September 30, 2010

Good as new molars

We made two more trips to the dentist to fix the caries in Yiu Yiu's molars. She had three cavities filled on the first trip, and the remaining two yesterday. I'm so glad there was absolutely no drama at all – she was an exemplary patient on both occasions, cooperating so well with the dentist.

She was getting a little bit distressed at this point, and pulled up her legs and clenched her fists, but still bravely continued on.

Fully deserving of these two stickers given to her on the two visits.

When she got her sticker on the second visit, she asked me,
"Mummy, guess which is my favourite?"
Well, there was no pink sticker so I pointed to a red one, and she said no. I pointed to another one, and another, and another, all of which she said no. Finally I said,
"I pointed to all the stickers already, all also you said no. So which one is your favourite?"
To my surprise, she pointed to the teeny weeny white sticker near the centre (which I overlooked).
"White? You like white meh?"
And her reply was???
"Because white has no sin – blood washed away all the sin."
Whoa!!! Guess the kindy is doing a good job with Bible stories.

September 29, 2010

Brand reminders

In my line of work, we produce lots of brand reminders to be given to our healthcare professionals – simple desktop or office items like pens, notepads, computer mouse, calculator, medical aids and mugs (but not funny mugs). And each time something is produced, the staff will inevitably set some of them aside for personal use so we typically do not have to buy any stationeries.

And since we are also involved in many trade events, we will make attires for the sales team to wear during such events – funny t-shirts with bright, bold colours to catch customers' attention. And in my almost 11 years in this line, I've actually accumulated easily 20-30 pieces of company t-shirts.

Another item that is popular with our customers are posters containing medical information that can be placed at clinics waiting area. Besides serving as an educational tool, it also helps patients kill time while waiting for their turn to see the doctor. This can raise awareness on diseases and might trigger patients to ask the right questions when they see their doctor. But I think it shouldn't be all work and no play so perhaps some funny posters should be placed alongside the serious medical related ones.

September 26, 2010

Mooncake festival & swimming

Went swimming with Yihao and Xiaoyu at my sister's apartment during Malaysia Day. Yiu Yiu commented that it's been a loooonnnggg time since we went swimming.

Mum cooked up a feast to celebrate mooncake festival the weekend before the actual day, and after satisfying our tummies, the children had fun playing with lanterns.

Then on the actual day of mooncake festival (which fell on a weekday), Yiu Yiu wanted to light up candles outside the house.

Yesterday night, several neighbours got together for potluck at the playground to celebrate the mooncake festival – to foster a closer relationship among residents in our taman, and for the children to get to know each other and play.

The gazebo which was converted into a mini buffet line

Yiu Yiu having fun with some of the neighbourhood children

September 23, 2010

Yan Yan – 13th & 14th month update

At 13 months, Yan Yan officially became a toddler – walking independently but unsteadily, and a few days short of turning 14 months, she was already walking pretty well, and walking has become her favourite mode for moving around :-)  And since she started walking, I tried letting her wear toddler shoes but she simply dislikes it, tearing and pulling at her shod feet all the time.

At 13 months, she started self-feeding finger food like Baby Bite, and grabbing the spoon whenever we feed her and directing it to her mouth.

At 13 months, she started drinking from a cup (with us holding the cup, of course), progressing to drinking from a straw at 14 months.

At 13 months, she had her first taste of during and loving it, lapping up every mouthful that we fed her.  But her love affair with food seems to have taken a downturn as she turns 14 months to become an unpredictable eater – refusing her porridge sometimes.  So mummy and babysitter have to put in extra efforts to cook a variety of food for her like macaroni and cheese, mee suah, etc.  Even then, she would still sometimes turn her nose at these new foods.  Babysitter is also having a difficult time getting her to finish her 4-5oz of Mamil Gold, but she still loves her Mummy Gold :-)

At 13 months, I started taking short cuts when bathing her and instead of using the bath tub, I'd simply sit her on a stool to bathe her.  I'm surprised that she didn’t mind water running down her head and face whenever I wash her hair.

At 13 months, she still has separation anxiety and will hang on to me like a koala bear every morning when I drop her at the babysitter.  She still cries when I leave most mornings.  Heck, even at home, I sometimes have to carry her on one hand and do chores with the other!

Other developments over the last two months:
  • shows an inclination to books, and loves to grab at pencil/eraser whenever che-che does her homework.
  • loves hanging things around her neck – her sister's bags, belts, etc.  She even wraps even her pyjamas around her neck :-)
  • loves rummaging through the drawers in the kithen whenever I do my chores, or rummage through the drawers in the bedroom in search of things to hang around her neck.
  • loves pushing her stroller/shopping trolley.  When we go out, she'd sometimes refuse to sit in her stroller and wants to be carried.  And while being carried, she'd want to lend a hand to push the stroller/shopping trolley.
  • blows flying kisses by pressing her hands against her mouth and say "Umm muck"
Last but not least, she's developing a love affairs with bags.  Unlike her che-che who has an affinity to shoes, Yan Yan is a bag lover.  She wants to hang a bag around her neck/body whenever she sees me/che-che going out with a bag :-)

The fashionista with her bag
Trimming her fringe

September 21, 2010

Rome, a living museum – Part 3

A visit to Rome would not be complete without a visit to Basilica di San Pietro (St. Peter's Basilica).  A word of caution though, be extra extra early if you want to beat the queue.  We didn't, and when we got there slightly after 9am, the queue had built up to easily 1km long (scenario as pictured below).  We were hesitating whether to join one of the many guides touting "skip the line" tickets in order to maximize our time but decided against paying a bomb for them (admission to the basilica is free).  Luckily the queue move quite quickly and we got in an about 45 minutes, I think.  But I was quite pissed off with several queue jumpers – they pretended to know those who were queueing in front of us and simply squeezed their way in.  And I'm pretty sure this didn't just happen to us!  Geez!

The photo is from here. I added the markings in red for illustration.

Anyway, the visit was definitely worth the wait.  The basilica was jaw-dropping and more like a showcase of Italy's greatest artists – with impressive paintings and sculptures.

We also visited the Treasury and Sacristy, which is filled with jewel-studded chalices, religious artifacts and Vatican treasures.  We then headed downstairs to the Vatican grottoes, with their tombs of the popes, both ancient and modern, including that of Pope John Paul XXIII.

Next to St. Peter's is the Vatican City, a separate state by itself though it's located within Italy's boundaries.  It was established in 1929 by an agreement between the pope and Benito Mussolini, acting as head of the Italian government.  The pope is the sovereign of the State of Vatican City, which has its own legal system.  Visitors are not allowed access into the Vatican City.

A glimpse of the Vatican city

A short walk away are the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums) & the Cappella Sistina (Sistine Chapel).  These museums are reputed to be the richest in the world, and a full day or more is needed to visit all the highlights.  We thought we'd just do a quickie with Sistine Chapel but the entrance ticket is sold as a package for visits to all the museums, and hence quite costly, and we can't just buy an individual ticket for Sistine Chapel.  We decided to give it a miss since we couldn't afford the time.  This will surely be my must-do list, if I ever get the chance to visit Rome again.

We took a break with this.  See how long the queue was.  I passed by this gelateria few times and each time, whether it was day or night, there was always a queue outside.

After the sugar load, we walked a looonnngggg way to Castel Sant' Angelo.  Built in the 2nd century, this imposing fortress was originally constructed as a tomb for Emperor Hadrian and his family.  It functioned as a fortress during the Middle Ages, and was linked to the Vatican by an underground passage as an escape route for the fleeing papacy.

We climbed up to the top terrace for dazzling views of the city.

Ponte Sant' Angelo, one of the most ancient bridges in Rome spanning the River Tiber.  The trio of arches in the river's center is basically unchanged since the bridge was built in the 2nd century.

Of all ancient Rome's great buildings, only the Pantheon (All the Gods) remains intact, making it the world's best-preserved ancient monument.  It was built and rebuilt several times, and the present structure is the result of an early 2nd century A.D. reconstruction by the Emperor Hadrian.  This 43m wide and 43m high (a perfect sphere resting in a cylinder) building was originally dedicated to all the gods, but was subsequently transformed into a church.  It houses the tomb of the famous artist Raphael, who was buried here in 1520, and several Italian kings.

The oculus, an opening at the top of the dome, 5.4m in diameter, is the only means of light into the Pantheon

The Pantheon stands on Piazza della Rotonda, which is complete with obelisk and baroque fountain

Nearby Piazza Navona is reputed to be the most beautiful square in Rome, but when we were there, a political rally was going on with plenty of marquee tents and jam-packed with people so we didn't have a chance to experience its charm.  Originally laid out as a stadium, great chariot races were once held here.

September 18, 2010

Rome, a living museum – Part 2

One of the most recognizable landmark of Rome is the Colosseo (Colosseum).  Now a mere shell, the Colosseum still remains ancient Rome's greatest architectural legacy.  Covered with marble, its enormous weight rested in a swamp on artificial supports.  It could hold 80,000 spectators whose entertainment was watching bloody combats between gladiators, wild beasts and human vs beasts.  The guide regaled us with details of gory battles, including when the arena could be flooded and hungry crocodiles released into the water.  Mock naval battles were staged with those who fell into the water being rapidly mutilated by the crocodiles, and the redder the water became, the louder the cheers.  Thank goodness we have blogs and FB to keep us entertained now!

Long after the Colosseum ceased to be an arena to amuse sadistic Romans, it was struck by an earthquake, leaving behind the crumbling structures.  Centuries later, its rich marble facing was stripped away to build palaces and churches.

An inside view of the Colosseo with several tiers of seats and an intricate maze beneath where the gladiators/beasts were kept prior to being hoisted up onto the platform for their battles. A small section of the platform has been reconstructed at the far end.

Few steps away is the Arco Constantino (Arch of Constantine), with its intricately carved reliefs.

Nearby Forum Romano (Roman Forum) was the heart of ancient Roman empire – a center for trade, religion, and politics that attests to the military and architectural grandeur of ancient Rome.  Walking around the Forum is like walking in an archaeological park with amazing ruins – an ancient fountain, a long-forgotten statue, a ruined temple – and streets once trod by the likes of Julius Caesar.

Next to the Forum is Palatino (Palatine Hill), which was once covered with the palaces of patrician families and early emperors.  Today it's a tree-shaded hilltop of gardens and fragments of ancient villas.

See the indentations on the ruin? The lower curve marks the ceiling, and it ain't all that tall. Apparently ancient Romans were pretty small in size.

Piazza del Campidoglio stands on the summit of Capitoline Hill, the spiritual heart of ancient Rome, where triumphant generals made sacrifices to the gods for giving them victories.  This splendid piazza was conceived by Michelangelo, who also designed the two palaces on the opposite sides of the square.  At the top of the graceful steps leading to the piazza is the fabled equestrian statue of the emperor Marcus Aurelius.  Behind the statue is the Palazzo Senatorio (Senatorial Palace), which now houses the Roman city hall.  A panoramic view of the Roman Forum can be seen from behind the palace.

Teatro di Marcello (Theatre of Marcellus) was an ancient open air theater, with rows of arches and unusually high windows.

Second only to the Colosseo, Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus) was one of the most impressive structure in ancient Rome but has now been reduced to a formless ruin that looks like a vast, empty field.  It was once a large arena enclosed by tiers of seats on three or four sides - something like a modern day stadium - where 250,000 Romans could assemble on the marble seats, while the emperor observed from his box high on the Palatine Hill, chariot races and public games and entertainment.

We ended our day with dinner at Trastevere, a district separated from the heart of ancient Rome by the River Tiber.  It still has much of the look of medieval Rome and remains the city's most "authentic" neighborhood.

In Rome, what else would you eat but pasta, pizza and gelato?

September 14, 2010

Rome, a living museum – Part 1

I attended a conference in Rome at the end of June, and as I've never been to Italy, I took the opportunity to travel around the country, with hubby joining me at the end of the conference. As I couldn't take too many days off work, we tried to squeeze in as much as we could of Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice within six days, including intercity travels by train. It was indeed a bit rushed but we managed to see most of the highlights of these cities. It also helped that we went in the height of summer, where the sun rose before 5am and didn't set until 9pm, so we had plenty of daylight to maximize our time there.

Our stay in Rome started with a visit to the Scala di Spagna (Spanish Steps). The Spanish had nothing to do with the construction of the baroque staircase – the name was derived from the Spanish Embassy, which was in a nearby palazzo (palace) during the 19th century. At the top of the steps is Church of Trinità dei Monti, built by the French. At the foot of the staircase is Piazza di Spagna. The boat-shape Barcaccia fountain in the piazza (public square) is reputed to have the sweetest water in Rome. Piazza di Spagna is also a haven for shoppers, with all the major fashion brands in the world having a presence there.

Church of Trinita dei Monti at the top of the steps
Barcaccia fountain in the foreground

We then walked to Fontana dei Trevi (Trevi Fountain), an 18th-century extravaganza of baroque stonework ruled over by a large statue of Neptune. Many visitors toss a coin into the fountain, which is said to ensure that he/she will some day return to Rome. Hubby and I didn't, so lets see if we still get a chance to return to Rome in future :-)

At one corner of the fountain's piazza is the Chiesa SS. Vincenzo e Anastasio, a church that houses the hearts and intestines of popes from several centuries' back.

We continued walking till we reach Piazza Colonna. The centerpiece of the piazza is Column of Marcus Aurelius, a hollow bronze column 25m tall. The statue of a Roman warrior originally adorned the top of the column, but was replaced by a statue of St. Paul, one of the patron saint of Rome, by a pope in 1589.

Further along is Piazza di Montecitorio, cremation site of the Roman emperors in ancient times. The massive obelisk in the piazza was originally erected in Egypt in the 6th century B.C., and was placed here in 1792. The Palazzo di Montecitorio (pictured below in the background), is the modern-day site of the Italian legislature.

We ended our walk at Vittorio Emanuele Monument, a flamboyant landmark constructed in the late 1800s in honor of Italy's first king. The monument holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where an eternal flame burns.