Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Over toilet rolls(?!)

It was very apt that in the past few Kindermusik sessions, we’ve been learning to clean/dust the house along to one of Rosabelle’s favourite songs in the CD – I got her a set of kids’ household cleaning items some time back in the series of toys from my online splurge. I know, teaching her to aspire to be a 小时工 isn’t the loftiest of aspirations, but I say get them started on housework young – before they become older and realize it’s a chore to help out around the house!

So these days, she likes to grab a brush, a broom, a mop, or all items at once, and go around the house pretending to ‘dust, dust, dust’ as she sings the song.
I also got her a concrete mixer set with nuts and bolts, as well as screws, that she can work on with the toy screwdrivers that came with it, as she seems to like the concrete mixer amongst all construction vehicles, pointing them out to me as we go along the road. So she’s been using the screwdriver a lot as well, pretending to poke it into door hinges, her high chair, her stool…

I love it, and really gush, when she does such pretend-play, but of late, at least for two days in a row, she was making me really angry, till I shouted at her to the point when my voice threatened to break. I was a parade commander in secondary school days, so I have a booming voice that can scare, but I really take my hat off her for not being scared (or maybe I use this tactic too much, sigh!).

The other night, she refused to cooperate when we were brushing teeth, grabbing at things around the sink area, using her toothbrush to place on the floor/against the sink, and basically doing anything and everything except putting the toothbrush into her mouth to brush. So I sent her out of the bathroom and slammed the door shut until she knocked on it. As I proceeded to brush her teeth, I was telling her off and still feeling quite irritated.

Maybe she was pushing the limits, but when she was done, she was supposed to go off to get her diaper/pyjamas changed, and instead ran to the room to open her cupboard and pull out her clothes onto the floor. I literally screamed at her (till Wayne had to come out from using his computer to ask me to stop the screaming) – Nainai stood behind me and told me gently that I must really tell her off as it wasn’t the first time she was doing this. I made her put the clothes back herself (of course it was messy) but made her realize how troublesome it was to place things back nicely. It seemed to work as she has not repeated this naughty act since.

Yesterday, she again made me go into a mad woman’s rage. Firstly, she again went into her bad habit of putting a honeydew in her mouth and then refusing to chew on it. We left the house for her evening walk with one soft piece of honeydew in her mouth, and when we walked downstairs and out the lobby, she still had that in her mouth, so I asked her to chew before we continued walking, but she simply refused to. So I walked into the lobby again, and she followed slowly behind. We kept up with this walking in and out for about two more rounds before I lost my patience and decided to send her up back to Nainai, with the piece of fruit still in her mouth. Nainai was washing her hair, so I was banging angrily at the door for awhile before she finally opened it. I just left the box of fruit and water bottle at the shoe sofa and told Nainai to make sure she eats it before she can play with anything.

After that, I left to go out for a walk alone to let off steam. It might not seem like a big issue, but I guess it’s all cumulative and I needed that alone time where I got myself a yam-flavored bubble tea and enjoyed some spicy dried cuttlefish snack as I walked around the small little shops within our yard area. When I got home half an hour later, she was playing and still in her going-out clothes – Nainai had made juice for her instead and probably thought I would go back to fetch her out for a walk.

As I was going to change her into her eating clothes, I was considerably less angry already and prepared her to pee on the toilet bowl when she started pulling at the toilet paper. We always tell her not to, and there were a few occasions when I would ask her to try and roll it back herself, letting her know how troublesome it is. However, maybe she was really trying to test my patience and as I dared her to, she went on to unroll almost the whole roll. I really lost it, and told her not to get off the toilet bowl until she rolled everything back.

With that, I slammed the toilet door shut and went about doing my own thing for the next two minutes. All was calm until she started crying for me, and when Nainai wanted to go in, I stopped her and let her cry for another half a minute before I went in, to see her cowering on all fours on the toilet seat. She had probably tried to get down herself, and like we always teach her to, to always get down from high levels with her buttocks facing out and legs down first. She was a good girl in that sense, remembering such safety rules even under such conditions, but obviously she got stuck as the toilet bowl had a huge gap in the middle where she could not lay her leg/foot, so she cried as she told me’玥玥下不去了...'. I screamed at her and made her promise to not unroll the toilet paper again before helping her down. I then made her stand barefooted, with no pants on, beside me as I went on to roll the whole roll of paper back.

When I was done, I sent her out for Nainai to get her changed, and she immediately went to get a piece of tissue paper first to wipe her tears/snot. I saw that the floor was wet, so figured she must have stepped into the toilet bowl, so angrily went out to pull at her foot and wipe under it, causing her to lose her balance and sit hard on the floor, crying again.

I was seriously teeming with anger at that time, over yes, silly toilet paper, and as Nainai said, it was really quite dangerous to just leave her alone in the toilet as she could have fallen from the toilet bowl whilst climbing. In retrospect, yes, but at that point, I probably wanted as much alone time as she did, to make sure I did not hit her or say anything hurtful.

After that, I went into the room and did my own thing as Nainai played with and prepared her dinner. When she came and knocked on the door much later, wanting to give me a piece torn off from her craft, I refused to take it and ignored her, making her cry again.

When she was eating dinner well later, I decided it was enough punishment/ignoring, and I was taking way too long to let off steam, and after explaining to her why I was angry, gave big hugs and kisses to make up for it. Sigh… I really hope that I don’t have to always scream at her to make her do/not do things. She does not seem scared (crying only when she was really stuck on the toilet bowl – thank goodness she did not try to tumble down herself or I will have that on my conscience forever!) and like when I was walking home angrily over the unchewed fruit, she just hung on behind – even when she saw me in the lift and was unable to open the heavy access door to come in, she did not falter/cry and just kept trying to open it, looking at me from afar but not calling out to me, for help.

I’ve got a super-resilient girl on my hand – thick-skinned, not sure if that’s a good, or a bad, thing…

Green Beijing & Old Beijing

Although we had a lot of wet weather prior, thankfully on the first day of the public holidays last Wednesday (i.e. on 22nd, the Mooncake/Lantern Festival), bright, sunny skies greeted us in the morning. Which was great, as I had planned a trip to the Beijing Botanical Gardens for us that day. Nainai’s face will break out in spots when she gets into contact with pollen, so as you can imagine, that isn’t the friendliest of place for her, so it was just Yeye and the three of us.

It wasn’t very near, and took us about 40 minutes to get there since it wasn’t a working day (thus lesser cars on the road), so I kept our girl entertained with her usual songs, fruit snack, funny faces, and getting her to practise on her bubble-blowing:
When we reached, Wayne dropped us off first to go park the car elsewhere, and I’m glad I brought a hat for Rosabelle as there were glaring rays from the sun. Entrance costs only RMB5 per person, which I find fairly reasonable, since it’s such a large garden. Whilst waiting for Wayne, we snapped some photos at the entrance where Rosabelle recognized the 脸谱 made up of different shades of leaves – nice.
After Wayne joined us, we all went in and maybe it’s the immensity of the place, but it didn’t feel as crowded as places like Chaoyang Park gets on public holidays/weekends. We found an open space to start our bubble-blowing, but as you can imagine, Rosabelle did not have much strength to blow, and could only play with those that Wayne blew out for her. However, kids being kids, she quickly became distracted by another girl holding a bubble straw (i.e. you just need to blow gently through the hole for the bubbles to appear), which was definitely easier, and thus more attractive, for her. On retrospective, I really should have gotten her an easier bubble-making/blowing device (and definitely much cheaper as well!)…
That’s her getting slightly squeamish that Wayne was aiming the bubbles at her…
After the brief bubble experience, we walked on down where we saw people posing for photos by this lake. Rosabelle wanted to imitate them and climb on down to the rocks, so I had to carry her instead.
And there she goes again… she was pretty much a good girl, walking/running around on her own instead of asking to be carried. Maybe it’s because there was an abundance of her favourite leaves and stones to pick up and inspect…
We then came to this open area where we saw a kid playing with a beach ball, so we took out our own football and got her to start kicking around. I read that kids can master an overhand throw (i.e. over their heads) at about the age of 3, so I’m glad Rosabelle is already showing signs of giving a good hurl (without the ball dropping behind her/sideways). However, there were some other kids around who obviously wanted to play with her ball – that’s when she started getting all bossy and sat on the ball to prevent others from touching it. Haiz… she then became attracted to the other girl’s beach ball, and they even exchanged balls to play for awhile, heh.
On the left is a random shot that I took with the camera facing upwards at her as she sat on the ball…
After that we heard some music coming from opposite and Rosabelle grabbed her ball to run over and stare intently…
From far, I thought they were skiers practicing their moves, but upon closer inspection, it was a bunch of trekkers doing warm-up exercises, probably to train up for their next hike. I had to physically pull Rosabelle back as she was getting too close to the instructor, who threatened to jab at her with his sticks at times since his back was facing her.
Next stop was this vast round area that reminded me of the Colosseum, haha! It looked like a nice place for a run-around, or to kick our football, but Rosabelle had other ideas – she preferred to climb up and down the steps instead, of course…
After that, the walking/climbing/kicking must have taken its toll, as our girl started getting grouchy and refused to cooperate with this mamarazzi for a shot with this nice background, so all I could get was this of her flailing her arms wildly in the air as she wanted to hit at my camera, all the time crying out ‘不要照相!', haha!
And then, when we came to this flowered archway, she was not cooperative in taking a photo, instead weirdly requesting for Yeye to carry her (he was sitting by the side smoking), so instead, I went aside by myself to pose for a photo. She saw that and came running by for me to carry her for the shot, haha – reverse psychology does work at times!
She started getting perked-up when we saw this mollusk-looking stone sculpture. I actually asked for her to sit on it for a shot, but she had a good time using the slippery surface as a mini-slope, heh!
She even pretended to sleep on it together with me…
By this time, it was already 2 pm (poor Yeye was so famished he bought and ate some instant noodles earlier), and Wayne went to fetch the car to fetch us from another entrance so that we did not have to walk all the way back. Whilst waiting, we saw a tiger exhibit (to mark the Year of the Tiger, I guess), made up entirely of plants and foliage, and it was huge. Can you spot her in the photos on the right?
Then we ventured around awhile more, as Yeye encouraged her to step onto the grass after she saw a few ladies posing on the grass for photos. Now, I don’t normally like/encourage her to step on the grass/pluck leaves as (1) I don’t like to destroy nature and (2) who knows what is lurking in/on/about the leaves/grass? However, since I saw that they don’t allow pets into the Botanical Gardens, at least I can be sure it’s free of dog poo/urine, and she seemed to have fun stomping on the grass (poor grass…).
When Wayne came, we made our way out, with me carrying Rosabelle. When I’m carrying her to a particular destination, I normally speed up, as she’s probably about 12kg now (last time we weighed her was in June), and unless we are shopping, I don’t like to dilly-dally and waste my energy in carrying the load. So I made my way quite speedily, looking on back to see if Yeye was following. He’s a big, tall man who is very healthy (plays table tennis every afternoon), so he has no problems keeping up, of course. However, when we got out and around the corner towards the car, I could not see him at all, and had to retrace my steps for the past 100m to see him following. Apparently, he got stopped by some tourist center who asked him to fill up a questionnaire for a small, complimentary amulet of sorts, which he gave to Rosabelle. So sweet of him, but at that point, I got slightly irritated that he should be trying to hurry up and follow me instead of turning away and doing his own thing then.

Anyway, we got into the car and headed for lunch at 那家盛宴 – we like the food at 那家小馆near LG Towers, and this was a sister restaurant, but a WAY more grand and expensive version. It was in a grand hall of its own a short drive from the Botanical Gardens, and there was even a parrot, a cricket in a cage, and all sorts of fishes in the big bowls. At least they kept Rosabelle occupied whilst I ordered the food from a high-tech digital menu. Yes, the menu was a small interactive touch-screen gadget hidden in a wooden-like book cover, where I could do my own ordering. It was quite tedious to go through the items like that instead of flipping the pages of a conventional menu, but as they had accompanying pictures, it was quite interesting.

By the time poor Rosabelle ate lunch, it was already 3pm as she kept saying she ‘要吃饭,玥玥饿了', heh! They served us complimentary yogurt, but I kept that for her as dessert after her kiwi. She had noodles with brinjal, and some vegetables and mushrooms from the soup we ordered. It didn’t seem enough for her and she also ate some fried rice after. The portions were all considerably small, and the bill came to RMB270 for about two adults (since Yeye did not eat much). Really pricey, and not all that superb food, but I guess the service, ambience, and nice surroundings all than made up for it!
As you can imagine, by the time we reached home and she had her nap, it was close to 5:30pm, and she slept right through till dinner time at home. Luckily I did not plan for any dinner out (even though it was Mooncake/Lantern Festival, and we did not eat any mooncakes), since the next day was Kindermusik early in the morning.

Since it was a public holiday, Wayne could drive the car and I fed our girl an egg omelet in the car as we got there with a lot of time to spare since traffic was really good that morning (it wasn’t a working day). Wayne went to get his own breakfast and shop around The Place whilst we had fun in class with hoops (pretending to wash clothes within the circle), ring bells, shake eggs, and basically jigged our hour away. At the end, when we were singing the goodbye song, Rosabelle ran away to play by the side and I encouraged her to bid her friends farewell first. She obediently went up to each and every one of the other 5 kids and waved in their faces, even grabbing and hugging one younger girl. She was rewarded with her favourite sweet breads (obviously did not want the apple that I brought for her) that was laid out as refreshments on the table, and played around the area for awhile before Wayne came to join us. We then took a short walk over to The Place, where we had lunch at Charme restaurant opposite.

I was hungry, and as all hungry women always do, ordered way too much, forgetting that the portions at this place were huge. We got a nice seat by the window, and as I was waiting for the food to arrive, Wayne brought a slightly weepy Rosabelle over – she had hit her head against some vase whilst upstairs; no biggie, but maybe she was just grouchy and said she was hungry. So she very quickly ate up the mushroom spaghetti, prawns, and vegetables concoction I’d put together from the various dishes. It was a great lunch, and she finished it off with the grapes I’d brought.

Later, to work a heavy lunch all off, we headed to The Place, where I was intent to look around to see if I could get my birthday present (nope), whilst Wayne took care of her. See cheeky her lifting up her skirt for all and sundry to peek under (I have been teaching her about her ‘nipples’ and ‘noh noh’ – our word for her privies – and tell her that apart from family members, if other people were to touch these parts, she was to say a firm ‘No! 不可以!' with a push of the hand, then run away to tell an adult).
When we got home and she had her nap, it was already close to 4pm, but she thankfully did not sleep for too long, getting up by 6:30pm for us to head out for dinner with Yeye and Nainai. I’ve been wanting to visit Qianmen for the longest time, and last year, when my family was in town in June, we actually went in the day time but my sis and I ended up accompanying our girls in the car as they slept. -_- Wayne and I had been there way back before they revamped the place, and I was looking forward to seeing the night scene.

It was a really nice walk down the street as we saw buildings of old and modern establishments/restaurants with Chinese touches (e.g. Starbucks does not have its usual signboard, but just a 星巴克咖啡 in ching-chong golden lettering against a black signboard, complete with a red ribbon in the middle – see picture in collage).
Yeye and Nainai had also been here on their last trip here together, but also in the day time. I think they also enjoyed taking in the sights.
Rosabelle was surprisingly cooperative in taking these shots that night…
As there were some interesting shops along the way, of course she also stopped to ‘window shop’…
We wanted to eat at the famous全聚德duck restaurant, and when we went in, realized that it was the fast-food version of the restaurant – the proper restaurant upstairs had stopped taking orders by 8pm (it was already slightly past 8pm by then), so we just took photos at the grand entrance leading into the restaurant, with its red ribbons and festive music.
I even grabbed some blurry self-taken shots of us, heh!
And then we parted ways with Yeye and Nainai – Yeye was too hungry to walk around and look for a proper restaurant any longer, and they spotted this Chinese snacks place that did not look like it had anything for our girl. So Wayne and I continued our journey with Rosabelle to the end of the street in search (even passed by a tram that we wanted to take after dinner, for RMB20 per adult) – we were seriously considering McDonald’s or KFC even as all other Chinese restaurants surely were not very suitable.
In the end, we ended up at the most unlikely choice – 东来顺hot pot place. We checked that they had cooked food (as we did not want steamboat) and quickly sat down to order mushrooms with vegetables, corn with mixed vegetables, and cashews with chicken. Rosabelle very quickly ate up her dinner with the accompanying rice. Luckily I brought my own plastic disposable spoon as they had no small metal spoons, only the large kinds, and soup spoons. Halfway through making her eat the prune fruit I brought (too sour, and she did not like it), she said she wanted to poop, so Wayne brought her to the toilet (a false alarm, or maybe that’s her favoured get-away excuse when she does not want to eat, heh!).

That’s her touching and saying bye-bye to the little lamb at the entrance (when I told her Wayne was eating lamb meat from the skillet, and that they killed Mary’s lamb, she opened her eyes wide and frowned, haha!).
The Chinese folks say, ‘十五的月亮十六圆', which meant that although it was the Mid-Autumn Festival the night before, the moon is roundest on the next night. That’s my round-enough face juxtaposed next to the round moon – what do you think? These just show how dirty our camera lens is - haha!
Then Rosabelle saw this signboard with some Buddha figurines, gamely posing for a photo for me. It was getting colder at night and we let her don this outer jacket which she loves these days, pulling up the hood herself and putting her hands into the pocket, walking around like a big girl, heh!
As I wanted to catch more shots of her in her deck-up, she got uncooperative and kept running away from/turning her back towards me. Whilst I snapped away, she changed directions very quickly and with her back towards me, said, ‘拍后面吧!’, even wanting to hit at me with my camera in hand. Aiyo! Maybe it’s because I used flash and it made her uncomfortable…
As we slowly walked back to re-join Yeye and Nainai, we came across the huge dolls outside the Sephora outlet, and with props in hand, she was happy to again pose for shots, heh!
Wayne does not really like Qianmen as he finds it very chaotic and with nothing much else to do, but I did like the nice walk down and taking in the Chinese sights (or maybe it is quintessentially a touristy thing?), heh!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shoot the Bags!

Last week was a enjoying holiday week of sorts in China as we celebrated the Mooncake/Lantern Festival, with Wayne Wednesday till Saturday off (official work day actually starts on Saturday, but his office nicely gave an extra day off, yippee! We headed out to Botanical Gardens and Qianmen on Wednesday, which I shall post in more detail about, but here’s a short (Gasp! Short post! From Wendy! On my blog! It’s a rarity, ain’t it?!) post, I think, about last Saturday.

We had arranged a photo shoot with Imagine Studio that morning, and Rosabelle strangely got up by 8:10am that day to nurse, and refused to go back to sleep. Yikes! Maybe we made her too excited about 叔叔和阿姨来给你照相, and she woke up much too early – I had just gotten up moments ago and was clearing up the place, getting ready her breakfast/fruits etc, and did not count on her getting more excited than me!

Oh well, and so she got up, quickly ate her egg breakfast, and played around awhile as we adults, or mainly I, pottered around to get ready for the photographer, MQ, and his assistant, Bella, to reach at 10:30am. They asked that we prepare some clothes for MQ to choose from, and this is what I’ve been busy getting ready the past few days:
I had gotten socks/hairclips/toys etc all set aside as well, so Nainai’s room was all decked out in all the apparel and equipment as we adults got changed and ready (as my parents-in-law are not so picky, they actually wore everyday clothes, and by that, I meant clothes that they wore at home for the past few days, haha! But don’t worry, it’s not pyjamas, and at least they coordinated their blacks whilst Wayne and I coordinated our baby blue colours.

When they reached on the dot, Rosabelle very cooperatively handed each of them a bottle of mineral water, whilst greeting them at the same time. She looked quite bashful at first, but was quick to warm up, especially to Bella who did a good job of chatting up to and playing with her – Rosabelle can still recount her peekaboo sessions.

I did not snap pictures, being busy enough with everything, but it was a whirlwind two hours as Rosabelle had five changes of costumes, got distracted by her own toys/stickers, counted on her snack of Yakult and 旺仔小馒头 to get her to be more cooperative (she wasn’t chuckling/smiling as much as she normally does, but thank goodness she did not cry or become cranky at any time!), and we also headed downstairs for some outdoor shots (with well-prepared me equipped with football and bubbles…).

I shall detail more once we get the photos, sharing the story behind each, but Rosabelle seemed to like MQ and Bella more than the folks from
Chocolate Box last year. I remember the last time round, we, or mainly I, was tasked with playing with and making Rosabelle laugh whilst the photographer and his assistant just stood there not doing much. The folks from Imagine seem more professional and warm in that sense, and just now, when Bella called to arrange for me to view the photos this coming Tuesday afternoon (as their studio’s in Shunyi, she is nicely making the trip down to let me see the photos instead), Rosabelle called out ‘Bella姐姐, 还有叔叔', and has been reminding/asking me about their names since that day, heh!

Just to share some very ‘ermmm…’ moments during the shoot, when our girl made the unlikeliest comments/actions: As MQ and Bella were taking the first set of photos of her on the sofa, and Rosabelle was taking time to warm up, refusing to giggle/chuckle, just giving shy smiles, she suddenly walked up to Bella at the corner of the sofa and pointed to Bella's shoes, saying, ‘阿姨穿这个', and we saw it – Bella had worn her shoes into the house, forgetting to change into the bedroom slippers we’d provided for her. Haha, that embarrassed Bella somewhat, and she hastily went to get changed first to avoid the scrutiny of our girl.

Then, as Bella was teaching her how to peek out from behind the sofa at MQ’s camera, Rosabelle picked up something from and held it up in full view of everyone – ‘头发', she said, as poor Bella was again embarrassed into taking her long hair from her and asking for a dustbin to throw it. Haha!

And then, when we were on the bed, taking shots on the pillow, she stopped mid-way to grab at the corner of the pillow and said, ‘摸角', as she usually likes. -_-

After the shoot wrapped up, we were all starving as we made our way to Ganges Restaurant at The Place for lunch since Yeye has been meaning to try some Indian food. We ordered the dishes and requested for non-spicy (I know, weird since it’s Indian food, but the waitress said we could do so), but the mushroom, potato balls, and chicken that came were still spicy, so we had to ask them to re-do the mushroom and potato as our girl started crying ‘painful’ and grabbed at her tongue even after we rinsed the mushroom in water. In the end, luckily I ordered some sweet soup of corn and lentils, as I just mixed in the rice to form some porridge and gave her the non-spicy foods. But it will be a long while before we try Indian with her again!

That afternoon, as you can imagine, she slept for quite a bit, having woken up so early and having had a tiring morning/afternoon. Yeye and Nainai think she was already extremely well-behaved during the shoot, not fussing (well, once, for awhile, when Wayne cheekily grabbed away her bowl of 旺仔小馒头), and not being afraid of strangers. I think she could have done better in terms of the bigger smiles/grins department, but she did share her funny faces, whistling, peeking, acting sad etc, heh! I am looking forward to seeing the photos – I can only choose a maximum of 35, with 25 going into a 12-inch album, as I don’t really intend to spend beyond the RMB2,565 (already more than 40% what we paid for last year’s package, and they gave us 39 photos with 26 going into the album). Let’s see how well I can practice my self-restraint…om….

That night, just Wayne and I headed out for dinner with Rosabelle, as Yeye and Nainai wanted to stay in. I chose to go to Raffles City as I really wanted to shop around for my birthday present, and considerate Wayne (he’d better be!) took care of Rosabelle as I shopped around, but I couldn’t find anything suitable, so we headed for dinner first to our usual Tai Hung, a nice Hong Kong restaurant there. We took turns to eat whilst feeding Rosabelle, and Wayne then took over so I could go shop some more, haha!

Turned out I finally got my present at the basement level! Heh, not Watson’s or the supermarket, but at the A&I shop. Now, I’ve seen this counter at Village and found the bags interesting – they are made of safety belts. I walked in, not really meaning to buy anything, least of all a bag, which I already have tons of. However, the sales person was very nice, not pushy and very warm. After I looked through the bags, I was quite undecided which to get between two very different styles, so I called Wayne to ask for his budget. I had a missed call from him – he was busy in the toilet with Rosabelle who needed to poo during dinner, so I decided to get both. If it exceeds his budget, I shall just pay for the remaining one myself, haha!

With lifetime warranty of repairs, the bags do look very durable, and this is what I ended up with – a messenger bag in a lovely shade of aquamarine (note: big enough for baby stuff!):
This is how it looks on their website, in a different colour. Apparently, you can customize the bags in a colour of your choice, but it’d of course take a few days, and I liked the colour enough. And I also got this bag, which if custom-made, needs an additional 20% fee as it’s made of different colours. It looks squished here as it’s from the cupboard, but it should be boxy and rectangular in shape, which I'm sure it'd be once I stuff all my thing inside!
After making my purchase, I quickly ran to the information counter to get free gifts of a porcelain fortune tiger and some Haibao coasters (since it was close to 10pm by then), then went back to the restaurant to show off my spoils. Luckily Wayne told me his budget was about 3x what I’d spent (oh, I should have gotten 4 more bags then…), so I thanked him for ‘selecting’ such a nice birthday pressie for me, haha!

Last week’s worth

I had written the first few paragraphs of this post in Word (VPN, you damn dirty three-letter word!!!) last week, but strangely enough, as in when Sir Murphy comes a-knocking, the word document got corrupted, and I lost that whole draft, and now have to re-write from scratch. Everybody say…. 'DRAT!'

And so here goes my summary for last week (as usual, started drafts on 19 September, and goodness knows when it will go onto my blog…), with quite a lot of on-goings, not least my birthday celebration(s) (or the lack of it?) last Saturday:

On Tuesday (14th), it was another day of Home Alone for me as Nainai had left early in the morning to go to the hospital with Yeye to get his test results (clear of all problems after his surgery last year – yaaay!), and it was a no-brainer breakfast of yogurt and cheese as I got ready to head out. I was trying to book a cab at the same time as she was getting up, and with the lousy reception at our house, I could only make out that the driver was stuck in a jam but would be on the way (though he sounded hesitant when he remarked that he would need to wait for 30 minutes till we were ready – I had specified when booking that I needed the cab only at 9:40am what…).

And so we quickly got ready to go out to Peapod Baby at Huamao Apartments just next to Shin Kong. I had read from a posting on BeijingMamas that they were offering free art/craft classes at this new edu-centre, and since I already have Rosabelle on music, I wanted her to have more structured art/craft classes, and thought she (or maybe I) could pick up something valuable from the session.

However, by the time we went out of the house, our taxi was still nowhere to be seen – he claimed he was still stuck in a jam and asked me to wait, but it was already 9:50am, and classes were starting at 10am. Luckily there was a taxi coming in and an old grandma got off, giving us a free taxi for us to hop onto (if you don’t stay at Hou Xian Dai Cheng and try to catch a cab in the mornings, you don’t know how scary it is, especially with child in tow). So as I got on, I called the ‘caught in jam’ driver and apologized that I need to forfeit the booking, and he seemed quite happy. I’m not surprised if he was lying and already have another fare in the taxi since he did not want to wait 30 minutes for me, and at the same time did not want to reject me and get a complaint/bad record since he had already accepted the booking. A.ny.way.

When we got there, it was already 10:15am, and I wasn’t really expecting much since it was in an apartment, but it was plain to see that it was a start-up with no frills. First off, no socks provided for adults (or kids) – how hygienic can it be for the kids when they sit/crawl all over adult feet stains? Then, Shannon (she is a very nice lady though, and I feel bad about being so frank, but hey, it’s my blog!) asked if I brought spare clothes for Rosabelle to get dirty. Erm…no… this is just a trial, and don’t you guys provide these kinds of things? She handed me a set of clothes belonging to her daughter Tegan (a week younger than Rosabelle) and I just draped the T-shirt (which was strangely slightly damp…) over Rosabelle’s dress. When we went into class, there was just another kid (an older boy of about 2 years 3 months) and his Taiwanese mother – they seemed to be friends of Shannon’s, so it was more like a get-together for them than anything else.

Tegan and this boy had already started on mixing flour and food colouring in their basins on their respective tables, and Rosabelle wasn’t very sure what to do with the cup of flour in her hand. Instead, she was more attracted to the basin of soap water at the side for washing up – now that’s when I got worried as the kids could have slipped on the water – there were no towels until Shannon pulled one out, nor any anti-slip mat at this makeshift wash area. After some time, I decided to take Rosabelle’s own socks off as I did not want her to get them dirty from all the ‘paint’.

Shannon offered a variety of painting tools like brushes, scrubs, spoons and what-nots, but I’m not sure I was comfortable with the lack of structure in the class. Maybe that’s the way it should be with kids – letting them do their own thing, but it was pretty costly (RMB160 per lesson) for something I can be doing in my own home (albeit under safer conditions…), and maybe at a friend’s house.

Rosabelle ended up doing some window scrubbing (just as well, as our apartment had the window cleaners hanging outside that day and she saw the man peering at her as she looked out our window, haha!), played with the window decals, and wandered around the small place – basically, anything and everything other than playing with her own basin of flour and colouring.

As class ended (or did it even start at all…), we ventured around a little – there were only two other rooms – one as their office, and another pantry where we sat around and had drinks (and Rosabelle enjoyed the dried blueberries snack), and an open space they have for maybe Kindermusik classes (as we saw and also read the familiar materials there). Shannon also offers Kindermusik classes, and although she has reduced her prices since, prices are about 15% higher than what I pay now (before my discount with Familier VIP card), and with no other facilities for us to enjoy, it would not have been justified for us to sign up at all, no matter how close this place is to home. (Sorry, Shannon, I hope you do not have to read this – you seem really nice and I wish you best in your venture but hope such constructive feedback lets you know what you are up against!)

And so we ended our affair with Peapod Baby as abruptly as we had started it.

After that, we headed next door to Shin Kong Place for a quick stroll around (their indoor playground that was open to the public now admits if you show a receipt for the day – quite good, I think…). I asked my girl if she wanted an early lunch, since she only had dried blueberries as snack, and with a positive reply, happily made our way to Crystal Jade at the top level.

Now, I’ve tried Crystal Jade countless times in Singapore, and quite like it, but in China, it really is over-priced and when it first opened, I remember going with Vanessa and Wayne with high expectations for delish dim sum, but all I can remember now is the massive bill that came with forgettable food (i.e. I can get better grub for more reasonable prices elsewhere). But hey, today was my special day with just me and my girl, so I decided to give us (me) a treat. We got seated in a nice corner and luckily there was pencil/paper (for taking orders) on the table to keep Rosabelle occupied in her high chair as I ordered our food. In retrospect, I ordered a tad too much for a woman and her girl, but hey again, it’s not everyday we come to Crystal Jade, right?

During lunch, Rosabelle was really reasonably behaved, especially after a lot of psyching where I will tell/remind her that it was just Mummy and her today, with nobody to help me, so she has to be a big girl and listen to me. She’s quite a sweet/sensible/obedient child, generally. Until she decided that she wanted to wake this little boy sleeping in a stroller up. It was my fault for pointing out to and telling her actually. See, Rosabelle has a very bad habit of purposely shouting when you ask her to be quiet. Like when I told her to be quiet as Didi in the stroller is sleeping, she turned around, shouted 'Ah! Ah! Ahhhhh!!!!!!!!’ until I felt all eyes were on me, and the poor boy woke up crying – the grandmother looked none too pleased but the mother was smiling at us.

Oh dear… The meal then thankfully went on quite uneventfully (other than the RMB168 that came at the end – 15% service charge was included as well) and she enjoyed, and even very neatly (i.e. no spills) fed herself the meat dumplings, along with mushrooms and vegetables I had cut up for her. She also enjoyed the char siew bun (actually just the bun, and not the meat, portion) and the egg tart (again, actually just the crust, not the egg, portion – she bit around it and let me eat the rest, heh!). Thinking she would also like some dessert, I let her try some of my almond paste, but she did not seem to take to it –maybe it was the gooey consistency she’s not used to. Anyway, like I said, I ordered slightly too much, so I let her at her grapes dessert (which I brought), as I proceeded to wallop up all the food (save for one char siew bun left – a woman can only take so much char siew bun at one sitting before getting quite sick of it…).

We both then made our way home, where she had a long nap and woke up, ready to head out close to 6:30pm when the rest of the kids were all already heading home. At the lift, we met her favourite older playmates Mai Dou, Wei Wei and Qi Qi ready to go home, and decided to follow them on to Mai Dou’s house to play. At his house, they played the usual stuff and had loads of fun, but how did two girls end up going home in Mai Dou’s clothes? At first, Wei Wei requested to get changed into his singlet as she was wearing a rather warm/uncomfortable tight shirt. Mai Dou refused to give Wei Wei the singlet, insisting on giving it to Rosabelle instead. He must have predicted something, because not even 15 minutes later, as Rosabelle was trying to hide his water bottle from him, with the lid open, she spilled the water all over her back and shorts as she was sitting down. So she really had to don Mai Dou’s singlet and Thomas the Train briefs, haha! That’s how she looked in her fake leopard prints – tres cute…
And her trying to figure out how to put her own pants back on later…
The next day, on Wednesday (15th), I scheduled to go for my long-overdue haircut/colour (the last one was in May – horrors!). As my hairstylist could only make it at 6pm, I left home after I nursed her (she had already slept earlier, but woke up crying saying ‘不要妞妞姐姐', and when I probed, she said that the girl pushed her – heh, must have been recollecting and having nightmares of a past incident) and thankfully went back to sleep. I left at 5:15pm to head to Workers’ Stadium area, thinking I would be in time, but hell no, I have been away from the workforce, and mad evening peak hour jams, much too long, to underestimate it. I reached only at 6:15pm, with a taxi driver who can count as one of the more memorable ones in my China life…

I managed to thankfully (or not?!) hail his cab as his previous fare, seated at the back, was getting off at the front of my block. Seeing me stand outside as he was returning her change, he asked me to sit in front. Now, I don’t normally like sitting in front with the driver, as I prefer my own privacy at the back. This was really a wrong call/decision on my part – I at first saw him dangling a lit cigarette out of the window and asked if he could put it out, which he nicely enough agreed to. Then I noticed that in the hot summer heat, he had unbuttoned his shirt to expose his whole midriff (he’s quite erm… fat). Oh well… after I asked him to head to my destination, he asked where I was from (my dang accent gave me away?), and when I said Singapore, he started singing some Zhang Di songs, saying that the singer had sung some song about Singapore after he went there.

And then he started practising his English with me. No, make that showing off. He could speak considerably well – maybe at most about 5-6 sentences, like ‘Where are you going? Would you like the taxi? Let me take you to the airport. Thank you very much.’ There were some areas when I had to ask him to repeat his heavily-accented Chinglish but kudos to him for trying so hard. However, my journey took a whole solid hour, and you can imagine my own patience wearing thin after hearing so much of such Chinglish. He seemed mighty proud of himself (rightly so?), but I sure almost cringed when perhaps in his over-zealousness, he used the back of his hand to touch mine when he was enthusiastically saying something (he did not repeat that act, so I don’t think it was all that intentional).

And then, 15 minutes into the trip, he asked if I minded if he smoked (of course!), and if I sat at the back instead, can he still smoke (of course NOT!). He proceeded to take a half-eaten apple out of the dashboard (which was in front of me) and munched on it. Now, probably to take his mind off the cigarette, he was spitting non-stop out of the window. The aircon wasn’t on, and normally I would request that taxi drivers do so, but (1) he was like spitting once every 10 seconds and (2) he was perspiring so heavily and using a towel to wipe off the sweat from his face/belly, leaving the towel on the dashboard, so much that I could smell a foul smell coming from the towel, I swear! So, in the interest of not having to put up with a sweaty towel smell throughout the journey, I kept my windows wound down as well. I almost cowered into a corner for fear of the towel swatting into me!

Maybe to take his mind off cigarettes, he also started singing, but this triggered a hacking cough (phlegm, followed by even more spitting) - *faint*. I sure was glad when the journey was over…

When I reached Tony Studio, my hairstylist Zhao Ming was working on somebody else, so I got my nails done first. I noticed that they had Lenovo laptops all over the place for customers to make free, full use of, so I even attended to my emails as I got my nails done. Nice, and so tai tai right? (Except for when I needed to use the toilet after my Olive take-out, I found the toilet bowl choked and brimming with toilet paper…ewwww…. And nobody came to clean it up even after I told them about it – I had to hold onto my pee till I reached home!) However, all these came with a price, a very very high price, for that matter. Apparently, according to the manicurist, Tony Studio had risen prices from September 1st, with highlights/colours/perms going up by an average of 30%! Also, my diamond card status (according me 25% off) that I paid RMB9,800 cash upfront for, can only be renewed if I pay RMB49,800 – yep, you read it right, close to RMB50,000, or maybe 10x the average high-end monthly salary of a white-collar worker here. Crazy much, right? Apparently, many of the stylists were calling their regulars on August 31 to quickly get down to top up their memberships, but as Zhao Ming only comes to the salon when he has customers (most of the time, he is on the road following artistes for their programmes), he missed out on that. Now, I just have to see where my remaining RMB6,000+ is going to take me.

I am usually very pleased with what Zhao Ming does for my hair, especially in the colouring. However, this trip was an exception. I spent the same amount of time I usually do (about 3.5 hours), and told him that I wanted something that I had done previously – with a base blue-black, to colour the whole inner, lower slab of hair red, so that when I let it down, the ends will be red, and when I tie it up, you can see the whole red portion clearly as well. However, after they blew dry my hair, I did not see any slabs of colouring, nor any obvious chunks at the ends. I only saw slivers of red underneath. He was previously telling the colourist to make the rest of the highlights hidden and subtle, because the back will be loud and obvious. But I did not see this effect at all. Thinking it was the lighting, I left it at that, but found it quite strange that he did not use a mirror to show me the back view (as he usually does). Or maybe because they close at 10pm and I was one of the last to leave (lesson learnt – don’t go at such hours or you won’t have time to re-do/touch up anything even if needed!). In my haste to settle the bill, which came up to close to RMB1,700 after discount, I forgot that they have a promotion for free haircuts in your birthday month. Dang… I only remembered in the car and decided that it was just my bad.

When I reached home, Rosabelle was happily playing along with Nainai. She had woken up crying and asking for me, but when Nainai reminded her that I had gone to get my hair cut (I was telling her beforehand that when she awakes, I will not be at home, to be a good girl and eat dinner well), she remembered and stopped crying, heh! Apparently, she was most cooperative, playing by herself as Nainai prepared dinner to feed her, and was on her best behavior ever. At least there were no accidents/mishaps (like the other day when she was lying on her belly on the floor and suddenly lost her balance, banging her own face on the floor and cutting her lower lip slightly), though sometimes I worry when Nainai starts speaking to her in Chinglish, like saying 蝙蝠 (bianfu) instead of ‘painful’ – she does make good attempts at English, and I must give her top marks for trying, but you can imagine my horror when I heard my girl going ‘’bianfu’ one night – I quickly corrected her!

Back to the topic of hair color, even my mother-in-law asked why I did not colour my hair, and Wayne thought the colour wasn’t all that outstanding, considering I paid premium prices for it. Sigh! I deliberated for a few days before deciding on the second day to send Zhao Ming a message telling him that in my years of letting him style my hair, this was the first time I was dissatisfied, and that the colouring did not have the effect I want, and suggested it might be a case of his staff at Gongti branch being less competent than the ones at the Xin Dong An branch he used to be with. He apologized in his SMS back to me, and said he will look into it, and though I wasn’t expecting an offer of a re-do, it would have been nice. Sigh! I just have to make sure I am even more demanding and make my displeasure heard there and then, because after you pay and leave the salon, it’s adios amigos! Oh well, at least it will give me reason to go back more quickly for my next visit (well, I need to use up the remaining value, right?).

To detract a little, still on the topic of hair, doesn’t Rosabelle’s hair look very brown here? (Angeline recently sent me this photo from her camera from the catch-up we had in June.)
Back to this post -- as I was in the taxi on the way home that night, Wayne called me to say he was picking Vanessa up. She was in town for a whirlwind (one-night only) trip to sign the lease for her new apartment, recce some kindergartens for Rachel, and maybe do 1,001 things before they come back to Beijing next month, yaaay! It was a nice and quick catch-up when she came to our house for a chat, and it made Rosabelle excited as she very nicely and sportingly sang songs for Vanessa, and even used her Hello Kitty camera to take photos of her. (She can still remember it to this day, saying 'Rachel Mei Mei, Vanessa Ayi, sit here, cheese’, as she pointed to the dining table chair Vanessa was sitting on that night.)

By the time we got Rosabelle settled into bed, it was way past 12, not ideal at all as we needed to get up and leave early for Kindermusik lessons the next day.

Surprisingly, in the morning of Thursday (16th), she woke up at 8:10am, and when I asked if it was because she was excited about class (I was reminding her the whole of the day before), she started grinning and actually danced from side to side as she was sitting on her bed. Haha! This meant that she could eat breakfast at home first, and we could leave at the same time as Wayne as he left for work. As we waited at the lift, she remarked, ‘take so long’, making us laugh, as she was mimicking me since I always comment how long the lifts take. Since our car cannot go on the road Thursdays, we took a taxi and got there with ample time to spare. Rosabelle even broke into a big grin as we got off the taxi, as she could recognize the building and that we were going for class.

It was a day of more dancing and singing where the teacher Yuliya even brought along her own daughter, and there was a new student (a British girl a day younger, and brought by the Ayi), but Rosabelle did not seem as cooperative as the last time (or maybe she had too little sleep). Maybe it’s because I overdid on the preparations/psyching up? We have the Kindermusik CD on at all times in the house now, at first because I wanted her to get acquainted with the music used during class, and she sure did get very happy and excited whenever she heard favourite tunes, singing along, grabbing the corresponding books etc. In fact, when I nurse her, she only wants Kindermusik music to be sung now, oh dear! In fact, the music has helped so much that when she is at times difficult/grouchy, I just need to break into one of her favourite songs for her to start smiling. Heh!

However, as Yuliya says, it doesn’t matter if they don’t follow/run away during class, as long as they exhibit some form of response later on, maybe at home, it is fine. It really depends on their mood, I guess. At one point, she was following Yuliya to a T, insisting that I also kneel on the floor like Yuliya when tapping my knees. Until now, she refuses to listen to any other CDs at home, promptly turning off the player when she hears something else (at least she does not cry/insist for us to play the Kindermusik CD).

After class, instead of eating the bananas I brought (not her favourite fruit these days), she was more attracted to the breads/cookies laid out – sigh, which kid wouldn’t… so I indulged her and let her feast on sweet breads, making her a very happy kid indeed! I don’t normally give her such treats, and once, when I got back from buying groceries and saw her munching on a big cookie, I was actually quite miffed that Nainai let her take it from another mummy. I quickly grabbed it away from her, saying that she will not be able to eat her fruit snack we’d prepared later. Luckily she did not go into a crying fit (in retrospect, snatching the biscuit from under her nose should have triggered a full-on tantrum and she really is a very good girl who just left it at that – thank goodness!). After that, I told Nainai that if other people were going to be pushy, she can just take the snack from them and keep it, but she has to help me stand by the rule that she is not allowed to take such sweets if she does not have her fruit first.

Whilst she was playing around after class, I enquired with the Familier staff about holding Rosabelle’s birthday party there. They have different rates for booking the room, the 1st floor, the 2nd floor, or even the whole place. With admission charges, F&B, rental fees, deco, cake and what-nots, the total bill for 10 kids and accompanying adults is about RMB2,800 (after membership discount of 20%). Gasp! I am likely to hold something at home instead, or maybe just make it a cosy family affair – let’s see how, it’s next month anyway… As we were discussing the package, Rosabelle was going around the place and playing on her own, and suddenly there was a black-out. Thank goodness for full-length windows, or it would have been pitch-black. Since we already had lunch out on Tuesday, we headed home for lunch instead.

On Friday (17th), it marked the start of rainy/wet/cold weather. We brought her to the supermarket as she carried her Snow White umbrella, and could only play at the lobby area after we reached home. Seeing that the lobby probably wasn’t as exciting as the new toys at home (especially the cash register I took out for her), she actually asked to go home, heh! Well, that’s when I dipped into my crafts box (containing odds and ends that would make a karung guni’s day), and came out with something inspired by the white kitten with blue eyes we saw the other day. As she was playing with her toys, I hastily drew a cat with blue eyes (albeit slightly over-rotund, but the whole idea was to get her to paste things onto its body, so the bigger the better).

As she loves to pull at/tear the toilet paper whilst seated on the toilet bowl (getting a lot of scolding from me), I decided to let it rip – literally – and tore some sheets of toilet paper for her to tear and paste onto the body. I explained that as the weather was cold, we needed to dress the cat up and helped her to draw glue all over the body as she proceeded to tear the toilet paper and bits of protective fruit wrapper to stick onto it. Very soon, she went on to even decorate its face, heh!
It was a very easy craft, and took me less than a minute to prepare, but it kept her occupied for awhile till lunch was ready, as we slowly adapted and I even cut out thread for her to paste as whiskers onto the cat (I first used the fasteners found on bread bags, but found they don’t stick on glue as the surfaces are too smooth).
In the end, she was very satisfied with her piece, and showed it off to all and sundry as she bragged about how she ’给猫猫穿衣服' that day.
On to other totally random things since this post is all over the place as well – she can now reply/proactively introduce herself at times, saying her name (石玥/Rosie), age (两岁/two years old), our names (女儿-石伟,卢小玲/daughter), where she stays (后现代城), and can even figure out that both Nainai and Popo are ‘grandmother’, heh! New songs include Somewhere Over the Rainbow (she was singing parts of it one night and it took me awhile to realize she was singing lines from this song!) 马兰花, and 丢手绢, a fun song that involves having the children sit in a circle whilst one of them walks behind them with a hanky in hand, and proceeds to throw it sneakily behind one of the children. The latter will quickly need to get up and chase him in a circle before the former sits in his place, or he will need to forfeit. I did not realize the song had a game attached to it, and only knew when we saw and joined in a bunch of kids playing the other day, heh!

Other cheeky/no-good antics she has been getting up to include mimicking Nainai and saying ‘你看,你看!', as the latter will always say when she does something wrong; pretending to look all sad (because it was raining one day and as you can imagine, the ledges were all very dirty, so I had to keep reminding her, albeit rather harshly, to keep her hands off them – she seemed quite down and when I remarked so, she turned out her lower lip and when she could not bear the pretence any longer, burst into a chuckle, heh!); and having a very weird habit of wanting to touch/fondle with corners of pillows, especially when nursing. Today, she took a balloon by its stick and accidentally poked her right eye with it, suddenly bursting out into a cry. For a moment, she could not open her eyes and was teary and crying, but after some rubbing, she was slightly ok (though her eye looked a tad red). Goodness – luckily it wasn’t anything major but I warned her repeatedly after that she had to be really careful when holding such sharp objects, can’t imagine if she was running with it…

However, there are times when she makes me gush and go all ‘proud Mummy moment’ with her – when Wayne was parking the car yesterday, I asked if she was ready to get down, and was surprised when she said, ‘No. Papa driving, cannot get down.’ (we always tell her that the car cannot start until she is all buckled up, and must not come out till Papa says ‘ok!’). When I was going to put on a diaper for her as we were heading out, she did not want to lie down and said ‘嘴里有apple’, then went on to lie down moments later after saying ‘嚼完了' (we always tell her never to lie down with food in her mouth). Today, she acted all Big Girl-like when a younger girl came by to play with her. Rosabelle hugged her, looked at me and asked ‘妹妹叫什么?', and then proceeded to give her cheeky faces and tease her, whilst kissing her all the time. So sweet – she even shared her balloon, and the leaves and stones she was holding, so like a Big Jiejie.

On the meals/foods front, she seems to like asparagus (can’t remember whether she tried it before), chomping on sticks of it over lunch outside the other day. She also had sardines for the first time when Yeye did not manage to buy the usual 嘎鱼 and got some sardines instead. After I searched for some recipes online, Nainai cooked it with onions/tomatos into a tasty dish and she loved it. Sardines actually have a lot of goodness in them, and I was not keen to give her canned ones (not realizing you can/should just buy your own to cook – haha!) since they are salty/have preservatives, but now she has an alternative to snow fish and salmon fish as well!

Speaking of meals, she is still a the stage where she takes an hour to eat her meals – I at times wonder if I am giving her too much (but she still eats, albeit with a lot of waiting in-between mouthfuls, and even finishes up the soups after). Thank goodness for occasional distractions like when the Boloni man came to repair our cupboard handle last week, she was watching from her high chair and even followed Nainai to say ‘谢谢叔叔。叔叔真棒!' – haha! The guy also noticed our hanging cupboard was distorted, and warned that I should not put heavy things in it (10 albums worth of Rosabelle’s photos – thus the weight), so I quickly transferred the lighter DVDs upwards instead. Can’t imagine if the whole thing comes crashing down on us – shudder!

And there you have it, a smorgasbord of randoms – did you miss me? Hahaha….

Friday, September 24, 2010

Of pressies, and no pressies…

I would have been more diligent in updating my blog if as usual, I did not meet with my VPN problems (I wrote this post on 19 Sep and goodness knows when it’s going to be up…), and if I hadn’t been busy making purchases on Taobao.com for a new batch of Rosabelle’s toys (heh – Lego, cleaning set, cash register, concrete mixer toy, panties, socks…what-nots), so the past week or so has been a time of trawling through pages and pages of different online shops (some waive courier charges if you spend a certain amount, others are adamant about charging courier prices, so I had to compare and contrast, and make sure I went through each and every item to get my money’s worth…). After getting the items, I have to check them, and give feedback if they aren’t in good condition (like one beach set that was badly made and had a lot of sharp edges). Well, hits and misses I guess but I have enough toys for Rosabelle to last her for awhile as I take them out one by one… And if I wasn’t busy sorting out wardrobes for both Rosabelle and myself to mark the change of the coming cold season (and another dedicated post for preparations of what to wear etc for our photo shoot with Imagine Studio this coming Saturday).

With so many gifts for our girl, you would think that I would be treating myself to something for my 33rd birthday last Saturday on September 18, heh! My family members kept asking me prior if I would be going out on Saturday, so I hinted very loudly in Wayne’s presence that, ‘I don’t know – let’s see what my husband has planned for me!’. Oh well, let’s just say that for a PR person, Wayne’s not much of a surprise planner, and me, with child in tow, wasn’t able to just play it by ear and see what he had planned till the last minute. And so, it was very much:


Me: Where are we going for lunch tomorrow? Shall we eat with your parents, and then go for dinner together at night?
Wayne: Oh ok, shall we go to the Village for lunch? Shall we eat at Flamme for dinner?
Me: Ok, Village – 泰和草本, and let’s go Sureno for dinner.
Wayne: Ok, then when do you want your cake delivered?
Me: After lunch at the restaurant?
Wayne: Ok, let me make the call.

And there – I basically planned my own birthday celebration(s). -_-

I was pretty much ready to forgive and forget if I saw my birthday present, or had a nice birthday greeting in the morning, but no… not being a morning person, Wayne was as usual woken up by Rosabelle waking up as I was already up and awake outside the room. When I went in, I gave big hints like, ‘Good morning Rosie baby girl, it’s mummy’s birthday today – do you want to wish Mummy a Happy Birthday?’, and our good girl, still sleepy-eyed, even gave me a kiss… so sweet. Since she was awake, as I was nursing her, I kept telling her that it was my birthday, and we were going to cut and eat a cake later. Throughout, oblivious/nonchalant Wayne kept snoring, without even greeting me Happy Birthday, right until I laid Rosabelle on the bed and told him, point-blank, ‘You didn’t even wish me Happy Birthday yet!’. Goodness gracious me…snort… think that’s what happens after 7 years of being in a relationship together, bearing him a daughter and fading into the background… so sad…

And so it began – a day basically like any other (of course, with a fattened bank account courtesy of angpow money from my dear parents, sister, and even Wayne’s parents, and sweet greetings from friends and family), except for our meals outside (we actually eat out every Saturday anyway). I was waiting for my present, but Wayne hinted that I needed to select it myself (since I was not able to think of anything I want/need at this point), oh well…

We were dressed for the onset of cold weather as it was raining the whole of Friday (we even went to the supermarket with Rosabelle holding onto her own Snow White umbrella, haha!), and temperatures dipped very quickly to about 18-19 degrees on Saturday. So just as well, we (or at least me and Rosabelle) took the chance to sort of dress up for the occasion, heh!

In the car on the way there, our girl started giving random directions, ‘走那… 从这里走… 右拐… 这里进不去...', just like she would tell taxi drivers nowadays as she mimicks us showing the way, so funny! And when we reached, we first brought her to the nice, spacious family toilet at the LG level, where she insisted on sitting in the baby seat-minder for a shot, haha!
Since it was still early, Wayne went to make a booking at the restaurant whilst we walked around the kids’ section, where Rosabelle clamoured for the whole family to see the野兽from Beauty & the Beast (as I’ve been reading to her some of these short stories). Nainai chanced upon this very cute baby, which was very soft, yet very big. Rosabelle loved it from the start and kept hugging/kissing it, refusing to let go until I reminded her that she needed to eat to have the energy to carry Baby, or else she would drop it and the Baby would start crying.
When we got to the restaurant, we placed our orders just as Wayne dealt with the cake delivery from 21cake.com, and very quickly got our food. Yeye seemed to like everything on the menu, as there is less salt/oil and no MSG at this place, even finishing up the bowl of porridge I had set aside for Rosabelle (actually told him to keep half for her, but maybe he didn’t hear and gobbled everything up, haha!). Our girl also enjoyed the chicken porridge, char siew bun, and egg tart.
Like I said, it was like any other day and birthday girl me did not get any privilege – I still fed her first before I could eat my lunch, though Nainai nicely took over after she had some to eat . A more sensible/sensitive husband would have declared me Queen for the day and let me enjoy my food in peace first, right? (And I know my grousings are just that, as my hubby doesn’t even read my blog, haha!)

And then the cake came – something with Bailey’s that I was at first afraid that Rosabelle can’t take (but it’s just a tinge). That’s me and my most precious gift of all… (Notice the rose petals on the sides? The next day, we saw some rose petals on the floor whilst out on our morning walk and our girl said, ‘Mummy, Happy Birthday to you’ as she recognized it from the birthday cake – so sweet!)
And then we went on to take a blurry family photo and one with just the three of us:
When we lit the candle and wanted to blow it, Rosabelle even had her eyes half-closed – maybe she was afraid of it exploding in her face? But she helped me sing Happy Birthday, blow and cut the cake. I was actually the only one singing Happy Birthday to myself as clueless husband at this point was intent on catching a good photograph of the two of us (and my parents-in-law, as you can imagine, aren’t the kinds to burst into song in a crowded restaurant…). *smack head on forehead*
And then again, when we each had our cake, I was automatically tasked with feeding Rosabelle the cake – i.e. I could not even enjoy my cake myself… *shake head*. Maybe some other woman/mother/wife would have flared up by now, or maybe they wouldn’t take it to heart at all, but I know I was feeling mighty irritated by that time, definitely not all ‘birthday-ey’.

Oh well… after lunch, we walked around the place abit and saw this:
The queue to lay their hands on the iPad that was launched in China just a day ago… oh dear me. Wayne actually asked if I wanted one a few days back (think it retails for RMB5,000) but I told him that I am seldom on the go, and maybe will have more use for it when I start work.

Then I went to Lenscrafters (an optical shop) to get some lens solutions, and that was when Wayne said, ‘Whilst you are there, go and pick your birthday present – get a pair of spectacles since you’ve been wanting something more suitable.’ Maybe that was being over-practical, and also very considerate, but that wasn’t what I was expecting, and I said, ‘I don’t want a pair of spectacles,’ and refused to look around the shop even after he egged me on. Gosh! So this was his present in mind for me… *speechless*.

Anyway, we hung around awhile more (whilst Rosabelle laid around awhile more), before heading home.
When we got back, I nursed her to sleep first before getting things ready for our night out (things for Rosabelle, I mean, not myself) since Nainai would be home alone with her. By the time I was done, and looking through the grocery/food list for the next day (I told you it’s a day like any other, right???), she had woken up and I nursed her again before we gave her some dragon fruit snack. As Wayne played with her and Nainai prepared dinner, I showed Rosabelle the hamper I received from Jeannie, my ex-boss in Singapore. The greeting card read ‘From the LIME @ Sing’ and I figured it had to read the ‘the LIMS’, haha… According to Jeannie, she requested for two bottles of Moet champagne along with seemingly imported crackers/sauces/chocolates, but they sent me two bottles of local red wines with a can of dried tomatios local nuts/raisins, Kraft biscuits and Ferroros instead. After her secretary followed up, they sent me two bottles of “champagnes” – carbonated apple water retailing for less than a tenth of Moets… Like I said, it’s lovely all the same, but she paid a crazy price for a lesser deal, and should try to get some form of refund back!
And so we were ready for our dinner date – a long while since we last had one as we were leaving Rosabelle with the nanny every Friday night, but since Nainai came, it wasn’t really fair for her to manage all on her own with our girl. As we were leaving, Rosabelle cried and wanted to follow us, but I quickly took the hamper and asked her to help Nainai take the items out one by one. That distracted her momentarily – enough for us to make our slip, and even though we still heard her crying as we took the lift down, I knew our girl would be ok in awhile.

And so I went with a happy heart, as it’s really been very long since I could enjoy a proper meal without worrying about using scissors to cut food up, about bibs, about fruits after meals, about wet wipes… First stop was Sureno at The Opposite House – been wanting to try this place for the longest time and we finally did!

Hmmm. I must say I was really expecting more, maybe too much, from the place. That’s me with my RMB120+15% service charge glass of dessert wine. I ordered pumpkin+scallop soup (so bland I needed to put a lot of pepper in), whilst Wayne had salad.
Next came our mains – Wayne’s cream sauce pasta (tasted quite good, though spaghetti was rather hard), and my Wagyu tenderloin (RMB298+15%) was quite yummy as well. The mashed potato we ordered was also good. But I thought the overall bill of RMB900+ wasn’t justified, as the portions weren’t exactly huge, and the food wasn’t the BEST I’ve had. Oh well…

And so we headed to the Village (again!) where I was adamant to look for a birthday present for myself, but could not find anything suitable, though I did go back into Lenscrafters and saw a pair of Oakley frames for RMB2,050 – they only had it in chocolate, but I was keen to try the black, so we ended up not buying anything as the shop assistant wasn’t exactly the most enthusiastic one around. I shall shop around over this period of time and hope my birthday present offer still holds – haha! On retrospect, Wayne, ever the unromantic and practical, knew that ever-picky me would want to select my own present, and did not want to disappoint with anything less. But still… anyway, we then headed to Union for great garlic fries and molten lava cake dessert (know the photo of the cake does not do the actual thing justice…).
We saw another table with a Caucasian man presenting the girl with an iPad, and them kissing after – might have been her birthday as well as the manager gave them two glasses of white. Being thick-skinned, we also enquired with the waiter about there being any privileges for the birthday girl and a few minutes later, one of them came by and told me my glass of Cosmo was on the house. Cheers man!

After that, we headed home to our dear girl, who was happily playing away with Nainai. According to Nainai, she was quite a good girl that night, eating her dinner well and drinking up her favourite Yakult after. She even poo-ed twice in the short span of a few hours (her bowel movements are thankfully very regular now, with at most an alternate day of not pooing). At the end of it all, it was pretty much a birthday that was a non-birthday, if not for the cake, the Happy Birthday from my girl, the kisses, the warmth of it all, the company of family…hey, isn’t that what it should really be all about? Oh well… but I am still on the look-out for my belated birthday present owing from my husband, so there!