Sunday, October 31, 2010

Classes in a row!

This is a relatively backdated post (not as backdated as my last post still owing on the wrap-up of my June holiday trip in Singapore!), as I want to share a hectic week we had going to three different classes over the week…

On Tuesday, I signed her up for a demo class for
Music Together after reading raving reviews about it on Beijing Mamas Forum. I was quite excited as from the website information I gleaned, it seemed like a promising and exceptional program unlike other. It was at a private apartment (Jingda) near Chaoyang Park, so Wayne drove us there in time for our 10am session. Unlike Kindermusic, the class is for a variety of ages 0 to 4, so there were kids from a few months to more than 3 years old. It was a home set-up, very minimalist, and there were about 8 other mamas/Ayis with their kids there. During the 45-minute session, we sang/danced/finger-played a lot, and there was very little use of the stereo (except for one song) as the teacher, a local called Michelle (she picked this up in the States) led us along. She was a very warm person and I could see she took her teaching seriously, but something just did not feel right. Rosabelle did listen attentively and join in, especially when the kids had a free-for-all with all the instruments.

I don’t know, but the apartment looked somewhat gloomy (not enough kid-friendly décor?), and the folks all looked rather serious, and the air/atmosphere certainly isn’t as light as that at Kindermusic classes. The take-home package also looks all very home-made (photocopies of materials and copies of music CDs, not originals…, packed into a birthday goody bag). I guess the litmus test is when Rosabelle made little mention of the class/Michelle/the activities after that… So, I figured that since I already have her signed up for one music-related class already, I will just give this a miss – the cost is similar, but of course she does not get to enjoy the facilities like those at Familier. Unless you count the rather run-down playground in the yard area that I brought her down to play after class as a facility…

After that, I wanted to head to Jenny Lou’s to pick up some peas, but even that was closed for renovations. So telling of signs to not sign up for the class, heh…

The next day, we went for our usual Mommy & Me session at 3e, and I still have photos from last week where she was playing outside whilst waiting for class to start (since we got there early).
The facilities are indeed quite good and well-maintained, but of course she had more fun playing indoors in the classroom, and this week, we saw old faces, as well as made friends with folks we (or I) had deemed as weird previously, haha! Guess they also decided to be friendly, seeing that we’ll be a regular in the class anyway.

After that class, I brought her to Lido Square for a look-around the shops, and just as I was looking for a place for lunch, our girl was attracted to a shop she spied – just what I was looking for, the Big & Little Bookshop! I’d read about this place and was thinking it’s around the corner, so I never actively went to search for it, but wow, they were having a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ promotion for many of their English books, so I basically went crazy and let my girl entertain herself with other books as I picked (I needed to coordinate the books to make sure I got two of the same prices, so it was quite a hassle…). In the end, I ended up with about 10 books, two of which were meant for Rachel for her upcoming birthday (October 25th). I also got Rosabelle a set of 3 child-safety craft scissors which she has been having fun cutting up paper with, nice…

Happy with my loot, I had little time to look for a restaurant as it was already past one, so I made the bad mistake of going to the hotel restaurant for lunch. They advised that I take a buffet rather than spend on ala carte but I figured it would be troublesome for me to leave Rosabelle at the table to go get food, and I don’t like buffets as I am not sure if the food is fresh. So I ordered ala-carte, and had to wait about 20 minutes to get food as Rosabelle munched on, and finished up a whole cold bread roll. The borsch I ordered was really quite bad, the spaghetti with meatballs kid’s set was passable, and the salmon for me was only so-so… yikes… and it definitely wasn’t cheap! I really should have known – who orders ala-carte from hotel restaurants serving a buffet, and this restaurant was the kind that folks go for their complimentary breakfasts, so the food can’t be that good…sigh…anyway… luckily the books haul made me a happy girl that day.

Even Rosabelle loved the books, wanting to look at them in the car. I’d actually gotten ‘Moving Day’ and ‘I want my potty’ for Rachel – apt books for her situation, and let Rosabelle look at them first. Turns out she loves them so much that when I went for Mommy & Me classes this week, I went to the bookstore again and yes, bought yet MORE books!

For classes this week at 3e, Rosabelle was strangely clingy to me in the beginning, wanting me to carry/sit on my lap as she looked quite fretful, so much that I thought she was unwell. So I followed her cue and just played finger puppets or read to her, until she slowly let herself loose and was her usual self soon, more so after I offered her her favourite Yakult drink after class. We had a hectic schedule after the class ended at 11am – I’d made an appointment at 11:30am at Amcare for her vaccination, so I carried her all the way from 3e to walk towards the hospital (my arms almost broke, but I know if I let her walk at her own place, we would miss the appointment).

Once there, we saw the doctor after about 10 minutes of waiting, and the doctor declared her fit and healthy (she’s now 12.2 kg -75th percentile, and 87.5cm – 90th percentile), and reassured me that her heart murmurs were normal (like how some people walk with louder footsteps than others, she has a heart that beats with murmurs). However, she advised that if the weather is too cold or too windy, we should keep her at home as children below the age of 4 are most prone to respiratory allergies, and sometimes they have flu/cold-like symptoms that are actually allergies. She also asked that I check back with KKH to see if she already had her HIB booster, as that is not recorded in the vaccination booklet. Strange, how could I ever miss any single vaccination? So we took the Japanese Encephilitis shot that day, where our girl only cried briefly when the needle jabbed into her thigh, heh heh! (I tried calling KKH for two days in a row after to see if I could enquire about the HIB jab – no luck – their clinic was perpetually busy with nobody picking up the phone; I might have to resort to email as her next shot’s due next month for Hepatitis A booster

It was actually my first time bringing her to the doctor’s alone (previous times were with Wayne when he was not working and able to drive us there), but it was more manageable than I thought, though one of the doctors was a bit too tough and manhandled her till she fell onto the floor as she was trying to go to the other side of the hospital, the one for children’s illnesses. The doctor was actually well-meaning as there might be infectious diseases over there, and she also apologized to us when Rosabelle fell, but I thought she was too rough – thank goodness our girl did not cry.

Seeing that she was such a good girl, we went for our lunch treat at Element Fresh. Again, I had to carry her a distance as I was quite famished and did not want her to waste time dawdling around. We did not have to wait long for a table, and her colouring activity placemat/crayons kept her busy as I placed orders for a nice lunch of mushroom soup (she loved the soft breads that came with it and kept dipping them into the soup), her mushroom mac ‘n’ cheese, as well as my steak sandwich. She even stole sips of my blueberry smoothie, yummy… AND we had ice-cream with our hot apple pie after. She’s unlike most kids, rejecting the ice-cream only after a few spoonfuls, which is just as well, since I have a sweet tooth, and I don’t want her to develop one so early on!

We finished lunch quite early on (great service, by the way, I can have lunch here every week!), so that I could go to the bookshop again, and bought three books for Rachel this time, which meant that Rosabelle also had another 3 books – nice… She loved the ‘Quick as a Cricket’ book, which I did not think much of, but as I read more of it, I love the illustrations, the opposites she learns, and the feel-good factor in the book (it’s the de facto book now as she sits on my lap and drinks a warm cup of milk before brushing her teeth every night).

The next day, on Thursday, we went for our usual Kindermusic class (classes resumed last week after Yuliya came back from India, and it was quite hectic with kids running all over the place, haha), and after revisions the previous time round, she can sing the ‘Pease Porridge Song’ now (and even loves ‘Somebody’s Knockin’ on my Door’ from CD No. 2, a song that we have yet to learn in class), using the stir xylophone whenever she hears the song being played at home. That’s what I mean about the vibes I like about Kindermusic class – I can see our girl genuinely looking forward to the class and meeting her classmates (or maybe I psyche her up a lot as well), and it’s a lot of fun and feel-good in/after the class. Although we stayed on for lunch last week, I decided not to this week, which was just as well.

See, I had bread that morning, and during class, I started having a queasy stomach, so much that I had to pluck Rosabelle from class (she told me she wanted to pee after hearing I had to go to the toilet), and basically dash to the toilet, AND let her pee first before I did my thing.

I felt better after, and came back to see the ladies doing Zumba as the babies looked on, heh! Fun but most tiring! Class ended soon enough and I did not mean for her to stay around so long to play, but one thing good about Familier is that they add on new toys/books/activities every once in awhile, so that it’s refreshing for the kids. This time round, they had a new stove/kitchen set, so you can imagine Rosabelle getting busy…

I was feeling hungry in spite of my queasiness, so I ordered some popcorn chicken and a vanilla latte for myself. Bad move… first of all, they did not put in my order the first time round, so what was supposed to be a quick snack to appease my hunger pangs turned into a 20-minute wait (our girl was most happy at not having to leave, of course), and for a queasy stomach, deep-fried greasy popcorn chicken and caffeine-loaded latte are certainly NOT good companions.

When I sat down to eat, of course Rosabelle wanted to eat, and she was more attracted to the saucer of ketchup that came with it, only eating at most one popcorn chicken, which was just as well since it’s not exactly healthy anyway. That meant that I finished everything up and almost immediately, my stomach went haywire – I had to run to the toilet again (with Rosabelle clamouring to pee again as well), and I could feel my stomach churning and twisting inside as I went back into the centre.

I did not even have the energy to ask Rosabelle to hurry up and get changed – I just sat there with my jacket and boots on already, and asked the assistants to help me catch her to put on her shoes. After that, I psyched my girl up and asked her to be very obedient and help take care of me as ‘Mummy’s stomach is very painful’. She did well, kissing on and patting my stomach in the taxi, so sweet of her, and thank goodness nothing else happened throughout the journey.

When I reached home, I took some charcoal tablets and applied some nutmeg oil, but basically did not eat any foods for the rest of the afternoon save some biscuits and instant cereal. Wayne had also eaten the same bread that morning and was perfectly fine, so I put it down to my weak stomach.

We spoke too soon.

That night, he felt weak, cold and feverish as well and woke up to squat at the toilet for awhile – he woke up the next day with a 38.4 degrees fever, probably in reaction to the bread as well. Now we know that we really should not eat expired bread – it looked/tasted ok, but was two days overdue, so no more next time! Poor Wayne had to take a day off work and take medicine as well – thank goodness he (and I) recovered soon enough. It’s either it’s because he’s stronger and it took longer for the bad food to get at him, or it’s because me being me, get hungry easily and so the food metabolized really fast, too fast for me to feel sick so quickly.

Oh well… so that’s us and our hectic days of classes for our girl!

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