Sunday, May 8, 2011

Showing off her new 'do

Mummy had a new do, so of course our girl had to follow suit. Her fringe was growing to her eyelids already, and with hot weather coming, the back was getting longer, so I'd actually intended to get the snip for her over this weekend.

However, I decided Friday evening that since she didn't want to go back for dinner yet, to bring her to the hairdresser in our compound (she's been there before). However, when I called Wayne to get the number, she overheard and started crying, saying she did not want to get her hair cut. Hmmm... tricky tricky...

And so, I did my brainwashing. 'Erm, ok.... it's your own choice. We can leave the hair to grow, and it can cover your eyes, so let's just throw away all your books at home since you won't be able to read them anyway. Oh, and the hair will grow and grow and cover your mouth, so you won't be able to eat the things you like, and you will go hungry.' Silence. A few seconds of thinking, and finally, agreement! Applause all round!

I triumphantly walked to the hair salon, and she again started crying outside the shop. More brain-washing before the hair washing, and we managed to go in and take a seat without a struggle.

Then the tears fell again, so I said, 'Ok, let's go home then, let's not cut. It's your decision, but once you decide, I do not want anymore crying.', and it worked! She agreed to get the cut and immediately stopped, and for the next TWENTY minutes, she sat very still, on my lap, allowing the hairdresser to put the cloth around her (never agreed to this before), and basically just followed whatever we wanted. Bend your head down. Close your eyes. Don't move... she was such an obedient girl that I almost couldn't believe my luck! And the hairdresser of course kept heaping praises on her. Unbelievable!

And we then went home and bathed ourselves clean (I had hair all over my clothes too). And that's her with her new 'do - she's actually quite pleased with it, even though she doesn't look so here... She's actually concentrating hard on a new numbers sticker book I got back from Singapore previously and took out the other day - she was intent on pasting all 100 stickers, and was hard at work for close to 1.5 hours, right until I said she needed to go to bed. She then laid down on the sofa and said, '好累啊' - haha! I really have to give it to her for being so focused for such a long time!
The next day on Saturday, she woke up early enough for us to go for Kindermusik classes early at MOMA, and was most active and obliging in participating in all the activities. She's the oldest in the class, and acts like it, helping to keep things, switching off the lights during rest time, and knows that we have to sing the 'goodbye' song before she runs off to play with other toys or do other things (takes alot of self-control for her to not be distracted for 45 minutes, and she always does me proud!).

After class, we went downstairs to play sand with a younger boy in class.
Lunch was a Singapore affair at Lau Pa Sak with Wayne's colleagues, and when we left, Rosabelle kept saying she did not want to go home. In the car seat, she was still playing happily and before we knew it, she had fallen fast asleep - haha! We ran some errands as she slept, and when we reached our house, Wayne volunteered to stay with her as carrying ehr out would mean waking her up. She slept for about an hour and a half before coming up and taking a rest, eating some grapes, before we headed out again, heh!

At night, we went to Solana, where she sawa a trampoline open for kids, and was very attracted to it, but didn't dare to try it out. Well, next time huh...
We then went to Golden Spoon for dinner, before walking around abit more...
I'm just trying to cramp as many entries as I can now - 12 hours before I need to get ready for my first day of work, and I have so many entries left - yikes!

Mamee's Day

When I picked Rosabelle up from school on Friday (was late by 15 minutes because the driver took the wrong turn... late two days in a row because of jams and taxi drivers - luckily our girl did not cry and just hung around waiting. GULP!), she greeted me with a '妈妈,节日快乐!', heh! Must be what the teachers taught her... and she handed me this:
So sweet! Of course the teachers drew the face and the kids just crumpled paper to paste as a necklace, but it was still really awwww.... My first-ever gift from my daughter!

Mum called me today to say she got the flowers I arranged from Far East Flora for her.
We also discussed about the latest elections in Singapore - I was quite sad to hear that George Yeo got ousted. He has really done alot for the country and his constituency, and if people voted for the opposition to just get back at the PAP, sigh, it really is unfair to him. But, this is a family blog after all, so I shall not go into all the politics.

For us here, all of us headed to the chiro's this morning as we wanted to get a massage - I've been having quite a neckache and wanted to correct it before I started work. But everybody else had the same idea and we had to wait for an hour and still had no idea when it would be our turn, so we decided to just leave. Sigh!

And went for lunch at a Shanghai restaurant to celebrate Mother's Day.
It's the first time I have a shot of my new specs, and here's to all Mummies - Happy Mother's Day!

When boy meets girl

Unlike in the past where we could avoid weekend crowds, the only free times for Rosabelle are the weekends since she has school (similarly when I start work). So on days when we don’t feel like jostling with the rest of China, we chose to catch up with our good friend who used to stay in our yard – Fei Fei Gege, who shifted to Daxing, about an hour’s drive from our place.

One weekend in April, we went to his house, late, making his mum tear her hair out in exasperation having to deal with her son’s umpteenth query of when we were arriving (already started the night before). When we reached, Rosabelle was not at all shy and started helping herself to his toys. Feifei, on the other hand, actually hid shyly behind his mum as he gleed, and later sweetly took some toys out for Rosabelle to play with (which she rejected as she had her eye on others…).
This is his 8-month-old brother – looks so much like his Dad!
Rosabelle at first did not want to go out, but changed her mind as we then brought them out to the playground and watch their Daddies playing tennis.
We even bought buns and fed the ducks at the lovely lake they had in their compounds.
After having lunch outside, we actually wanted to head home but seeing that we’d spent so much time getting there and the kids were having a whale with each other, we decided to let Rosabelle nap at their place. We put the kids on the same bed and they were very excited, naturally, kicking at each other under the covers, and even sweetly holding hands! However, I’m really glad she can now sleep independently, saying she did not need ‘milk, milk’ when I asked. Wayne had to go in and sleep in between the both of them after some time when it seemed like they were more intent on playing, and they finally slept, giving us adults peace and time to catch up for 1.5 hours – clap, clap!

After that, we went out again for a walk but it was getting windy, so we made plans to head back home. It sure is nice to catch up with them, especially seeing Feifei as he’s such a lovely, good-natured, smiley child….
After that successful visit, we made plans to get together again over the recent May Day holidays, to go for a BBQ by the lakes at Shidu, a scenic spot on the outskirts of Beijing, an hour’s-plus drive away. So we got out of the house by 8am that day, and ended up driving for more than 3 hours because all the roads to Shidu were grid-locked and we had to make U-turns – even the alternative routes were jammed. Poor Feifei, sitting in his father’s 4WD, got carsick and actually vomited, no thanks to the fact that he was eating non-stop…

In the end, where did we end up? Some nameless valley with just mountains and pebbled ground (no lakes/water), but at least there were no jams/people. Oh well. At least the two young lovers were happy to be reunited after a long car ride apart…
Lunch wasn’t ready as we needed to DIY, and boy, did they bring the whole slew of things! I only provided some fruits, but they brought meats, salads, yogurts (the kids ate the ready-to-eat foods first), wasabi and ketchup, and even a small portable stove to boil water for to brew Chinese tea! That’s the foods and the guys setting up the stoves…
Whilst the kids had fun experiencing their camping tent…
and having their starters first, heh!
The netting kept out the insects from the tent but it was quite humid inside – so even though the kids played away, they liked to fiddle with the zippers and peek out. Below as taken by our dummy camera…
And as taken by their power camera…
Here, they are eating their skewers of chicken… Feifei has such a voracious appetite his mum gets worried, but seeing him eat does make me go all hungry as he really seems to enjoy his foods…
They even brought a bubble gun the kids took turns playing with – I actually forgot to pack toys, sheesh…
Rosabelle was in a dance-y mood that day and started shaking her booty.
And Feifei followed suit, but he was more intent on eating, and when Rosabelle lost her balance, he was still more concerned about his food, haha!
There, that’s the mummy of two posing with her new cap, and her second son, who was happy to be playing with their Ayi who came along.
When lunch ended, we tried to make the kids sleep but it was too hot inside that I stripped Rosabelle down to a shirt and her diapers. The kids also kept complaining there were insects inside, and once, Rosabelle even took Feifei’s pillow as a bolster, refusing to return to him as he whined and whined, haha! Though Rosabelle looked quite tired and did cooperate by lying down quietly by herself, think she got distracted by Feifei who was sitting/standing around, and by us talking outside. Wayne going in did not help either, as the ground was too bumpy for a comfortable sleep…. And so… our captives had their way and were let out of the tent, hooray! They had their fruit and biscuit snacks… (we had to pee around the hills as there were obviously no public toilets…)
The two lovelies…
When we packed up to go, it was already 4+pm and our girl slept like immediately upon being put into the carseat!
We reached their place at around 8+pm and had dinner together, but not before Rosabelle woke up crying after about two hours of sleep and I carried her onto my lap as she was taking a pee in her diaper. A big pee that overflowed through her diaper, through her pants, onto my pants, and onto the carseat. Oh dear… luckily we had a spare change of clothing. Feifei again vomited on the way back as well, but that sure didn’t affect his appetite for dinner!

It was a lovely, albeit tiring and dirty day, and I’m sure we’ll be getting again together soon – can’t wait!

What women want

So what do I get down to these days? In no particular order… (and for those who want to bore themselves as to what a woman can get up to…):

Manicures/Pedicures: Once even had it done by a male manicurist, who wasn’t very good – nails were slanted and some dead skin was not removed. Another time, I went to a salon that had the term ‘sell sandals’ listed on their services poster – I thought it was another bad case of Chinglish and asked my manicurist. She replied: ‘脉脱线' – wah! Sounds serious! Maybe they offer TCM services too? And upon clarification, she said clearly ‘卖拖鞋' – they really sell sandals to those who do not want to sit and wait for their nail polish to dry. Haha! And the same manicurist later ‘flirted’ with the guy who was giving me a foot massage… Translated transcript as follows – Lady: Come to our hostel today – I will give you a *BIG* surprise (accentuation hers). Guy: What big surprise? Lady: Come and you will know. Am sure you will be very satisfied. How do you plan to thank me? Guy: How do you want me to thank you? What needs do you have? (end of transcript). And that’s how it ended. They stopped short and probably left the bedroom talk for later when I wasn’t around. Doing my nails can be quite fun.

Facials: I even did a herbal soak once to expel wind from my body and almost fainted – it was so hot and too much for my blood circulation… but I wanted to do it as our estate stopped hot water for a week and I was sick of boiling water to bathe…

Brow fixes: I got my first-ever waxing done on my eyebrows at Benefit brow bar at Shin Kong Place! Wasn’t as painful as I thought – have a very clean look now and balanced brows – no more facial salon-quality brows, yaay!

Hair time: I permed my hair for the very first time, ever! First, I chopped it to shoulder length, then permed waves (nothing major), then highlighted reds, then had a blue-black base colour. In total, I sat there for 4.5 hours, had 5 washes of hair and spent close to RMB4,000 (SG800). See? (There was a sandstorm brewing as I was leaving the house and I immediately regretted my choice of wearing a skirt – luckily it cleared when I was done with my hair, or I would cry having the dirty winds ruffle up my new 'do…)
But I did not waste my time there – I spent 3 hours on the Internet (quite hooked on Weibo now – you can see updates on my sidebar on the right – though I wasn’t on a Web package before and was paying RMB10.24 per 1MB of info – gasp!!!), and even bought a bicycle for our girl on Taobao – clap clap! However, she doesn’t really know how to ride yet, so it’s tiring times for me as I pull her along… well, one day…
On the topic of hair, when I was on my way to fetch Rosabelle, a guy stopped me outside the train station, imploring me to give him some time to introduce his new hair salon’s services since they were located at the basement of the office tower. With time to waste before I picked her up, I went with him and he sat me down as the ‘stylist’ came over – a rather plump guy with a blown-up ‘do and overly-tight printed shirt (he looked in need of a make-over himself). And so he sat down, and started saying the following, which I rebutted, one by one by one by one… “Your hair is too long… have you considered chopping it to shoulder length?’ Erm, yes. My last haircut was 3 months ago, and that was at shoulder-length. “You should cut it even shorter, have short hair.” Erm, yes. I had a short ‘do a few years back and didn’t like it as it was too high-maintenance. “You should leave a fringe.” Erm, yes. I had a fringe awhile back and did not like the look as well. The last straw, for him, came when he said “Your dye job is too out-dated. Nobody dyes like that anymore.” Oh, really?! The whole idea is to NOT accentuate the top because… (this was where I tied my hair up in a ponytail)… the focus is on the underside, where there is a whole flap of red, and when I put my hair down to the sides, you can see the effect. He nodded his head and went ‘不错'. I had to stop myself from grinning too smugly as he suggested that I can come and use their services if I had the time. Erm, ya, maybe for the hair on my toes (if they ever grow out).

Shopping: But of course, right?! I got myself a pretty costly pair of Alain Mikli specs (Enough to pay for Lasik on one eye in Singapore! But as I am still nursing, I need to wait for another 6 months after I stop top go for surgery…). On the low-end side, I am doing quite a lot of grocery shopping at Carrefour just next to Rosabelle’s kindy (and having to crowd with the old grannies and grandpas who are queuing at the entrance from 8am to grab the best deals – sidetrack: Carrefour has Milo! I am so excited! No more lugging bags of Milo back everytime I go back to Singapore!).

Errands: I got a huge batch of photos developed (I now know to buy my albums from Taobao, it’s about a third of the price I get in stores!). Getting my diamond ring cleaned and luckily they fixed the diamond as it was coming loose…

Spring cleaning: Cleaning out drawers and and packing mine and Rosabelle’s wardrobes and shoes for summer

Eating around: Meeting friends, ex-colleagues and prospective employers (finally went to Village Café at The Opposite House for lunch – not as good as I thought!), getting bubble tea fixes, and I get to enjoy leisurely breakfasts (ordering in McDonald’s, or getting youtiao from the neighbourhood shop…). There were days I just had some ‘me’ time, eating out alone, like when I had a craving for Let’s Burger, but had to be detour to Panino Teca instead as 柳絮 was floating all over the former, to the point that it was all the food and people couldn’t eat! Or when I finally got my fix at Colibri, a cupcake place at Village North I’ve been wanting to try, and found it overpriced and over-rated – even the vanilla latte isn’t as good as Starbucks.

And most importantly, nailing my job(!): Other than discussing with my previous company, I went to two other companies, one of which wasted my time and said they have no position for someone at my high level, and the other company - I went three times on three different days to meet three different sets of people – luckily I landed the job! I went today for a meeting with my boss, so that I can get up to speed for meetings/events next week. Phew! Exciting times ahead! I went for the required work visa health checks this morning at some faraway place that cost me RMB100 (33km!) to get to – I was starving by the time I met my ex-colleagues for lunch since I had to fast the night before.

Since Wayne is at work, most times, when I am not rushing for time, I even take the MRT here – the last time I took was before I got pregnant – in early 2008! So I was quite excited to take the train again, but it’s still all very crowded, and even though I purchased a stored value card, I’m hesitant about having to squeeze with the early morning crowd. My new office is just right on top of the station, 5 stations away, so it’s all very convenient… if only I can squeeze…

Amazingly, since I came back, the only ‘together’ time I’ve had with Wayne was when he managed to sneak in a rest day on a Thursday as he was out of town the weekend before (he had so many events in April that he was OT-ing a lot). After fetching our girl to school, we went for a big breakfast at a coffee place Jamaica Blue, and then headed to the Zoo Market – yaaay! It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Tianle Market to do shopping but we were there for 4.5 hours, stopping in between for lunch, and for Wayne to help me unload some stuff in the car before I continued shopping (we each went our separate ways to speed up time). Hoho! Wayne only got some tees, socks and a leather cuff bracelet. Me? I bought 4 jackets, 5 tops (I saw exact tops for RMB40 that I got for RMB128 at another shop in town, sigh…), 2 skirts, 2 pants, 4 dresses, 1 ring, 1 leather doc holder, 2 pairs of shoes, 3 pairs of stockings… and for only RMB1,600 (about SGD350. Since Rosabelle has a lot of summer clothing courtesy of Marianne, I only bought her two pairs of shoes. After lunch, we went back and realized in the past few (at least 10?) times we have been there, we did not know they went beyond the 6th floor – they have 18 levels of shopping! And this is just ONE shopping centre – they have so many others in the area! Faint, faint, breathe, breathe… We had so many bags that as I was packing through my loot whilst waiting to fetch Rosabelle, some old ladies walked past, thinking I was selling things from the back of our car.

So yes, that’s about me, for you, for the past month or so since I got back to Beijing! And I wonder where all the time went to….

Quotable quotes

我喜欢吃幼儿园的饭。我喜欢跟小朋友一起睡觉。我要去找Sammi老师。-- Words uttered by a little girl who loves kindy (before she fell asleep).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Still on kindy...

Pardon the lack of pix again as I obviously don't take photos of her in kindy...

Miscellaneous funnies:
- 'Su Fei Meimei sleep awhile wake up, teacher say no talking, no wake up-ping’ (when probed for whether the teacher forces them to sleep, as I heard that another kindy teacher from another school threatened the kid that the mum would not fetch him if he did not go to sleep - she said the teacher will then bring them to the side and play quietly if they refuse to lie down).
- 'Come everybody sit down and listen to me’ as said to our neighbours’ kids as she pretended to sit down and read a book with the book facing out towards them, mimicking the teacher).
- Teacher related to me as they were watching an earthquake evacuation video, that she and another boy Jerry were talking to each other. Rosabelle: 哥哥你的脸怎么红了?Jerry: 我热了。Rosabelle: 哥哥热吗?Jerry: 嗯。 Rosabelle then leaned over, hugged and kissed him. Jerry: 我们看这个吧! (pointing to the TV). Haha!
- There was one day when she and another boy were wearing the same red Gap pants, so I got them to pose for me for a photo, and she actually hugged and kissed him, making him so shy.
- She pointed out another girl as her classmate, then said the girl beat her. When probed, we found out she hit the girl first and the girl retaliated…haiz!

Things/songs she has learnt:
- The English songs are basically a rehash of favourites she knows, like ‘Twinkle, twinkle’, ‘No more monkeys’, ‘Head and shoulders, knees and toes’, or new songs like ‘Two little black birds’
- Chinese songs like马兰花,五只小鸭、我是一个兵 (I have no idea about this song, but Nainai knows – and it contains elements of fighting the Japs – their school has a lot of Jap kids, am sure their parents will flip!)、太阳公公起得早、我是一个小司机、拇指歌、相思 (there was a difficult word to read in the lyrics and I asked Nainai – immediately, our girl could reply, as she had learnt the whole唐诗 before – clap clap!)、勤劳的蜘蛛、爸爸瞧,妈妈看、小猴子荡秋千 etc.
- Doing exercises and calling out ‘一、二、三、四、五、六、七、八,二、二、三、四、五、六、七、八’.
- Reciting ‘请你跟我这样做!我跟你这样做!’ as the teachers do certain actions for them to follow.
- Telling us ‘In school, 老师说‘立定!’,小朋友说‘一、二!’- I wasn’t sure of this and Nainai explained as the kids move in a line from one place to another, when the teachers want them to stop, they will shout the command and the kids shout back in tandem and stop. So cute! We had fun taking turns to pretend-play this marching and stopping around the dinner table…
- Playing/tossing/catching bean bags – each kid has to bring their own bean bags so every one has their own special one, this one lovingly handmade by Nainai, with her name sewn onto it (the plant was something the teacher wanted them to bring too, to get them to water every day and welcome Spring).

- What Easter is about, and bringing her own Easter basket and egg (I couldn’t find any non-breakable eggs to decorate, so I took her plastic dinosaur egg and cut out little rabbit pictures from magazines for her to paste on it) – however, I wasn’t very happy when I found out she ate egg chocs (especially when she was coughing), and one teacher even gave her one a few days later as reward for don’t know what (I made sure the form teacher knew of it and made it clear she should not be having anymore chocs, celebration or not…). Think the basket was too big, and thank goodness I did not give her a raw egg – she fell three times walking from our house to the car… but she loved it, holding onto it tightly when she came home from school, not wanting to let go of it even during play time.
Of course, the kindy also has certain areas for improvement, and I made sure the teachers know of them – I give them timely feedback, and make sure to document them in all the reports, making the young teachers so worried, calling me in for a meeting that very day to reassure me and rest my concerns, haha! They lost a pair of spare socks I brought for her, and once, they changed her shirt and forgot to put it into her bag. Another time, they kept forgetting to return me the medicine container, over two days. On another occasion, she came home wearing both diaper AND panty (and two pairs of pants over them), and on another day, she came home with no diaper nor panty, haiz…

When Rosabelle related to me about how Jerry was naughty and Xiaoxue Laoshi brought him to another classroom to bring him, I asked the teachers about this and they explained that it was a light smack on the butt, which his grandpa encouraged them to whenever he’s naughty. Haha, at least they know this little tell-tale will know to protect herself, as I always tell her nobody can beat you, and you also cannot beat anybody!

Also, they took at least a week to paste her name on her cubby (was still another kid’s name), and the last I checked, there was only the Chinese name (no English name). I reflected in my report to the English teacher that they should be more aware of lower and uppercases, as they wrote ‘rosie’ on her Easter basket – I said, if we teach them, we should start them young, if not at all. They could also be better in updating teachers of the syllables by providing us with the songs and lyrics at the beginning of the month.

But they are all indeed very nice and patient (when we are around, at least!), and there was once they changed her socks for her as she was walking around without shoes, and they did not want to dirty her shoes by putting dirty socks into them. So yes, they can be very detailed if they want to. And the school principal is very pleasant, remembering me as Shi Yue’s mummy after having met us for only about 3 days. They also organize parent meetings to discuss things like the school bus (not for us – too expensive and not on our route), and have the school doctor give health talks.

So ok, end of kindy posts. Over the week I shall update about other things – how I have been making use of my last free moments, what else Rosabelle has been up to, our outings…

Star C Class at Venus Kindy

To those who want to read... and read... and read...

By local standards, we are paying quite a fair bit for Rosabelle’s bilingual kindy – though we can get a discount if we pay upfront for a semester (i.e. 5 months). She gets a half-day English teacher in class, an American lady - some ‘bilingual’ kindys only provide one hour of English and charge similarly…), but importantly, I feel that she’s happy here. Over the weekends, when we get back to school (like today, after China had its 3-day holiday for Labour Day), a lot of kids cry and refuse to go to school as they are used to days of having their families around them and can’t switch into school mode so quickly. For Rosabelle? She tells us ‘I want to go to school’ over the weekends, and though she was clingy for the first few days, she learnt to just automatically walk over the hold the teachers’ hands when I send her off. When she missed school one day when she was sick, she got all gloomy and when probed, admitted it’s because she misses school, haha!

So thankfully, it is a HUGE relief for me as I can’t imagine the emotional torture of having to question whether sending her to kindy so early is the right thing. I console myself thinking that if this were in Singapore, she would have started school in January already, heh! Teacher says she participates more actively during English lessons (at least in the beginning), and loves kids, kissing/hugging them, and is much better at retraining from beating kids. They figured it being a new environment, she just wanted to protect herself and make sure that these are all friendly people first before she let down her guard (rawrrrr!). Sometimes it’s also out of affection but she just greets people a tad too roughly, heh! She even knows it’s wrong and will come to the teacher and admit her mistake.

From discussions with the teachers and their monthly feedback (which I in turn give feedback upon), the teachers say she’s a natural leader, sings loudly in class (to the point of screaming at times!), knows who are her friends (and will even ‘chope’ seats for them at meal times – Oh no, so Singaporean!), has a long attention span (of about 30 minutes, as compared to others who can only focus on one task for about 15 minutes before getting distracted), and has a strong drawing foundation. They all know that Rosabelle can relate things pretty well, or more specifically, the mother (i.e. yours truly) will clarify with the teachers if I hear of anything strange/suspicious. It’s good because kiasu/kiasi mummy can then ‘check’ on what they are doing in school, especially now she knows the teachers’ names and stop referring to them as Ayi (haha!). She also knows her friends’ names now, as opposed to ‘我不知道!' when I first asked her. Her favourite teachers differ from time to time, like Xiaoxue Laoshi who puts her to sleep, or Meng meng Laoshi who brings her to the toilet, or Sammit Laoshi who carried her to the doctor’s to apply ointment on her head when she fell from the playbed and hit the side one day).

I pick her up most days, and they don’t allow us in until 5pm as parents can get noisy waiting at the lobby, and these days, we can only fetch from outside the gate as apparently, there was another recent attack in a Chaoyang kindy, sigh… But at least they really do their checks – when Wayne picked her one day as I purposely hid in a corner, the teacher checked with the security uncle who confirmed Wayne is the father.

When I start work next week, Nainai will do the honours of fetching her, heh (that! It’s good that this kindy takes precautionary measures, like when Rosabelle fell sick over the Qing Ming weekend (just when we were raring to go to the zoo with some of the friends…), with a mysterious fever shooting up to 39.8 degrees, where I had to give her fever and cough medicine. She had red spots of her palms, nothing like HFMD (not raised), just spots maybe from the high temperatures in her body, but when I let her sleep in late and go to school late that day at 9:30am (she asked ‘where are my friends?’ when we got to the classroom), the school doctor took a look and advised me to bring her back to rest properly, and also in case the rest of the kids were infected. Oh well… that would be what I expect of other kids so that I know my girl is safe.

Only thing is when Wayne does not fetch us (business trips – that’s when our girl misses him and asks for Papa to sleep with her, and chats with him when he gets back till she falls asleep, wanting him to be around everywhere in the house with her, so sweet; or can’t drive on Tuesdays), sometimes it’s hard to take a taxi from our place to her school (and back) because with increasing oil prices, and parking charges that have increased at least two-fold, a lot of people are not driving cars, so getting a taxi is next to impossible during peak hours, not to mention when it rains at times. I’ve had to resort to taking a shuttle bus from Carrefour to just about anywhere and hop off and take a cab home. So these few times, I have a standing agreement with a ‘black cab’ driver to pick us up – he charges RMB5 more than another guy, but his car is bigger/cleaner, and he seems more reliable, heh! If it works out well, we will use him long-term for sending Rosabelle to kindy, then me to work. However, this driver does not work in the evenings and especially if we need to bring back the bedding every two weeks, lugging so many things and walking a distance, then waiting for a cab, is not funny!

There was once when there absolutely wasn’t any cab nor even black cab to take, and we took the bus! Luckily our was the second stop from the depot, so there were seats, and we took about 4 stops and got down, but walking there and carrying her for about 10 minutes to get to school sure wasn’t funny! In the end, we reached school late close to 8:40am, and along the way, she asked where we were going. When she finally saw her school, she actually shrieked and was so excited, haha! Or on another time when I quickly booked a cab when going to fetch her, as it was going to rain, or yet another time when I struck gold and as I was walking in the rain after having come down from the bus, I saw a cab and quickly stopped him, asking him to wait for me as I picked Rosabelle from school – can’t imagine walking out to look for a cab carrying so many things in that weather!

Overall, I really am quite happy with the kindy – they even organized an excursion – the whole school went to Beijing World Park on one morning, and though I packed biscuits/grapes etc for her, she did not eat them as the teachers decided the kids should not carry their heavy bags, so they brought food for them. They also use Sanyuan milk, which is reassuring, given so many new cases of milk-tainting in China these days, sigh…

Starting Kindy

At last! Some photos!

I think I’d start off with Rosabelle’s kindy adventures. See, I actually intended for her to start school in September, when she’s about three years old, but thing is, I was planning to start work (reason for urgent need to start work will come later!), and I figured I’d give her a month to settle into school before I can rest my mind and go back to being a workaholic. So when we were in Singapore, I was already calling the kindy I’d shortlisted - Venus Kindergarten (thank goodness I made my rounds before we went back for CNY), but they did not have any more places for the March intake. Oh dear… a week later, I decided to try my luck and call again – hey presto! They actually had someone who pulled her daughter out because she was crying and she thus felt her daughter was too young and not ready for school (turns out it’s our friend from Kindermusik class!). Yippee!

And so, after we got back to Beijing on 17 March, we brought Rosabelle for a medical check-up where she had to fast the night before and was most cooperative when I said she can't even have 'milk, milk time' (mandatory check-up for kids to get cleared for admission, which seems like a strict and good regulation, but they don’t even require any forms of documentation/verification at the point of check-up or admission, so any other kid can pose as her and get the clearance for good health…), then let her get back into China routine for about two weeks. She was speaking so much English when we first came back from Singapore that poor Nainai was like ‘哎呀,玥玥,奶奶都听不懂,对牛弹琴啊...', haha! I got onto Taobao and purchased some customized name/photo stickers and clothes labels for us to stick and sew onto basics like her water bottle, bag, pillows and bedding etc.
I was contemplating sewing onto all her clothes but the teacher said kids should recognize their own items – turns out one day I brought an extra pair of socks to school for the teacher to help me put into the bag, the teacher lost the pair of socks. Haiz…

I also shortlisted some sweet-looking (i.e. pink) bags for Rosabelle to choose from online, and this is what she wanted when she saw the pictures – a black cat bag. Erm, ok… not very girly-girly, and I had to confirm with her a lot of times to make sure that was what she really wanted. When the bag came, she was gushing, and it does look very nice and unique – good taste, little tot! Best of all, it’s not like oh-so-common that every other kid is carrying it – just what I wanted!
And so, after we submitted the health papers, we could bring her along for two half-day trials, all complimentary. So that parents can try out their kids to decide if they were ready for school, and pay the school fees only thereafter. Before that, I’d already done a lot of brainwashing, like how fun school was with a lot of friends and nice teachers, a lot of toys and games and books etc, and of course nice things to eat. I also told her that only teachers and kids can go inside the classroom, whilst parents can only stay outside. On March 30, I was supposed to wake her up by 7am but I think she was so excited that she woke up at 6:30am on her own accord, looking all excited about school!
When Wayne fetched us there, she did not cry a single bit, getting all excited about the books displayed at the lobby (her form teacher Miss Zhou was there), then helping herself to the toys in the classroom. She even cooperated by following the teacher to wash her hands and sitting down to eat breakfast (they provide 3 main meals and two snacks a day, and fees are the same regardless of whether we send for half or full day). However, when the classroom door closed (with me peeping from outside of course), she started crying for me, and even led the teacher to the door to indicate she wanted out. I’m the sentimental kind, the kind who can cry thinking of sentimental things, and I have been preparing myself for this day when ‘my firstborn finally goes to school’, so I hardened myself up and walked away as I heard the all too-familiar ‘Mummy….mummy…’. Gulp. I did not cry not tear, but there was certainly a lump in my throat, but I knew if I turned back to pick her up, I would have started crying too, and of course it would have made her think kindy was a scary place that Mummy does not even dare to let her be in.

So off I went… for breakfast… since I did not get to eat anything as she’d woken up earlier than planned. So I walked, and walked, and walked… the surroundings were all run-down stalls selling roadside food that I wasn’t sure I wanted to eat, and I finally took a taxi to the nearest Starbucks for my early caffeine fix, heh! Since it was the first half-day, I wanted to be around in case they needed me to pronto, pronto be back and pick her up for anything (like as if there will be anything?), so I headed back to the school and hung around for another 1.5 hours, sitting in the administrator’s office, chatting with another Japanese mummy who was also letting her girl try out for the first time that day. Any time I heard anybody crying, I pricked up my ears and had to convince myself it was not Rosabelle crying… fidgety first-time parent I guess…

I went up to the classroom, making sure that she could not see me, or she would start calling out for me again. Here are some pictures I took of the corridor and outside classroom – the teachers display the weekly syllables outside (with some horrible Chinglish, I must add…erm…), and also the children’s artwork (but they need to be more proactive in changing the artwork – the little dog she folded and drew a face on is the only thing there for the whole month!).
As the classrooms are quite big, with space for play areas, teaching/sleeping areas, and bathrooms (though she complained before that when she sat on the toilet bowl, it was painful, and I found out later the toilet seat was really cracked and they had to repair it – heh!), I peeped through the windows and saw her clothes hanging there. Oh dear. Luckily I brought a spare change of clothing – turns out she was playing with water whilst washing hands and got her clothes wet (happened on at least two other occasions till I had to remind the teacher to watch her more closely). When I stood at the door at 12pm, ready to fetch her, her megawatt smile as she ran towards me just melted me. That smile could have lifted anybody’s gloomy spirits, or any dark room. I gave her a big bear hug and saw she was wearing her Nikes, and not the Crocs slippers I got for her indoor wear. The teacher said she refused to change out of them, as she may have wanted to leave at any time. Also, they did not bring her out of the classroom for outdoor time as they wanted her to just do her own thing, reading books indoors etc, rather than cry outside.

Conclusion: She survived the first half-day of school! Me too! Though she wasn’t the most cooperative, not letting them put on bibs for her during meal times (she let them do so after a few days), and not letting teachers touch/carry her, she would still follow instructions. However, and for over the next two weeks, she had a bad habit of hitting people (all mostly unprovoked) – hitting children when they cry (maybe she found them irritating), smacking her cup onto another girl, even hitting boys bigger-sized than her. Shudder! A poor girl about 4 months younger than her got smacked till she shivered and cowered behind other kids for some time whenever my girl came by…sigh!

When I brought her home, she was happy to play at the swings, and of course spent time at the books section again, though the books are in really bad condition, I must say… When we got home, I had Nainai prepare some soup for her to drink but her eyes were already closing as she was not used to waking up so early, so she went to bed for about 3 hours that afternoon.

The next morning, she said she did not want to go to school, but did not cry not protest nor roll on the floor (as with many of the other kids, as they had all just started on March 1, and I figured it’s just as well she joined them a month later so all the crying etc would be over, at least mostly, in the class, and the teacher can pay attention to her, heh!). I just told her blankly I will give her school bag away since she did not have any more use for a school bag as she’s not going to school. That worked nicely…

I must say I am ready proud of my girl – a lot of people tell me she’s very independent and strong, and is ready for school, but I wasn’t really sure until I saw how she took everything in her stride. On the second day, she let Miss Zhou carry/kiss her, and started tearing slightly when she came out from washing her hands, to make sure I was there. When I left, she still strongly held it all in, and went with another teacher to read books (I like it that the teachers don’t bluff/coax by saying ‘Don’t cry, your mummy will be here later blah blah’ but instead distract them with meaningful activities). Maybe she was consoled in seeing the kid from our neighbourhood, Baobao, in the next class. When he came in, she gave him such a big hug, finding comfort in the familiarity, heh! (We would at times give each other lifts or take taxis together, but as his mum works, they leave much earlier than we do.)

As I had a lunch date with my ex-boss, I asked Nainai to fetch her from school and she cooperated nicely, going to bed and sleeping herself after a light lunch, saying she did not need Nainai to accompany her to sleep.

The next day, April 1, April Fool’s Day, she officially started school – full-day school with 3 main meals and 2 snacks a day, one nap time of about two hours (she would be so distracted and not sleep, but the teachers will come by and sleep next to her, asking her to just close her eyes), 9am to 5pm. Could she take it? I waited with bated breath… as I went about the first-ever free day without her! Come to think of it, I have not had a free day without her around since October 24, 2008, haha! Another post to follow about my miscellaneous escapades sans daughter…

During lunch that day, I got a call from Miss Zhou reassuring me Rosabelle did not cry, and that she found two good friends, held their hands and went to a corner to play. Later that day, another friend brought her slippers for her and asked her to sleep together. So sweet! These days, the teacher has to break them up during lessons or they will chat/gossip during class. Haha! The teacher says she’s an extrovert, and has fit in very well, not at all like a new student., taking part in all activities and telling the teacher whenever she needs to pee (I let her wear diapers for the first 3 days in case it was too stressful for her, and thereafter only wear diapers when sleeping – she has had only once accident till now, phew!), and has a voracious appetite, not at all a picky eater. She has a good concept of the day’s schedule, and in the early days, told the teacher that after dinner, Mummy will come and fetch her, heh!

These days, after her early ‘dinner’ at 4+in school, she gets another dinner at 7-nish at home, then eats fruits, and before bed, she drinks a cup of milk, so you can guess that she has nicely put on some weight since attending school, haha! she gets into bed by 9:30pm and sleeps by 10-nish, so that I can wake her up by 7:15pm. She can mostly sleep through the night nowadays, unless she is coughing, which is not unusual given that she has just started school and it’s germs/flu fiesta time… Or if she pees and soaks through the diaper and sheets…

And so I shall end abruptly as I should be spending time on the next entry to detail more about her kind adventures – ciao! (Hell, I’m not even proof-reading before I post – how’s that for desperately trying to catch up on my backlog?!)

Slowly... but surely...

Gosh, where do I begin? With Rosabelle’s kindy escapades? With my successful job search? (Thus the need to quickly clear my backlog of blog entries before I start work next Monday and bid farewell to leisurely times… gasp!) With all the various outings and miscellaneous developments that are taking place? And remember our 2-month trip back to Singapore over CNY? Gosh… I’ve been taking copious notes, both scribbled and on the computer, but if you have more than 10 pages of each, with tons of photos to match, you have reason(s) to procrastinate, no?

In any case, since Rosabelle started kindy at Venus Kindergarten last month, I have not been slacking around, unless you count meeting ex-colleagues and friends a lot of meals, more spas/manicures/facials/shopping… Time just really flies – it’s been more than 2.5 years since I last worked, and now that work time is imminent, I suddenly have a feeling of ‘Help! But I still have so many other things left to do! Where did all that time fly to?!’

So pardon me as I may ramble, or jump all over the place in my next few many entries (hopefully I will really clear them all before next week!), as it takes time to have a clear mind!