Friday, July 31, 2009

Overkill of hypermarts

Rosabelle has slipped into a fairly good routine - that of taking 10-hour night sleeps before 10pm (still waking up at least thrice for feeds though), and taking a 1.5 hour nap after her lunch and bath in the afternoon. I'm hoping this isn't just a passing phase, and this means we have time to while before dinner time. With the Beijing summer being unpredictably hot, the nanny and I have been bringing her on trips to the hypermart, like yesterday, when we visited Carrefour.

But first, I made a quick stop at the baby's hypermart we got cheaper stuff on a Sunday ago. Turns out the 'on sale' set of four wooden toy cars had a defect - one of the taxi cars had a chip off the corner, and the pull-along crocodile had a splint on the wood. Fearing that they wouldn't let us exchange after X number of days, I decided to go yesterday.

Whilst waiting for them to check the defects for me, the nanny brought Rosabelle to the rather dingy-looking play area at the baby's hypermart, where she happily crawled around and did her usual 'Thank you' gesture by moving her hands in a 'Gong Xi' position.
I then let her try her first-ever kiddy ride on a toy aeroplane, which served to only jerk her forwards and backwards, with the risk of her smacking her face against the steering wheel. In the end, we carried her out before the ride even ended as she was more interested in the toys on the floor than in the ride itself.
They let me change the crocodile, but told me they'd run out of stock of toy taxis, also adding that it was hard to determine when the car suffered the chip, hinting that I might have damaged it only to come and get it exchanged. I was quite cool all along and got hot under the collar when they insinuated I actually could be bothered to take a RMB20 cab ride to change a RMB6 toy, and they said I could still play with it since the spoilt part was glued on quite firmly. In front of them, I broke the chipped part off and threw it on the table, asking them 'Would you let your child play with this? Forget it, throw it away for me, I don't need it.' With that, I turned to leave when one of the stuff said, 'Please, Miss, take this, you can still play with it.' I told her to then leave it at their toy area and make sure that no child chokes on the defective part. How. i.r.r.i.t.a.t.i.n.g.

We then went to Carrefour just across the road, where I proceeded to clean the handle of the supermarket trolley diligently. Just when I'd scrubbed it clean and wanted to sit Rosabelle in it, I then realized that the defective trolley had no child seat - grrrr. So I went on to clean rigorously yet another trolley, and lined her seat with a soft, white bath towel from the linen section before we let her sit in it. That's our Carrefour ambassador with her smile of sunshine.
We pushed the trolley around to show her fishes in the aquarium, Ultraman figurines, Barbie princess cut-outs, plush toys, and the various food sections.
Rosabelle was pretty much still excited by it all, and hopped in her seat at times. But today, the nanny and I overdid it when we brought Rosabelle to Tesco again, thinking she'd like the supermarket trolley and mannequin experience. She seemed pretty jaded five minutes into the trip, giving us a rather bored look with tired-looking eyes, all the time looking downwards at the trolley wheels and wanting to gum the trolley.
Yikes. We now know better than to give her too much of a good thing, no matter how much she enjoys it!

Little antics

After her lunch, Rosabelle will usually play for awhile before taking her bath half an hour later. Today, I managed to capture a few shots of her standing at the sofa, and clips of her pulling herself to position (she can cruise wobblily - is there such a word? - now). She is also rather gungho, often attempting to release both hands for a split second to see if she can balance in a standing position, whether at the sofa, on our bed, or on her bed.

Recently, she has been very receptive to our cues to wave 'hello' and 'bye bye', and is also very quick to say 'thank you' (hands clutched and moving up/down in a 'Gong Xi Fa Cai' position) - I caught this on video as well.

The mummies in the yard think it's so exciting to watch Rosabelle demonstrate her little antics every day, and I think she also enjoys the attention. When one mummy praised her for knowing how to call 'Mama', she immediately went 'Papa', and repeated it even more loudly when the mummy did not hear it the first time, as if willing to say 'I can even call Papa!'.

See our little show-off in action...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Daddy will be touched

Wayne has been working late this past week due to a Client event, and since it's his swan song (going to take a good break after this month - weehee!), he is putting alot of time and effort into it. Strangely enough, Rosabelle has gone into a sleep-early mode for the past four nights at least, wanting to nurse by nine-ish at night. So for the whole of Tuesday and Wednesday, she did not get to see Daddy dearest at all as she was asleep when he left for/got back from work.

Usually she's not sticky to Wayne, nor will she proactively look for him, other than blurting out 'Pa' or 'Papa' at times, or pointing at his things like the gym bag and going 'Pa', but yesterday, think she started missing her Daddy.

Whilst on her high chair, she would turn round and look at the shoes lined up near the door, and point to Wayne's shoes, and go 'Eh!!!! Ehhh!!!', and laugh excitedly, as if wondering 'Hey, that's Daddy's shoes, but where's Daddy?', and went quiet only when we explained that Daddy has worn another pair of shoes to work.

Wayne then came home in the middle of her afternoon nap for a change of clothes and shoes, and when she was playing near the door in the afternoon after she woke up, she saw that the shoes on the mat were not the same as before, and in a different position from before, and started getting all excited again. The nanny did not realize the cause of her excitement, and only after did it dawn upon her that Rosabelle's eagle eye had noticed the change in shoes, so she explained that Daddy had come home but as she was sleeping, Daddy could not say hello to her. Only then did she quieten down.

After her bath at night, she looked at the door and went 'Papa', but sadly again missed him as Wayne only came back after she'd fallen asleep, bringing with him an inflatable stick he blew up for her, and which she enjoyed playing with today.
The stick came in handy as she gets sleepy during meal times, so the nanny had to keep her spirits up with all sorts of distractions (bad habit...), and resorted to putting an empty pasta bag onto the stick and beating it around noisily.
At times, the nanny will also have to fish things from the table for her, like my lip balm. Yesterday, she repeatedly pushed the lip balm into the nanny's hands, and kept giving it back to her even when the nanny returned it to her. The nanny thought Rosabelle wanted her to 'eat' the lip balm, as she has a good habit of sharing things with the nanny and asking the nanny to take a bite. However, she was not appeased and kept pushing the lip balm to the nanny. The nanny suddenly realized - she pretended to apply the lip balm onto her own lips, and Rosabelle smiled and took the lip balm back and kept quiet. Our girl must have noticed me putting on the lip balm and wanted the nanny to do so as well!
Rosabelle really does have quite a strong mind about things, like today when she saw me carrying other children, she went all moody in the nanny's arms, and refused to drink water from her sippy cup. We've been trying to get her to drink from her sippy cup again as she often chokes when drinking from the bowl, whenever she's over-excited and takes a big mouthful and/or is eager to finish the sip and turn her head around to look at things. So I decided to carry her and she went all sticky to me and went on to drink loads from the sippy cup - so she had been resisting her drink of water right until I carried her, so naughty...oh well, at least it's more hygienic (and convenient) to get her to drink from her sippy cup when we are outdoors.
Speaking of hygienic, guess after my brother-in-law read my post on Rosabelle's thorough enjoyment of sitting on supermarket trolleys, he sent me a timely red alert of a Powerpoint presentation detailing why supermarket trolley handles are even more dirty than the handles of public toilets (gasp!!!). This is because public toilets are disinfected regularly, whilst supermarket trolleys are seldom (if ever) cleaned. A study found that there are more than one million bacteria on a trolley handle, and swabs taken from these places have found 'germs, viruses, bacteria, and body fluids' on them! Imagine folks touching the handles after digging their nose, handling a pig trotter/fresh fish, choosing a sandy mussel or soil-caked carrot, or babies gumming the get the drift.
What this means for me - I'm not going to deprive Rosabelle of her new-found love of sitting on a supermarket trolley, just that I am going to arm myself with the hand sanitizer Dettol, spritz a few drops onto some tissue paper and give the handle a good wipe before putting her in, and after carrying her out from the trolley, clean her hands with some wet wipes. I know it's not going to be 100% useful as really filthy stuff require stronger disinfectant, but oh well, we all try our best in a practical world, don't we? And... I believe some forms of bacteria will just make her more resilient, heh!
Ending off this post with a great, smiley shot of her that reveals her below two teeth...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The chewing, dancing assassin

Since Rosabelle is more vocal these days (read: screams alot and struggles to head in the particular direction) when she sees other kids eating/offered food, the nanny and I have had to resort to packing our own fruit and biscuit boxes the last few times we were out. At least we're then assured of the hygiene and quality of the food (some of the other biscuits are much too sweet/have salt etc).

However, this morning, before the nanny had time to bring over her dragon fruit, she had spotted a grandma giving out butter cookies - something I will not be giving her as it's way too sweet. The grandma had to hide the pack in her bag, but Rosabelle's eagle eye spotted it and she screamed as she reached out into the grandma's bag and fished the packet of biscuits out stealthily. Before we knew it, she had released the whole bag of biscuits onto the one-year-old girl next to her, hitting the poor girl on the head. The latter was probably caught by surprise and fell to her knees from the impact - so Rosabelle is now known by all to be a sneaky assassin, haha!

Last evening, we packed a box of watermelon out - she'd only drank watermelon juice before, and we'd never given her the fruit to bite on her own, so she was at first more distracted by another boy playing at the lobby (we brought her to the lobby to eat as we didn't want her getting a tummy upset from ingesting the strong winds blowing outdoors).
She did not take well to the first chunk that the nanny put to her mouth.
And gave us a 'what on earth is this?' look as she chewed on the piece of watermelon in her mouth.
But in the end, she enjoyed the whole 'eating watermelon in chunks' experience, and was eternally grateful to the nanny. Whenever she's happy with her food, she will show her gratitude to the nanny by plastering her face/cheek next to hers, or give a 'love love' gesture by knocking her forehead on the nanny's, like this:
I also caught a video of her chewing the watermelon, though she's more distracted by the nooks and crannies on her stroller, and actually has a good habit of not accepting more food into her mouth whenever she's still chewing/has yet to swallow.

But strangely enough, she did not enjoy her watermelon offered this way today, when I decided to head out to Tesco and the baby hypermart with the nanny since Rosabelle woke up early from her afternoon nap (slept early for the nap since she surprisingly woke up early at 7:15 am today, did not really enjoy her first taste of mushroom we added to her steamed egg breakfast before going out, and was then exhausted by noon time). All of us took a 15-minute stroll to Tesco and back, ending up with a few Mandarin story books for her, and a set of new bath toys. Rosabelle enjoyed the new experience of sitting in the supermarket trolley, and was bouncing all the way, and even danced when she heard some Mandopop blasting over the speakers.

(I was afraid that the trolley would be dirty, and also afraid that the trolley grating would cut into her chubby thighs when we sat, so I did a most anti-social thing: I looked for two white 100% cotton T-shirts in Tesco and used them to lay for her back, as well as around her bum area...with no intention of purchasing the T-shirts, of course. I know, very bad huh...)

Monday, July 27, 2009

She's like a sponge

Rosabelle had her first taste of organic baby cabbage today - I don't normally source for organic foods for her (believe once I get her started on all things organic, it's going to cost us a bomb to buy everything organic - so not necessary), but the supermarket did not have the normal baby cabbage, so we paid about RMB10 (SGD2) for two small bundles of the cabbage. She enjoyed the vegetable cooked in bowtie pasta (with chicken stock), potato, brinjal and spinach.

Yesterday morning's grocery shopping made me both elated and angry at the same time. We normally go to Tesco (last week was Walmart), and visit the Lijia baby hypermart next door. For a change, we went to Carrefour yesterday, and went to another baby hypermart opposite. Most of the items like cereal and wet wipes averaged RMB3 cheaper than the Lijia hypermart I normally order things from (cereal had a buy-two-get-one-free promotion at that!). And the imported Pampers was selling at RMB10 cheaper per 56-pack! When we went to Carrefour, the bowtie pasta was in fact cheaper than the Lijia hypermart by RMB3! Wah lau.... I am determined to get most of my supplies from other places then, think of how much moolah I could save...
At 9 months of age, Rosabelle is really like a sponge and soaking up all the knowledge she can. Yesterday, I introduced to her the concept of giving and taking. She has a favourite J&J moisturizer bottle (I leave all my empty vitamin and cosmetic bottles for her to play with), and was gumming it on her bed. I then told her to 'give Mummy the bottle, or Mummy will be so sad as Mummy also likes the bottle'. The first few times, I 'snatched' it lightly from her and thanked her profusely for being a good girl and 'giving' it to me, before returning the bottle to her. After a few times, she actually crawled towards me to thrust the bottle into my hand! And would beam me a big smile when I showered her with kisses when thanking her for being a good girl.

Just as well, we put this into practice today when another kid wanted the packet of jelly she was gumming (not eating). Even though Rosabelle was enjoying playing with her new-found toy, I told her to also give it to the boy as she will then make him happy. When I took it away from her, she only made a slight noise before being satiated with some other toy. Good, must teach her to care and share, and at the same time of course learn to defend herself/her own belongings.
Yesterday as well, when she was playing on her playmat, she suddenly turned to me and covered her mouth with her hand. I told the nanny she could be giving me a flying kiss, perhaps? The nanny said when we were both at the supermarket, she put Rosabelle in her own bed as she mopped the room, and at the same sent Rosabelle flying kisses. Rosabelle could very likely have picked that up, but only mastered the put-hand-to-mouth part, and has yet to pull the hand away to complete a flying kiss.

It was enough for me to think it's all quite hilarious, as Rosabelle is so keenly looking to us adults to learn so many things from these days. We really have to watch what we are doing and saying around her!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Our over-aged kid wannabe

It was a sunny day today, but a pity Wayne had to do OT in the office (the poor nanny again could not get a day off), so I decided to bring Rosabelle out to the mall (Shin Kong Place) with the nanny in tow.

Rosabelle had a fun time looking at the expanse of the place, and 'interacting' with the various figurines - the Lego worker, the furry duck and lamb, a Charlie Brown statue, and the many mannequins. The first time she saw a dark-coloured female mannequin with mouth plastered in a cheshire grin, she was rather apprehensive, and reached her fingers out to touch its shoulders briefly. After touching a few times and assessing there was no danger, she smiled happily and even waved 'hello' at it!
We also let her play with the rocking toys at the kids' level, where she enjoyed rocking and being pushed around on the toy horses. One of the Chinese kids was terrified of a Caucasian dad whose son sat on the same horse as Rosabelle, but our girl just looked on without paying much heed.
After I nursed her at the nice family room in the mall, we wanted to change her diaper and she started screaming excitedly when we laid her down. In the room with us were two cute Korean boys, and the 8.5-month-old one immediately burst into tears when he heard the screaming. He was frightened of Rosabelle's rather threatening screams, just like what happened this morning with another 6-month-old girl (her nanny had to carry her away to appease her).

Rosabelle seems to prefer to play with, and is attracted to, older children, particularly those who can run/walk. When I brought her down just now, she saw some 6- to 8-year-old children playing, and she started screaming excitedly at them, screaming all the time when they were talking to each other. She will also flail her arms happily if any older kid comes near her or if she sees them playing, but goes all nonchalent if it's a younger or similarly-aged kid.

She also amazed the nanny and I again this morning by calling a playmate's name - A-man. It was loud and clear as she called her when A-man and her mum were walking towards us. What followed next was even more unbelievable - she saw A-man's mum carrying a box of sweet potatoes, and maybe she was feeling peckish and wanted some food, but she called out 'A-man Mama'! We usually address each other by the child's name (for example, I am 'Yue Yue Mama'), so Rosabelle must have picked that up. Four words in a row, that's a feat for our girl!

What do you get for someone who doesn't need anything?

I messaged Vanessa on Tuesday, asking if there was anything she's lacking and would want us to get for them as a farewell gift. She said she's not missing anything, and has all the photos and sweet memories to bring with her. Just as well, as I had just sorted out a full range of photos taken together with her and the Choons since I got to know her in Weber Shandwick Singapore in 2001. I got her an album full of selected photos (all 273 of them), a hand-written card (miss the personal touch these days in the e-world), and a thumb drive stored with soft copies of the photos and home videos we'd taken in Beijing (she'd lost her laptop a few years back storing most of these old photos, and this thumb drive came in most handy for her).
As we went through the album when she came over yesterday, it brought back a full flood of memories, like the first photo we took together at a Weber Shandwick BBQ at Sentosa in 2001 (!!!)- that explains the tie-knot-at-Tshirt fashion faux pas...
Or having dinner at Pete's Place (since closed) with another good friend Belinda...(note my visibly huge cheeks).
Or even the farewell sessions we had for Vanessa upon knowing she was leaving for Beijing (at that point, I did not know I was going to be reunited with the Choons 3 months later in Beijing).
Over the years in Beijing (from 2003), we had various pigging out sessions...
And of course, drinks binge and party sessions!
Who can miss the classic past-time of young people in China (yes, we're heart...) - KARAOKE!!
And the weekend trips to the outskirts for icy-cold skiing times (Wayne and I never went skiing again after some bum collided into him from the back, causing him to hit his forehead against the skis and suffer a 6-stitch wound on the forehead).
Vanessa and I also went to Hong Kong/Macau on two separate occasions, for eating, drinking, and SHOPPING! We were rather bimbotic on our first trip to Macau, at first walking 20 minutes in the wrong direction to get to the ferry terminal, then getting there in time to miss the ferry (next one was an hour's wait away), then shopping around to while away the time and realising 10 minutes to ferry departure time that we needed passports to get into Macau (and thus marked the fastest ever taxi chase to and from the hotel to get our passports)...
We also enjoyed going around Beijing with visits to places like Summer Palace, Botanical Gardens, and camping at Feicui Island (where we had to do our business behind bushes...).And always enjoyed fun sessions with colleagues at Weber Shandwick Beijing.
We had a blast dressing up at our Annual Dinner 2007 (the theme was 'Movie Night' and Vanessa was a pirate, and me - a Shanghai starlet wannabe).
Both Tim and Van were also most crucial for the Singapore leg of our wedding in October 2006, with Van being around most of the day, and they were our coordinators for the night (also giving a speech during the dinner).
Even for our honeymoon to Switzerland and Italy in February 2007, Tim and Van were coincidentally spending their last day in Rome on the day we arrived, so we had a good catch-up lunch session with over-priced pizzas near the Pantheon.
Christmas 2007 was a most crazy affair where we decided to do away with the hustle of the crowd (and forking ridiculous prices for drinks), and had Italian at our place, drinking up all the bottles of alcohol in our house, and messing around with the gingerbread house the Choons got from a restaurant.
February 2008 came, and the Choons announced to us that they were expecting, and wanted us to be their child's godparents - yaaay! We celebrated, and little did we know then that I was also expecting - double yaaay! In the spirit of keeping happy, we continued our get-togethers to the Great Wall, to Tianjin, and of course, pigging out (minus the drinks of course)...
The first time the girls met, they were about 3 months old, and Rosabelle looked massive lying next to Rachel!
When Tim and Van wanted to leave for Beijing the month after in February, they also paid us yet another visit.
Wayne sent them to the airport early this morning (Tim and his Dad drove the car to Shanghai), and as I wrote in the card for them, this isn't exactly a farewell as I know we'll be meeting up soon before we know it, and we'll continue to be in each other's thoughts and prayers. We'll cherish the precious moments close to our hearts, and wish the Choons all the best in Shanghai!

Rachel's Portfolio

When they came to visit yesterday, Vanessa brought the photobook that they got from the photoshoot at their house a few weeks back. She wanted to capture Rachel's last week in Beijing, and had the photographer go to their home for a two-hour shoot. After scouring around, she settled on the studio Box Photo, for their natural style (no fake hairdo on child/not getting child to pose like a fairy, in a rat suit or with balloons) and value-for-money package.

Vanessa told me as a child, Tim was also rather solemn and did not smile much, thus Rachel very likely takes after her Dad in this trait, but I think the photographer captured precious shots of Rachel at her best in a natural setting (who knew heating plates and washing machines can be such nice props?), and even brought pretty outfits for her to change into (nothing absurd-looking like watermelon overalls). I will very likely use them for Rosabelle's one-year-old shots (and perhaps pysche the rest of the mummies in the yard to use them at the same time as there's a special price for 3 or more families living in the same area).