PostHeaderIcon Bradley is TWO today!

Our little “pu tau ong” turns 2 years old today! This little baby of ours is no longer a baby. Wahhhhhhhh, goes the mummy!

Bradley is very vocal for his age. He started speaking before he was one and a half, and hasn’t stopped since – mummy’s genes for sure. All thanks to his two elder kor kors. He has jumped into the Ben10 bandwagon and can identify all the aliens when shown the picture. That reminds me that I need to take a video of that soon. He loves to immitate what his brothers do and more often than not, that will lead to arguments and/or fights amongst the three. He says, “Feng” for anything he doesn’t know the name to. Don’t ask me how “feng” came about.

At two, Brad is no push-over although he weighs much less than his brothers – think only at around 13kg, the skinniest of the lot (not mummy’s genes). He confidently puts up a fight (by screaming his head off) whenever one of his brothers (usually Brandon) attempts to take his play thing away. If unsuccessful, he will cry pitifully with his head on the floor while pointing to the crime-maker and whimpering, “Kor kor do”. Very cute at the same time.

He’s not much of a milk guzzler but can chomp down plain pieces of bread anytime. Put anything on it, the bread will get flung away. Simple little man. Loves his nappy to bits still and cannot sleep without having one in his mouth. Very soon, he will be coughing out a furball! Very recently, started to sleep with Bryan and Brandon on their beds. I have the whole king sized bed to myself now, and to celebrate, I bought new fancy bedsheets with high cotton thread count :)

Favourite cartoons are Ben10, Mickey mouse clubhouse and Thomas the Train. Loves to read. Brad will choose a book and climb on my lap, and say, “read, read”. His favourite book is “There’s a mouse in a house”. Always get him in stitches.

I’d started toilet training him this holiday season. More so to save moolahs on buying non-biodegradable nappies, than anything else. No rush. If successful, good. Else try again later.

Dear Bradley, you are truly the baby of the family. Everyone still has the habit of calling you “baby” – something which we really should stop doing less you are still called “baby” when you are 18! Fine by me but I don’t think you would find it very cool. You are generous with your instant smiles and your sweet demeanour but when you unleash your screeching screams, everyone has to cover their eyes. You are growing taller and more lanky by the day, just like your papa. We all love you to bits, even Brandon kor kor whom ocassionally enjoys kicking you. He was the first to wish you a “Happy Birthday” this morning. And you know you make Bryan kor kor’s day when he asks you whether you want to sleep with mummy or kor kor, and you always respond, “kor kor”. Happy birthday, my little baby (oops, here I go again). May you grow up to be healthy and happy.

PostHeaderIcon Bryan is FIVE!

Bryan turned 5 years old on 20 August 2011. What wonderful five years it has been. And because Bryan was our first, somehow we recall more of his milestones and what VT & I went through as first time parents. From his no-sleep days (Jazz knows all about this!!!) to the accident, to being a kor kor to not one, but TWO di-dis. Bryan is a wonderful brother. He is quick to protect them when we are away from home and proudly introduces his brothers to anyone we meet, including broadcasting of their full names. Of course it’s a different story at home. Like any other boys, the fights revolve around toys. But they know that they have to share and take turns. It gets better everyday.

The first thing everyone comments on when they see him, is how big Bryan is physically. Yup, this boy of mine enjoys food and milk and anything consumable – including medicine! He has the potential to be a Jamie Oliver/Anthony Bourdain me thinks. He enjoys helping me bake as well and has mastered the art of breaking eggs without any shells falling in. Bryan’s weight stands at 28kg today and 1.22 metres tall.

At 5, Bryan has a bit of a photographic memory. He remembers images and visuals very well (typical male) and as such, is able to rattle off the 200+ chinese characters that he’d learned from school. His teacher was surprised and assumed that he was rote learning so she tested him by pointing at characters randomly and not in the usual order the kids were taught in. He got them all correct. I hope this trait continues so that he can cope effortlessly in the chinese K2 stream next year, and primary school the year after.

Bryan is a true gentleman. At his birthday party, when the music stopped during a round of musical chair, instead of rushing for a seat, he kindly offered a little girl, the seat. Best thing was that the little girl was not even in the game in the first instance! I am proud to have such a compassionate little boy. He is also the first to comfort me when I am sick or in pain, and also the first to share hugs and kisses when I am home from work.

He is still loving his milk bottle. He was supposed to quit drinking milk from the bottle when he turned 5, but on his birthday, he declared that he will quit only when he was FIFTY! ho ho ho!! I’m easy and won’t push it till he is ready. No crime done. Let him indulge. Have you seen an 18 year old drinking from a milk bottle? Same with sleeping without diapers. I’m getting desparate only because he is out-growing the XXL MamyPoko pants. I guess my next step is adult diapers. We tried a couple of nights but he kept wetting the bed. Again, no rush. When he is ready.

Bryan, Mummy & Papa, Brandon and Bradley love you to bits. Yes, even Brandon. Every day after we drop you off at school, Brandon says, “I miss kor kor”. So he really does enjoy your company even though he fights with you. Do remember how much fun you both have when acting out the Ben10 aliens or the times you both cycle around the house while ringing the bells. And the cozyness and the warmth of sleeping next to each other. Bradley is still small – that is why he gets to sleep with me on my bed. Rest assured, Brad will be joining you and Brandon soon on your beds! Happy 5th birthday, my dear boy. You are a very good tai cai, and we couldn’t be more proud to call you our son.

PostHeaderIcon Annual Grandchildrens’ Day

My parents make it a point to host this every year. What is the “Annual Grandchildrens’ Day”? The objective is simple: for the immediate family to get together and to let the kids (and their parents alike) have nothing but fun. I guess my parents want their grandkids (6 in total, for now) to have happy memories of them, very much like I did with my paternal grandparents. I never met my maternal side as they passed away even before my mum was married. Anyway, I digress.

The day started with a super-duper home made and “secret recipe” dish that my parents whipped up – Lam Mee. Their version is nothing like the ones you find sold. Three days prior, the soup was boiled with crabs and prawns and chunks of pork ribs and bones. My mum will also make her potent sambal belacan (this time, it took 67 red chillies to produce 4 small bottles) to go with it. I can also smell the soup and taste the sambal again now! Of course the kids stayed clear of the spicy stuff but enjoyed the noodles and soup never theless.

Once tummies were filled and rested, we started on what else but water play (more like water fight)! Two huge wading pools were set up and in less than 30 seconds, all the adults were drenched as well. We attacked each other mercilessly with powerful water guns, water hoses and even buckets. The kids also joined in the fun – except for Bradley who was grumbling when water was splashed onto his face. It was pure sight and sound – adults yelling and laughing coupled with kids fighting for the biggest water gun!

Two hours and wrinkled skin later, the adults indulged in sweet Pakistani mangos while the kids indulged in JUNK FOOD. You read me right – my mum bought a whole lot of different types of chips and snacks. Oh boy, all the kids looked like they found gold. What is life if we cannot indulge once in a while, correct?

Both kids and adults had fun and it was indeed, a very memorable day. Bryan asked whether we were going to do it again every week? Dream on, boy…..

PostHeaderIcon Ho Chi Minh City – of food and souvenir

I had only managed to experience HCMC from the food and souvenir angle. I am here to deliver my piece (or should I say, peace??) for a 5-day course on banking. I spend 12 hours in Hotel Majestic, 9 hours sleeping and the rest either eating or buying souvenir.

First on the souvenir. My current workplace has an annoying habit – anyone who goes out of KL, mind you not just overseas including cuti-cuti Malaysia, returns with souvenirs for colleagues. I work in a team of 45. That’s a heck lot of souvenir to buy and to carry home. But alas, I have to conform. Afterall, I’m still a newbie. So from this trip, I’d managed to get a great deal to buy 50 pieces of hand-painted bamboo screen bookmarks. Light and doesn’t consume too much space. Bliss.

For my mum, I went hunting for the fried lotus seeds. I googled for it and armed with the address translated into Vietnamese, I walked. And walked and walked. Finally, after asking a few friendly local folks, I found the shop. Also managed to buy a few packets of lotus tea for Dad (and self – I love the fragrance!) and their famous “G7″ brand of coffee. Mission accomplished on Day 2, bearing in mind that I could only do all the shopping after the course ended at 630pm.

To my next (favourite) topic: FOOD.

Oh, where do I even start?

On the day I’d arrived, the organiser brought me to a Viet-Sino restaurant called “Kim bo”, which featured cantonese speaking waitresses, something very uncommon considering there is only 7% of Chinese in Vietnam, and tasty seafood. I was feted on every possible kind of seafood cooked in every possible way. I swear all the food became a bit of a blur after the 10th dish.

I was set on trying a French restaurant that was highly-rated in Tripadvisor. If you ever used this website for reviews (typically of hotels & restaurants), you will know that when it came to restaurant reviews, usually some people had good reviews, whilst others had bad reviews. This particular restaurant had PERFECT reviews by every single one. Die-die also must try, right? So off I went, again armed with the address translated into Vietnamese, but this time I had to take a cab. I’ve been forewarned by reviewers that the restaurant is away from the CBD and nestled in a residential neighbourhood. After driving around for 20mins, even the cabbie surrendered and stopped to ask for directions. Soon after, he found the place – a colonial style bungalow with a pool outside. Hence the restaurant is aptly named “La Villa“. The owner and chef, Thierry Mounon was on hand to personally greet. After settling down, he re-appeared to walk me through every single line of the menu. And the menu was 4 pages long! I opted for a 5-course meal whereby for a fixed price of USD50, I could choose anything from their menu: a starter (I chose, foie gras), 2 mains (grilled halibut; pan roasted lamb loin), cheese platter and dessert (apple tart with caramel ice cream). While you would think that it was all over after the dessert, they served home-made limoncello (it was too strong so I didn’t drink all of it) and a selection of freshly baked madeleines. Needless to say, after all that food, I asked Monsieur Thierry whether he had a wheelbarrow to take me into the cab. I barely managed to walk a straight line out of the restaurant. Food was excellent, service was impeccable and Monsieur Thierry made me feel right at home, even though I was dining solo in my cargo pants, tee and flats, and surrounded by lovey-dovey couples. After this experience, I attest 100% to the reviews posted.

When I wasn’t out eating, I was in the hotel (I stayed in The Majestic, which was established in 1925) eating. For breakfast, they had the usual american buffet spread but I consistently kept going back for pho bo – what else but the trademark vietnamese beef noodles. I just couldn’t get enough of the beef flank and homemade beef balls, and slurping up every drop of the tangy (because I squeezed in lots of lime juice) hot soup. For lunch, we were served 8-courses every single day. As a result, most participants were groggy during my afternoon sessions. How can I blame them when I myself, even standing up to talk, was wishing I could hit the sack?

I came home 2kg or so heavier. But very much happier.

PostHeaderIcon Quick Snippets of Ho Chi Minh City

The airport is less than 4 years old. Fairly modern but under-utilised.

Traffic is scary (but way less scary than it is in Hanoi as there are fewer motorbikes in HCMC). Traffic rules are not necessarily obeyed. To cross the road (don’t forget they are left hand drives), walk slowly and in a straight line. The vehicles will avoid you. DO NOT run, make sudden movements or worst of all, STOP in the middle of the road! If you are scared, either follow a local closely behind or be like me, say a prayer, close your eyes and walk across.

There is Gloria Jeans coffee, Buds ice-cream, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos Pizza, Carls’ Jr, but no McDonalds.

There is Gucci, Louis Vuitton and even Chanel.

There’s a Parkson. And I saw Room Eighteen – the casual dining place belonging to the Tai Thong group of restaurants.

HCMC is slowly losing it character as it develops into a cosmopolitan city. No fun there. If you want charm and personality, Hanoi is still the place to go.

Bargaining is a must. Slash everything by two-thirds. However, I am not a hard bargainer and I am not good at it. So I offer what I feel it is worth. I just bought a medium-sized bunch of sweet lychees (according to her weighing scale, it was 2kg but I really doubt it. Plus she weighed the branches and leaves too) from a street peddler for USD1.50. She looked so happy that I know I must have been ripped off. But how to haggle down USD1.50? Give chance lah.

Use only reliable cab companies such as Vinasun and Mai Linh. There are many imposers who are out to swindle tourists. Even their company names are similar eg Vinason or Mei Linh. The current climb-on start rate is at VND10,000 (or USD0.50). A course participant ended up paying USD38 for a 10min cab ride. I paid USD5 for a 20min ride.

No sight-seeing advice as I did not do any. Unless you consider eating a form of sight-seeing. Stay tuned for that.

PostHeaderIcon Brandon is THREE!

Our 2nd (middle) child, Brandon officially turns 3 years of age today. And how quickly the past 3 years have gone. It seemed like only very recently we celebrated his 2nd birthday at Marco’s Pizza @ Bangsar Village. The restaurant closed shortly  thereafter. But I digress.

This year, we had our family gathering at TGIF @ 1U. A few of you would had seen my attempt at decorating a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cake on Facebook. As unprofessional as it looked, Brandon was very happy with the end product so I was happy that I’d spent more than 5 hours on baking the chocolate cake and icing it – all after the kids had slept at night. The lunchtime celebration was fun as all the cousins got together and had a blast.

Tonight, we are having a simple dinner of roast duck (the birthday boy’s favourite food – he’s a real carnivour, I tell you) followed by another round of cake-cutting. I will have to get a smallish cake from the bakery on my way home tonight. When I wished him happy birthday this morning, he innocently asked, “Why me so many birthdays?” LOL

And yes, he still confuses between “I” and “my”, replacing both with “me”. Work in Progress.

Brandon is adorable in every way. He is perpetually up to antics to get my heart racing and head throbbing. But as clever as he is, he is quick to win me back with his smile and “sorrys”. This boy is going to give me years of heartache, I bet!

Physically, he is growing up well. At 20+kg now with a healthy appetite for food especially chocolates! He is a true chocolate junkie like his father. He has no problems eating vegetables as long as I remind him that all super heroes eat vegetables. Somehow, it doesn’t work on fruits. He willingly consumes bananas and golden kiwi only, finds durians totally repulsive.

And of course he continues to love his milk from the bottle, coupled with his love of his life – the fleece blanket.

Brandon recites and recognises all the aliens from Ben10, but cannot identify colours, numbers nor alphabets. Navigates my SIL’s iPad like a pro so guess where his interest is in?

Oh, Brandon, everyone loves you so much. You make my blood boil every day but at the same time, I try not to laugh at all the things you try to nonchalantly pull off, like kicking your little brother when you walk by him. Yes, I know you are an attention seeker. I give you every ounce of energy that I have left after work every day and 24/7 on weekends. You are such a darling. Happy birthday, my little one. Wishing you many many more happy years ahead of you. 

PostHeaderIcon The Kids’ First Experience at the Movies

Yesterday marked a milestone. For me, rather than the kids. I never imagined bringing my kids to the cinema to watch a movie. EVER. So many ifs:

- what happens if one starts to cry when the lights are dimmed

- what happens if one starts walking up and down the aisle

- what happens if one starts talking loudly

- what happens if they even refused to step into the darkened confined space

- what happens if they needed to poo/pee/vomit (I don’t know from what)

And the list goes on.

Bryan’s kindy offered all K1 students 3 complimentary tickets to watch “Mr Popper’s Penguin”. Bryan has been talking about it for the last couple of days so how am I to refuse. Initially, I was a bit apprehensive about sneaking in 3 kids and 2 adults with only 3 tickets, but later threw caution to the wind. So off we marched, with my 3 kids and maid in tow, to Cathay @ eCurve to catch the movie at 11am. We met lots of his friends there and I knew at that point, that we were going to be fine. I bought us some popcorn and we were seated by 1045am.

The kids were already having a gala time watching advertisements on the huge screen, chomping on popcorn and other snacks that I had brought along to keep them occupied. When the movie started, they started clapping their hands. No thanks to their mother, they reacted like country bumpkins! None theless, the kids survived a full 2 hours in the cinema and kudos to them as it was a Jim Carrey movie with snippets of penguins here and there, hence really, it was an (young) adult-oriented movie with the usual tongue-in-cheek conversations. Unfortunately for me (and the maid who was engrossed reading the Malay subtitles), the kids wanted OUT 15 minutes before the show ended. So I’d missed the best part of any show – the ending. I googled for it later.

Overall, it was an extremely pleasant experience. Some “ifs” were unfounded while some did:

- Brandon needed to poo (over-snacking) halfway through

- Bradley walked up and down the aisle, but so did the older kids

- Bryan laughed and talked loudly, and kicked the seat in front of him (only once; stopped after getting a stern stare for me)

Who’s up for the next animated movie????

PostHeaderIcon School Holidays June 2011

It’s almost over now. I feel that I have to pen down what happened during Bryan’s 2 week school holidays for my own records. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much. I cannot take leave since I’m still new in this job hence I only planned activities for the weekends.

On the first weekend, I lured my PILs to go with us to Aquaria KLCC. It was the first time for the kids and myself. Conclusion: very expensive with little to see. People tell me that the excitement comes during the feedings times but heck, with 3 impatient kids in tow, I wasn’t going to stick around for the next hour in the claustrophobic enclosure. The only memorable experience was to see the giant sting ray swimming above us in that glass enclosure with the travelator. Don’t know what that area is called, and too busy to google for the exact name.

We proceeded to have an early lunch at KLCC where Brandon had a tantrum, resulting in me storming out of the mall (with the kids also lah) and threatening no more “kai kai” from now onwards.

Of course, all wrongs are quickly forgotten with a couple of hugs and kisses. On Sunday, I had wanted to take them on a LRT ride but when it threatened to rain, I called off the plan. Maybe we will do that this weekend.

Doesn’t seem like much, but over the past couple of weekends, we spent a lot of time at home, just bonding. Be it via reading togeter (for a grand 3 minutes), painting in the porch, or just goofing around on my bed. I feel blessed for those moments. I read in the recent Reader’s Digest (while I was on the toilet throne) about a father’s journey into parenthood, and an advice for the rest of us, was to enjoy moments when your child’s universe is very small, the parent is the globe and the child circles on the orb around the globe.


PostHeaderIcon Bryan’s 1st Term Progress

The first thing I asked his class teacher when I sat down was, “How is his socialising skills?”. This is because I’d noticed that he is usually very quiet in school, despite the chatterbox that he is at home, and he will just stand by the side to observe his classmates playing.

The teacher confirmed that he is happy to sit on his own and do his own thing – reading, playing with the puzzles, and more often that not – daydreaming!!

Looks like he is a Mr Jackle and Hyde in the making.

Anyway, he enjoys going to school (everyday, he tells me how much he enjoyed his schooling day) and particularly, he enjoys the extra Mandarin class that he attends at the kindy. I’m proud that Bryan can recognise at least 100 characters (that’s like 80 more than I can!) and can write about 20 without making any reference. He’s progressing well in BM as well (not like I REALLY care for that much!!), so looks like he may have a knack for languages. Something which I never had.

I am just happy that he is enjoying school. The teacher was surprised that I didn’t asked questions about his academic progress because all my questions were geared towards his moral and social skills, like-

- does he listen and respond?

- is he confident in voicing his opinions?

- does he offer to clean up after break time?

- does he offer help to his classmates?

- does he protect his friends if they are being bullied? (afterall, he is the tallest and biggest kid in his year)

VALUES, VALUES, VALUES – once you get that right, everything else will fall into place. Even if it doesn’t, I hope there will be at least one more kind-hearted, honest person in this world. Then, my duty of a parent is done. Amen.

PostHeaderIcon Blog Break

In addition to being terribly busy with the boys (sans VT) and with the new job (which is extremely challenging but fun in its own way!), I’m also clueless as to how to upload photos onto wordpress, which is what my blog is on, using a Mac notebook.

Can someone give me a tutorial?

Until then, I’ll allow my blog to collect some spider webs :) Later!