objective was to visit the Underwater World. Needless to say, the queue for the shuttle bus, and the queue for tickets into the Underwater World was extremely long.

The ticket for the Underwater World comes with a complimentary admission into the Dolphin Lagoon but by the time we got our tickets, it was already 5pm and last admission into the Dolphin Lagoon was 5.30pm. As it is situated at another side of the island, we would need to take another shuttle bus to get there, which would be impossible given the long queues for the buses, so we decided to just forego the Dolphin Lagoon. The Underwater World was so crowded and it was pretty difficult to get a good look at the exhibits, but Yiu Yiu was excited nonetheless to see so many fishes and other marine creatures.

We had wanted to watch the Laser and Light Show as well but the once free show has been rebranded as Songs of the Sea and costs SGD8 per person. Even then, we were told that the tickets for both shows that night were all sold out. Left with nothing else to do and see, we decided to leave, and wasted another hour queueing for the cable car.
We had dinner at VivoCity, Singapore’s largest shopping complex at the base of the cable car station. After that, we went to Daiso and I managed to buy some bento tools and hubby, some household products not available in KL.

January 13, 2009

I'm a Star Student

I’ve written about Yiu Yiu’s first and second day at school. On the third day, hubby sent her to school and after settling her down in her class, left her and waited outside, occasionally peeping in to see how she was doing. He pretty much left her on her own, even during dismissal, and the little missy fared very well on her first day unsupervised. She was even rewarded with a Star Student sticker during the dismissal assembly. Apparently, the sticker was awarded to about 10 students who had the most fun, and was most happy, at school that day. However, it was all torn up when she came home, coz she tried to remove it from her clothes herself.

From Thursday onwards, parents were no longer allowed to be in class with the students. Yiu Yiu came back and told us that she cried in school today. She initially refused to tell us why but during a conversation on singing, she accidentally split the beans. Apparently during the class singing session, she needed to go to the washroom and the assistant teacher duly brought her there. However, when she returned, the singing session had ended. She was so disappointed that she cried – “They didn’t wait for me and finish singing themselves” – were her summary of her short bout of crying.

Nothing extraordinary happened on Friday, at least nothing that the little missy could tell us. So save for the minor glitches on her first day, I’d say she did really well for the first week. Thanks everyone for your kind words and encouragement for her.

January 11, 2009

Bento #1 - #5

This week being Yiu Yiu’s first week at school, I was pretty gung-ho about packing food for her. This whole week, school dismissed at 10.30am, rather to the usual 11.45am, just to help the new students ease into kindy life. As such, break time was rather early, between 9.15 – 9.45am. I’m not sure if it’s due to the early break time, but Yiu Yiu never finished her food at school. She’s probably also too distracted to eat at school, being the kay poh chee that she is. During the two days I was at school, I noticed that she kept looking around at her classmates and only nibbled at her food. She always brought back the almost intact bento to the babysitter’s house, but at least she’ll still finish the food there.

Here are her bentos for the week.

Monday – fried rice with rose apple. I fried some rice the night before and in the morning, simply heat them up in the microwave before packing them in her Barney box. She had some rose apple for fruits.

Tuesday – cheese sandwich rolled up and secured with food picks, homemade chicken nuggets and rose apple. I made a batch of chicken nuggets last week and put them in the freezer for quick frying during weekday mornings. She loved the flower baran divider and kept asking me to put the flowers the following days.

Wednesday – skewer of plain bread rolled up with chicken luncheon meat and cherry tomato. I used plain bread coz Yiu Yiu removed every single piece of cheese from her cheese sandwich roll yesterday. I don’t why coz she would normally eat her cheese slice. At the side in the silicon cup are some homemade fish fingers. Similarly, I made a whole batch of fish fingers and put them in the freezer. Babysitter told me she refused to eat the cherry tomato, so that’s one less variant of veggie/fruit that I can give her.

Thursday – plain bread cut into dolphin and heart shape, with two boiled cheese cocktail sausages for protein and guave cut into the shape of butterfly. The two oval shaped guava slices were supposed to be fishes but the guava slices were too small that the fish tails were cut off.

Friday – chicken pie cut into two halves with guava slices in the shape of a bear (but Yiu Yiu said it’s Mickey Mouse) and again, fishes without their tails :-)

If there's any veteran bento mummies reading this, I'd appreciate any comments and pointers on how to improve on them - be it in terms of presentation, or food selection.

I’ve been thinking of what to pack for her next week, and I’d imagine that there will be lots of repeats of her bentos this week.

January 09, 2009

Bento packer wannabe

I’m a newbie at packing bentos but my interest had been piqued looking at the wonderful bentos that some mummies pack for their children. I started to collect bento tools bit by bit over the last couple of months – some bought from this extremely creative bento packer, some were gifts from a colleague who went to Japan recently (and she called them my bento TOYS) :-) while the rest were bought from the local 100 Yen shops and Daiso in Singapore when we went there for a short trip.

Here’s my collection of bento tools, which I hope won’t go to waste, as in, I hope I wouldn’t be hangat-hangat tahi ayam about packing bentos for Yiu Yiu. Actually, Yiu Yiu is such a small eater that I don't think I can actually pack something small enough for her, and decent enough to qualify as a bento :-)

January 06, 2009

Second day at school

Everything went so well at kindy today. After settling Yiu Yiu down to some building blocks in her class, I told her that I’ll be leaving for a short while, and would come back later. I told her to follow teacher’s instructions to wash hand, eat her snacks, sing songs, etc. She was fine and even joked with me not to forget to look for her when I came back later. When informed her that I’d leave, she happily said, “OK, bye. See you later.”

Busying herself with the building blocks

I went out to have my breakfast, with the intention of going back in before her break time. However, they had their break slightly earlier today and by the time I went back, break time was almost over. The food that I packed for her was almost untouched but she quickly closed her container saying, “I’ll eat at Auntie Yoke Ling house later. Now I want to sing.” She also said that she joined the line to the washroom to wash her hands before the break. This lady, whose son Joseph is in the same class with Yiu Yiu told me that she behaved really well while I was away.

Shhh! Listen to the teacher

Yes yes, I want I want

Smile mummy, you are on my candid bean bag camera

She participated enthusiastically in her class activities after that – singing and dancing along with the teachers, and responding excitedly to questions. As she was sitting at the back of the class today, she even made her way to the front when the teacher offered to let them touch a hand puppet. As with yesterday, she also participated eagerly in the common singing and dancing session just before school dismissal. I let her follow the teacher’s lead to the transporter van during dismissal and left to get my car.

That's all the five girls in her class of 17. Faythe, Jazzmint's daughter, is behind Yiu Yiu

I’m really happy with her progress today, and hope that this isn’t just a flash in the pan. Tomorrow will be the last day that parents can accompany their child in school, but I won’t be there as I have to conduct a meeting in Holiday Inn, Glenmarie. Hubby is still undecided whether to just drop her in school and leave, or wait till her class finishes.

January 05, 2009

First day at school

Here’s the report card of Yiu Yiu’s first day at school – not quite a disaster, not quite a success as well.

She started the day extremely well – chirpy and all excited about going to school. She didn’t need much coaxing to get out of bed or to brush her teeth, as she normally would. See how happy she was on the way to school.

We were the third pair of parent and child in her class to arrive and she quickly settled down to play with some toys laid out on the tables – there were two mechanical fishing toys on one table, cooking sets on another and building blocks on the last table. She rotated herself among the three tables playing with the various toys, and even helped the teacher to pick up the toys when they got ready for their break time.

And it went downhill after that. She refused to join the queue with her other classmates to go to the washroom to wash their hands prior to eating, and clung to me like a koala bear. I carried her to the washroom and mistakenly went to the wash basins at the boys’ section. She was about to wash her hands when a teacher told her to go to the other side, the girls’ side. Perhaps she was a little taken aback by that and started crying. She ended up not washing her hands.

We went back to the classroom and took out her packed food and she obediently joined the rest of the class to eat.

After eating, again she clung to me and refused to join in the singing session. Towards the end, students from different classes lined up and headed to the common area and I finally managed to coax her to join the choo-choo train queue. Three teachers were on stage and started singing while doing some actions. She finally warmed up and enjoyed herself following the actions and had some fun.

See how short she is compared to her classmates. I think she's probably the tiniest among them.

I had arranged for her to follow a transporter, Auntie Ah Lin, back to the babysitter’s home and had repeated told her so over the last few weeks. During dismissal, several teachers were holding placard of different colours to indicate the different transporters.

Listening attentively to the teacher's briefing on the coloured placards

She obediently followed the teacher bearing the orange placard, as I told her to. I also told her that Auntie Ah Lin will send her back to Auntie Yoke Ling’s house and that I’ll drive my car and follow behind Auntie Ah Lin. She insisted that I walk beside her and I was getting worried that she might want me to follow her on the van. However, once she saw Auntie Ah Lin and her purple van, she happily climbed onto the van and waved goodbye to me. Phew! What a relief. She made it back to the babysitter’s house without shedding any tears. And that wraps up Yiu Yiu’s first day in the kindy.

When she spoke to her papa,
Papa: Were you a cry baby at school today?
Yiu Yiu: No la, I cry a bit only la.
Papa: Do you still want to go to school tomorrow?
Yiu Yiu: Yes, I still want to go to school.
Papa: Do you still want to cry tomorrow?
Yiu Yiu: No.

OK, that’s a good sign. I hope she’ll be better tomorrow, and adjust to kindy life smoothly. I was just told some horror stories of my colleagues' children who struggled for several weeks before they eventually settled down. Now that's going to be a nightmare.

January 04, 2009

Orientation at Tadika Juara Cerdik

Hubby and I attended the Parents’ Orientation at Tadika Juara Cerdik yesterday. The program serves to inform parents of children who are newly enrolled into the kindy on its mission, objectives and values of the kindy, as well as its parent organization, the Damansara Utama Methodist Church. Parents were also informed of the school’s rules, and other practical matters such as traffic flow into the Dream Centre complex where Tadika Juara Cerdik is located, as well as the procedures for dropping and picking up children before and after school. At the end of the session, we collected the books, name tag and security card. Uniforms won’t be given out until a few weeks later, and the children will be wearing their normal clothes to school in the first few weeks. This is to help teachers identify the children better in the initial stages. Parents are only allowed to be with their children for the first three days, which suits me just fine as I had only taken two days off next week. Anyhow, for the first week, the children will only be in school from 8.30 – 10.30am, to help them ease into kindy life. The hours will revert back to the regular 8.30 – 11.45am from the second week onwards.

Yiu Yiu's books, all written with her name and nicely wrapped

This multi-talented blogger mummy was also there and Yiu Yiu will be in the same class as Faythe. I also met another long-time friend from secondary school whose son is also enrolled in the kindy, though he’ll be in a different class. She stays in the same housing area as me but we both didn’t realize that we enrolled our child in the same kindy. What a small world.

In less than nine hours, Yiu Yiu will step into a new milestone in her life and she seems excited enough. She even complied when we asked her to go to bed early, saying that she needs to wake up early tomorrow for her. Lets hope she keeps up her enthusiasm.

January 01, 2009

Welcoming 2009

"New is the year, new are the hopes and the aspirations, new is the resolution and new are the spirits."

I particularly like this among the stream of smses I got last night as it succinctly captures the spirit of welcoming a brand new year.

In 2009, we will look forward to:
- Welcoming a new member of our family in mid-July. I’m into the 12th week of my pregnancy now, after several months of trying. As much as we are excited about this, we are also a little apprehensive as we’re not sure how we will cope with two young children at home on our own. We have no plans to hire a maid so it’ll be just me and hubby. Things will surely be chaotic if one of us is away for several days. Hopefully, Yiu Yiu will be better behaved and not demand so much attention.
- Yiu Yiu starting kindy. So far, she seems happy and enthusiastic enough about going to school. We have been pre-empting her that mummy and papa will not be in school together with her and she’ll say, “When I go to school, mummy and papa not there one. Yiu Yiu no (won’t) become cry baby one.”
- Hubby venturing out and starting a business with a friend. In fact, he started in December and things are pretty much still in the preliminary stages. And though I’m fully supportive of his decision, I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t the right time, given the current uncertain economic situation.
- Younger sister moving in near my house. By a stroke of luck, she got a really great deal on the house which is just a few doors away from mine. She expects to move in by Q2 or Q3, so Yiu Yiu will have her cousins close by, and me, my mum.

In 2009, I also hope to:
- Join the legions of mums in packing bentos for their children. Since Yiu Yiu’s kindy only serves biscuits during break time, I hope to pack more nutritious food for her to bring to school. I’ll start small, and not be too ambitious as I know I don’t have the time or creativity to decorate the bentos nicely.
- Complete three more photobooks, one for each year of Yiu Yiu’s life. I had planned to complete them over the last few weeks of 2008 but I ended up being so busy with work and running other errands, as well as a short weekend trip to Singapore.
- Enroll Yiu Yiu in some enrichment classes such as art and music classes, as well as more academic oriented classes like Kumon or Enopi.

Here’s wishing you a fulfilling and promising 2009.