June 29, 2009

Bento post #80 – #85

Collection of last week's bentos:

Monday – Yiu Yiu loves noodles, and whenever we eat out and ask what she wants, 80% of the time it would be noodles. This was a simple blanched dried noodle tossed in oil, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Added two home-made meatballs and decorated it with some French beans. Overestimated the quantity of the beans so I didn't have enough to complete the whole row :-) She had some grapes for fruits.

Tuesday – kamaboko with stuffed carrot and French beans. I prepared this for the school party few weeks ago and the container came back empty but I had no idea if she liked it. I found my answer this round as babysitter said she didn’t eat them at school and refused to eat them at her house too. Okie, looks like I have to finish the rest of the kamaboko in my fridge. At the side is some sliced rambutan flesh.

Wednesday – pan fried a marinated drummet, which she finished, but she didn't touch the chocolate flavoured mantou and steamed corn.

Thursday – a simple bento with some mini-biscuits, heart-shaped hard-boiled egg and one of her favourite fruits – rose apple. The egg looked horrible, coz the yolk was a little undercooked so I couldn't make a clean nice cut across. In the pink bottle is some soy sauce to go with the egg.

Friday – another simple bento with one of those commercially packed chocolate cake (can't remember the brand). Fried some home-made fish fingers for protein and added rose apples for vitamins. Unfortunately, save for the fruits, the cake and fish fingers came back untouched. SIGH!!! I took a bite of the cake, and it didn't taste very nice – little wonder the fussy eater didn't eat it.

June 25, 2009

Princess bedroom

A project that hubby and I have been talking about for ages now is setting up the second bedroom as Yiu Yiu's room. Over the last few months, we've been psychoing her about sleeping in her own room. We promised to decorate it with a Princess theme, so that got her excited. She's been fondly calling the second bedroom as "My room" and at the same time, trying to deal with the uncertainties of sleeping in her own room. Questions and comments like "Who will make milk milk for me at night?" (yes, this poor suffering mummy still has to wake up to make her milk during the night) or "I am afraid to sleep in the dark" crops up once in a while.

Anyhow, we got her involved in choosing the wallpaper, bedsheets and wall lamp for her room, as well as choosing the furniture at Ikea. We bought a bed with an underbed, with the plan to let the two sisters sleep together eventually. Two weeks ago, the wallpaper was put up and the Ikea folks came to install the furniture.

Yiu Yiu posing in her "close to complete" bedroom, with papa testing out the new Canon 450D

The missing part of the jigsaw however was the mattresses, which were delivered just several days ago. And after putting in the mattress and beddings, here's how her room looks like…cosy or not?

I am really not sure how she will take to sleeping on her own, especially with the new baby coming soon. My worry is whether she'll think we are displacing her to make way for the baby in our bed. We'll see how it goes, but will surely not force the issue if she's not ready. Hubby is all prepared that he may end up sleeping on the floor, with the two girls with me on our king-size bed :-)

June 23, 2009

Bento post #76 – #80

School started last week so it is back to the early morning grind for me to prepare bentos for Yiu Yiu.

Monday – over the weekend, I went to the market to buy some chicken drummets with the intention of marinating some and keeping them in the freezer for quick preparation in the mornings. So I started the week with this new food item, plus a strawberry muffin. In the white silicon cup is some cut rambutan flesh, which I figured will be easier and safer for her to eat than giving her the whole fruit.

Tuesday – the last two pieces of my home-made chicken nuggets in my freezer, and some potato wedges for carbo. Bought some papaya so gave her few pieces for fruits. While driving to school, I told her what's in her bento box and her immediate reaction was, "Tomato sauce leh?" Oppss!!! That's the consequence of not packing bentos for two weeks. I totally forgot to pack some ketchup to go with her nuggets and wedges as I would normally do. Luckily she didn't make a fuss of it.

Wednesday – she came back from babysitter's with this red-bean pau the day before so I just steamed it up in the morning and packed off the remainder of the papaya.

Thursday – one of her favourite food, spaghetti Bolognese and grapes.

Friday – hubby brought back some Dunkin’ Donuts from his Lions Club meeting the day before so I just cut one chocolate coated donut into four, and added some butterfly shaped guava. I had a nagging feeling that she won't like the donut as it was rather hard and true enough, three of the four pieces came back untouched.

Now, with her teacher's comments about her liking the school's biscuits, should I still continue to deprive myself of my beauty sleep to pack food for her?

June 20, 2009

Parents – Teachers Day

Today is the Parents – Teachers Day at Yiu Yiu's kindy. Basically it's a say where parents meet up with the child's teacher for progress report. Upon arrival, hubby and I took a number and waited while Yiu Yiu's class teacher spoke to another parent. We also took a folder which contained Yiu Yiu's recent exam papers, a scrap book of some preliminary work that the children did in the first few weeks of enrolment prior to starting formal lessons, and lastly a progress book.

The Progress Book, with updates on aspects such as gross and fine motor skilss, work habits, innovative learning skills, language skills (English & Chinese) and Mathematics

Yiu Yiu scored full marks for the Numbers and Chinese papers, and 92% for the English paper, which including colouring. To my surprise, the mistakes she made were all on colouring. We were later told that the children were not verbally told what colours to use, but instead, they had been taught earlier to recognize the first consonant/phonic sound of the word that describes the colour, and the teacher reassured us that it's not uncommon for the children to get them wrong.

She got a B- for writing, which doesn't surprise me as her writing certainly has lots of room for improvement. She has problems especially with curvy strokes like 5 and 6 or j and s. Chinese writing is another issue, but I personally feel that the words these 4-year old are learning are way too difficult. At this tender age, they are already learning to write words with seven or eight strokes like 皂 or 坐.

And here are the teacher's observations:
The good stuff…
- Can converse well and follow instructions.
- Loves arts and crafts, and loves to mix different colours in the same object (same comment from her art class teacher.
- Loves singing, so she particularly enjoys the Super Fun Time sessions. Also, whenever the children lines up to go to the washroom/wash hands/Science lab, the teacher will get them to sing songs as they move along. And my little budding singer almost always suggest what songs to sing (I take this as a good thing, that she's not afraid to speak up and takes initiative).
- Loves listening to stories, so she enjoys and pays full attention in the morning Devotion sessions where the teacher reads Bible stories and impart moral lessons. She can also comprehend what's right and wrong and always able to answer correctly moral questions posed to her.
- The teacher asked if we speak to her in Mandarin, which we do, and she mentioned that she's among the very few in her class who can understand and reply her in Mandarin whenever she converses in Mandarin to the class. The others will either just stare blankly at her, or simply say "Teacher, what are you talking about?" Ha ha!!! So it pays for us to speak to her in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. Recently she has also taken an interest in learning Malay, and would sometimes ask us what this or that is called in Malay.

And the bad stuff…
- She's very TALKATIVE (second time I get this comment from her teacher! Ha ha!!) She'll tend to talk non-stop once she starts and once reprimanded, she'll stop. After a while, she'll start again, first in a whispering tone, which gradually grows louder and louder. But the funny thing is, even though she's talking, she can still listen to what the teacher is teaching, as she can almost always answer whenever the teacher asks her questions. Ha ha!!! Typical XX species I've got here, early multitasker.
- She's a real CILI PADI. She's the smallest (in size and maybe the third smallest in age) but she takes absolute pleasure in giving commands to her classmates. She'll not hesitate to reprimand anyone with "Do your work properly" or "Listen to teacher" or "Sit quietly" etc. As if she's the assistant teacher :-) The teacher would then advise her against doing so, and tell her that they are all friends.
- She can be moody at times, and if she wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, she'll be slow to complete her work and tend to give all sorts of excuses, like "Teacher, I'm tired!"
- She can be stubborn too, and when she doesn’t get what she wants, she'll be really unhappy and sulk.
- She's improving on her eating habits. The teacher commented that she used to stuff a big piece of food into her mouth and when she can't chew/swallow, she'll spit it out. But the teacher has constantly reminded her to take smaller bites, chew and swallow – which is the norm these days. The teacher also commented that she loves the biscuits given out during snack time. She'll open the bento box that I prepared, take few bites, and asks for biscuits. I'm not sure if she simply wants to follow her classmates in eating the biscuits but it certainly is demoralizing that she doesn't really eat the food I prepared, though she normally finishes them at the babysitter's. I really should reconsider whether it's worth the effort to wake up extra early to prepare food for her :(

Before we left, I wanted to know if she is developmentally slower compared to her peers who are months older, since she is a November baby. Thankfully the teacher said that she's very much on par with her peers, that she's a smart girl, and is progressing well in school. That's music to my ears.

June 17, 2009

The budding camerawoman

I carry my compact digital camera in my bag all the time, for those unexpected Kodak moments that crop up sometimes. Yiu Yiu has always been fascinated with the camera, and always digs out the camera from my bag and start shooting. At first, she shot things at random, so the objects are always out of focus, and images are more often than not, blur. But she's getting quite good in handling the camera these days, and can press the correct button to switch between shooting and viewing mode.

Here's a compilation of some of her shots (unedited, save for compression for size) in chronological order. I think there's an obvious improvement in her technique, don't you agree?

Objects are out of focus, and not aligned

Images are sharper and more focused, but slanted

Her shots now - objects are focused and well positioned in the centre of the photo

June 13, 2009

Art and music trial classes

We've been meaning to enroll Yiu Yiu for some enrichment classes for some time but had been too lazy to look around and do our research. However, Yiu Yiu has been getting increasingly interested each time we talk about it so we thought we had better let her try out some classes and gauge her interest.

Last Saturday, we enrolled her in the Little Da Vinci Creative Kids Art trial class at the Da Vinci Creative Kids centre near our house. She was very eager to join the class and even chased hubby and I away when her class was about to start. It was only a small class with less than 5 children.

When we went to pick her up 1.5 hours later, we were shown her handiwork for that day.

And here are the teacher's comments:
• She has got steady hands and can colour pretty well, without colouring out of line.
• She can mix and match colours, and uses most colours available, and not stick to few select colours.
• She has a good sense of shapes, and can draw them correctly when asked to, indicating good hand-brain coordination. I was surprised at this remark and I told the teacher that it should be normal since she's learning about shapes in kindy too. The teacher then told me that some children, even those 5-6 years old, may recognize shapes but have difficulty drawing them out when asked to.
• She's able to follow instructions – she was asked to draw squares while some of the other children were asked to draw triangles or circles. She told the teacher that she wanted to draw triangles too, but when the teacher explained that she needs to complete drawing her squares before she can draw triangles, she obeyed and didn't make a fuss.
• Lastly, the teacher commented that she's extremely TALKATIVE!!! :-)

On Thursday evening, I took her to Anne Musikschule Performing Arts Centre (AMPAC) near our house to try out the Music and Movement class for 3-4 years old. Again, she was very eager to join in and promptly chased me out of the room. It was again a very small class with four children, including her. Apparently the room is normally curtained but for some reason, the curtain was taken down on that day so I could observe the class in action. They engaged in a variety of song, dance and movements, before moving on to some simple instruments, in this instance, the xylophone and drums. Also, due to parents' request, they had also incorporated keyboard into the class, not so much for them to actually play, but more to teach the children the correct way to handle the keyboard, how to place their fingers, etc.

The teacher's comments were:
• She can concentrate for a long period of time.
• She's very participative and takes lots of initiatives in trying out the different apparatus.

In both instances, she enjoyed herself tremendously so we ended up signing up for both classes.

June 11, 2009

Funny conversations

Being fat
Papa was cleaning Yiu Yiu up after she did her big business. Out of the blue she said, “Papa, you so fat! Don’t eat so much already, OK.”

Traffic jam
Hubby was fetching Yiu Yiu from babysitter one evening, and got caught in the rush-hour traffic.
Yiu Yiu: Idiot! Stupid driver!
Papa: Eh! Why you say such things?
Yiu Yiu: Traffic jam mah, traffic jam must say like this one.
Papa: Why traffic jam must say like this?
Yiu Yiu (replying in a serious tone): Yes, mummy say like this one when traffic jam, not I say one.

Sure enough, mummy got reprimanded by papa that day for not minding mummy’s language…and yes, she’s picking up Manglish from us. It’s bad, but (sigh!) it’s so difficult to switch to proper English in our day-to-day conversation.

Nowadays, I asked her to reprimand me whenever she hears me cursing while driving, and she takes absolute pleasure in doing so. Just the other morning, I muttered “Stupid” quietly under my breath and she was quick to throw me an angry glance and a stern “Mummy”.

God is in my heart
The kindy that Yiu Yiu attends is run by the DUMC. As such, the children start the day with Bible stories, and they are also taught Christian and worshipping songs. Though we are not Christians, we don’t mind it at all, since all religions preach the same principle of goodness and kindness to mankind. The other day, we had this conversation.
Yiu Yiu: Mummy, God is in my heart (pressing her hands against her chest).
Mummy: Yes darling, God is in your heart.
Yiu Yiu: But next time right, when I am sick and I vomit, I will vomit God out one!
Mummy: Oh dear God, please continue to stay in her heart.

June 09, 2009

Home pedicure service, anyone?

Yiu Yiu is into those cute little stickers these days, and we try to indulge her once in a while. I bought a pack of shiny and incredibly tiny Hello Kitty stickers the other day, and had kept the whole sheet in my bag, as she was still playing with her other sheet of stickers and I didn’t want her to quickly finish off the other sheet so she could start using stickers from this new sheet.

But kids being kids, she rummaged through my bag the other day, and was delighted with her find. The stubborn mule that she is, I figured there’s no point talking her out of playing with her new stickers. I let her be and proceeded to take my shower.

When I stepped out from the shower, she was waiting for me right outside the bathroom door, with this, and laughing her head off at the same time:

So, anyone game for a session of home pedicure service?

June 07, 2009

Preparing for the new baby

I have been taking things very lightly this pregnancy, as I had assumed that since this is the second time around, we would be more experienced and besides, we already have most of the things we need. However, while going through the checklist I prepared during my first pregnancy, I realized that there are still many things that we need to attend to, even though it’s true that we can recycle many things.

There’s the baby clothes, traditional cloth diapers, mattress sheets, blankets, bouncinet, etc to wash. I’ve just managed to dig these out from the store room but I realized that I can’t wash them just yet – coz I’ve got no place to keep them. That calls for a trip to Ikea to shop for a chest of drawers to keep the baby’s day-to-day stuff. There are also other small items like cloth diaper fasteners, waterproof mattress pads, disposable diapers (still contemplating whether I should go green and opt for the modern cloth diapers, but I’m just to lazy to want to learn the intricacies of cloth diapering), cream for nappy rash, baby nail clipper, wet wipes, cotton, etc.

And then, there’s the decision we have to make on whether to buy two more baby car seats (we currently have one each in hubby’s and my car – and we’ll need one more in each car for the new baby) or to buy booster seats for Yiu Yiu, so the current car seats can be used by the baby. Our only concern is that Yiu Yiu is still too small to fit snugly into the booster seats, but if we buy two more baby car seats, we’ll still need to upgrade Yiu Yiu to a booster seat some time in the future, and we’ll be stuck with four car seats then.

I still have five more weekends to settle all these before the baby is due to arrive, that, of course, assuming she doesn’t decide to make an early appearance. And I had better start packing my hospital bag, just in case.

June 05, 2009

Featured in an online travel guide

A month ago, someone from Ruba, an online travel guide, left a comment in an old post about Rotterdam, asking if they could highlight excerpts from that post in their site. I was naturally surprised, and of course flattered, that they took an interest in my post.

I wrote back, asking a few questions, and eventually gave the green light to have my post featured in their site. Check it out here. It was posted online about three weeks ago, but I had forgotten to claim my 15-minutes of fame here…haha.

June 03, 2009

DSLR at last

We have been contemplating on getting a DSLR camera for some time but kept putting it off. Hubby, however, was quite determined to get one before the baby arrives, so he can capture nicer photos of the baby. Coincidentally, one of his friend was also looking and they decided to buy together, just so they could get a better deal from the dealer.

So last Thursday, he came home with this:

Since we are both newbies with DSLR, we figured we’ll stick to the EF-S18-55mm kit lens for the time being, until we are more familiar with the functionality of the camera. Perhaps we’ll consider getting other lenses once we become better acquainted with photography.

I’ve not have time to plough through the manual to learn how to use the camera but I have to get to get to it pretty soon. I also hope to attend the photography classes offered by Canon for their DSLR buyers. In the meantime, perhaps some of the expert photographer mummies out there can give me a tutorial? :-)

June 01, 2009

Bento post #72 – #75

Only four bentos this week, as Friday was her school party, where I prepared something to be shared with the whole class.

Monday – fried rice with home-made meat balls and grapes.

Tuesday – home-made chicken nuggets for protein, potato wedges for carbo and grapes for fruits. The blue strawberry container has some tomato ketchup, which she loves. I was hoping that the tomato ketchup can entice her to finish up the nuggets and wedges.

Wednesday – chocolate-flavoured mantou with home-made fish fingers and grapes.

Thursday – Gardenia butterscotch bread in the shape of flowers, with cheesy mini sausage in heart shape and grapes.

Hooray! It’s the school holidays this week and next, so I’ll have two bento-free weeks. Wonder if I have time within this 2-week break to search for more creative ideas on what to pack for her, instead of usual same old stuff that I do.