Monday, 31 December 2007

Family Holiday

We had our first overseas holiday as a family and survived!!

For starters, the packing was really mind boggling. It's summer in Australia, but was told it's like four seasons a day. So in went all the longs along with the shorts and swimsuits. Yes, made sure there was lipbalm and sunblock, plus a couple of caps and plenty of socks. Everyone's got a light jacket/sweater and sandals. I felt like I was bring the whole wardrobe.

Then there was the milk and milk bottles, snacks and books and toys - all the necessities when traveling with young kids. The one discover I made was, "How to pack a bottle-cleaning brush without it getting crushed out of shape in your luggage."

Tah- dah!!

Use an old milk bottle as a protective case.

7.5 hours on the plane, excluding all the waiting when you are already on board and taxing down the runway is a really really really long time for a three and a half and an almost two. Worse of all was that we had to sit separately because it was a full flight. Micah sat with Daddy somewhere in the middle and Max had a bassinet with Mommy at the front row. We sure moved around a lot.

(Fast Forward)
Melbourne, 23 - 30 Dec 2007

We stayed with an old school friend and his brother, they both have migrated there. We are most thankful for their kindness and generosity : They gave us board, food and wheels.

We owe them.

Thanks to Frank and Victor, we saw a bit of the city,

a bit of the sea, Torquay to be exact (although it was so sunny, the wind was quite cold. You can see we equatorial people in longs while the locals are sunbathing.),

cruised down the Yarra river,

... and had an authentic Christmas dinner.

We went to the zoo, I think they loved the aviary the most,

the aquarium, which was really great for the boys as they love all kinds of sea creatures, and also they have been under the "Nemo Fever" for the last 2 weeks before Melbourne,

and museum. We had a picnic lunch on the museum's lawn, even! I thnk the boys really loved the open spaces they can just run around, pick up stones and stickes and watch birds and gulls at close range.
Best of all, we made friends with some of the locals and also had a family dinner with our friends' family.

It was a good close for the year. It was much needed family time. We could have just stayed a whole week in Kuantan or Taiping, and it would have been just as great - we were together and spent quality time as a family.

Oh, yes, and we celebrated Max's birthday there. He turned 2 in Melbourne! Happy Birthday Max!!
We are still a bit in Melbourne time zone - three hours ahead, which works out quite good in getting the boys up early and to bed earlier too. I just hope it lasts.

What I learnt/realised:
1. We equatorial people have our time and activity so marked by the rising and setting of the sun.
We forget that it's 9pm already and still run and play in the garden because it looks like 6pm at home. It's strange to eat dinner while it looks like 5pm outside. You get what I mean.

2. Globalisation really makes the world so small. We are all humans and all alike.
Despite the difference in culture and expectations and expression of self, we all talk about raising children, loving family members, missing family members and coping with difficulties with the same kind of heart.

3. There's no place like home.
It's the whole sense of belonging. I don't know how people do it: Migrate to another country, be uprooted from your "natural" surroundings - your family and friends and the way of life you've known all your life - and LIVE there. Should I ever have to move away from home, I will be making many long-distance calls. It'll be ages before I feel I belong anywhere else but here with my family, and I mean an extended one.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Durian Durian

Max loves durian!!

I must say he is more a Malaysian when it comes to food than his Daddy and big brother.

He was just one and a half when he first tasted his Durian and since then, whenever anyone asks him, "Max, you want durian?" he will nod his head, and sometimes say, "Yes."

The last time Tua-Ee (First Aunt on Mommy's side) he impressed her with eating beef curry rice - he had curry and rice, no beef. When it was finished, he actually cried and demanded for more.

All I can say is (I have said this before):

This is Mommy's boy!!


Monday, 17 December 2007


Max finally decided that the proper sign for good is the thumb-up sign. Before that, as with all children, he used his index finger as the sign for good.

Whenever we try to correct him, telling him, that it's the thumb, demonstrating and even trying to pry his thumb our of the grip of his other four fingers, he would protest and insist that it's the forefinger.

The funny part was also when Micah started using the thumb-up for good and thumb-down for no-good, Max would use his forefinger up for good and forefinger down for no-good. It was really comical.

Last night, just as we were settling into bed, Mommy insisting that everyone lie down and no talking, Max was snuggled by my side and I heard him saying to himself, "Good. No good. Good. No good."

I looked down at him and I saw him consciously putting his thumb up, slowly controlling his other fingers to be clasp into a fist. Then he turned his wrist and had the thumb pointing down. "No good."

I smiled. "That's right Max. Very good."

"Good. No good. Good. No good." He practised and practised.

"Good, Max. Now it's time to sleep. Good night."

"Good. No good. Good night Mommy. Mommy. Nan-nan first. Please."

The boys fell asleep about 12.15am.

Saturday, 15 December 2007


Max is real smart.

I have come to figure out the way Max talks and have started my training for his speech. Not that there is anything wrong with his pronunciation, i.e. buck teeth or lisping. It's just that when he started making sense to us, he was happily communicating with single syllable words/sounds.

So, for example, he easily name animals:

fen = (ele)phant
raff = (gi) raffe
lern = lion
po = (hip)po
dawl = (croco)dile
ger = (ti)ger
ter = (hams)ter

Of late, I realised he can actually say words of two and three syllables. But for a lot of things, because we have been so used to how he speaks and know what he is referring to, he still happily uses his baby talk on us. Obviously it takes less work on the tongue. Hence, today, I made it a point to make him repeat and speak properly. So the list above was on the corrected speech list. Other words includes Micah, camel, gingerbread-man, noodle and fishball, and a few more I just don't remember right now.

So Mommy's work with Max now is to make sure he speaks well and not be smart and lazy and get away with just making sounds understood only by us. After all, we don't want to have to be his interpreter in days to come.

By the way, he always gets away with being naught from Grandpa because Grandpa thinks he is "still small", but Mommy, Daddy and Grandma know what are the tricks up his sleeves.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Human Tetris

I first saw this on my friend's, lynn, blog and had such a good laugh that I think all you should have a good therapy too! Yes, laughter is the best medicine.


*Warning: Do not watch this in the presence of sleeping children.

Human Tetris

Tuesday, 11 December 2007


Micah dropped the PSP just now. Arrgh!!

(This is our second set. Micah broke the first about a year back, cracked the screen.)

I was very upset with him, but I was more upset with myself. It's all the inconvenience and money that's involved that makes me upset...Also that now I can't get my usual doze of unwinding with a game of Lumines II in bed.

It happened like this:
Micah was watching this funny video about a snail race and decided he wanted to be a snail too (we did this pretend play before, like months back). So he picked up a piece of ribbon on my shelf to secure a pillow to his back. Of course that was not going to do it. I spotted Daddy's old office landyard on the table, beside the PSP and I asked him to take that. I knew it was a risk when I asked him to take it himself, made it very clearly to be careful because the PSP is there, but I miscalculated the risk. I forgot the "Max" factor.

Just as Micah reached for the land-yard, Max rushed up to him, and in the spur of the moment, Micah did not see anything else but the land-yard and Max. He whisked it off the table and the PSP took off to flight and bounced twice upon landing.

I yelled. I scolded. I cried.

Micah apologized and apologized. We hugged.

For half an hour the boys were unbelievable quiet and still.

Then Micah got yet another lecture from me about listening to instructions. I tested the PSP. All intact except that I can't play games on it. After that they watched a couple of movie clips on the PSP and all seemed well (to the boys, that's all the PSP is to them), Micah asked for noodles. He had refused dinner earlier because it was not his favourite toufu or steam fish. So we all trotted off downstairs and I made dry black noodle while he and Max demanded some attention from Grandpa. Grandma had gone to bed and Daddy's still at work (!!).

Now I have to think of something else to help me unwind in bed... maybe I'll just cuddle and smell my boys and see if that'll help me sleep.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Rain Rain Rain

It seems like quite a while back since we had so much rainfall in 24 hours.

These are the days when:

Mike and I remember UK, where it's usually cloudy, wet and cold.

I remember Mike and I in Narita town, on a chilly winter day, with some very special friends enjoying authentic Japanese food.

I remember the days when I went to school with soaked shoes walking up Jalan Bukit Nanas to St. John's Institute.

We wake up still feeling lazy... at 9.30am.

I worry about the laundry not getting dry... and the laundry basket piling up.

I wish we have a clothes dryer.

I have second thoughts about going anywhere down town and parking in an underground car park.

We don't get to do our usual walks and bugs hunting.

We sleep under covers without the air-con on.

I dream of hot chocolate and cookies.

We try not to have to eat out with the kids.

The playgrounds must be missing the children.

I love to be in my most favourite spot in the whole wide world - in my hubby's arms.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Back and Bushed

We are back! And I am bushed!
We got back on Tuesday actually. Had almost spent another night away in Taiping, but my mom decided against it, which was a wise decision.

We were in Penang for my brother's wedding ceremony. He had booked us 2 nights in a hotel in town, walking distance to E&O for the dinner, and it was a complete circus in the two family rooms.

For starters, the first part of the journey to Taiping (was to have lunch there and meet up with an aunt who does not know how to get about Penang) took us almost 5 hours instead of the usual 3 and 1/2 because of some road works and Max demanding to feed, so I had to stop twice. When we finally arrived in Taiping it was 2.30pm.

Taiping food is always good and CHEAP!! We stopped at the hawker center near opposite the oldest supermarket which had recently been relocated (but is still referred to as before). We had a spread of wan ton mee (home and hand made noodles), fried kueh teow (teochew style), mee rebus and leng chee kang. Our favourite peanut dessert was out by this time of the day. So was my mum's favourite "laksa chumm lemak noodle" (assam laksa plus curry mee soup noodle). We also had our favourite kedondong drink.

After all the eating and initial catching up with 2 aunts and 5 cousins who were joining us in the convoy, we set out up north. My car maintained status quo. My mum's car took on 2 of my cousin sisters. A 3 car convoy on the highway is easy.... until we hit Penang bridge at 6pm. Rush hour!!!

My brother met us at the first petrol station available on the island and led the way to the hotel. Now it's a 4 car convoy weaving though the narrow streets of Penang at rush hour. I took the tail end, feeling safer with my mum-in-law in the car. She grew up in Penang. Then somewhere in the heart of Georgetown, I got lost. Took a wrong turn and had to U turn back. Then we all had a drama trying to get into the hotel's parking, and finally checked in. It was suppose to be just my family (my older sis and her 2 babies, my younger sis, my other brother, my mom, my mum-in-law and my boys and I) staying in the hotel, and the other relatives were to stay with other Penang relatives. But on the spot my Mum decided it was too pai-seh (embarrassing) to trouble relatives from my dad's side with her sisters and children (not like they are strangers or anything like that. In fact, they are all pretty friendly), so the two rooms ended up housing:

Room 1: My 2 sisters, my mum-in-law and myself, plus 4 kids/babies (all needing some attention or more jumping space all the time + diaper changing, milk making and nursing and brain stimulating)
Room 2: 6th aunt (24-7 chatter-box) and her 5 kids (age ranged 12-18, all Mandarin speaking but really good with the 4 kids) and 1st aunt (the grumpy we didn't know what to do with for not wanting her to be left out).

My mom escaped the circus with my other bro, who is her chauffeur and all-time extra hands, feet and eyes. They stayed the relative and managed to make some things easier for my brother the groom.

The day after we arrived was the wedding day. My brother had arranged the tea ceremony to be at the hotel before dinner. So we had the whole day free to do what we want...but as it is, it's impossible to get ready and go anywhere with such a parade on a holiday.

We were waiting for my mom to come with the other car so we could all go to the beach together. Turns out she and the Penang aunt went off to look for another aunt who came back from Canada, and my bro arrived at the hotel with our 2nd cousin instead. Everyone stalled for time...for one apparent good reason or another. The last straw: My mum called and said they took a wrong turn and were going on a car trip trying to get to the other aunt who is staying with relatives on her husband's side. Finally I could take it no more and demanded we go to the beach. I got my bro to call my mum to tell her which beach to meet us, hurried everyone out and just as we stepped out of the hotel, right at the sidewalk, my mum and 2 aunts greeted us. We took another like 30 minutes to do a quick exchange of updates and finally we got all 3 cars on the road.

By the time we hit the beach it was 12:30pm! All the way I had doubted if I was pushing it too far. Crazy hour to be at the beach. But I am so glad we went. We stopped at a beach half way up Tanjung Bungah and it was well shaded. We had our fun. No one swam, but everyone got our feet wet, except my mum, her 1st sis and baby Han. The kids got their bottoms wet, so that was thrilling enough for them.

This was all that I had wanted for my boys and it sure was worth "fighting" for.

The dinner was OK. Wedding dinners are wedding dinners... except that my boys and Xue Bin had a party rolling on the confetti on the floor and must have made me look like such a bad mom....
Oh...and that Micah threw a tantrum in the middle of the tea ceremony... I must really look like a real lousy mom...
But It's Over!! That all we are relieved about.

Anyway, we got back, I was totally exhausted driving all the time. The most tiring part was coming home after the whole trip and still have to take care of the two easily excitable boys until almost 12am before hitting the hay. Daddy got back from work just in time to say good night to two drowsy boys.

I'm better now... just about.