Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The Thomas Birthday Party
This was not my children's birthday. It was a friend's and it happened in January this year. Long time ago, I know. This was one of the biggest kids party that we've been to. It was held in their residence community hall at Lake Edge Puchong and had a Thomas & Friend theme - Dom's favourite. The parents spent about RM5k just for event management alone, not including the food and other miscellaneous things.
First thing we noticed when we arrived, or rather the first thing Dom noticed was the bouncy castle! The kids went wild in there, except Emily who was too young and too nervous to go near it.
The kids sat in here while there were tables for the adults outside the hall.
There were toys - all Thomas related, Thomas cup cakes, Thomas decorations, etc. Each child got a Thomas party pack. The birthday kids' (there were 2 of them) faces were printed on the party bag. In the bag were a Thomas toy, chocolate bars in Thomas themed wrapper with the kids' faces printed on it and some other stuffs.
And of course, the birthday cake was a Thomas one.
Later, there was a clown who came to tell jokes. It was more suitable for the older kids. Em didn't bother at all. Dom enjoyed it for a while but later asked why the clown talked for so long. In the end, he went off to play instead.
Makes me wonder, will I ever host such a huge party for my kids? The answer is most likely no. Firstly, I don't think I'll spend a few grands on a party and secondly there are only so few people in my life that do matter to me. I don't see the point in inviting all of my colleagues to my kids' birthday, for example. It will make sense to invite Dom's or Em's friends however. It's their party and they should have their own friends. But last year when I asked Dom if he would like his friends to come, he said no, he only wanted his cousins. I think he is so like me. I would want only the people who matter to celebrate my birthday with me too. What's your take in this?
Then, There was CNY
You know, CNY was half a year ago and I've just uploaded the photos. I don't quite remember what happened anymore. For reunion dinner, I had to spend it with my in laws. It was good, don't get me wrong, but I think my pre-married reunion dinners in Ipoh were better. :-)
This year, we ordered food from Dragon-I (or was it I-Dragon) restaurant. It was a take-away and according to Saimun's dad, business was very good as there were lots of people waiting for their take-aways. I think people hardly cook anymore for reunion dinner, especially in Klang Valley. Most would eat out. Majority of the restaurants would run two sessions during that evening - one at 5pm and the other at 8:30pm - either too early or too late, which is why I always prefer to eat at home.
The next day, we had the usual thing with the in laws and then a friend just flew in from the US, so we spent the afternoon with her instead. On the 2nd day, we went to Ipoh. I'm trying to make this customary and so far so good. A thought came in to mind, however. What if (when) my grandmother passes away? Will people still gather in Ipoh like they do now? It's hard to imagine, really. I remember my cousin posted a photo on Facebook of the food that they ate on their reunion dinner. They were the same dishes that I used to have as a kid, year after year. Nothing has changed for over 30 years. Surely my grandma is the one who's holding the family unit together and also the main reason things have not changed for so many years. I'm not sure if things will still be the same if she's not around anymore.
Anyway, we had good fun. My children had fun. :-) You can see that some people were drunk at the end of the night.
First of all, I think my daughter looked like a princess. :-) This was at my in laws' place.
One of the few family photos (of the 4 of us) that we have.
After that, the children performed lion dance.
These were taken in Ipoh (the shop).
These were taken during dinner.
Many months ago, I think it was during Christmas or Dom's birthday that I bought a pottery set for him and a bag of air-drying clay. We've only used it once since, mainly because we haven't gone out to buy more clay although he asked me to several times, and also because I was dreading the mess. The last time we used it, I think I spent more time cleaning up than actually making the pots. Anyway, we made something and Dom gave them to two of his teachers. Here are the photos. They're a bit ugly and irregular, but we were amateurs and Emily was disturbing.
Here are they before they got painted.
And after they've been painted. I have to admit I did all the painting for him. He lost interest after the messy part.
Next, I did some artwork myself too. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to do more because of the lack of time and soon lost the momentum. I'm trying to gather up momentum again but it's not easy. Hehe. So, here are two pieces that I've done back in December last year.
The first is a copy-cat abstract flower - something just to test out what I could or couldn't do:
The 2nd one is an abstract from a photo of Dom and Em. Dom was holding some corn flakes in his hand and Em was taking the food from him. I love this. After this piece I've not had any ideas as good as this. There were a couple of botched jobs after this one which I wanted to redo but haven't done so.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
I Think It's Time for an Update!
Now, let's see what has happened since the last time I wrote. I don't know. Time seems to fly and everything is now a blur. All I know is that both kids are healthy, we are healthy and we are all happy.
Yesterday, Dom did all the dishes for me after dinner. All by himself without any help. I inspected his work after that and there was no difference from daddy's work - satisfactory for his age (but less so for daddy's age ... haha!). He was such a good boy. Only Iast week, he mopped the floor for me (after I've vacuumed it). Recently, I reflected on his younger days. He was so cute and adorable and I was hugging and kissing him constantly. I felt a kind of sadness because these days I'm showering him less affection, probably because he is older now and I have Emily. I cradle and kiss her more often. After all, she is the baby. I've asked myself if I love Em more than Dom. It's very hard to shower the same affection to both of them. I guess I just love them differently. After searching myself several times, I've come to the conclusion that I love them the same. Differently, but with the same magnitude. I went through many scenarios to arrive at this conclusion (and to assure myself of my own feelings). One of them was when a woman was reported drowned after driving into a river/drain during a heavy downpour. I imagined myself driving into the river with my two kids in the car with me. What would I do? It was so scary just to imagine it that I instantly prayed to God.
Both Dom and Em are looking more and more alike. They definitely look like brother and sister. It is sometimes fun and heart warming to see them together but they have started to fight! Dom knows never to hurt Em, but he likes to annoy her, and Em is easily annoyed. She even likes to complain about Dom, i.e. babbles obviously in a displeased way (usually with tears) and inserting the phrase "gor-gor" in between her babbling while pointing at Dom's direction. And Dom does like to annoy her. I think he was just trying to get attention. He's usually very good when Em is not around. I don't know what I should do about this. He just can't leave her alone, i.e. he will snatch her pillow away from her, poke her in the stomach with his finger, squeeze her cheeks ... nothing that hurts her but makes her wail all the same, which annoys me tremendously.
Speech wise, Em has improved a lot over the past few months. She addresses each member of the family (including grandparents and cousins) correctly. When she sees something "interesting", she says "Mummy, see ... ", or "Daddy, see ...", while pointing to the object. Every evening after dinner, she will go to the fridge and say "orange" (but it sounded like "orwen"). When she hears the gate opens, she'll say "Daddy's back". When Dom is not around (possibly doing his big business upstairs), she will ask "Where gor-gor?". When it's raining, she will look up the sky and say "raining" (but it doesn't really sound like "raining" at all, only I can understand her). When she wants milk, she will ask for "nan-nan". When we get in the car, she'll automatically ask for her "chuit-chuit" so that she can go to sleep. When she wants to go out, she says "shoes" (but really, it sounds like "foo" instead). When Dom gets up from his seat during dinner, she orders him to "sit down". She can also communicate when she needs to do her business by making "mm-mmmm" sound and by standing near the toilet. Passing motion is a major business for her. She reminds me of the pushing stage during labour.
Speaking of constipation, I have feeling it has something to do with the food that my MIL feeds her. She didn't have any problems before this when I used to cook her lunch in the morning. But since she got older and was able to share the same food with the other kids, she started eating what MIL cooked and then around the same time (if I'm not mistaken), she started to have constipation. Dom didn't have this problem when we were in London.
Well, basically Em has grown a lot. She can sing, though nobody understand what she's singing. But we definitely know that she's singing because she does it when there's music and she nods her head to the beat. It was so cute! Last weekend, during Joe's birthday, she sang one word of the birthday song, i.e. "birth-dayy" (not exactly the correct pronunciation but intelligible). She imitates stuffs that we do, especially stuffs that Dom does. So when I was teaching her how to gargle and rinse her mouth, I got Dom to demonstrate it - gulp it, then spit it out. But she kept swallowing the water. :p
She is also very mobile, as in she goes up and down stairs on her own without any assistance, but I always try to keep an eye on her in case she accidentally falls. Feeding time, she feeds herself well using the fork and spoon but she doesn't eat a lot (compared to Dom at her age). She especially doesn't like meat. The doctor said it was okay because some kids do hang on to their milk longer than others. But the thing is she doesn't drink a lot of milk compared to Dom either. Most of the time she doesn't even finish the 5 ounces that we give her 5 times a day.
Well, I think that's about enough for Em. As for Dom, there isn't much to update on. He's doing well in school and reads much better now. One thing for sure, he has an interesting mind, always asking interesting questions. Just the other day he asked me what's the difference between concrete and cement and why are there two words to describe the same thing. I've explained the difference to him, and then he asked why is it that when cement dries up it becomes hard but when water dries up it just disappears? There are many, many more questions. Why is the toilet bowl always filled with water even though there's a drain hole? Why did his toy train station float even though it was heavy? How did the guy at the McD drive through know we were there? How did his voice get into the "machine"? How did the automatic door know to open the door when we approached? Where did the air-cond from the car come from? How can the ostrich run faster than the car? (cos he saw in one of the silly cartoons that the ostrich overtook the car). And do you know that Garfield is a human in a cat suit? Haha. Endless questions!
Dom received his progress report from the school yesterday. I think he's not going to be very good academically. Sigh ... never mind, I think Einstein didn't do very well in school either. :p
I just realized I haven't uploaded a lot of the kids' photos yet. No time to do it, gotta do it later. :-)
Monday, March 07, 2011
Japanese Cheesecake Passed MIL Test
A couple of months ago, before the CNY, an ex-colleague brought over a cotton soft cheesecake - sort of like a sponge cake but much softer and a bit moist. I thought it was really nice. I studied the box that it came in but all I got was some Japanese sounding name that I've never heard of or seen before, and there wasn't an address on the box too. For those of you who are doing sales or marketing, how important is information for your potential customers!
Anyway, since there was a Jap-sounding name on the box, I then Googled "Japanese Cheesecake" and there really is such a thing. I found the recipe and attempted it once a few weeks ago but it was a failure. However, the 2nd attempt was a success and this cake has passed my MIL test (you know how difficult that is!).
Here's the recipe:
140g/5 oz. fine granulated sugar
6 egg whites
6 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
50g/2 oz. butter
250g/9 oz. cream cheese
100 ml/3 fluid oz. fresh milk
1 tbsp. lemon juice
60g/2 oz. cake flour /superfine flour
20g/1 oz. cornflour (cornstarch)
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, the cornflour, egg yolks, lemon juice and mix well.
2. Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form.
3. Add the cheese mixture to the egg white mixture and mix well. Pour into a 8-inch round cake pan (Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of the pan with greaseproof baking paper or parchment paper).
4. Bake cheesecake in a water bath for 1 hours 10 minutes or until set and golden brown at 160 degrees C (325 degrees F).
Makes 1 (8-inch) cheesecake, 12 servings.
Baking in a water bath means you pour the cake batter into a cake pan and then put the cake pan into another bigger pan filled with hot water. Since I do not have a small enough cake or a big enough "other" pan that can fit the cake pan, I used my Le Creuset and Anolon instead.
Friday, March 04, 2011
As of today, Dom is 5 years and 2 months old and Em is 16 months old. And both of them are down with fever, cough and running nose. It's been quite a while since one of them fell sick and I'm sure you've heard a lot of mums muse about their hard times when all their kids fell sick at the same time. For once, I am relieved that both of them are sick instead of just one. I'm not sure if what I feel makes any sense at all but I'll try to explain.
As I become older, I really feel that I get more worried and paranoid about most things. I used to have fevers in the past like everyone does and it was really no big deal at all. A couple of panadols will sort it out. But now when it comes to the kids, there are all sorts of possibilities. Could it be dengue fever? Could it be bacteria infection? What else? I get worried especially when there are no other cough or running nose symptoms. This time round, the fact that it is contagious suggests that it is most likely just a common cold. Although the same aedes mosquito could've bitten them both and that bacteria infection is probably contagious too. Ahh ... like I said, it makes no sense, but the theory is based around the idea that something really serious is less likely to happen to both the children.
Five-year-old Dominic is behaving more and more like a boy. The little boy who used to be so sweet and obedient is now so ... active and "deaf". He jumps around, disturbs his sister, runs around, shouts ... and every instruction has to be repeated a few times and when there is a single minute to spare he would ask "What shall I do now?". When I suggest, taking a rest, relaxing, sleeping or anything similar, he'll say "Resting is not a do!". When asked to tidy up his toys, he pulled his sister along and said, "You ... you mess this up. Help gor-gor to tidy up." When his sister is not bothering him, he'll find ways to get her attention, annoy her and disturb her. When his sister IS bothering him, he'll ask me to take her away. Haha!
On the other hand, I feel that 16-month-old Emily finds her brother very annoying! She'll often make noise and push him away when he's near, but they have their moments of fun and laughter as well. Em is starting to talk more now. She taps on my shoulder, back or arms and calls me "mama". :-) And she calls out to "daddy" when he comes home. She also calls out to "gor-gor" (while crying and pointing at him), to indicate that gor-gor has bullied her. And her two other favourite persons are "mama" (grandma) and yeh-yeh. She says many other single words and generally makes a lot of noise.
Emily still sleeps with us and she cries every night. The crying stopped when Saimun removed her from the cot and now she is sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I think she didn't like to be "trapped" inside the cot. She also doesn't like it when Dom gets all the attention, for example when I'm revising his homework with him or reading to him. She'll normally wail in the background until daddy gets out of the shower. It's a good thing that both Dom and I are able to effectively block her voice out. Haha!
After a few weeks of coaching, I think Dom has improved greatly in reading (in English). I need to buy him more books because I'm not sure anymore if he's actually reading the words or memorizing! To encourage him to read, we have started this game of treasure hunt where I would write clues on yellow sticky notes and then he would hunt for the treasure, looking for the clues. I started the game by drawing pictures - like a picture of the oven to indicate the next clue is in the oven, and when he got hooked with the game, I changed the clues to words. The "treasure" is usually a gift that I bought for him for having collected 10 stars for good behaviour (we're still using the same method we used since few years back).
Every evening, after the 3 of us have showered, we will have a game of hide and seek. Dom is getting better at seeking but not so good at hiding (always hid in the same places). Em is extremely good with hiding. She doesn't make a single sound when we're hiding! As for me, I'm really running out of ideas on where to hide next!
Finally, some photos of the little ones.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
There's a new member in the family (officially) since Nov last year. My little brother finally tied the knot after much pestering from family members last year. It was a small affair. The ROM was done much earlier and we had a small dinner in Ipoh with family members only. We went to the same restaurant that we always go twice a year for grandma's birthday and CNY.
Dom had his school concert just a week ago and for this wedding dinner, I dressed him up in his concert costume. He looked so handsome and adorable! As for Em, she looked just like a little bride with her white dress.
After the event, now that I looked at the photos I realized I haven't got a one taken with the bride and groom! The camera man was so lousy! Admittedly, the camera man was my husband.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Dom's School Concert - 5 Years Old
Dom's first ever school concert was on 23-Oct-2010. It was a long time ago, I know, but I've uploaded the videos a while back. I can still remember. We were told to send our children to school by 9:00am, which was really early considering that it was a Saturday. The note said to do up his hair in a "spiky" style and to put make up on my child's face. I did neither, because the concert was scheduled to start at 10am and I thought I could do his hair after we got there, and I never intended to put make up on his face. He's pretty enough already. :-)
When we got there, I realized all the other kids were in their school uniforms. Dom wasn't because it was not stated that he had to be in his uniform - that was the excuse. The main reason was, he has 4 sets of uniforms (for Monday to Thursday) and on Fridays he wears his sports T-shirt. Therefore, there wasn't an extra set for a Saturday. Although I wash everyday but I don't iron everyday. :p
Anyway, we got there and I was carrying Emily. She was terrified and didn't want to be put down. So I asked Saimun to do Dom's hair instead. I said there was a bottle of hair gel in the bag. Saimun went, "What? Spiky? Not nice. If they want it, they should do it themselves." And that was it.
When we dropped Dom off, his hair was like this. By the way, he wasn't wearing that costume when we dropped him off. He was in t-shirt and shorts (I think).
And then, when it was his turn to go on stage for his dance, it took me a long time to recognize my own son! It was because he had different hair and he looked so different! Like this:
He did two dances, which I've uploaded in the videos section:
I prefer the 2nd one.
He also went on stage to get his "award". A few students were selected for Best Conduct, Best Helper, Best Improvement and Best Reader. And Dom was selected for Best Improvement. He was very proud of it. Admittedly, he did improve a lot since going to school. Before this, in the UK, he had been playing and having fun everyday. After a year, he was able to read, write, speak in Chinese (write in Chinese as well) and understands some Malay words.
Generally, I enjoyed the concert, even though when it wasn't my kid performing. The school got the 6-year-olds to give speeches - one in Chinese, one in English and one in Malay and they were really good! With actions and all. It was much better than a lengthy speech by the principal or whoever, which I dreaded but didn't happen. Unfortunately, I think Saimun didn't get to watch much as Em was fast asleep in his arms most of the time.
After that we went for pizza lunch. :-)
Monday, February 14, 2011
Dom's 5th Birthday
Dom's 5th birthday was in late December, just before Christmas and here is what happened. The menu was set by Saimun. He wanted everyone to have a sit down dinner rather than a party buffet style. He requested for Jamie Oliver roast chicken, mashed potatoes and salad, which I made. This time, he didn't buy something to top up the menu. I made two types of roast. And because I thought maybe some of the guests, especially MIL, may not like the strong rosemary, thyme and basil smell, I threw in asian style chicken wings as well. Plus some french fries and pasta for the kids.
There should've been enough food. There was leftover after all. The problem was, there wasn't enough of the Jamie Oliver roast whereas nobody liked the Asian chicken wings and the pasta. Hmm ... It's hard to please everyone. Sometimes it is better to leave them with no choice. Haha!
This time there was less work. Everything was done by the oven. Problem was I wished I had more than one oven so that I could do them all at the same time rather than one after another. This time, my brother and family came along too and they came again the weekend after (which was Christmas) because they wanted to taste the roast again. :-) The second time was even better. It is now my signature dish, which I served again few weeks later when my ex-colleagues came over.
So the first I did was the standard red eggs.
And thanks to a tip from Yvonne, I made the eggs into a salad (nobody ate the eggs during Em's birthday). This time, all the eggs were gone. :-)
Then, Dom's birthday cake, which he requested for a "chocolate mud cake". When I asked him what he meant by "mud cake", he said it has to be sticky and gluey. Okay, I found this recipe from the Internet and I had no idea how it will turn out to be, except that it was called "chocolate mud cake". I could only wish it would turn out the way he wanted. When I took it out of the oven, it was sticky or gluey at all. So to make it sticky, I made a chocolate ganache and poured it over the cake. I made sure I did not put the cake into the fridge so that the ganache remained melted and gluey. He liked it, but the rest of the people thought it was too sweet.
Rest of the food:
And here are his birthday presents. Since it was 1 week before Christmas, we stashed all the presents under the Christmas tree.