January 29, 2010

Yan Yan – 6th month update

When we visited the paediatrician early this month for her 5th month jabs, her vital stats were as follows: weight 7.2 kg, length 68.9 cm and head circumference 42 cm.

She hasn't mastered the skills for crawling yet but she's been getting herself around over the last few weeks by creeping like a caterpillar – from a position of being on all fours with her body parallel to the floor, she would move her hands forward (thus extending her body and lunging forward), before dragging her feet forward. When lying on her stomach, she can also push her body up with her arms into a semi-sitting position, though she can't sit just yet.

She still puts everything that she grabs into her mouth, so I'm limiting the toys that I leave around her, and try to keep them clean. She didn’t like the teething ring previously, coz she can't get a good grip of it and it keeps falling off. But since she's getting better at holding smaller things in her hands, she's quite happy gnawing on it now.

Emotionally, she's starting to show her preference for me compared to hubby. Even when hubby carries her, she needs me to be in her view. Several times, as I move from the living room to the kitchen, her eyes would be trained on me and as I moved out of her sight, she'd purse her lips, and start to cry. She used to be extremely well behaved in the car but has started to wail on our daily journey home. Sometimes, she'd quiet down when her che-che makes funny faces/noises to her but sometimes, nothing seems to work to calm her down. Once it got so bad that I had to stop my car mid-way and carried her out from the car to pacify her.

She had her first taste of solid several days before turning 6 months. We were having watermelon and she kept eyeing the fruit so we let her suck on a small piece.

I started her on organic rice cereal last Saturday and she loved it. She eagerly opened her mouth and would shout out loud when I drew the spoon away to take another scoop. So impatient…haha!!

It's yummy, mummy.

Do you want a bite, too?

She's still taking only one solid meal daily but I'll be asking the babysitter to increase to two feeds. She's still on full breastmilk, and it's getting difficult to nurse her now as the little busybody would unlatch and turn her head towards any noise.

She loves to babble, and can sometime babbles non-stop, and her che-che would say that she's practicing her voice :-) She's showing an extreme curiosity towards computer. Whenever I have the laptop on, or whenever her che-che watches DVD on the laptop, she would never fail to creep over and press the keypads, much to the annoyance of her che-che.

January 23, 2010


Since my group had about eight hours transit in Amsterdam on the way to Montreal, we made a quick trip to Madurodam in Den Haag (The Hague). It took us just 30-minutes by train to reach Den Haag, followed by a short tram ride to its main entrance. Madurodam is a tourist attraction, with miniature models on a 1:25 scale of typical Dutch buildings and famous Dutch landmarks from around the country.

Main entrance of Madurodam

Cheese market

Tulip garden

Open air concert

Schipol Airport, Amsterdam

The famous Erasmus Bridge (Erasmusburg) in Rotterdam

We made it back in good time to the airport, grabbed a quick lunch before heading to the terminal for our onwards flight to Montreal.

January 21, 2010

Montreal – Parc du Mont-Royal

Montreal got its name from the hill that rises behind the spires of downtown office towers, affectionately known to Montrealers as "The Mountain" or "Mont-Real". The hill was made into a public park according to plans by Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York's Central Park, with a broad pedestrian only road and smaller footpaths for strollers, joggers, cyclists, and in-line skaters.

There are several routes to reach the top of the hill – the quickest and most strenuous approach, which I took, was taking the steep sets of stairs that go directly to the Chalet du Mont-Royal and its lookout. The chalet was constructed from 1931 to 1932 and has been used over the years for receptions, concerts, and various other events. At the front terrace, the beautiful panaroma of the city beneath made the climb all worthwhile.

The steep set of stairs

Skyline of downtown Montreal

About 10 minutes walk from the chalet is the Croix du Mont-Royal. Legend has it that a wooden cross was erected here in 1643 after the young colony survived a flood threat. The present steel cross, installed in 1924, is lit at night and visible from all over the city.

January 19, 2010

Montreal – Stade Olympique & surroundings

The Stade Olympique (Olympic Stadium) was built for the Montreal Olympics in 1976. It now houses five indoor swimming pools which are open to the public. The stadium has a 175m inclined tower at a 45-degree angle, and a funicular ferries visitors to the observation deck where expansive views of the city and the neighboring Laurentian mountains can be seen.

Biodôme de Montréal (foreground) and Stade Olympique tower (background)

Views of the city from the observation deck

Next to the Stade Olympique is Biodôme de Montréal. Originally a velodrome for cycling track for the 1976 Olympics, it is now a tourist attraction with its unique replication of four ecosystems – a tropical rainforest, a Laurentian forest, the St. Lawrence marine system, and a polar environment. I got excited at the polar environment section coz I saw these:

Birds and golden lion tamarin monkey in the tropical rainforest ecosystem

St. Lawrence marine ecosystem

Across the road from the Stade Olympique is Jardin Botanique (Botanical Garden), spread over 75 hectares. Due to time constraints, I didn't really explore the area which has ten large conservatory greenhouses, Chinese and Japanese gardens, an Insectarium and Butterfly House.

Can't get enough of the beautiful colours of fall

January 17, 2010

Montreal – Vieux Montreal (Part 2)

Marché Bonsecours (Bonsecours Market), completed in 1847 evolved from being the Parliament of United Canada, then as the City Hall, later becoming the central market, a music recital hall, and finally the home of the municipality's housing and planning offices. It is more of a retail centre now, but is also used for exhibitions and musical performances.

Marguerite Bourgeoys, a nun and teacher who was made a saint in 1982, founded the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel (Sailors' Church). It is named as such because many seamen come to worship here, while sailors saved at sea made pilgrimages to the church to give thanks. A museum within tells the story of Bourgeoys' life, and beautiful views of the port and Vieux Montreal can be seen from the top of its tower.

Snapshots of the interior

Views from atop the tower

Vieille Douane (Old Customs House) was erected from 1836 to 1838. One side of the building faces Place Royale, the first public square in the 17th-century settlement of Ville-Marie (Montréal). It's where Europeans and Amerindians used to come to trade.

Opposite Vieille Douane is Pointe-à-Callière, the original site where Ville-Marie (Montreal) was founded in 1642. It now houses the impressive Museum of Archaeology and History, where ruins of the ancient city can be seen. The museum is connected to Vieille Douane via an underground connection.

My last stop was Vieux-Port (Old Port), Montréal's historic commercial wharves which have been reborn as a waterfront park frequented by cyclists, in-line skaters, joggers, strollers, and picnickers.

January 15, 2010

Montreal – Vieux Montreal (Part 1)

After a look around the heart of the 21st-century city, a walk around Vieux-Montreal (Old Montreal) highlights the ample contrast between these two areas.

I started my walk at Basilique Notre-Dame, an exquisite church designed in 1824.

The impressive interior of Basilique Notre-Dame

Beautiful stained glass windows

Behind the altar is the Chapelle Sacré-Coeur (Chapel of the Sacred Heart), a charming chapel that's extremely popular for weddings. Montreal's most famous import, Celine Dion, also took her wedding vows here.

The photo doesn't do justice to the beautiful chapel

Next to Basilique Notre-Dame is the Vieux Séminaire de St-Sulpice, the city's oldest building, surrounded by stone walls. Banque de Montréal, Montréal's oldest bank building dating back from 1847, stands at the opposite side of the road. Nearby is Montréal's first skyscraper back in 1888, the Edifice New York Life, a red-stone Romanesque building with a clock tower. Next to it is the Edifice Aldred building, modeled after the Empire State Building in New York.

L to R: Vieux Séminaire de St-Sulpice, Edifice New York Life building, Edifice Aldred building, Banque de Montréal

Four blocks away is the Vieux Palais de Justice (Old Court House), and a little bit further down is Place Vauquelin, a small public square, with a splashing fountain and a statue of Jean Vauquelin, commander of the French fleet in New France.

Statue of Jean Vauquelin at Place Vanquelin

Home of the city's French governors for 4 decades, Chateau Ramezay was built by Claude de Ramezay between 1705 and 1706, the governor at that time. It was later taken over and used for the same purpose by the British, before being used as a courthouse, a government office building, and headquarters for Laval University, before being converted into a museum in 1895.