December 31, 2008

Bye 2008, Hello 2009

And so here we are on the very last day of the year. And what a year it's been!

The highlight of my year would of course be Natalie's arrival in February. She's turned my life upside down, but it's for the better, no? It's so nice to be greeted by her toothless grin, Nick makes her wake me up almost every morning and we play peekaboo with the blankets for a few minutes before I drag myself out of bed. She's growing way too fast, I miss her newborn days but I also look forward to seeing her personality develop.

I'm still a bit in denial about having to give up certain things when a child comes my freedom for one! Nick constantly lectures that I shouldn't shop so much now, we have a family, ya dah, ya dah.

Since I was mostly confined to home or to work, I relied a lot on online shopping this year (OK, the weak US dollar might have had something to do with it along with bosses who are never in!). Always a sucker for a bargain, I ended up with a bunch of things I didn't need and a wardrobe bursting at the seams. Joanne starting Delirious Divas didn't help my pocket either!

In March, Nick and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. 5 years ain't a lot but we've known each other for 10 and been together for 8. We still don't fight, which I think is remarkable and which everyone thinks is abnormal. Yes, I may get miffed at him at times when he drives aggresively or swears like a sailor, and no doubt my messiness and spending habits make him age faster but we are generally peace-loving people and rather 'bo-chap' so there's never been any drama. Which is just the way I like it!

In April, Nat was baptised and we had a party at home to celebrate. Joanne also got hitched that month and I served as Matron-of-Honour. The lowpoint of the month would be Ata's passing. She was always there, I thought she would live forever but she didn't.

Attended quite a bit of weddings in 2008, Ajen & Vim, Joanne & Tarek, Hannah & Ellis, Vig & Mohan, Xinyi & Kim, Edwina & Simon, Jane & Albert...all these people better have babies next year!

We got a new car in July, thank goodness for Pierre...we can squeeze more people.

This year I hit the big 3-0, had a small, pink-themed dessert party at home. Brought Nat to her first photoshoot in August and threw Swana a surprise baby shower.

Another highlight of the year would be Giselle's arrival. I'm so glad me and Swana have daughters the same age, these two will do everything together, like twins only 7 months apart. Gigi is a chubby little bugger, but she is really sweet.

Attended my first F1 race, well ok, qualifying session. It was thrilling to see/hear the cars up close, I can't wait for next year's race!

On the work front, things have been pretty smooth and uneventful. I was out of action a couple of months on maternity but the only major thing to happen was my boss leaving. For a while I didn't know what would happen to me, but it was sorted quickly. Workload remains the same even though I help 3 people now so it's all good. I dabbled in the recreational events, helping to organise the D&D and Christmas party.

Only went on 1 trip this year, thank goodness for babysitters! While Nick attended the Contiki sales conference in Europe, I stole away to Ho Chi Minh for the 3rd year running. Will there be a fourth? Only time will tell. There was that other mini-holiday at the Caribbean Residences...which reminds me I have to let Nat try the pool again.

And now here's the bit where I make resolutions I will only end up breaking. But what the heck? I shall try my best to stick to the plan, wish me luck!

1) Lose 5 kg by May and have a flat stomach by Greece - I can't help it if I love potatoes and pasta and noodles and food in general but I will attempt to have one carbo-less meal a day. No matter how hard I will it, the fats aren't miraculously disappearing so I have to get off my lazy ass and actually exercise. *groan*

2) Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize - Been pretty slack with my skincare routine and just generally letting myself go. My legs are also really, really dry and scaly. I need to drink lots of water (Ice Mountain only, please) and remember to use all the tubes and bottles of lotion I have. And I have plenty!

I also think I should paint my nails more, would be a waste to let all that OPI nail polish dry up and I need to take my vitamins before they all expire! My calcium intake is non-existent except for cheese in pizzas and the occasional scoop of ice-cream!

3) Save more, spend less - Yeah, right! We'll see how it goes, I have to do my bit for the economy and stimulate it by spending, no?

4) Cook more - There are still lots of recipes I want to try out and so many things to learn from Ma like Kuah Nanas, Nasi Minyak, Chap Chye. This will be Mita Stewart's year!

Speaking of food, I must track down my favourite chicken rice stall that disappeared from Far East Plaza. I loved their soup and the sauce drizzled on the chicken, I remember the guy's name was Sunny and they had a funny shop name like 'House de Sun de Boneless Chicken Rice' or something like that. I wonder where they went, it's been too long! Maybe I should write in to 'Our Makan Places Lost and Found'?

5) Be neater - They don't call me a mini-tornado or Captain Caveman for nothing. Not only do I clutter my room, inbox, handbags and cubicle, I have a habit of hoarding. Well, no more I say though I doubt I will last beyond January. I need to get rid of the 2517 messages in my Yahoo mailbox and the 1158 useless emails in my work email by end-Jan.

6) Exercise patience with Mildred - I know I've complained too much about Mildred, I shall try to be more patient. After all, I will need her help babysitting at some point. Honestly, she tries really hard to please and I should cut her some slack.

There are a few more I thought about but for the life of me, I can't recall them.

Am going to have a quiet countdown at home tonight, there are fireworks at Mount Faber of which we have a clear view of, thanks to our balcony. Swana and Kevin are here with Gigi and I am going to wake Nat up at 11.45pm to watch the fireworks. Ma and Pa and the MIL are coming too so all the important family members will be together at midnight, which I couldn't ask for more.

We went to visit cousin Komathi today and baby Dharmika at Seletaris, she's a month younger than Gigi and such a delicate little thing, in terms of her features. She looks just like her mother, such a sweetie.

Since AMK was on the way home, we decided to 'tapau' some crab from Mellben, bought 2 butter crabs and 1 chili....mmmm, can't wait for dinner. Was amazed at Mellben's transformation, they've renovated and look like a high class coffee shop now complete with pebbles on the ground and a waterfall feature.

Am off to Seventh Heaven again to get more ice cream, toodles! And Happy New Year!

Seventh Heaven

Not long ago, I found out there was a gourmet ice-cream parlour right under my nose. The former Gan Eng Seng Secondary School which is literally right next to my block, was recently converted to the Marketing Institute of Singapore plus some other commercial offices. It's now known as 10 Raeburn Park.

And so after weeks of talking about trying the ice cream, I found myself in Seventh Heaven after dinner yesterday (that's the name of the shop and the state of mind you'll have after eating their ice cream!). Some might find the location 'ulu' but I have no such complaints! ;-)

There has been a spate of home-grown ice-cream of late like Daily Scoop and Island Creamery, but what sets this one apart is that they specialise in alcoholic flavours. And they are generous with the spiking!

Anyways, by the time Swana, Nick and I walked over they were about to close so we decided to takeaway 2 pints, one Lychee Martini and one Butter Scotch Pecan. Kavi came over for dinner last night so when everyone was ready for dessert, we scooped out the ice cream. They were a tad bit soft, I guess alcohol would make it a bit difficult for the ice cream to harden.

I tried the Butter Scotch Pecan first, the texture was super smooth and creamy and the scotch flavour very distinct but not too overpowering. The nuts were very fresh and crunchy and I could have gone on eating it!

But no, I tried the Lychee Martini after that and the lychee flavour was also very distinct and lingered on the tastebuds. Really tasted like Lychee Martini because there was vodka and all.

Overall, the ice cream standard was very good and suffice it to say, I will be back for more. There's a chocolate whisky one, bailey's and chocolate coffee crunch that I need to try. Plus I hear their warm chocolate cake is pretty decent.

They are open from 11am-8pm on weekdays and close at 11pm on Friday and Saturday, closed on public holidays. We saw the lady owner yesterday, a very petite Chinese lady who apparently has a PhD and is an ex-NUS lecturer.

She must be really passionate about ice-cream to have started this venture. I hope her business booms, I don't want them to vacate anytime soon! She should try to publicise more within Spottiswoode Park, I bet a lot of residents don't know about the place.

I think my Ben and Jerry days are numbered, it's much more convenient to just walk over next door for an ice-cream fix than worry over melting ice-cream when stuck exiting the Vivo carpark...

December 30, 2008

The world in 2008

(Warning: Another super long entry...this is what happens when there's no one in the office!)

2008 has certainly been an eventful year, with the second half containing the most drama. Things were okay at the start of the year and then it all started going downhill.

I remember back in the first few months of year, the economy was doing well, house prices were setting new records, people were spending like there was no tomorrow. On the downside, oil and food prices inflated with increasing demand and diminished supply.

Fast forward 6 months and the difference is stark.

Not only is Singapore in a recession, the world is facing a global financial crisis that looks set to rival the Great Depression. Companies are going bust left, right and centre or being bailed out by their governments for billions of dollars, tens of thousands of workers are being laid off globally, banks are not lending money etc.

Everyone’s tightening their belts, and in these uncertain economic times, cash is king. Something which I don’t have a lot of, hence 2009 is going to be a very bleak year for me, shopping-wise. Bummer.

Anyway, I can’t remember all the major events that happened this year, but these are the 10 that stand out when I look back on no particular order.

1) Mas Selamat Escape

Who would have thought something like this could happen in Singapore’s supposedly secure prison and detention systems?

The escape of Jemaah Islamiah leader Mas Selamat on Feb 27 sparked the biggest manhunt on the island, he was gone in 49 seconds after a series of security lapses and human errors made it easy for him to get away on foot. He’s probably having a good laugh at our expense somewhere in Indonesia right now.

2) Natural Disasters

A major earthquake shook Sichuan province in China on 12 May, killing over 60,000 and injuring hundreds of thousands and rendering millions homeless. A large number of schoolchildren perished because of unstable school structures. It was ranked the 19th deadliest earthquake of all time and occurred just months before China hosted the Olympics.

The spotlight had been on Myanmar just 10 days before when a powerful cyclone made landfall there. We’ll never know exactly how many lives were lost because the paranoid military government refused to co-operate with international aid agencies but estimates place it above 150,000. In the span of just 2 weeks, Asia’s population was reduced by over 200,000.

3) Beijing Olympics

China staged a spectacular and lavish Olympics Opening Ceremony and successfully hosted the two-week long games. The event wasn’t without controversy, as the Chinese have a thing about saving face, but it was still well-organised overall.

The highlight of the Games would have to be Michael Phelps breaking Mark Spitz’s record for the most number of golds won in a single Games, as well as Usain Bolt setting new world records in the 100m and 200m sprints.

On the homefront, Singapore rejoiced as we picked up our first medal in 48 years. Even the National Day rally was postponed so we could catch the table tennis women’s team finals between Singapore and China.

4) Formula One

In September, the spectacular Singapore skyline was beamed to millions around the globe as we hosted our first ever Formula One race. The event was truly ‘Uniquely Singapore’ because it was a street race held around the Marina Bay area, and the first night race in F1’s calendar. Praises were heaped on Singapore for its efficient staging of the event and Singaporeans were caught up in the carnival-like atmosphere.

The final F1 race of the season also ended dramatically as Lewis Hamilton snatched the title from under Felipe Massa’s nose in his home territory. All Lewis needed was to finish 5th or better to secure the driver’s championship and he was on course until the last few laps where he got overtaken.

But miraculously Lewis prevailed in the final stretch because a car in front had slowed down due to lack of fuel, spoiling the Brazilians’ premature celebrations.

5) Tainted Milk Scandal

It’s just one food scare after another for China. They tried to cover up the fact that melamine was being added to infant formula powder somewhere along the manufacturing process but they were found out in the end. A massive recall ensued, milk companies got sued and thousands of babies developed kidney problems. Sigh.

6) Obama

Change is coming to America. Out with Bush, in with Obama. Barack Hussein Obama II is the first African-American to be elected President of the United States of America. He inherits a very troubled economy, the global financial meltdown started with the US sub-prime credit crisis. The US is still at war in Iran and Afghanistan, Israel just started attacking Palestine…he has his work cut out for him.

7) Mumbai Terror Attacks

Pakistani terrorists raided several buildings in Mumbai on Nov 26 and took on hostages in 2 hotels. 173 people were killed over 3 days, including one Singaporean whose death was mourned by the whole country. It brought home the message that something doesn’t have to happen here to make us a victim of terrorism.

8) Thai Airport Shutdown

Thousands of passengers were stranded at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport when Thai protesters staged an airport sit-in. Flights were disrupted for several days and it eventually ended when the courts dissolved the ruling party that the protestors were opposing.

How thousands of people marching towards the airport was not stopped before they reached baffles me, as did the silence of their much-revered King. Things have been unstable in Thailand ever since Thaksin was ousted and not likely to be resolved anytime soon.

I feel sorry for the majority of Thais who are caught in the power struggle between the elite and rural folk, it’s hurting their economy.

9) World Financial Crisis

The crisis is still unraveling and deepening, in October things started to get really serious. The stock market has taken a beating, people cannot pay their mortgages, tourism is down, shoppers are not shopping, exports are down, growth forecasts have been slashed, billions of investments lost, everyday there is news of retrenchments… Las Vegas has turned into a ghost town, construction has ground to a halt in Macau. All quite depressing really, not to mention confusing as to how it all began but I’m not going to go into that.

10) Hollywood Baby Boom

Swana and I had a baby each this year and so did a lot in Hollywood! Nat and Gigi will be the same age as a lot of celebuspawns, notably:

  • Harlow Winter Kate Madden, 11 Jan (Daughter of Nicole Richie)
  • Max Liron Bratman, 12 Jan (Son of Christina Aguilera)
  • Emme and Max Anthony, 22 Feb (Twins of Jennifer Lopez)
  • Nahla Ariela Aubry, 16 Mar (Daughter of Halle Berry)
  • Honor Marie Warren, 7 Jun (Daughter of Jessica Alba)
  • Sunday Rose, 7 Jul (Daughter of Nicole Kidman)
  • Levi McConaughey, 7 Jul (Son of Matthew McConaughey)
  • Vivienne Marcheline and Knox Leon, 12 Jul (Twins of Angelina Jolie)
  • Zuma Nesta Rock, 21 Aug (Son of Gwen Stefani)
  • Bronx Mowgli Wentz, 20 Nov (Son of Ashlee Simpson)
There’s more than just babies that happened in Hollywood this year. Heath Ledger died suddenly in January, Guy Ritchie and Madonna got divorced, Britney Spears had a meltdown etc.

There’s lots more that happened in the world too but these are some of the ones I will remember 2008 for. I wonder how 2009 will pan out…

December 29, 2008

All I wanted for Christmas was her 2 front teeth

The munchkin’s teeth are agonizingly slow in erupting. She still has only one lower front tooth, but it’s about to be joined by another, I can see the white tip breaking through the gums. Wasn’t in time for Christmas but…finally!

This was her first Christmas and I must say it was a pretty low key one. Here’s a recap of the past 5 days, I was too lazy to download the pictures and blog till now! (Warning: This is an extremely long entry)

Wed, 24 Dec

Christmas Eve dinner was at the MIL’s place, Nick and I requested for steamboat. Yes, steamboat! I know it’s not CNY yet but Nick is a Chinaman and was sick of eating ‘ang moh’ food during Christmas so I suggested a steamboat. It was a chilly, rainy evening - perfect weather for hot, steaming soup. Just before we left the house, I snipped off some of Nat’s fringe, it was getting into her eyes…her first haircut!

When we got home, Nick and I opened each other's presents at midnight. Or rather, I made him open his presents since I already knew what was mine. As per my own tradition, Nick received 3 items and this year I was on a budget. He got a Braun Buffel key pouch (he lost his house keys a couple of months ago), a pair of cufflinks in the shape of a football player, and a CD of Dionne Warwick’s greatest hits – of which I am suffering an overdose of since he has been playing it in the car NON-STOP for 5 days!

My present from him is the Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 in Monogram canvas, heh heh. You might recall a post about me trying to sell a Kate Spade red tote earlier this month? Well, the KS tote was originally supposed to have been my Christmas present from Nick but when Sham managed to get the Speedy in London, I thought Nick could subsidize that instead, hence I was willing to let go of the KS tote.

Oh well, since there were no takers for the KS bag, it has become my Xmas present to myself. And Nickypoo kindly offered to pay for the whole LV bag and not partial, so Merry Christmas to me! If it’s any consolation to him, he saved almost $300 compared to buying here.

Thu, 25 Dec

Went for 10.30am mass at St Teresa’s after Nickypoo got the mass timing at St Joseph’s wrong. Arlyn had the day off but we had an extra pair of hands in church thanks to Kevin. As usual the munchkin did not sit still and alternated being carried by Nick and Kevin. She started babbling loudly towards the end and I brought her out, only to bump into Christina and her family. It was nice to see her and we tentatively arranged to catch up on 10 Jan. Puni, if you are reading this, please block the date!

Had dinner at Toh Yi, where Kevin’s mum Aunty Diana made briyani and my favourite fish cutlets. She has to teach me how to make them someday, they’re really good. Nat was dressed in an Old Navy Christmas-themed romper that had mistletoe and read, “Kiss Me”.

Fri, 26 Dec

On Boxing Day, we ventured to the Botanical Gardens for breakfast. I was really greedy, sharing prata, laksa and char kway teow with Nick. The weather was kind of gloomy but luckily it held up and didn’t rain while we strolled the grounds. I took lots of flower shots, the swans were tucked away in a corner. Saw lots of squirrels too.

Nickypoo dropped me off at Membina, and Swana and I went to meet our twin cousins Nick (or Nick Jr) and Nicole for a spot of shopping. We owed them PSLE pressies and checked out Anchorpoint, Queensway and Vivo. Nick Jr must have been bored because his 2 elder cousins kept looking at girly stuff.

Swana made a new pair of glasses at Queensway, there was a range of very pretty frames that had matte floral prints at the sides. I loved this green print one, but unfortunately it didn’t suit me.

Bought a couple of tops from the Zara sale, was very disciplined…am more or less done with their sale. The twins came over to see the babies and we found Nickypoo engrossed in assembling and painting his airplane model. He has a whole bunch not done.

In the evening, we attended Miguel and Winnie’s 10th wedding anniversary celebration at Minoru in UE Square, a Japanese a la carte buffet restaurant. Food was pretty good, they charge $33++ per head during dinner and had a decent range of yakitori, teppanyaki, sashimi, sushi and rice/noodle dishes. Mmm, I can eat edamame all night.

Sat, 27 Dec

Had 2 houses to visit on Saturday. First up was Kenny and Felina who invited us over to their house in Punggol for lunch, it also happened to be Felina’s birthday. On the menu was mama food again, it was pretty good. I shall have to bear Raja Catering in mind next time.

After Punggol, it was off to Redhill to attend Simon and Edwina’s housewarming. Nicely done the house, the renovation was pretty reasonable considering the work done and they are very conveniently located next to the MRT station. The munchkin entertained with her dance moves, it never fails to crack me up although sometimes it feels I am exploiting her.

I crashed between 7-9pm and woke up refreshed. Kavi had smsed while I was napping asking what our plans were. Since we had nothing on and it was Saturday night, Swana arranged an impromptu cousin meet-up. Kavi picked me and Swana up close to midnight and we met Premila at a Hong Kong café in Katong Village for supper. I had curry la mian that sucked but we shared a Szechuan soup and some dim sum. The mango pudding was pretty decent.

We chatted till 3am, mostly about Rhubesh’s impending nuptials. Out of the seven Sithambaram grandchildren, he was the only one not married and his mum had given up hope. Out of nowhere he announced last week that he was getting hitched…to a Filipina he met a few months ago. Honestly I am a little concerned how all this will work out since they are still learning about each other and her English is apparently limited, but since he’s happy, we wish him well. Looking forward to the solemnization next March!

Sun, 28 Dec

Arlyn was off again, so me and Nick had to fend for ourselves…have become so reliant on her for everything! After feeding the munchkin, which is always a challenge, we drove to Great World for our own lunch. Nat started bopping in my arms when she heard music in Zara, that girl is unstoppable!

The in-laws came over for dinner. Cousin Daniel is in town with his girlfriend Aimee and we tapau-ed my favourite Hokkien Mee from Hong Heng at Tiong Bahru market.

Just when we were winding down at 10pm plus after everyone left, Ma called in a panic. Swana and Kevin were at a movie and Gigi was screaming her head off. Ma was at her wits end, the crying had been going on almost non-stop for over an hour. And not just wailing mind you, it was loud hysterical screaming that was persistent and inconsolable.

Me and Nick rushed over, I tried burping her, doing knee lifts to get rid of lower gas, putting yu-yee oil, nothing calmed her. Also tried her pacifier, feeding her, rocking her etc. We had to shout over the racket, she was that loud! Even the neighbours came to find out what was going on.

Nick didn’t want to waste any time and insisted we go KK Hospital immediately. It was heart-wrenching, she wasn’t even stopping to breathe and I was so worried she would just turn blue.

Gigi only toned it down in the car after a burp but as soon as we parked, she started again. Registration was super quick and we were allowed to skip the queue, getting to see a doctor almost immediately.

She cried throughout the examination, Swana and Kevin didn’t realize the drama till after their movie ended and rushed down. While the doc was asking more questions, Swana walked into the room and then a funny thing happened. Gigi stopped crying. Just like that.

She looked so relieved to see her mother and whimpered and gurgled a bit, and gave a sheepish smile. Even the doctor was surprised and suddenly it felt like we had all overreacted, for there were 6 adults in the room to accompany Gigi – me, Nick, Ma, Swana. Kevin and his sister Ann.

The doctor repeated her checks since Gigi was a lot calmer, but couldn’t really find anything wrong with her. She prescribed some colic medication nonetheless, though I think it was more a severe case of separation anxiety.

But perhaps everything culminated all at once for Gigi to feel like her whole world was crumbling. Her mummy was missing, she was airy, teething, sleepy, hungry and no one understood her.

On the way home however, she started screaming again. Not as severely as before but still loud. Eventually she cried herself to sleep, poor girl. I hear she’s better today. If this is how she deals with separation, whatever will Swana do when she goes back to work?

December 22, 2008

Giselle's Baptism

Yesterday was Gigi's baptism at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. Swana and Kevin opted for a private one and made use of the opportunity to introduce Gigi to the rest of the extended family and their friends. Nat and I wore matching blue outfits!

We were late in getting to the church, the ceremony started at 3.30pm but she had told everyone to come at 3pm, so we were not in time to welcome some of the early birds. And as soon as we got there, it was a mad rush to get the reception hall ready and supervise the caterers.

You see, my darling sister assumed the reception hall would be unlocked and ready to use since her MIL works at the church. Plus that was how it was when Noel's baptism was held there. Once it was unlocked though, we were in for a surprise. The room was a mess!

Discarded furniture lined the walls and half the room was being used for storage while parts of the church were being demolished. Outside, tractors rumbled while scooping dirt from the ground and the din of digging could be heard inside the church. Swana was a tad miffed suffice it to say...heh heh.

Anyway, we did what we could to rearrange the room before heading back to witness the christening. There was a large turnout, I think over 100 persons, at least half the church was filled. Gigi screamed as expected when water was poured over her head and then it was all over.

Went to AMK for dinner after that, Mildred had purchased a high chair for Nat, I think that's her XMAS present. Ben and Wendy also handed the munchkin their present, with which Nat had a ball of a time tearing the wrapper. Speaking of balls, that was the present, Elmo's ball zone - one of them hut/cubicle things with the coloured balls to play need to bring her to Ikea next time. Ha ha!

December 20, 2008

Risotto Pronto

Followed Nickypoo to City Hall in the morning and walked the shops with Nat while he attended a meeting. Managed to get some outstanding Christmas pressies even though Nat was sooo bored just being pushed in the stroller.

She got so restless at one point, that I abandoned the stroller and just carried her around for 45mins. Not easy! Especially since she's getting heavier and tried to grab all the books I was browsing at MPH. It was a balancing act when it came to paying for stuff and reaching into my bag for my wallet etc. Should have brought the sarong along!

I felt like cooking lunch, had a box of instant risotto lying around at home so I finally got down to making it. Instead of just boiling with water, I improvised on the procedure by adding fresh mushrooms, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and grated parmesan, plus some chicken stock, black pepper and butter. Turned out pretty well, though the dried mushroom flavour was pretty strong and made it still taste very 'instant'.

Shall have to try again, from scratch. I want to re-create the lovely risotto I had at my D&D in July.

Nat's soccer training has officially begun and she appears to be a natural! She loves to kickaround with Nick and seems to prefer her left foot. Will definitely sign her up for junior lessons when she's 4 or 5. Along with ballroom dancing or ballet since she LOVES to dance. Seriously. Anytime she hears a fast tune, she starts bopping, even in her high chair.

Her vocabulary is improving and I think she is starting to say 'ma-ma' and 'pa-pa' with more meaning. When I'm not around, she'll repeat 'mamamama' throughout the day and when Nick's out, she'll call for 'papapapapa', she knows we're away.

And when she says 'meh-meh', I think it's for either milk or water. She knows what 'mum-mum' is too - food! On Friday as I was eating, she kept crawling to me for handouts, each time saying 'mum-mum' and trying to grab my plate! So cute!

Swana and Kevin had a wedding dinner tonight so I babysat Gigi, mostly on my own because Nick went for Novena and Arlyn was catching up on chores. It was fun, she didn't give me any trouble at all. Felt like a pre-school teacher trying to constantly entertain the two babies!

December 19, 2008

Elbowing aunties, mama birds and a new do!

You know I can't resist a bargain so when I found out there was an Aussino bazaar sale at PSA Building, I just had to go since I was on leave...dragging Aunty Sarda, Arlyn and Nat in the process. It was Nat's second ever bus ride, she's so curious when she's on board, looking left, right and centre.

Regretted going to the sale as soon as we got there, for the event was held in a tiny unoccupied unit on the ground floor and was filled with lots of 'aunties' of the elbowing variety.

Queued over 20 mins to enter nonetheless but didn't see any real bargains plus everything was either King or Single! I remember a few years ago, they had a much bigger sale at Trademart and I bought loads of quilt covers then so I was quite disappointed this time round since the same items could be found at their stores at similar prices.

Went to Membina after, Kevin's brother Gavin was in town from Myanmar with his family. Noel has grown, he still opens his eyes really wide but it's not so obvious when he smiles. He's only 5 weeks older than Nat but he eats less than her apparently, in terms of solids. Sometimes I think we might be feeding her too much, she can finish a whole bowl of porridge though I don't encourage it.

Noel eats whatever his parents eat, except mummy Esther chews it up for him first before feeding him, like a mama bird! I don't think I could do that! For the longest time I had issues with sharing spit via cutlery and straws...we'll just continue mashing and grinding Nat's food with the good 'ol fashioned fork and blender!

Did my hair in the afternoon, am trying to grow it out. Selina, my hairstylist blew dry straight and I had a shorter fringe than usual so I left the salon looking quite different from the usual wispy bob. Looked like my Primary 1 hairstyle!

Ladies Night at Al Dente

Had an early Christmas gift exchange cum dinner with Jane, Germaine and Rena yesterday and little Gabriel tagged along. I wanted to bring the munchkin but she woke up late from her nap.

Surprisingly everyone was on time, I was the latest. We met at Al Dente Trattoria Pronto at Great World City, and when I got to the table, all 3 of them were dressed in sombre! Ordered a couple of appetizers, namely calamari and bruschetta and shared 4 mains - a mushroom pasta, carbonara, Hawaiian pizza and lasagna.

The food was decent but not fantastic, though the pizza and lasagna were better than I expected. At 40% off ala carte prices - Ladies' Night on Thursdays - we can't really complain as it was pretty good value. The final bill was less than $90 inclusive of drinks and taxes. (BTW, thanks again for dinner Jane!)

You know, ever since our SHATEC days we've been talking about going on a trip together and I think next year is THE year. I could do with an all-girl shopping and feasting holiday and I really hope it materializes. Possibilities are Ho Chi Minh (again!), Bangkok and Hong Kong/Macau. I don't mind considering Shanghai, Taipei, Jakarta, Bali, Kuala Lumpur or even Penang...anywhere will do! I just want to fly and eat plane food!

Ladies, I know you're reading, so let's work towards 5D/4N or 4D/3N over the long weekends in August or September ok?

December 18, 2008


I'm still full from dinner last night, had Jumbo Seafood with Nick along with his colleague Miranda from Perth and her husband David. David and Miranda were here on transit during their honeymoon, moving on to Bintan today after visiting India last week.

I was a bit apprehensive at first because I was worried we'd run out of things to talk about, having not met them before. But I had nothing to worry about because the conversation flowed freely and they were both quite chatty. At least I could reminisce about my Perth visit last year.

Come to think of it, I think Perth would be an ideal place to bring Nat on her first proper holiday, the flight is relatively short and it's scenic enough and I can still shop. I know I said no holidays till she was much older but I would like to make use of infant fare before she turns 2! Anywhere will do!

Anyway, back to dinner. Miranda wanted to try chili crabs and at first we were going to bring them to Sin Hoi Sai but decided to try Jumbo instead since it was just around the corner from their hotel at Merchant Court.

I ordered the set menu for 4 because we could try a little of everything and it was pretty good value for money at $128++. Came with an appetizer platter comprising scallops in yam rings, deep fried baby squid, jellyfish and a nonya duck salad - everything was good!

Plus, there was prawns coated with salted egg yolk, chili crab, broccoli with conpoy and crabmeat, seafood mee goreng and honeydew sago. In total 6 courses at about $32++ per head. Not bad eh? And everything tasted delish, no compromises on standard.

We ordered an additional black pepper crab that came in less than 15 mins, it was drier than the thick, black gravy kind you get elsewhere but it was yummy too, somewhat buttery.

After a dinner like that, we had to walk it off a bit and showed them around Clarke Quay before taking a quick drive through Orchard to see the lights, followed by drinks at Timbre 1. Spotted Ajen and John, and Jack and Rai were performing with EIC. David and Miranda were impressed by them. Apparently you can't get free live music in Perth bars without paying exorbitant cover charges.

When Timbre co-owner Danny came over to say hi to Nick, he found out our guests were Perthlings and chatted with them a bit, or rather shouted since the music was so loud! Danny used to live in Perth and play music there so they talked about obscure Australian musicians and he confessed that Timbre was partly inspired by Fremantle.

I must say it was quite a lovely evening, I'm sure I'll have another lovely one tonight, am meeting JGR for dinner at Great much for being on a diet!

December 14, 2008

To the Caribbean we go

I finally redeemed the prize I won at my D&D over the weekend - a 3 bedroom, 2D/1N stay at the Caribbean Residences along Keppel. Despite it only being a 1 night stay, there were so many things to pack for Natalie's first 'holiday'. We each had an overnight bag, but she had two!

It was so near home and I was quite half-hearted when I first won the prize because I wondered what was the point of just going away for 1 night. But nonetheless we decided to make the most of it and take the opportunity to introduce the Munchkin to swimming.

Rain threatened as we checked in but the weather held till we got changed and hit the pool. After anticipating her first dip for weeks, it turned out to be an anti-climax. She HATED it! Maybe the water was too cold or the float was uncomfortable but after barely 2 minutes she started protesting and signaled to be airlifted. Just as we got out, the rain made its appearance.

Still, she looked cute in her little Osh Kosh swimsuit and we shall try again soon at another pool.

Ma, Swana and Gigi came over later in the afternoon, they were staying too since there were ample beds. Kevin is on a local project so couldn't stay. Actually the apartment was pretty nice, I used the think the development was congested but once you get inside, it's surprisingly quiet and tranquil with lots of space. We stayed at Blk 44, on the 6th floor, could see a bit of the 'pier' from the living and master bedroom.

The unit was spacious by condo standards, the 3 bedrooms held a king, queen and 2 single beds. Actually for out of town guests, the rates are quite reasonable. $420++ per night but 6 people can stay, much cheaper than 3 hotel rooms.

We snapped loads of photos in the afternoon of the two babies, somehow Nat's, Ma's and Gigi's outfits were colour co-ordinated.

In the evening, the ladies decided to explore the neighbourhood while Nick babysat Gigi. We feed Nat her dinner in one of the numerous decks and then walked the perimeter, passing by a lap pool and a walkway facing Keppel Marina. We snapped away like 'suaku' tourists, gushing at the view and wishing we lived there.

For dinner, we headed to the Coffee Club at Harbourfront. Though it was a short walk away, we drove, only to get turned away from a full carpark. Nick decided to drop us off first, then went back to the condo to park before making his way back on foot. Kevin and his mum joined us for dinner and then we walked around Vivo for a bit, since most shops were open till 11pm.

Before long, the babies started getting tired and sleepy so off we trooped back to the Carribbean. Caught the Miss World competition 'live' on TV, right off the bat I knew Russia was a serious contender and she won!

Nat slept with us on the king bed but she was so restless, tossing, turning and sighing every half an hour, we barely got any sleep. I think she missed her cot. When we got up this morning, I declared to Nick we were not travelling with her anytime soon! Or at least not until she's potty-trained, eating proper solids and capable of sleeping on her own and not falling off the bed!

Breakfast was at the Prive Bakery and Cafe at Keppel Marina. We were a tad early and snacked on some danishes till their kitchen was open. Among us, we ordered 3 ultimate breakfasts, pancakes and a salad. The pancakes were yum and so was the ultimate breakfast, the scrambled eggs were just right.

Sigh, though it was a short stay, we still managed to have fun and pretend we were on an actual holiday. This was just the dress rehearsal to give us a taste of what travelling with kids was like and me and Swana both came to the same conclusion - bring Mummy and Arlyn wherever we go!