November 28, 2009

Bento post #101 - #107

It's been a loooong time since I had a post on bento. I had almost cease making bento for Yiu Yiu, as my mornings are now occupied with nursing Yan Yan, pumping, washing and sterilizing the bottle and pump, getting myself ready and sending Yan Yan to the babysitter, before rushing off to work. So the poor dear had been surviving only on boxed cereals, bread and cakes from the neighbourhood bakery, and the occasional muffin/cupcake/fried rice that I bake/cook during the weekends, sans decorations, besides the biscuits given by the kindy.

On the odd mornings when I woke up extra early, she got to bring these to kindy, which have been exceptions rather than the norm, since Yan Yan came along.

Chicken floss bread roll wrapped in nori sheet, with checkered apple

Dolphin and heart shaped French toast, with mini orange

Smiley bear shaped onigiri, with pan fried chicken drumstick

Home-made chicken nugget, potato wedges and checkered apple. In the blue strawberry shaped tub is some ketchup

Mickey shaped French toast with pear

Sushi (only rice with seaweed coz she doesn't want anything else inside) with checkered apple

Pan fried roti canai with rose apple

November 26, 2009

Finale of 1st year in kindy

Last Saturday was the 2nd Parents – Teachers Day at Yiu Yiu's kindy, where we met up with her class teacher for her progress report as well as her second term exam results. The first thing her teacher told us was that she was awarded the "Best Conduct" award for her class.

She said they had a simple ceremony last Thursday and Yiu Yiu was so proud when she was called to the front to receive the award and have her photo taken with the rest of the award winners.

The award was given to the student with the overall best behaviour throughout the year. I was surprised that the award was such a BIG deal coz she had shown me the laminated card when she got home that day, but she didn’t mention anything about getting called to receive the award or had her photo taken. I had assumed that it was just something the students got as an encouragement and/or souvenir for their graduation. How wrong I was!!! Anyhow, hubby and I still can't figure it out coz she doesn’t quite behave THAT well at home. But we are really proud of her nonetheless, and I feel a little guilty too, for losing my patience with her sometimes. Gotta remind myself to be more patient, and that she's just a 4-year old child.

Developmental wise, she has improved in all aspects, be it gross or fine motor skills, work habits, learning skills, language as well as mathematics skills. Exam wise, she scored full marks for Numbers, and 96 for Chinese and English.

The mistake she made for her English (L) and Chinese (R)

Her writing improved from B- to A-, and there was an obvious improvement, when I compare the previous and current writing exam sheets.

Her writing at mid-term (L) and now (R)

She is still very bossy with her classmates :-) Sometimes she will imitate or pretend to be the teacher and order her classmates around, even in the presence of her teacher. She'll say things like, "Teacher Esther says keep quiet", "Teacher Esther says sit down" or "Teacher Esther says don't do this". We were also told that she's one of the better students in her class and sometimes, she'll be asked to assist/coach her classmates. And again, little Miss Bossy will go around telling her friends, "No, it's not like this. You're wrong" or "Don't write this way. It's this way" or to the extent of erasing her friends work and holding their hands to write the proper word/alphabet. You say la, pengsan or not?

She's still very TALKATIVE and can talk non-stop with her friends. When she doesn’t get her way (e.g., when she's not awarded stickers or when the teacher refuses her requests), she loves to question why. But as long as she's given a reasonable explanation, she'll understand and comply.

This first year in kindy has really done her a world of good - she has really learnt and developed much, and she's looking forward to be in the 5-year old class next year.

November 24, 2009

Garden theme school party

Yiu Yiu's kindy had their year-end school party last Friday, the last day of school. This time, the theme is Garden, and the children were asked to dress as a flower, fruit, vegetable or bug, things commonly found in a garden.

Yiu Yiu wanted to become a butterfly and I bought these from a party supplies shop near my office.

I needed to get her a pair of leotard/bodysuit to go with the wings and since I had no idea where to get them, I asked this mummy who always dresses her two princesses in pretty outfits. She graciously offered to lend me Ashley's ballet costume, since Yiu Yiu only needed it for the party. Thanks Christene.

As with the earlier party, the kindy was already a hive of activity when we arrived at about 8.15am.

Yiu Yiu was so excited and was running all over the place with her friends. Dunno how I managed to capture this, but I love the sense of motion in the photo.

With Chloe, who's also dressed as a butterfly

And Faythe, who's dressed as a flower

The wall decorated with artwork made by the students. Yiu Yiu's class made the whale, starfish and clams.

I initially wanted to bake some Oreo cupcakes for her to bring as snacks for sharing. As it was a new recipe, I baked a batch the weekend before just to try out and ensure they would turn out right, which they did. Unfortunately, the little butterfly pronounced that she didn’t like it, and so didn't want to bring them to her party. When I asked her what she wanted to bring, she said guava. Haha! But I thought guava would be a little too plain and simple, and some children may not like the fruit, so I prepared these.

Plenty of food for the children: (L) Perishable food items to be consumed (R) Individually packed biscuits, candies, etc to take home.

Tucking in

Hooray for a wonderful year with her classmates in Jasmine class

November 22, 2009

Yan Yan – 4th month update

Yan Yan is four months old today. I missed updating her 3rd month progress, as I was away in Montreal then and was really busy throughout that trip. I was caught up with work upon my return and when I finally was able to afford some time to jot things down, Yan Yan was already 3.5 months so I decided to just wait it out till her 4th month.

We took her to the paediatrician for her vaccinations two weeks back and she weighed 6.7kg, was 62.1cm in length with a head circumference of 40.5cm.

Physically, she's learned to do quite a bit over the last two months:
- holding her head steady when held in a sitting or standing position at 3 months
- loves to stand and would push down on her legs to bear her weight
- rolling over while lying on her back to the front at 3 months, and started to inch forward while lying on her tummy at 3.5 months.

As such, it's getting difficult to change her nappy, or to dress her up, as she's really quick to turn herself over. And since she gained a little mobility, she has had a few accidents – once she rolled herself down from the bed onto the mattress beneath, through a slight gap between the bed guard rail and the head of the bed. Luckily her papa was sleeping on the mattress so he cushioned her fall. She also rolled and got herself caught between the bed and the bed guard rail several times. So we’ve really got to be extra careful when leaving her on the bed now.

Emotionally, she is a joy to wake up to. She's a really happy baby, and always has a gummy smile on her face. The other day at the paediatricion, she only let out a quick cry while being jabbed, but very quickly returned to her chirpy, cheerful self when carried, while flashing her gummy grin.

She responds by smiling and laughing excitedly whenever people coo or talk to her, and has recently acquired the habit of ooohhhing and aaahhhhing loudly, as if to invite you into a conversation with her :-) She definitely has a much better temperament compared to her che-che. She also loves to look at her own reflection in the mirror.

Most nights, she sleeps after her last feed at about 10-11pm till 5-6am the next morning, waking up only occasionally. On the nights that she does wake up for her midnight feed, it's still pretty easy on me as I'll nurse her lying down and continue sleeping :-) I'm truly thankful for her sleeping through the night as Yiu Yiu only stopped waking up for her midnight milk recently, after more than 3.5 years! Part of the reason why Yan Yan doesn't fuss as much at night is because she sucks her fingers to soothe herself. Sometimes she even sucks on her whole fist.

Sucking on her index finger

Sometimes it's her middle and ring fingers together

Che-che saw me snapping photos of mei-mei sucking her fingers and insisted I took one of her too :-)

TWO thumbs together also no problem :-)

I still can't decide whether it's a good or bad thing - good because she can soothe herself and fall asleep by herself without much effort, bad because she may carry this habit into toddlerhood and beyond.

It's also a breeze when ferrying her to and from the babysitter's house, or the occasional outings. Yan Yan will lie in baby carrier without any fuss, and entertain herself by looking out the window at buildings zooming past.

Again, in contrast to Yiu Yiu when she was a baby, who would scream the moment she was put into the carrier, and all the way home. I remember having to make several stops on the drive home to carry and calm her, or else she'd cry till she had no more voice. When I mentioned this to her the other day, the cheeky little girl said, "When I was a baby that time, I cried because the car seat is 不舒服 (not comfortable)". Haha! What a clever excuse.

The only worrying thing about Yan Yan thus far is her bowel movements. She passes motion only once in 4-5 days, and when she does, it's always yellow with a pasty, sticky, consistency and slightly foul smelling, very unlike the typical stool of breastfed babies which is soft and quite sweet smelling. When I was in Montreal, she actually went seven days without passing motion so hubby had to bring her to the paediatrician who inserted a suppository to help her pass them out.

November 18, 2009

Long service award

When I was on maternity leave, I received an email from HR asking me to choose a gift from the e-catalogue for my long service award. I flipped through the e-catalogue to find a vast selection of women's jewelry, men's jewelry, watches, as well as home decoration items such as crystal vases. As I'm not a jewelry person, I chose an elegant watch with stainless steel case and black leather strap.

Though it's no Omega nor TAG Heuer, it's still nice to know that the company recognizes and appreciates its long-serving employees.

You are not a good mummy

Yiu Yiu was keeping her toys, books, stickers away while I was working on my computer. She asked me to help keep a big piece of magnetic board with multiple small magnets into a book and even though I told her I'd do it in a minute, she kept whining and nagging me. Patience is really in short supply with this girl. When I eventually helped her to keep it, she made a fuss again, coz she wanted to have all the magnets facing the top of the book, which is not possible.

Mummy (with a slightly raised voice): The magnets are like that. You cannot arrange them all straight.
Yiu Yiu: Little bit also scold scold scold. You are not good mummy, you know. Good mummy is like this, (speaking in a soft tone and smiling) "Good children, I love you." Bad mummy is like this, (speaking in a stern tone) "The magnets are like that. You cannot arrange them straight."
Mummy: OK, so what will good mummy do if her children are naughty and never listen? Will the good mummy scold her children?
Yiu Yiu: Yes, but I want mummy to sayang me. So you sayang me or not?
Mummy: Of course I sayang you. I scold you and let you know what you did wrong, but I will still sayang you.
Yiu Yiu (with the puppy look on her face): I want mummy to sayang me.

Mummy 1, Yiu Yiu 0.

November 16, 2009

Breast talk

When we were lying down together during bedtime…
Yiu Yiu: Mummy, what is this sharp sharp thing on your breast?
Mummy: It's my nipple, darling.
Yiu Yiu: Mei-mei suck on your nipple and nen-nen will come out is it?
Mummy: Yes.
Yiu Yiu: Can I squeeze the nen-nen out?
She proceeded to squeeze my nipple before I had the chance to answer her, and giggled with delight when she saw milk actually coming out! :-)

When I was trying to latch Yan Yan on…
Yiu Yiu (pointing to my breast): Mummy that is baby's Mamil Gold ah (she's drinking Mamil Gold Step 4 now).
Mummy (amused): Yes, darling. That's baby's Mamil Gold.
Yiu Yiu: Who made one?
Mummy: Mummy made lor.
She has since used the term Mummy Gold to describe breast milk, how apt!

November 14, 2009

Making orange juice

We were at Daiso last weekend when Yiu Yiu spotted an orange juicer. She asked me to buy one coz she said she wanted to make orange juice for me – and so I did. The moment we got home, she pestered me to get her an orange from the fridge, coz she can't wait to use the juicer. I helped to halve the orange, and let her squeeze the juice out. Of course I had to finish it off for her coz she didn’t have the strength to squeeze everything out. Anyway, that was my first ever cup of juice prepared by my daughter, with love :-) Too bad I was busy preparing ingredients for cooking so didn't take any photos.

November 11, 2009

Cutting hair

Yiu Yiu has always liked to keep her hair long, and each time we teased her about cutting off her hair, she'd protest with an emphatic NO!!! She still allowed us to cut her fringe though, and so we've been taking her to her姨婆(hubby's aunt) salon to have her fringe cut ever since she started growing her hair long. And oh by the way, only her 姨婆can cut her hair. We tried taking her to other salons, or getting another stylist from 姨婆 salon to cut for her but no, the stubborn girl only wants 姨婆, as if she wields a magic scissors :-)

Out of the blue 2 – 3 weeks ago, she told us she wanted to cut her hair SHORT! I was like, WHAT?! She said she wanted to cut her hair short like Faythe, her buddy in kindy. And she had been pestering us to bring her to 姨婆 salon since then. We warned her that if she really cut her hair short, there's no way to reverse it if she changed her mind. I certainly don't fancy having to deal with a whiny little girl who wants her hair back so better warn her in advance.

Anyway, when we were at the salon, 姨婆 was against the idea of cutting her hair short, since Yiu Yiu has curly hair which may be unruly if cut short. Surprisingly she listened to 姨婆 and agreed to just trim her hair. I think 姨婆 must have snipped away about 3 inches of her hair.

Getting ready, with part of her hair clipped up

Snipping away

Notice her half-cut fringe?

Me and my new hairstyle. Pretty or not?

November 08, 2009

Mission breastmilk: Bits and pieces

On the Montreal – Amsterdam flight, there were only 12 seats at the section that I was sitting and all the seats were full. I didn't inform the crew that I would be occupying the toilet for a long time so when I made a disappearing act to express in the toilet, my absence of conspicuous. One of them came knocking at the door when I was half-way expressing to make sure that I was OK, and not fainted in the toilet :-)


My breastpump broke while I was expressing at the lounge in Amsterdam airport while on transit home. The pump can still be used but it takes a lot more effort to balance the broken part and work the pump. I have to thank my lucky star it didn't break any earlier, as it would have made my expression sessions much more difficult.


What's my record output in one single expression session?
This was achieved when I had a gap of eight hours between expressions, instead of the usual 5 – 6 hours.


Yan Yan has no problems at all with nipple confusion or breast rejection. When I offered her the breast upon my return, she didn't hesitate one bit and suckled like a pro, as if I hadn't been away at all. And I'm thankful for this - one less thing to worry about in my next trip - Bangkok for a couple of days at the end of the month. Now that we (Yan Yan and I) survived Montreal, I'm sure Bangkok will be easier.

November 06, 2009

Mission breastmilk: Accomplished, but not quite

How did my breastmilk mission go? Well, I managed to cart home 203oz of frozen breastmilk from halfway round the world, though not in optimal condition.

I thought I had it all figured out – I'd freeze my breastmilk at the hotel's freezer for the first part of my trip, and for the second part where I extended my stay for two days, I had booked a hotel which has a full refrigerator.

The hotel apartment with a bedroom, living room and a kitchenette

And I had my dry ice supply arranged for packing home the frozen breastmilk. I neglected one very important detail though - that is I'd be flying home on a Sunday. The dry ice supplier that the hotel contacted would only deliver on Friday as they don't work weekends but that would be two days earlier than my scheduled departure. I finally managed to find another supplier who would deliver on Saturday. Taking into account the time lag between delivery and my departure from Montreal, I ordered two bags of 12kg dry ice in the form of small pellets (for small quantities like this, all the suppliers only supply in small pellet form). I was hoping against hope that there would be enough dry ice left for me to pack on Sunday but alas, when I opened the bags on Sunday afternoon, almost all had sublimated, leaving only less than 1kg in each bag. The guy who delivered the dry ice had suggested putting them into the fridge but I read that it may shut off the fridge's thermostat due to the extreme cold so I dared not try, just in case I would cause the fridge to break down.

Nevertheless, I packed the frozen breastmilk tightly into my Fridge2Go bags, threw in whatever dry ice I had left, and added in extra layers of Techni Ice sheets on top, before covering them up with a towel to minimize air space. I wasn't optimistic that the milk would survive the 31 hours from the point of checking out to reaching home, but at that point, I could only hope for the best. I was really disappointed, and the thought of all the wasted effort and $$$ to buy the dry ice (they didn't come cheap – I paid CAD 57 including delivery and taxes) left me feeling down all the way back.

My expression schedule across three time zones - Malaysian, Amsterdam and Montreal times. Luckily my effort was not in vain.

The first thing when I got home was to check on the milk. There was no more dry ice left but the Techni Ice sheets were still frozen solid. Almost all the milk packets had started to thaw – some only slightly at the edges and felt soft to touch (not rock solid), while some had started to liquefy. The bags with liquid (about 70oz) were left to thaw in fridge completely. I kept about 45oz for Yan Yan's feed for the next two days, and gave about 25oz to mum to give to Xiaoyu (my 2-year old niece). I refreeze those that were thawing only at the edges as I don't have the heart to toss them all away. I sms this frequent traveler mummy, who assured me that it would be alright to refreeze them, as she had done so herself in the past. I also called up Dr. K, a lactation consultant and she said that as long as the milk packets were still cold, it was OK to refreeze. And so I did.

Here's my breastmilk tally:
Total stock in freezer/fridge before I left: 388oz
Balance stock in freezer when I returned: 146oz (so Yan Yan consumed about 242oz while I was away)
Carted home from Montreal: 204oz (refreeze 134oz, 70oz consumed by Yan Yan and Xiaoyu)
Total stock left in freezer: 280oz*
Discarded: 43oz (on flights to Montreal), 43oz (on flights back from Montreal)
So in fact, what I managed to express in total (290oz, including those discarded) was more than what Yan Yan consumed throughout my entire trip :-)
*There's more now as I'm still adding to the stock whenever my daily output exceeds the amount Yan Yan consumes :-)

On hindsight, these are some of my thoughts:
- if I had enough dry ice, I'm pretty sure everything will still be rock solid by the time I reached home. I should have stayed one more night in Montreal and leave on Monday, so that the dry ice could be delivered to me just in time for check-out. And if I did stay an extra day, I would even have time to make a side trip to Mont Tremblant, a famous ski resort in the Laurentian Mountains 1.5 hours from Montreal :-)
- I should have bought the styrofoam container that the guy brought along to store the dry ice. I declined coz it would have cost me another CAD 15. Had I bought the styrofoam container, probably the dry ice wouldn't have sublimated that rapidly.
- the dry ice was in the form of small pellets (smaller than ice cubes), hence the rate of sublimation was much swifter compared to dry ice blocks. Unfortunately for small quantities like this, all the suppliers I contacted only supplies in pellet form.
- I think the Fridge2Go bags probably helped to keep the milk frozen for longer. If I had used a normal cooler box, more could have thawed out.

Another valuable lesson learnt in my breastfeeding journey.

November 04, 2009

Yiu Yiu's 4th birthday

Yiu Yiu turned four on Sunday, November 1. We celebrated her birthday with a small luncheon party at home with family members, babysitter's family and several friends, including two of her classmates.

This time around, she asked for a Snow White cake instead of Barney, which she had for two years in a row. I contacted the baker who baked her beautiful Barney cake last year, and Yan Yan's fullmoon cuppies but as I had left it till too late, she couldn't fulfill my order this time. So we settled for a simple Oreo chocolate cake from Bread Story, with a printout of Disney princesses on what seemed to me like sugar paper.

So how did Snow White evolved to Disney princesses? Well, we know the owner of Bread Story in SS2 and she sent us some photos for us to choose for the cake. When we showed them to Yiu Yiu, she chose this one. The kids at the party loved the cake and polished off almost the whole cake. Thank goodness for that, coz otherwise, I'd end up having to finish the leftover cake.

After having filled our tummies, the girls gathered around Yiu Yiu for some photos with the cake but the boys were more interested to continue playing with each other. Everyone gathered around the table nevertheless, when we started singing the birthday song.

With Faythe and Chloe, her kindy buddies

Cutting the birthday cake...

...and savouring it

I was busy serving and mingling with the guests, and forgotten to take a family photo before the cake was cut. This was the only one we managed to take.

Everyone left by about 2.30pm, leaving hubby and I to clean up the house while the girls slept. We managed to put the house back in order in time for me to bathe the girls and took a shower myself before going to Hilton Kuala Lumpur for an evening lecture. Yeah, I had to work on my girl's birthday.

Pressies galore - thank you so much for coming uncles, aunties and friends