Friday, January 29, 2010

Online spoils

I took a photo of Rosabelle in a new sweater today - not exactly new - more a hand-me-down from another kid (she got 3 of these lovely sweaters). She liked what she saw.
So much so that she went too close to her reflection in the mirror and knocked her own head. This is her going 'Orh....' and pointing to the spot where she hit herself, heh... (But I probably damned the sweater for good when I fed her blueberries for the first time today - she liked it - and got blueberry juice on it...darn...)
Today, when I brought her out for her morning walk, she lost her balance walking from the concrete onto the pebbled floor and lost her balance, going face down. I heard a thud as her face hit the floor and picked her up quickly, to find soot on her nose/mouth as she cried. It must have hurt a bit where she hit the stones as there was some bleeding on the tissue I used for her lips, but she was quickly placated. This fall actually served her well as an hour later, when she fell down again at another spot, she knew to crane her neck upwards so that her face would not hit the floor again. Atta girl!

Her daddy is also proud of her for her problem-solving skills. She was holding onto a ball the other day and wanted to place it back into the Ikea basket, which was surrounded by the sofa behind and stacks of toy boxes in front, meaning that she wasn't tall enough to reach forward and toss the ball in. After some deliberation, she gingerly placed the ball she was holding onto the floor, and then proceeded to shift the boxes of toys away before treading the clear path to toss the ball easily in. So clever!

On a separate note, I’ve been doing a fair bit of shopping lately – online shopping, that is. And not for myself. And not exactly just for Rosabelle. I offered to scour Taobao for good deals for my friend with two lovely girls, also as offer of presents to them from Aunty Wendy, especially since I was not around for the recent arrival of the little Princess. And being the calculative Singaporeans we are, we wanted to get the best deals and decided that we might as well focus our purchases on one or two shops, to save on delivery charges (many waive courier fees for purchases above RMB100, or even if we did not reach that amount, at least we would not be paying courier charges many times over to many different shops).

And so the first shop we went to, unfortunately for him and fortunately for us, did not have many of the summer clothing she wanted. Given the lousy heck-care attitude, we decided to take our business elsewhere. And elsewhere we did – I purchased items from 5 different shops for both her and myself!

So I spent alot of time looking at every single listed item in these 5 shops to see what I wanted to get, haha! Along other things we got for our girls (including a swimsuit for Rosabelle to prepare for sunny Singapore!), I bought some cute stuff for my sister's upcoming Toh Boy Number 3, and some other friends' kids, as well as of course the mummy in the yard who keeps giving us sweet clothings from her daughter (she was due to give birth to a boy yesterday, but is still waddling around the yard today!).

The spoils came in from today, and a few more over the next few days, one of which was this gentleman's tuxedo bib and navy sailor bib. So cute! If Rosabelle was still in bib days, I would have gotten the lady's one with pictures of pearls in front, but here she is, our very obliging model...
After lunch, she grabbed at the bibs and pointed to her neck, wanting us to wear it for her again, so vain!
These days, she can pronounce '没有' pretty well, that is if she's not shaking her head vehemently to declare that she does not want to do the thing you are asking her to. Sigh!

Next week will be packing time as we get ready to head back! The Ayi will also be going back to visit her family in Dongbei. On the Ayi, I caught her doing quite a few 'I almost fainted' moments - she placed a bag of fish soup into boiling water over a fire to thaw the soup for Rosabelle. With the plastic bag on. Now, horror stories of carcinogens/cancer-causing chemicals started flashing wildly in my head as I quickly told her to stop and told her off. She was basically thawing/cooking the plastic bag, which would obviously, to a certain extent, melt into the soup, for Rosabelle to injest, right? She claimed it was the first time she was doing this as she would normally thaw it outside first, making it easy to rip the plastic bag apart. Aiyo... I told her to never do that again and made her thaw another bag of soup whilst I drank the offending one up. This time, she made sure that the plastic bag was not soaking in the soup whilst she thawed it.

Another instance was when I saw the table cloth (cloth for wiping the table and kitchen top/stove) soaking in some water in the sink. She had pushed the sink stopper in and poured hot water into the teeny-weeny space between the stopper and the sink, and soaked the towel there. So this was what she had been doing when I asked her to make sure she use hot water to scald the towel every night (for disinfecting purposes). But hello...the stopper in the sink ain't that clean, right? That's where all the rubbish, raw foods, unwanted foods, peels, etc all get filtered through, right? I quickly told her to just grab any take-away container, which we have too many of at home, and use that to soak the towel instead. I also caught her using that 'dirty catchment area' for some water to place Rosabelle's bowl of food into as she wanted to cool the food down (of course gave her hell for that). Aiyo, these village people, really can die.....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

To Eat or not to Eat...

Saw this on Foodeducate, and thought it's quite funny - I remember when I was in secondary school, I was rather 'famed' for being oblivious to food hygiene by 'bah'-ing when food dropped onto the floor. To the point that my friends were dropping food on the floor purposely to prove naysayers wrong so the latter group could gape in awe as I picked the bit in question up and popped it into my mouth, hah!

Only thing is, I think this flow chart could do with a 'Did it drop onto concrete, grime or on sand?' Now.... even I will steer off sand-coated candies!

Monday, January 25, 2010

So random I forgot to post a title!

After keeping away the old/too-small shoes, we brought out Rosabelle's new red Hubsche shoes yesterday for her morning walk. She wasn't very comfortable in them at first, shaking her head whenever Wayne wanted to put her down, or when she heard us discussing that she can take a walk. Either that, or it was the initmidating snow, which she warmed up to (literally) when I showed her how fun it was to crush the ice blocks into powdered snow, heh...
Thing about such high-ankle shoes, which I thought ideal for winter since it keeps her warm, is she can't really flex her ankles well, which isn't ideal for beginner walkers. Oh well, you win some, you lose some....

Yesterday, Rosabelle, on her own accord, went up to the big, brown bear that my ex-colleague bought for her. Other than pretending to offer it toys (and drawing her hand away at the last minute), she does not really warm up to the bear, no matter how much she likes other smaller, plush bears - she will hug small bears, kiss them, and pat them whilst hugging them close to her chest and humming a tune whilst rocking at the same time, haha!
Then she decided the bear's tummy makes for a fine, soft pillow...
Heh, these days, it's hilarious how she refuses to make any of the animal sounds she used to enthusiastically make for us in the past. She loves to shake her head to anything and everything now, so a typical scenario will be as such:

Me: How does Rosabelle make the chicken sound?
Rosabelle: Mmmmmm (makes the sound whilst shaking her head vigorously)....
Me: How does Rosabelle make the lion sound?
Rosabelle: Mmmmmm (continues to make the sound whilst shaking her head vigorously)
Me: How does Rosabelle shake her head?
Rosabelle: (Looks up at me and grins cheekily, not moving her head at all this time round)

Sigh...

She never fails to amaze me with how her little mind ticks. Since she enjoys her baths alot, to avoid any meltdowns when we carry her out, we will normally ask her to choose a bath toy to bring out of the bath with her. Although she will look around quickly in search of 'the chosen toy', more often than not, it's the metallic sieve that she will take with her. However, when I asked her to go for the toy yesterday, she looked at her left hand that was holding 3 foam numbers, and proceeded to look for another number to gingerly stuff it in her small hand. She then quickly stood up, jubilant that she has gotten away with not one, but four, bathroom toys.... So...smart...aleck.

Today, Wayne and I brought her to Wangfujing, or at least just the APM Plaza, to change our watch batteries (my Tag's battery has leaked, and I needed to pay RMB600 for the servicing, on top of the RMB250 battery - well, because it's also old anyway, but still!). As the fruit seller in our yard still had not delivered our fruits by the time we left, I bought a bunch of bananas from 'Ole supermarket downstairs and sat down for a break as Wayne fed her the rather unripe banana (yikes!).

She enjoyed her light 'shopping' with me as Wayne went on the errands, and enjoyed climbing up flights of steps, playing/looking at toys in the Lego shop (and shoplifting one piece from the play area without my knowledge!), and basically making friends with every other bored shop assistant. Maybe she was happier wearing a softer pair of old shoes courtesy of another Mummy in the yard (the same one who gave us the sweater she's wearing), but it felt like a more comfy fit than the Hubsches...

She has a cute habit these days - if she sees any dirt/speck on the floor, or any water stain (at times caused by her own saliva...), she will point at it, go 'Orrrrhhh....' in a sad tone, then rush off to grab a piece of toilet paper from her own diaper tray to mop up the offending 'rubbish'. Of course, it's more work having to clean up after her 'clean up' as she drags the toilet paper all over, and proceeds to shred it to bits, but it's so cute that we do not have the heart to stop her....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's a shoe-in!

Today, we brought Rosabelle out to Shin Kong Place since it was Walch-floor day - it's been awhile since she last went out (other than for lunch yesterday) because of her runny nose, and she wore this lovely fitting knitted sweater courtesy of hand-me-downs from another Mummy in the yard.

Since I find her shoes getting too tight these days, I decided to trawl online for information on what constitutes a good fit for toddlers' shoes and have compiled some of the more relevant/useful stuff here for my/other parents' easy reference...
Signs that a trip to the shoe store is necessary include
- Your toddler has red marks or blisters on her feet. This suggests that the shoes are pinching, binding or just generally irritating her.
- The tops of his toes are hitting the top of the shoe.
- She doesn’t want to wear the shoes or tries to take them off all the time
- Fusses or whines when you try to put the shoes on him
- Is walking right out of the shoe

If the sides bulge outward, or wearing more quickly than the rest of the shoe this may be a sign that they aren’t wide enough for your child’s foot. If your child’s shoes have an upward bend in the toe, that is also another tale-tale sign that the shoes no longer fit properly. Excess wear and tear is also another sign that it is time to go shopping for some new shoes.
The feet should be measured while the child stands, and should both be measured since one foot is generally larger than the other, and the shoes should be purchased to accommodate the larger of the two feet. When shopping for shoes, the length and the width of the foot should be measured.

Trendy Bendy
Choose shoes that have flexible soles. To make it easier for the child to learn to walk, the shoe’s toe must be able to bend up around 40 degrees.

To test the flexibility of a child’s shoe, grasp the toe of the shoe in one hand and the heel in the other, then bend the toe and heel toward each other. If the shoe bends at the part of the sole directly behind the toes, and not through the center of the shoe, it means that the shoe has a steel arch. A shoe with steel
arch support is not suitable for a child as it is almost completely inflexible and will not give a child’s feet room to grow or bend.

The ins and outs

Width:
Test the fit with your fingers. To test the width, pinch the side of the shoe at its widest point. If you can grasp a bit, the width is fine; if you can grasp a lot, the shoe is too wide; if you can’t grasp any, the width is too narrow. Another tell-tale sign of a narrow shoe is if your fingers can feel the little toe or the outside bone of the foot along the side of the shoe.

Length:
As well as being flexible under the ball of the foot, the front of the shoe should be deep and wide enough to enable your child’s growing toes to spread naturally. Allow some room for growth in the front of the shoe but no more than an adult’s thumb width. To enable growth there should be some form of adjustment across the top of the shoe, such as buckles, laces or straps. This will ensure a neat fit.

Test the length by pressing your thumb down after the tip of the big or longest toe. Half an inch of room means the length is just right. Make sure that the toe box (square, not pointy) is high enough for the toes to be wiggled and curled comfortably.

Check the fit of the heel (no raised heels, please!) by inserting your pinky finger* between your toddler’s heel and the back of the shoe, which should have padding along the back edge to prevent friction. There should be a comfortable fit. If you can’t slip your finger in, then the shoe is too small and will chafe against your toddler’s heel. If you can move your pinky freely, then the shoe is too large. An ill-fitting shoe also has gaps around the ankle.
Your child will surely love you for the efforts you put in...

* I know that at least for Rosabelle, I am keeping away her two current pairs of shoes already - they both failed the pinky test as I almost fractured my little finger trying to get it into the heel!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Na'vi me please

Never have I wanted to watch a movie twice so quickly after it ended. My bladder was bursting with soya bean and mineral water after 160 minutes in the cinema, and we had to grab a quick 7-Eleven sandwich lunch to go as we were catching the 1:20pm show, but I was sad when it all ended.

Yes, I'm talking about my first-ever 3D movie experience. Not just any movie. Avatar the movie. I told Wayne I want to catch it on the big screen again (maybe IMAX this time), or we'll just have to contend with 2D DVD versions in future.

It was a really good movie, and it helps that Wayne told me to focus on the action in the foreground (as opposed to the background), or I will risk getting a headache (there are even sites that tell you that you can go take a quick toilet break in the 50-something minute). Hell, I also put on my contact lenses as I was afraid the 3D specs would not fit nicely on my own specs - but the latter was huge and rather loose (i.e. not friendly for Asian/flat noses like mine), so I was rather conscious that it might slip down anytime as it's very light (it did not though, or should I say I was too focused on the movie to notice any discomfort).

Before I caught the movie, I just 'BAH'-ed it off as just another over-hyped thing, and even thought the Na'vis looked very scary, irritating, and that they were the bad people - haha!

I really like the action, the storyline (though detractors say it's uncannily a rip-off of Pocohontas - but I say it's like comparing a school play with a Hollywood bloackbuster as they are totally on different levels, almost an insult really to the greatest movie of all time). I even teared slightly when (Alert: Spoiler ahead - highlight below text to read only if you do not mind spoilers!):
-- When Neytiri's mother Mo'at (who is also the Omaticaya's spiritual leader) cried when she used a blade to free Jake Scully (who had 'betrayed' them by bringing in the enemies), and said something along the lines of 'If you are really with us, then help us...' as she pleaded with him against a background of fire and explosions killing her people.
-- When the 'corporate people' at Ground Zero shook their heads, and some ladies cried, at the sight of the bloodshed on the Na'vis when they saw it on screen.

(End of spoilers)

Mr. Cameron, no matter how rich he got from making Titanic (and thank goodness he did not retire happily into oblivion), has really 'upped the ante' (such a catchphrase for PR talk when launching new products/services, eh?...) in the details for the whole movie. He created a whole new language for the Na'vi's, created a whole new world in Pandora (and an extremely beautiful one at that, in spite of the different scary creatures), and check this out from Wired 2009 issue:
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'With the language establishedd, Cameron set about naming everything on his alien planet. Every animal and plant recived a Na’vi, Latin and common names. As if that weren’t enough, Cameron hired Jodie Holt, chair of UC Riverside’s botany and plant sciences department, to write detailed scientific descriptions of the dozens of plants he had created. – He brought in more people, hiring an expert in astrophysics, a musical professor and an archeologist. They calculated Pandora’s atomospheric density and established a triparitle scale structre for the alien music. Eventually, a team of writers and editors compiled all this information into a 350-page manual dubbed Pandorapedia.'
7
Is this man dedicated to his craft or what (dabbling in 'sics and 'ists of fields that many of us, or at least I, have never even heard before)? *clap clap, kowtow, kowtow* Only thing I can say is - please don't let me wait for so many years for yet another epic to top this one...
P/S: If you're wondering why I am not as trigger-happy and posting photos of Rosabelle as I normally will, the reason is because ever since she discovered a whole new world of walking, she refuses to stay/sit still long enough for a photograph (there are only so many I can take of her in her high chair...). Drat...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Twist ‘n Shout

I’ve been MIA because we were recovering post-Zhengzhou trip (unpacking…then packing slightly in preparation for upcoming CNY homecoming, yaaay!), and mainly because the whole house is down with a case of the sniffles…yikes!

Wayne was feeling stuffy on Friday, even before we headed home – must be the lack of sleep, and hectic running around whilst back home, poor thing. And then the nanny got a slight cold, maybe because she always refuses to heed my advice to wear thicker clothing when she opens all the windows in the house to air the place whilst mopping the floor with Walch (or she could have caught it from Wayne…). And in spite of a Sunday off for her to rest properly, she still came back on Monday with the cold.

Then it was Rosabelle’s turn to get a runny nose on Monday, with a lot of atchoo-ing prior, and she’s having blocked nose these past two nights, the poor girl. And the whole flu thingey claimed its last victim when I also started having a slight runny nose yesterday. Aiyo…. But I don’t normally take medicine unless it’s really serious, and same thing for Rosabelle, I am hesitant to administer medicine unless totally necessary (i.e. disrupting her sleep/appetite/play – not so yet…), so hopefully it’d all go away on its own, like the last time when her runny nose went away after a week. Only thing I’ve done is to start putting Euky bear rub on her chest/back before she went to sleep just now, to hopefully ease the nasal congestion.

I read somewhere that it’s common for kids at this age to suffer from at least 8 fevers/coughs/flus a year… (not of the serious kind, of course). So I guess it’s all part and parcel of her little body building up its own immunity against minor coughs and colds.

Another thing that has gotten me floored is I’ve got a sore neck now, from a bad sleeping position the night before, where I woke up with a stiff neck the next morning – to the extent that I couldn’t even turn my head and needed to just peek through the corner of my eyes. This was the second time this was happening, and the first time, I went to visit the blind masseuse who Wayne used to frequent – he managed to cure it and I was free of pain the next day on. This time round, even after he kneaded my neck, I still could not move it the very next day. And so Wayne brought me to the SPC – Spinal Palmer Club – where they do diagnoses and massages, and have legit chiropractors around to help with such problems. Wayne has been receiving treatment there for his spinal cord pain (from a supposed bad posture, especially in front of the computer).

And there I was, first to get a relaxation massage, nothing like the luxury spa kind with essential oils and waterfall/bird singing soothing sounds. The ‘masseuse’ was a brute of a man donning a white suit like a doctor, where I had to lie face down on a medical-like equipment bed, and he basically worked his fingers into every imaginable painful part of my stiff neck, to the extent that I had to try to remember to use Phase 3 of my breathing technique for natural labour (seriously…). Mr. Wonder Hands told me I have a straight neck, which is not normal as all necks have some form of curvature, so I will get stiff necks from sleeping very easily.

After 20 minutes, I could at least turn my head slightly, and I was then sent to meet the Principal chiropractor, or at least what I think he is, a Chinese who has an American Green Card (or is he ABC? Not sure…). The treatment with him lasted only all of 5 minutes, where he felt my neck, and I did not like the sound of his ‘Hmmm…’ (is it a ‘Hmmm…this is not a big problem’, or is it a ‘Hmmm… this could be worse than it feels’?). But he went on to get me to lie on my sides, then on my back, as he proceeded to pull me like a doughstick in all sides till we heard a 'crack' sound every time. Aiyo! Luckily I felt more amused than pain, heh!

The last phase of my treatment was to get 20 minutes of UV light (hot light) shone directly onto my stiff neck, and of course I had to get the nurses to bring the light further away when I felt my shoulder feeling sore, and swear it would start to blister in the next second (they reassured me it’s safe UV…). The heat is supposed to speed up blood circulation and recovery in the sore area, and Mr. Crack Bone came in to apply some ointment.

Today, I feel slightly better, but Wayne is bringing me down to the hospital to take an X-ray so they can see if there is anything wrong with my bone structure and posture, and then hopefully nip the problem in the bud before it becomes full-blown (i.e. more painful) like his.

Anyway, am glad that I am in an ok position for close to 3 hours of Avatar tomorrow – yaaay! (I know we are waaaay back, but try catching a long epic in the cinema when you are a nursing mum….). Another ‘yaaay!’ thing is Wayne has confirmed he can join us back in Singapore for one whole month – yippee! Now if only he can get the same flight back as us as they only have full-priced tickets for the outbound flight (more than RMB1,000 for what I paid)…if not, I will need to pay RMB500 to change to another flight. See how…it’s more appealing to have him help me with Rosabelle for the 6 hours on the plane (and many other hours at the airport)…

Saturday, January 16, 2010

To Zhengzhou and back...

And so we got going... On Wednesday, we booked the 12:46 pm train to Zhengzhou, where the whole train ride will take 5 hours, which meant Rosabelle needed to take lunch on the train. The nanny prepared meat/spinach/tomato stuffing in brinjal, peas and corn, as well as some fried eggs for her, and I brought some fruits, biscuits, and of course water along for her. I booked a taxi in advance to come pick us up, and made it to the train station waiting area 10 minutes before the train was due to leave (according to Wayne, I should board the train 30 minutes prior - my timing was too close for comfort...heh).

After making it through throngs of people, and I really mean alot of people (when you come to China, the idiom 人山人海 really takes a life of its own...), we boarded our first-class seats. Hmmm...not as first-class as I thought - still rather cramped, though it's supposed to be more comfortable than the second-class seats, and of course better than the normal seats. Oh well, it was only for 5 hours anyway, and so the nanny and I settled in and got down to changing Rosabelle into thinner pants (as it was rather warm in the cabin). I have bags of Pampers pull-ups at hand (free gift from buying normal diapers), so it was really an ease changing her diapers on the trip as we did not need to get her to lie down. Only thing, of course, was we could not apply diaper cream.

Lunch was next...

Maybe it was because of the exciting environment, where she got most distracted by anything and everything, particularly liking to grin at and play with men, calling 'Wa wa' (her version of 叔叔, or Uncle) all the time, but she did not eat much of her lunch, other than quite a bit of her favourite peas and corn and a slice of bread. So along the way, she snacked on biscuits and fruits, and I also nursed her.
She did not sleep at all during the 5 hours, and naturally, we did not let her walk along the train aisle as it was quite dangerous/rocky at times. So... we had a 14.5-month-old who was luckily quite obedient and happy with sitting on the seats and having us entertain her with mundane things like mineral water bottles, wet wipe packets, food... and also mimicking people's snores (she will 'Huh!' her nose slightly to pretend to snore...haha!)

And taking photographs, of course.
I let Rosabelle get behind the camera to take shots of the nanny...
And help take self-portraits of the both of us... I couldn't get the angle right at first.
And these last two shots turned out better.
She also liked looking out the window, making huff-puff noises, complete with dance movements of up and down, when asked 'How does the train run?'. Side innane note: her hair is getting quite long/messy these days... it'd be hot for her in Singapore...

We got to Zhengzhou safely, where Wayne and his good friend came to pick us up (thank goodness for this friend, who drove us around over the next few days...so nice of him!) and we went straight to Wayne's parents' home for dinner, where Rosabelle did not eat much of what Wayne's mum prepared for her (porridge with dish of carrots/mushroom/pork/tofu), but ate quite a bit of fish...hmmm (turns out she poo-ed that very night after a few days of not pooing, so it could be because she was so stuffed inside that she needed to have some 'output' before she could 'input' eh?).

Rosabelle made her grandparents' day with her calls of 'Ye ye' and 'Nai nai' and happy grins upon seeing them, and happily toddled around their house.


After dinner, we headed to Sofitel Hotel (where we stayed at previously), and they had upgraded us to the business level - great!
And Rosabelle liked to play with the room phone, making nuisance calls to the operator on at least two occasions (gulp...). She must have liked the bed so much and had nice naps on it, as the nanny said she was chuckling in her sleep, then turned over to sit up when she awoke up on one morning as she pumped her fist up in the air and started dancing - hahaha!
After breakfast the next morning, we got Rosabelle dressed to go to the entry/exit bureau to get the paperwork done.
This is her usual 闹人 (cranky) face when she's trying to attract my attention - with abit of fake crying - I usually laugh at it as she still looks so cute/funny. As you can see, I even snapped this shot rather than placate her. So bad of me, huh?
In the car, she likes to request for and play with a figurine of a Chinese wedding couple, asking for '哥哥' all the time (even asking for it when we got back to Beijing when in Wayne's car). Other than that, she preferred to stand on the car floorboard rather than sit on the seat/our laps, crouching down at times in the cramped space. I had to resort to 'kiap'-ing (holding her closely) with my thighs at times to prevent her from falling, haiz!Yet another random shot of the nanny and I from Rosabelle's angle... (luckily I cleaned my nose of any snot *cough*)
And so we got to the bureau on Thursday morning for Wayne to fill in the forms, make payment, and for them to take a PC camera photo of Rosabelle to process her one-time entry/exit permit to leave China on an expired visa. (I was deliberating with Wayne before we left for Zhengzhou, to ask him if he could 'borrow' any of his friends' kids to pose as Rosabelle just so we did not really have to make the trip down. In Wayne's words, '借个小孩儿不像借车这么简单...' (borrowing a kid is not as simple as borrowing a car)...bleah).

And so, we will get her permit in 7 days (Wayne's parents will collect for and courier it to us). As for her denounciation of citizenship issue, Wayne had submitted all the relevant papers when he got there the day before, but they have yet to issue him a receipt, and he has yet to make payment, because this is probably unprecedented, and they need time to process (and maybe to decide how much to charge us?). And did I mention that once they process everything, Wayne needs to make one more trip down to present the original documents, and after that, Rosabelle needs to go down personally again to collect the items? Oh well, if they need to take 3 months, so be it - I will just be so. darn. glad. when this is all over.


If we did not apply for the exit permit in Zhengzhou, we will be fined up to a maximum of RMB5,000 when we leave for Singapore next month, and even then, they need 5 working days to process a temporary visa, which means we could not leave for Singapore at that point even if we wanted to. Problem now is, if Rosabelle leaves China using the entry/exit permit (not her passport), I'm not sure we can apply for a China visa using her passport for her to come back and stay in China (as according to China/Singapore immigration, Singaporean Rosabelle holding her Singapore passport is still in China and not in Singapore). The conundrum of it all... I've run out of both Singlish and Chinese swear words for this issue already, so I shall not rant further on this family blog (or have I ranted enough already?...).


The silver lining on the cloud (who uses such English idioms these days anyway?!) amidst all these is that Rosabelle gets to meet her grandparents, who are happy folks seeing their sole grandchild.
Her meals over the next few days were prepared by the nanny whilst we ran our errands, though we ordered one breakfast of steamed egg for her (at RMB55, inclusive of service charge) at the hotel. I gave the hotel's F&B folks a good dressing-down as they had the audacity to charge me this much for just simple steamed egg, when the last time we ordered this on our August trip, it came with a whole bowl of bread rolls/jam and fruit platter - the latter items don't cost much, but the fact that they have inconsistent pricing for something so simple is rather unprofessional, don't you think? They were most apologetic and of course quickly brought the missing items up - if I were a 傻老外, I might have let this pass, but no.... they had to meet with me, buwahahaha....

Another priceless catch-up was when we paid a visit to Wayne's good friend whose wife had just given birth on 10 Dec last year (a day after Wayne's birthday) to a sweet baby boy, Zhao Wang Qi (Daddy's surname is Zhao, whilst Mummy's surname is Wang, so they incorporated both surnames into his name, but the joke is they usually just call him Wang Qi now, so Daddy's surname had dropped...).

That's the sleeping boy deep in slumber (and me looking so unforgivingly bedraggled and like I was the one who had just come out of confinement...), in spite of me unknowingly tickling him with my long hair whilst carrying him, heh.
Rosabelle was very excited when she saw the baby boy, going 'Eh! Eh! Eh!', and was similarly excited when she saw his crib mobile, wanting to grab at it. She tugged at the boy and his clothes and wanted to plant kisses on him, and we had to try to contain her and her excitement as she might unknowingly hurt him as she is really now a big Jie Jie. Our girl has really grown before I even know it... heh...
We only stayed awhile as their home was a distance away from our hotel and we needed to get back to put Rosabelle to bed after a bath, as well as to pack. She had alot of fun in the hotel room playing hide and seek with Daddy, who very fast ran out of places to hide. In the hotel building, there were a few shops, and one of them had window displays of headless mannequins. When Rosabelle saw them, she started calling 'Wa wa...' (Uncle/叔叔) in a very sad tone, going 'Ooooh....ooooh' as if she was very upset, seeing that her favourite 'Wa wa' had neither head nor face. Even today, when she suddenly remembers it, she will say 'Wa wa' sadly and even drooped her lips and wanted to cry just now. Haha, so sweet!

Her love for 'Wa wa' is quite obvious as on the train ride back, she will only exclaim loudly and call/play with men, and like on the trip there, she did not take her afternoon nap, aiyo! She also did not take much of the chicken/vegetable cereal with fish floss, nor sweet potato we brought along for her lunch. By the time we hopped onto a taxi at 6-plus in the evening and planned to head directly to Grandma's Kitchen for dinner, she fell into deep slumber in the taxi as I was nursing her. So, change of plans and we headed home first but she was obviously not very happy and cried when we dressed her, waking her up in the process and then got out of the taxi.

Oh well, she became wide awake and after we quickly changed her diapers, we again left to drive to Grandma's Kitchen for our dinner. You can imagine she very speedily went to sleep after we got back home after, and bathed her, as it was a rather exhausting, albeit exciting, trip to Zhengzhou for her.

I also enjoyed this trip, but would rather it not be for such irritating purposes, and I must admit it was rather tiring given the whirlwind circumstances of the trip!

Before we got going...

Remember my last post when I said we would have to make a trip to Zhengzhou to sort out Rosabelle's denounciation of Chinese citizenship issues? Wayne was trying to call the relevant authorities in Zhengzhou on Monday to see what paperwork is required, as well as the timeframe required for us to get it done, just so we could plan the trip. Turns out the number is perpetually engaged, and when he finally managed to get through, they refused to take phone enquiries and would only entertain us in person! And so, Wayne got his good friend to make a trip down and help him get the information in place. Information was sketchy and not forthcoming, so Wayne decided to make a trip down personally the next morning to see what was going on - he had applied for an exit permit on Rosabelle's behalf in Beijing before, and thought that he could do the same thing in Zhengzhou for her, and deal with the denounciation issue when we get back. Keep in mind that at this point, I had already packed for the trip. And so, I happily unpacked, thinking we did not need to go down and Daddy could settle it himself.

On Tuesday afternoon, whilst in Zhengzhou, Wayne got the information we wanted - turns out we needed to make the trip down after all as (1) her denounciation of citizenship requires 3 months turnaround time, so the only way Rosabelle could leave China for Singapore next month was to (2) get an exit permit, which requires her there as they needed to take a photo of her on the spot. #$%@$*!!! And so, I had to quickly pack again, and went out to get two first-class train tickets to Zhengzhou as no way was I going to travel alone with Rosabelle on the train, so we had to bring the nanny along as well.

Subject of our Zhengzhou trip will be for another post, but thought I'd just give an update on where we disappeared to for the last few daysas as we got back only last evening...

Some random stuff pre-Zhengzhou trip: I've been packing alot these days, as I am sorting out baby items for me to bring back to Singapore - items that Rosabelle cannot fit into already. I found this Gap knit dress I bought (that she had yet to wear) and let her don it - she was so happy being a lady that she swished the skirt around, and cried when we removed it, pulling at the skirt to indicate she wanted to wear it - hehe! Mental note to self: must let her wear this before she totally cannot fit into it - as it is, we had a hard time fitting her head through the neck hole...

So cute, huh? I like little girls with tummies sticking out like these...
Nowadays, if Rosabelle spills water onto the floor, or when she's too focused to the point that she forgets to swallow her saliva and thus drips it out, I will give her a tissue paper (or she will walk to the diaper tray to grab one herself), and then start wiping at the spot. The other day, she saw the nanny wiping her playmat, and proceeded to take her own towel to start wiping the playmat herself. Aspiration: to be a 小'石'工 (小时工) - or hourly maid - buwahaha...
In other play news, after having to spend alot of time digging bits of uncooked rice up from gaps in our floor tiles after Rosabelle was done with rice time, I decided to let her play in her bath tub instead, heh!
She was too engrossed playing to look at me for photographs...
She enjoyed pulling the spoons/shovel that I had hidden in the rice out, but I forgot that toddlers will wildly fling at/grab items, so she proceeded to grab the spoon out, complete with a spoonful of rice that went flying all over the place... -__-
She also liked pouring the rice out from the basin onto herself, which meant that we had to carefully shake her clean, and empty her sleeves/trousers, of rice after...
Verdict - time spent cleaning up the bath tub full of rice after was about the same time spent in digging up rice bits... oh well, it's kids' play, so what do you expect, huh?
These days, she knows the concept of 'back', as in putting things 'back', and will at times say 'back' when she places things where they belong, or when she wants to take another toy, she will give me the toy she's holding and say 'back', asking me to place it back for her. It's all quite nice, until she started insisting on putting bits of bread 'back' when the nanny was trying to feed her, placing the bread back nicely into the gaping piece of bread the nanny was holding... -__- again...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Vain pot

I will let the below series of pictures speak for themselves as our girl is very clearly exuberant and enjoys donning (1) her father's beanie and (2) my newly-bought scarf - to the point that she will protest if we try to take them off her (this is when she is already perspiring from the heat of the winter wear indoors...).
She will walk to the mirror and smile/grin at her pretty self, whilst patting her own face/head/neck, and looking extremely satisfied with her fashion accessories. Gosh... I really wonder where she picked up her vain streak from (*twiddle thumbs and look upwards in nonchalence*)...

In other funny news, she has learnt to pronounce '奶奶' pretty clearly, just in time for our upcoming trip home to Zhengzhou. I also like the way she says '妹妹' in a very cute voice, mimicking us as we call her '小妹妹' at times. She even learnt the Yankee Doddle 'Yee hah!' exclamation at the end of the song, doing her own rendition of a loud 'Yee hah!' when she hears it - haha!

Now that she's walking well, Wayne and I have been having loads of fun playing hide and seek with her. One of us will count with her (to develop further her counting/numerical skills) whilst the other hides - being the small house that we have, it sure is a challenge to find new places to hide! But the fun comes from having Rosabelle walk along and give puzzled looks until she can spot us, then giving her brightest, sweetest smile when she sees us...

We are, however, trying to cure her bad habit of holding things in her hands when she's walking. At times, she will hold her Etch-a-Sketch pen, or a sharp magnet, and we have to warn her against it. She has been hearing me preach about sharp knives that can poke her, and about these objects that can poke her if she's not careful and falls when walking, so she now knows how to also say 'poke'. However, yesterday, she was not careful and tripped over her own playmat when drinking from her sippy cup, causing her upper and lower lips to have slight bleeding from being cut by her teeth. Aiyo! Luckily she only cried for like one minute before we distracted her by opening the wardrobe in our room to show her the contents (she likes us to open up wardrobes/drawers for her to stare at these days).

She has also picked up many sweet and 'Awwwwww' acts, like lying on me when I am lying down and rocking together with me as we hum 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star' together at night before her bed-time. Today, when Wayne and I took a short walk with her to the supermarket in our yard, I asked Wayne to help me push my hair out of my face since my hands were full carrying her (and I was wearing gloves). A few minutes later, when she saw my hair fall onto my face, she actually also used her little fingers to help me push them away. *Cue dramatic music and mother's touched sobbing...*

Everyday, Wayne and I will go 'We don't know about other daughters, but our daughter is so cute, don't you think?' - hahaha!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In & Around

On Friday, when Wayne went to enquire about Rosabelle's visa matters* (as she needs to apply for an exit permit to get out of China, since there is no clarity about the denounciation of Chinese citizenship stinky conundrum), I brought her to Raffles City - alone. Gasp! I realized it was my first time alone with Rosabelle in a shopping centre for a long period of time - any other time would be on familiar grounds in the yard.

In any case, given that she can now toddle pretty well, we seldom bring her Quinny Buzz out, since she does not like to sit in it (must be the tight straps caused by too much thick clothing), and she likes to explore things on her own.

So off I bravely went, donning a backpack (as our usual side-sling bag is rather impractical for me to carry and still hold/carry her at the same time for a long period). On the way there as Wayne gave us a lift, she started becoming greedy and went 'nom, nom, nom', her usual way of pretending to chew if she wants to/sees people eat (she rejected the banana I offered her, so she probably wanted some other food, but I did not bring her biscuits that day). So I thought...'Ok...alone in a shopping centre, and alone feeding her in a public place...'. And later on, when we were reaching, I told Wayne 'Ok, now I also need to go to the toilet... let's see how I can manage that with Rosabelle...'.

In any case, when we got there, I was more excited than she was - it was a girls' day out, and the start of many Mummy-daughter shopping trips to come - haha! I looked around first for a snack place to cure her 'nom, nom, nom'-ing, and found Toast Box, a Singapore branch selling toast (the name gave it away, huh?). I ordered a kaya+butter toast and a warm cup of barley drink, and sat down in the (luckily) not very crowded restaurant with a sofa seat.

Bad news - they had no baby chairs, so I basically had to keep one hand on Rosabelle as she sat next to me and I fed her some bread. Deciding I did not want her to eat too much of the sweet kaya jam, I cut up the banana and left it on the same plate and fed her from there, effectively deluding my own child into thinking the banana was 'adult/foreign' food = nice food, haha!

Rosabelle was pretty obedient, sitting next to me and cruising along the sofa, until the last part where I had to hastily gobble down my food/drink when she had to get down from the sofa and start walking. When I asked the waitress to help top up her water bottle with hot water, Rosabelle even said '谢谢' on her own accord - how nice!

Next stop - toilet break. I decided I will do a quick one whilst carrying/holding her with one hand and doing erm... my miscellaneous toilet stuff with the other. Tricky business, but I was sure as hell going to have to do it - I could not possibly leave her anywhere else... until I saw the heaven-sent installation in the first cubicle I went into.

Ta-dah! Ta-dah!! Ta-dee-dah!!!
This - I'm not even sure what it's called - baby carrier in the cubicle was perfecto for mums like me! Rosabelle wasn't very keen on getting into the rather cramped seat in the first place, resisting it slightly but I pushed her in - I'd rather a sitting, crying baby than one standing around me getting her hands all over the toilet walls, or horrors, toilet bowl, right?

After some time, she seemed to enjoy her new seat (or view? ho-hum...), and even swung her legs and started tapping her fingers on the wall/door, haha!


The rest of our outing went along rather uneventfully as she walked at times, or I carried her at times - Wayne and I realize that she's a good girl when it comes to shopping. She will know/realize the out of-bounds items and mumble to herself to '不动、不动', or if she wants to touch something, she will look at the adults to see our reactions first. If we give her the go-ahead, she will use only her fingertips to touch ever so gingerly then look at us sheepishly, haha!

On Saturday, we went to Solana for some shopping around the kids' level first before we headed to Annie's next door for lunch. At Solana, she enjoyed stepping on/looking at older kids play with the interactive light pictures of flowers/fishes/soccer balls. At the beginning, she just sat on the floor and wanted to grab at the flowers, even looking up to grin/wave at the adults standing around looking at her - haha, what an attention-seeker!
This is her with her favourite animal of the moment - 猫猫...
We had a good, albeit pretty rushed (since they had a huge booking for 1:30pm and we needed to finish before then) lunch at Annie's, where she had spaghetti bolognese (she actually tried beef at home already and likes it very much), seabass, and some mashed potato and lentil soup.

For Wayne and I, the highlight of our weekend was on date night on Friday, when Wayne had craving for paella. So we took out a listings magazine, and decided on heading to Nali Patio (see? Sanlitun Village/Nali Patio is really our de facto place) to try out
Niajo, a Spanish restaurant. When we entered the cosy restaurant, I knew we hit on a right place as it was full of angmors (expats) - haha... we couldn't be wrong, huh? So we ordered lentil soup, shrimp tapas, rocket salad, and of course, the chicken paella. Top these off with our drinks of red wine for Wayne, and a sangria for me, and it was a most wonderful dinner, with great service (and free flow of hot, crusty soft bread) to boot. Yummy! It did not come cheap at RMB385 in total, and the paella wasn't really something that wonderful (maybe we preferred the version we had in Zurich), but it sure was a nice experience.

After that, we headed next door for more drinks! (Bad, bad, bad - Wayne was driving, and I'm still nursing...but well, it's Friday date night, right?)
Apothecary has had alot of great reviews, and I knew I just had to check the place out. It's nice and cosy, and we sat at the bar where the waiters/waitresses liked to make small talk with you (not to the extent that it's trying-too-hard/intrusive), and they had a daunting drinks list which was different but interesting. I settled on an egg nog (I didn't know egg nog had alcohols in it - heh!), and Wayne had a Ward Eight of whisky cocktail. I liked my drink heaps and would definitely have another round if I did not know to curb myself...hic!

The alcohol sure made me have a nice, great sleep that night!

* Turns out we need to return to Zhengzhou this week, with Rosabelle in tow. We were told, upon return from Singapore, that Rosabelle does not need to renew her two-month-validity China visa since she is considered a Chinese citizen, and just needs to apply for an exit permit upon leaving China. However, apparently, the rules have since changed (surprise, suprise - this is China!), and they cannot issue her with an exit permit as her visa has expired. Only way we can leave China now, without her incurring a hefty fine of RMB500/day for each day of expiry (!!!! I can think of unprintable swear words... if only this wasn't a family-friendly blog... !!!), is to denounce her citizenship... in Zhengzhou. So yes, it's going to be a roadtrip (coincidentally, we also made the trip home in August before returning to Singapore in September), and I'm hoping it won't be too tiring for our girl and she remains in high spirits/good health!