Thursday, December 20, 2007

Home for the Holidays

Heading back to Malaysia...Truly Asia, tomorrow. Lots of logistics to arrange, cos we're landing in Singapore, staying a night to run some errands, then taking a cab to Malacca. A week or so later, we're driving to KL, staying there for a few days, then fly off to Kota Kinabalu for 8 days to see the in-laws. Have not been to KK in 2 years I think. We've booked a few nights at the Sutera Harbour Resort, and I'm still contemplating a 4D/3N stay with detox programme at a mountain resort.

I've been finding it hard psyching myself up for this trip. Don't ask me why. I don't know why. Year-end melancholy maybe, somebody slap me happy. The kids are mighty excited though.

I'm a little bummed that none of my buddies from Malacca will be back for Christmas. This group of Form 6 friends are about the only Malaccans I still keep in touch with and we're now emailing one another from all over the world; me in Moscow, Noel in Saigon, Chia Fong in Dubai, Yew Song in Shanghai, Andy in Singapore, Keng Kiong in Guangzhou, Chee Kong in KL but heading for Paris soon and Raymond in KL heading for Dubai permanently. That leaves my former partner-in-crime Lily the only one in Malaysia, and she's in KL building her dream bungalow.

Next year will be 20 years since we left school and in 2 years we all turn 40. Really strange where life has taken us.

Ommmm, think happy thoughts, Ommmmm....

In case I don't get online the next couple of weeks, I'd like to wish you, yes you, and you and you and you(yeah that's about right), a Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Kite Runner trailer...

...looks really good. From the director of Finding Neverland, another movie I really liked. I wonder if this will be screened in Malaysia, where I will be for more than 3 weeks starting 21st December.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Science at Home 8

Quick, make a guess, what's shown in this picture?



It's a piece of lego stuck inside a test-tube-like container, one of Sean's numerous daily stunts. There were other pieces blocked by this piece. See picture below.



Brian was given this container last week when he went on a field trip to Coca-Cola Factory, as part of this Unit of Inquiry titled "Made you Look!" which is about Advertising. The tube is about 6 inches tall, but when heated up to 240 deg celsius, it starts to melt; it's then blown at very high pressure, to become the 1 litre Coke plastic bottle we find in shops.

Sean was thus a bit panicky when he couldn't get his lego out of his korkor's precious bottle, and quickly came to me for help.

An opportunity to conduct a long overdue and simple experiment.

Objective: To show that solids expand when heated

1. The test-tube is heated up with hot boiling water.


2. Lego pieces come unstuck.


Tadaaa...
Conclusion: The heated test-tube expands, becomes bigger and hence looser, allowing the lego piece and its brothers to come unstuck.

And Mummy saves the day once again :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

In case anyone doesn't know Xmas is approaching...

...we've got all these gigantic decorated trees to remind us.

This one taken outside the mall near our place (think suburb mall ala Tampines Mall).



And another one 15 steps away, inside the mall.



While I was taking this, this security fella came by and gestured Nyet with his hands; a little taste of KGB-Russia eh? Ceh, I have giant Christmas tree right in my backyard, big deal.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Dumbfounding Dimensions

For the past month or so, Sean has been fascinated with 2-dimensional vs 3-dimensional shapes. He's also been drawing tesselation of shapes. Brian was the one patiently teaching him about tesselation.

He's also asked numerous times for me to teach him to draw spheres, cones, cylinders, cubes, cuboids, pyramids and lately ellipsoid after he asked what a 3-d oval would look like.

Today I was stumped when he asked if a point was one-dimensional. We searched the net and I read that a point was zero-dimensional and lines are one-dimensional.

Brian explains to me what he understands about 1D, 2D and 3D:
"We are in a 3-dimensional world and everything, except shadows I think, is 3-D in our world, but what we view is just 2D. In a 2-dimensional world, what we can only see is a slit or a line, eg if you cut a very thin line on a piece of cardboard and look through it, that's how much you would see in a 2-dimensional world. For a one-dimensional view, you need to take a very very sharp pencil, and use it to make a hole in a piece of paper, that's how much you'll be able to see in a one-dimensional world. Basically, a point is what we see in a one-dimensional world, a line is what we see in 2-dimensional world and a plane is what we see in the 3-dimensional world."

I'll summarise if the above is true:
A point is zero-dimensional;
A line is one-dimensional;
A plane (any shape we draw) is two-dimensional;
And the stuff in our world are three-dimensional.

Please correct us if this is wrong. I think I'm gonna confuse my boys more and more with my incompetence in Science.

Sigh...I still have to find out how to answer Sean's other question, "What does 4-dimensional mean?"...Hellllpppp!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

From string theory to particle theory

After an hour of playing Marble Blast on the Mac, the boys came out running, and Sean was crying (sigh...as usual). Brian complained that he was merely trying to help Sean but Sean would make a horrible face after being helped.

Sean claimed that his korkor made him lose, but I explained that that wasn't true, and that korkor was helping him. He then volunteered a "Sorry korkor" without being asked, something that rarely happens. The boys hugged and made up.

I kissed Sean's head and said, "Mmmm, Mummy loves your big head. Your head is soooo huge." Btw, he loves it when I say his head is big :) cos I told him it meant he has a big brain (I'm his mother, I'm just exercising my right to tell him nonsense like this).

He looked at me and said, "When I do work my head becomes bigger, and when I watch TV my head becomes smaller."

I turned to him with a delighted face, "Yes....and when you do things for yourself, like brush your teeth, put on your clothes, wear your socks and shoes, your head grows too, cos you need to use your brain to do all these."

Brian jumps in with, "When you whine, it shrinks to negative! Yes, when you whine, it becomes so small, even smaller than a string, until it disappears and becomes negative."

Sean added, "When I cry, my brain becomes so small that it's smaller than a point particle."

Brian goes,"You don't even know what a point particle is!" (Actually, Brian's the one who didn't know.)

Sean said, "A point particle is nothing."

I think he's right. From Wikipedia: A point particle (or point-like, often spelt pointlike) is an idealized object heavily used in physics. Its defining feature is that it lacks spatial extension: being zero-dimensional, it does not take up space. A point particle is an appropriate representation of any object whose size, shape, and structure is irrelevant in a given context. For example, from far away an object of any shape will look and behave as a point-like object.

Don't look at me, I don't understand that either.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It sure is looking a heckuva lot like Christmas



Check out the snow-covered Moscow River. This picture was taken from my neighbour Dewi's apartment. Gosh, I love her apartment, it has a fantastic view. Unfortunately for me, Dewi will be moving to Hanoi in a couple of weeks, her husband works for the Dutch Embassy. She's been here 2 years, long enough to see the river turn to ice that's hard enough to walk and skate on.



I only realised the other day that they've installed a huge Christmas tree in the development's football field. When I took this photo, it was afternoon, and the temperature was -9 Celsius I think, and yet there were people hanging around the tree, siao si bor. In the middle of the field is a Russian nanny trying to get her tot back home.

Anyway, Christmas decorations are out in full-force all over Moscow, and definitely very evident in our development. Lots of lights and big Christmas trees. Hmmm, so why don't I feel the cheer?

Monday, December 03, 2007

WRITE IT ON THE BLOGGER!!!

Sean told me a couple of stories tonight, the first titled The Cube and the Sphere, the second was The Pyramid and the Cuboid, which I typed onto my gmail as draft, cos I can't write fast enough. But when it came to his third story, he insisted, "WRITE IT ON THE BLOGGER, WRITE IT ON THE BLOGGER!!!" So I went to Blogger to type story No3.

The spinning cube and the tomato

Once upon a time, there was a tomato and then a spinning cube came and snipped the tomato into half. And then the spinning cube snipped it again to make 4 quarters of the tomato and then snipped it again to make 8 red triangles of the tomato. And then snipped it again and ate it and then spit out the seeds and then they grew into lots of tomatoes. And then they kept doing it again and again and again. The end.
....................................

I wanted to save this as draft, but there was no going past this little fella. After I typed "The end" up there, he immediately said,

"Put it on the other side, the wrong side of thirty. I want you to make this a Sean post."

So I'm clicking on Publish Post now.
....................................

After publishing, the page loads to this page, and I said, "Happy Now?!" He giggled, Yes! Then proceeded to read the entire post out loud and exclaimed, "I love this!" What do you love? "I love what you wrote, Write it on the blogger!", giggling away happily.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A hippin' n a hoppin'



A friend of mine here (I'd better not mention names lest I embarrass her son) was relating to me just how very much into the hip-hop African-American culture her teenage boy is. They are Singaporean Indians. It immediately brought this rib-tickling Petronas advert to my mind. The advert is quite old so you may have seen it, but it's funny even after watching it many times.

ROFLMAO with Russel Peters

Nothing much happening here, there appears to be world-wide blogging malaise, my Google Reader hasn't been feeding much these few days.

I've been getting reacquainted with comedian extraordinaire Russell (Russel?) Peters on Youtube. Laugh until peng.



If that takes too long to load, watch at least this clip about whacking kids.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Asean summit in Moscow : )



What you see above is typical Uzbekistan food, from left to right (top then bottom) we have eggplant, Lagman (Noodles with lamb in soup, something like sup kambing),lamb and rice with some beans and this dish (just found out it's called Plov) was mighty delicious we ordered another one, bread, fried flattened chicken and chicken sashlik.

Lunch was at Vostochny Kvartal in old Arbat, and this restaurant came highly recommended by Kala, wife of Eddie's predecessor Raj. It is one of the more reasonably-priced restaurants around. Four of us had a bowl each of that sup kambing, shared 2 plates of eggplants, 2 plates of rice, a plate of chicken, a shaslik, bread, and a pot of refillable tea, and the bill came to about S$200. And yes, it was yummy.

For company, I had Kala, May (wife of Thai Airways' Station Manager) and Dewi (who's married to a Dutch Embassy personnel). This was a lunch that was pretty long-time coming, cos a few times we had to cancel the appointment for one reason or another. Glad to finally have made it, cos Kala and Dewi both leave Moscow for good come mid-December, Kala for Mumbai and Dewi for Hanoi.

Our nationalities make up almost all (save for the Philippines) of the founding members of ASEAN (Association of South-east Asian nations). You see, Kala is Singaporean Indian, I'm Malaysian Chinese, May is Thai and Dewi is Indonesian Chinese. We've made tentative plans to meet in Bangkok for a holiday next summer break. May's from Bangkok while Dewi and Kala are regular visitors who love that city. Me? Have always wanted to but believe it or not, I've never been to Thailand. Sure hope that trip materialises; shopping, massages and food oooohhh....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Remember the Rubik?



I used to be able to solve Rubik's Cube easily when I was hmm, 11 or 12, I can't remember now. Eons ago. When we were in Singapore, I bought this lauyah imitation Rubik's Cube from Lucky Plaza, just for fun. It's really badly made, very hard to turn, but it kept Brian from moaning of boredom when we were shopping in Hongkong; he was either on his Nintendo DS Lite or the cube the entire time, even while walking on busy streets, drove us nuts.

Before coming back to Moscow, my fastest time was 2 min 28 seconds; Brian was taking more than 3 minutes. I've not played since returning to Moscow, while Brian picks it up whenever he's super bored, ie when no tv or computer's allowed, when he just wants to loaf around and avoid being asked to do Chinese or help with chores. I just video-ed this and he's gone under 2 minutes (119 seconds to be exact), beating my record by half a minute.

There's a 3-year old girl who solves this in 114 seconds.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Here we go again...same old dum de dum



Guess what? It's Tuesday again tomorrow. And someone's fretting again, even after I reminded him that he had FUN at swimming last week.

This morning, he moaned, "I wish there were only 6 days a week. I wish there was no Tuesday..."

After school, he moaned, "Today is a scary day because today is Monday and tomorrow is Tuesday and Tuesday is when we have to go swimming."

Grrr...yes, he's a worry-wart. I wrote about his irrational worries here.

A month or so back, he was going on about how afraid he was that the sun would explode in 5 billion years (something Brian told him). He whined, Mummy, can you please pray to God not to make the sun explode? I told him okay, I'll pray but it really doesn't matter cos we'd be dead in 5 billion years anyway, hehe. That got him even more worried, "But I want to live forever..."

............................

Update: Sean went into the pool without fuss but that was about all he was willing to do. Less fun and games this week, more serious swimming now that many of the other boys are doing really well. Sean refused to do all the stuff the coach instructed the children to do. He just waded up and down the entire lesson. I felt disheartened to see him like this :(

Found another winning recipe...



Chicken Teriyaki this time, and again from Wokking Mum. My mum actually cooks her chicken like this, and when Brian saw it, he exclaimed, "Is this the chicken that Popo cooks?" He was so happy. But I think this is even better than the one Popo cooks, seriously.

And there's no garlic/onion/ginger to cut or slice or pound...exactly the kind of easy-peasy recipe I love. Just marinate for half an hour and you're ready to go.

The adapted recipe can be found here. Trust me, this is sooo easy and good, we all had 2 servings of rice (and the only other dish on the table was herbal soup).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

You've gotta love a site that...

...dispenses advice like this (about Christmas gifts):

"You will have to buy gifts for people that you do not know very well and probably do not like. Just buy them biscuits, hopefully they will choke on them. It will serve 'em right for expecting a present."

LOLOL!! Check it out...Slackers Guide to Parenting. What a hoot!

Words to Feed the World



Do a good deed while learning and having fun at freerice.com. For every word you get right in the vocabulary game there, the site donates 10 grains of rice through the UN to help end world hunger.

I got to 2440 grains of rice and Level 37 (highest possible is Level 50). I'm possibly a Level 34, cos I got help from Brian who came by while I was playing the game.

He got these words right for me:

Glyph - Symbol (from the word Hieroglyphics)
Escritoire - Writing table (guesswork, cos the French word for write is Ecrit)
Caterwaul - Yowl (from books he's read)
Meridian - Noon (from Murderous Math's explanation of what A.M. and P.M. mean)
Tableau - Scene (from French lessons: Tableau is picture/blackboard in French)
Perdify - Treachery (from his Charlie Small book)
Dryad - Wood Nymph (linked to the word Nyad, an immortal magical creature which lives in water but becomes mortal if it leaves water; from Fablehaven, a book which his teacher is reading out loud to the class)
Carrion - Rotting flesh (from his Web of Life unit of inquiry)
Porringer - Bowl with handle (cos he thought it sounded like Porridge!)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

First try at Kung Po



Kung Po chicken is one of Eddie's and my favourite dishes to order in restaurants but it's really hard to find it cooked authentically abroad. Sometimes they cook it with red pepper (instead of dry chilli, how can????), in the Chinese restaurant we went to here in Moscow, they drown the dish with tonnes of tiny dried chilli (again, very strange); so we don't really bother trying this dish in restaurants anymore.

I found a recipe off Wokking Mum, adapted it to our taste, and hey hey I've got my Kung Po chicken now. The boys liked it. Eddie's not back yet so I've yet to get his verdict (okay, he likes it too, but thinks it may be too spicy for the boys...told him the boys were fine).

Next time, I'll try it with prawns. Yum!
.........................

Actually, when I talk about authenticity, I'm speaking from my own point of view, I'm sure the Kung Po I know is a bastardised Malaysian/Singaporean version, and nothing like the original dish which is (I think) a Szechuan dish.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm not fat, I'm just wide okay!

I was lying on the boys' queen-sized bed as I helped Sean change(why? cos that's what I do, I'm a lazy mummy). So Sean's on me, changing into his tees and jeans. I'm almost at the edge of the mattress cos Brian's lying on the other side, taking up more than half the bed, reading.

After changing, Sean rolls over and ends up at the edge of the mattress.

He goes, "Mummy, you are so wide that you are pushing me off the bed!"
Me: What??
Sean: You are too wide!
Me: Are you saying I'm fat?
Sean: No, I'm saying you're wide.

Brian and I turned to look at each other, and we both burst out laughing!

Me: Hahahahaha...Why are you laughing?
Brian: Hahahahaha...he wants to say you're fat but he says you're wide.

At that very moment, Sean has a slip of the tongue as he almost slips off the bed.

"Maaaarrrmeeee....You're too faaaat..." and immediately changes it to, "No, you're too wiiiiide..."

Then giggles heartily as I attacked him with tickles and bites.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Got US$399 to spare?...

All I want for Christmas is...

Kindle.

Not that I do all that much reading but what I really wanna see for myself is how true the claim by Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is that reading on Kindle is "sharp and natural with no glare" (It uses a new kind of display called electronic paper).

Exciting...

...................

Okay, just checked, it's temporarily sold out.

..................

Okay, can forget about it, Hsien just told me this can only be used in the US. @#$%^&

Spanking new skates



Bought two pairs of Roces ice-skates (exact model shown in picture) for the boys, which they'll need for PE lessons soon. I was advised by a mum who learnt (too late) from experience to buy this brand of skates, as they allow for growth in kids' feet (growth compensator), and they're also clipped on (not as cumbersome as lace-ups). They cost S$220 a pop, so the boys better be skating like this chap here by the end of our Moscow stint or I'll be marching up to the shop for a refund :)

The ice-cream worked!



Thanks to my promise of after-dinner ice-cream (plus a week of cajoling and little threats), Sean finally joined his classmates for swimming lessons, and had a whale of a time! I was really worried this morning, what a relief.

..................

He's had more than 1 hour of "tortoise-talk" today, they're still at it in the room now.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Scientists DON'T know everything




At the dinner table tonight.

Sean: "Where's your limbic system?"

Me (never heard of the word, thought he said Lembik, soft in Malay): What?

Sean: Your limbic system.

Me (this time thinking he probably mispronounced lymphatic): I don't know.

Sean: I think it's in your brain.

(pause)

Sean: I think I'm right.

Me: I thought the brain is the nervous system.

Sean: The limbic system isn't the brain, it's INSIDE the brain. And the brain isn't the only part of the nervous system. There are nerves that are part of the nervous system.

Me (trying to get more out of him as I typed this): What do you know about the Limbic system?

Sean: I don't know. Type "I don't know." I'm not so clever.

...........................

So it's not true that scientists know everything eh? Hehe.

............................

Now learn!

The limbic system encompasses structures that are critical for forming memories and experiencing pleasure, as well as for various motivational and emotional activities. In evolutionary terms, the limbic system is more recent than the central core and is fully developed only in mammals. The limbic system includes the hippocampus and amygdala, as well as other structures. It appears to play a central role in times of stress.

Source (not Wikipedia this time okay!)

Tuesday is Swimming Day so...

...wish me luck as I brace myself for potentially another embarrassing scene at school.

Last Tuesday, I trotted off to school in the morning to help change Sean and his classmates in and out of their swimming costumes. It was Lesson No3, and Sean had missed the first two, Lesson 1 when he ponteng-ed and Lesson 2 when we were back in Singapore.

I wasn't quite prepared to have him cry pathetically, first to me, then to his teachers, refusing to join the swimming lesson. More than 10 minutes of crying. With Sean, some threats from me to Shut Up!, Enough!, usually work but this time he continued crying. So I let him off, mainly cos I couldn't voice my threats out loud enough; there were other mummies around. He stayed with me while I helped change the other boys and we watched the swimming lesson from the viewing gallery.

In between last Tuesday and last night (it's 530 Tuesday morning now), I have been warning him to not repeat the scene. I've taken him to the pool at our place to let him try out what the other kids were doing during the lesson. And Brian has promised him an hour of "tortoise-talk" (which is Brian using his hand to talk in high-pitched voices for different characters and which Sean is highly addicted to) if he swims in school. That's the carrot; the stick is "No tortoise talk for a month" if he cries and doesn't swim.

He's been saying all right, he'll not cry, he'll go. But just now, he woke up and when I reminded him that he has to swim today, he started his nonsense again with, "But whyyyyyyy.....????" The carrot & stick just might not work with this fella. I need a whole lotta best wishes today.

..........................................

745am update: More of the "I don't want to go swimming..."; I succumbed and added another carrot; ice-cream tonight, choice of Haagen Dazs Cookies & Cream, Movenpick's Vanilla Dream or Movenpick's Swiss Chocolate, all three if he wants. I have new tubs of all these in my freezer.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Missing London...



...so much : (

Maybe it's the approaching of Christmas, maybe it's the awfully cold weather here (minus 11 degrees today), or maybe it's just year-end melancholy, but I've been missing London so much these past couple of weeks. And early this morning, I found out I wasn't alone, on gmail chat with Sarah, she said she too missed London like crazy. We both left London at about the same time (she too is in a cold place, Copenhagen).

I'm missing my friends, the boys' school, their friends and their teachers too, the vibrance, the pulse of this amazing city, yes yes, the food too. We bitch about her (London) when we're with her, then when we leave, we really realise just how much we loved her *sniff*.

And Sarah had to remind me about the fantastic Boxing Day sales! Talk about rubbing salt into wound.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How much do you NOT love me?



This morning, I had a moment of mummy madness and lashed out at the boys for something trivial. Anyway, I was wrong, especially to Sean. Later, when I felt bad and went to him to sayang him, he ignored me, and I asked, "You don't love Mummy?". He replied, "I don't love you when you scold me...but just a little bit."

A few hours later, while we were mucking about on the sofa, I asked him again if he loved me. He said yes. I kacau-ed him, "But just now you said you don't love me when I scold you." "Oh, just a little bit...like an atom." and placed his palms on top of each other to show just how little.

I pretended to bawl, "Even if it's just an atom, it still hurts me...waaaahhhh....".

He replied, "What if it's as little as an electron?"

Me: Waaaahhhh, still hurts.

Sean: As little as a quark?

Me: Huh? Quark?

Sean: Yes, quark is smaller than electron. And string is smaller than quark.

Not sure if he's right or not, but according to Brian, they talk about atoms, electrons, quarks, strings during pretend play (when trying to outmatch each other on smallness of something). And this came after watching an episode on String Theory in the documentary The Elegant Universe back in London. They're watching it again now on my Apple.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Singapore food scene



My recent trip to Singapore had more misses than hits when it came to the eating out scene. What I had above at Sun and Moon Japanese restaurant (Wheelock Place) was one of the few hits, not a major one though. For 4 lunch sets, our bill came to below S$100, reasonable compared to some other places I went to. Food quality was not too bad.

By far, my worst experience was Crystal Jade Paragon, which had in the past never failed to satisfy. Couldn't finish the Peking Duck, barely touched the prawn cheongfun, and the glutinous rice wasn't fragrant like I remembered. Our dimsum lunch for 2 adults/2 kids (with Peking Duck, roast pork) came to S$140...walau-eh, could have eaten shiok shiok for roughly that price in Pearl Liang *sob sob*.

My friend Irene's husband Eddie said the sifus at Crystal Jade have jumped ship to Imperial Treasure. Anyone knows if this is true? I did ask the waitress if their sifu has changed, she said No.

But one firm favourite of ours did not disappoint. Jumbo at East Coast. We go there with a focus, to have drunken prawns, black pepper and chilli crabs; the other dishes are nothing to shout about. If I remember correctly, prices for the crabs (S$3.60 per 100g) have not increased since the early 1990s when Eddie and his crazy bunch of fellow trainee station managers used to have their pay-day makans there (location was near the East Coast McD then).

Great food + Good Value is what's gonna keep customers coming back. One bad experience and it's bye-bye for most people. I know I'm never going back to Crystal Jade Paragon again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Lasik experience

Many of you would know that I went back to Singapore to get my Lasik done last month. Happy to report that all is well, eye dryness is barely noticeable and I actually have to remind myself to use the eye lubricant a few times a day. Reading was a problem the first week or so but that is also no longer an issue.

Details of my Lasik.

- Done in Lasik Surgery Clinic in Paragon.
- No waiting list, in fact, I changed my appointment dates numerous times via email and the folks there were kind enough to accommodate these changes.
- Evaluation took 3 hours, surgery on both eyes done the very next day by Dr Jon Goh. If you're on soft contact lens, stop wearing them 5 days before evaluation. And of course no make-up on day of surgery (don't worry the doctors won't faint, at least mine didn't.)
- Transparent plastic eye-shields to be used immediately after surgery and for 3 nights to prevent accidental rubbing of eyes.
- Eye dryness experienced for about 2 weeks, but not overly uncomfortable. Still able to surf the internet aimlessly a lot.
- No make-up, washing face, exercising for 2 days and no eye-makeup for a week (I cheated and started using some eyeshadow on Day 4). No swimming for a month.
- Standard Lasik (Monovision) which meant one eye was left with some myopia (100 degrees for me). This helps with reading as we age. Good for those of us nearing 40 or already in 40s.
- Total paid was S$2520 for both eyes due to a discount of S$400+ if you use selected credit cards. Option to use monthly instalment payment (interest-free up to 12 months).

Good luck to all you si-mak-gaos (4-eyes) looking to do your Lasik. I won't say it was a breeze, cos for me it was scary, though others have said they didn't feel anything. There was no physical pain, but just the thought of my cornea flap being turned over and seeing it actually happen with no option of shutting my eyes (which were clamped open)...aaarrggghhhh....I never wanna do it again, glad I did both eyes at once.

As many have said, this would be one of the best things you ever did. Shoot away if you have any questions.

Snowy Moscow scenes



This was yesterday morning, taken on our way to school. We had woken up to see that the snow from the previous day was slowly melting away and thought the boys might not even need the snow pants we were packing to school for them. But just as we stepped out of the building, snow suddenly fell, so much of snow. The boys were thrilled.

Snow continued to fall for most of the day. People went about their business like it was a normal day. I saw folks stopping to make small talk, grandmas/nannies walking little tots, workers hailing the public buses and waiting for trams, and there we were huddled in the warmth of our car.

Normal traffic, ie slow traffic, in Moscow.



Snow is pretty right? Well, snow turns into slush...er...not so pretty.

Sean's rules to live by

The boys quarreled after dinner over something really trivial; nothing unusual but I had had enough of their nonsense and shut them up by telling them I'll be wielding the cane for sure, by the end of the night. Have not used the rod in a very very long time.

Sean started crying and begging, then said please Mummy I promise I won't do it again. Do what again? Do what I did that was wrong. There are many things you do that you're not supposed to do. Do you know what they are? Erm, Don't fight? What else, what else do you do that annoys us a lot! What are you supposed to do and not do?

His list (in his own words).

Don't fight.
Don't bicker.
Don't go near someone who's cooking.
Don't whine.
Don't cry.
Don't make someone who's carrying hot soup spill the soup on you.
Don't take things without asking.
Don't just grab things.
If you see someone holding the thing that you want, just say please and after that say thank you.
Don't go near some fire, otherwise you'll burn yourself.
Don't drink dirty water like bathing water, or washing hand water.
Don't spill some water that you're holding.
Don't say "I can't".
Don't touch other people's cars.
Don't drop any food while you're eating anything.
Don't leave any crumbs or pieces of food on the floor otherwise the ants will come, all the ants in the world.
Don't stop doing your homework when you need to do it all the time.
Don't take Daddy's pants off (Huh? Do you take Daddy's pants off? Just this much...(puts his hands about 3 inches apart from each other)).
Don't pull anybody's hair (Still thinking of Daddy).
Don't vomit.
Don't break any glass or china, maybe both.
Don't fall out of your window when you're very high up.
Don't hit any people.
Don't waste paper.
Don't waste water.
Flush the toilet.
Wipe your own backside.
Don't shout at Daddy.
Don't lie down on somebody.
Don't push anybody.
Don't pull anybody.
Brush your teeth by yourself.
Wear your own socks, shoes, jackets and gloves or mittens and snowpants.
Don't say "I'm bored. There's nothing to do."

That sure is a long list for 5 minutes of self-reflection.

The rest of the night has been peaceful and nice. Gonna go read them a story now, no cane today then.

........................

I posted this half a minute ago, Sean comes by and reads a bit, then chuckles and says, "My favourite one is Don't take Daddy's pants off!" How ah, this boy is without remorse!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Directions for opening a bottle cap

Boys get a treat from their distracted mum, a cup of coca-cola each.

Brian takes the big plastic bottle out of the fridge, brings it to the dining table to pour the coke into a cup for Sean first, then himself. He makes a half-hearted attempt to open the cap (fingers were oily from eating pre-dinner chicken curry), turning it left, right, then quickly asks, "How do you open it?"

Before I could answer, he was already making his way towards me so I can help him open the bottle; and Sean blurts out, "Anti-clockwise!"

And indeed it was anti-clockwise but how'd he know that??

My Hongkong trip updates...

can be found here, here, here and here. Glad that's done!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Snowy November morning

Woke up to this.



That was 7am. This next one was taken an hour later.



The entire football field (right side of the picture) was covered in a blanket of snow.

Met up with Kala yesterday and she said even during the terrible winter of 2005 that everyone talks about, it wasn't this cold this early in November. We're only in mid-November and the temperature has been consistently below zero for more than a week. She's thinking this will be a worse winter than 2 years ago. Dewi, another mummy, however noted that some people are saying this will be a mild winter.

So, will this be a harsher winter than that of 2005 or will we enjoy a mild winter like that of last year? Our freezing butts will keep you updated :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Be our guest, be our guest....



Picture shows macarons that our lunch guests brought (together with eclairs) for dessert. They (the macarons, not the guests) were delicious. Purchased from an Eric Kayser outlet in Moscow's Arbat. Wendy, these were tonnes better than the ones we got from Yauatcha in London.

The honour of being our first guests went to Eugene, the station manager here, and his wife May. Simple fare; nasi lemak, sambal prawns, sambal anchovies, and grilled wings. That's the good thing about being away from Singapore. You can get away with serving such fare when 'entertaining'. I'd be cracking my head if I had to cook for guests IN Singapore, cos who'd be thrilled with nasi lemak or chicken rice or mee siam which can be found in any hawker centres for S$3 a plate?

It was good to have adult company in our otherwise mundane weekends here. Besides nasi lemak, the other meals I can think of for serving friends are Beehoon with curry chicken; Chicken rice; and other Prima-inspired meals. If anyone has other easy ideas for me, especially meals that cater to both Asian and Caucasian palates, please drop me a note. Don't ask me to tone down the spiciness of my spicy dishes, just can't do it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Why the long radio silence?..Errr...

Klah, I've been away on vacation, I'm a little sick now, I have less access to the computer at night, I've been lazy blah blah...But since Stef's crafted out such a well-written reason for not blogging, I'll just say 'ditto' for me. Go read it.

Yes yes, Facebook is EVIL. You heard it here. Someone described is as internet crack. How apt...when you think you've gotten bored of something, eg first superpoking, then sending gifts, then scrabulous, websudoku, bogglific...something else comes along to keep you logging in. A quote from my all-time favourite TV show Seinfeld - Just when you think you're out, THEY PULL YOU BACK IN!

A little Seanism to tide us through this blog drought.

Last night, on seeing there's his favourite chicken wings for dinner, he laughed in delight and said:

1. Wow, I wish I could have chicken wings forever!

followed by...

2. I wish I could have YOU forever!!

and

3. I wish you would love me FOREVER!!!

Of course that got him a huge hug and big kiss on his big head from his happy mummy and an emphatic assurance that "OF COURSE mummy will love you forever!".

.................

Gevin, next time Wendy cooks you your favourite lor bak, remember to do the same ya, sure get some hot action after dinner ; )

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Day 4 Hongkong

Our last full day in Hongkong and we had only bought an Esprit winter jacket for Sean, nothing for me nor Brian. We headed for Central, where I was gunning for H&M (address: 68 Queen's Road Central), a Sweden-based store chain which I first encountered in Frankfurt and rediscovered in London. Unfortunately, couldn't find anything, the range is pretty similiar to what I saw (and bought) during the summer sales back in London. Or it could be as what Helena said, the range in Hongkong isn't as nice as that in Europe.

However, we found a winter jacket for Brian, gloves, sweatshirts, socks, beanie hats for both boys, so it was a productive outing.

Lunch, yummm. Headed for Yung Kee, famous for Roast Goose.

Address: 32-40 Wellington Street, Central (MTR Exit D2) near Lan Kwai Fong


We ordered 3 plates of roast goose (drums) with rice. The roast goose tastes much like the roast duck in London, very tender and really delicious (but Eddie said he still prefers Goldmine's roast duck!).

I had this plate of century eggs all to myself and almost ordered another plate but thought better of it. It was sooooooo goooooood!



We (Eddie actually) had to order his requisite charsiew and roast pork which I didn't care much for. And a century egg porridge for Sean.

So 3 plates of roast goose rice, a century egg porridge, 2 century eggs, a plate of charsiew and roast pork, and half a soy-sauce chicken, guess how much the bill came to? A whopping S$170!!! This isn't restaurant fare leh...After eating at Chinese restaurants in Hongkong and to some extent Singapore, I'm thinking London isn't that expensive anymore.

Oh well, at least we enjoyed the food.

Walked near this tourist trap, dunno what it's called, on our way to the IFC mall. Brian's not happy to have his photo taken hee. Sean's about to do his Shawshank Redemption pose but I clicked faster than he could raise his arms and face.



IFC Mall is located above Central, lots of shopping there but nothing I'm really interested in. I am a focussed shopper, I was looking for winter jackets and was thinking I'd have to spend tonnes to buy one in Moscow the way things were going.

Took the Star Ferry back to Tsimshatsui...the fare is only 40 Singapore cents I think!

Stopped to have Haagen Dazs ice-cream near the terminal. We are a family that loves to eat, eat, eat. Eddie then took the boys back to the hotel while I looked round Esprit Outlet. I had missed a section with down jackets the other day. And this time, I found what I needed! So shiok.

I ended up buying a white short down jacket, 2 knee-length down jackets (one black and the other dark brown) and a tweed-like looking coat. All these for slightly less than S$400!!! When I went back to Singapore, I saw a similiar tweed-coat in Esprit going for S$370! And down jackets were about S$200+ each. I was and am so happy with my buys. And no Lisa, Eddie isn't buying me a fur coat, so I'll make do with these :)

Dinner isn't anything to blog about, but here it is. No address, doesn't matter anyway, food was bleahhh...The boys' tastebuds are so spoilt, they wouldn't touch this soup!



There won't be a Day 5 Hongkong post cos we headed for the airport right after we woke up to catch the 11am flight. We had a yummy dinner in Singapore though, drunken prawns, chilli crabs, black pepper crabs etc at Jumbo.

Hongkong was great, made even better cos we achieved our mission, to get winter stuff for me and the boys. I loved this vibrant city when I was here more than 10 years ago and love it now. Happening Hongkong, I'll be back!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Day 3 Hongkong

Okay, our main aim coming to Hongkong was shopping, eating and Disneyland (for the kids), so there won't be any sightseeing stuff to read about in my posts. I can only put up photos of food we ate.

I can't remember if we had breakfast but we had lunch at Zen Chinese Cuisine, 88 Pacific Place, right above Admiralty MTR. The dimsum here is really good, and their roast pork, out of this world, best roast pork we ever tasted! Seriously, S$20 a small plate, worth every cent. Sorry no pictures, but the place is quite dark, and the crowd a bit atas, so didn't want to embarass Eddie by looking suku.

After lunch, we window-shopped at Sogo, and later Times Square. These shopping centres are in Causeway Bay, loads of shopping here. We decided to explore Causeway Bay today, Friday, cos I had read somewhere that the crowds on weekends are crazy.

Guess what we saw as we crossed the road from Times Square...Xiu Liu Shan again...and though very full, we went for mango dessert again. Yummm...and this time Sean got into the action too cos we told him what we ordered was jelly (we didn't mention mango, else he'd say no). The bottom left picture is supposed to have mango ice-cream and pudding with bird's nest, like real only.



Sean in his favourite pose these days. Does it remind anyone else of Shawshank Redemption?



I can't remember now how much more we walked, but it couldn't have been that long after our dessert but I was adamant about finding the snake soup place I enjoyed so much more than 10 years ago. Eddie vaguely remembered how to get there from Causeway Bay MTR. We stood right in front of this shop, and Eddie said doesn't look familiar. Luckily, Kelly had given me the address and when we checked the tiny number somewhere on the exterior wall, bingo, this was the place. It was pretty packed. The boys and Eddie went across to McD to wait for me; Eddie had always been queasy about seeing the snakes preserved in huge glass canisters.

I had no such reservations. Ordered my bowl of soup (just ask for 'sair gang') and it was as good as I remembered. S$10 a bowl. Go try it. Gosh it was goooood.

Address: 24 Percival Street


With the boys moaning and asking to go back to the hotel and me really tired too and very very full, we headed back to rest. Eddie went on to shop some more in Harbour City and later returned with dinner.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Day 2 Hongkong

We started Disneyland Day with breakfast near the hotel, just a place we passed by. Eddie had his lai cha (tea with milk)and I don’t know why he has such a fascination with this lai cha (teh si and teh tarik are tonnes better methinks) but he had to have this every morning and even during tea-time the entire duration of our stay in Hongkong. Yep, even at the airport before boarding!



I had the prawn dumpling noodles, it was just all right. Eddie and the boys shared some ham and egg sandwich.



Midway through eating, we saw another table having this pork cutlet and egg with rice which father and firstborn started eyeing. Eddie promptly ordered this and Brian ate most of it, with great relish.



We then made our way to Tsimshatsui MTR. Decided against taking a cab as I had read that the Disneyland Resort line has a Disney-themed train. MTR tickets cost HKG20 for adults, half that for children. From Tsimshatsui, go towards Central, change to the Tungchung line. Stop at Sunny Bay station and take the Disneyland Resort line (right across the platform), just one stop.
Check out the train. Cute huh?


The park is a short walk from the MTR station. We decided to go on Thursday, our first full day in Hongkong, to avoid the weekend crowd when we could have made the boys wait till Saturday (after Disneyland, all they wanted to do everyday was go back to the hotel grrr...).

Bought our tickets, walked past Main Street, and then...what the...this is it?? Sleeping Beauty castle was a big letdown. Isn't the castle backdrop the photo-taking highlight of all Disneyland visitors? Why stinge on the castle. It's overwhelmingly underwhelming. Look at this picture....



...and then the first picture in this Paris Disneyland post. See what I mean?

Those who like It's a Small World, well, this attraction isn't ready yet. But there's another similiar attraction called The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh worth going on.

Food in Disneyland is pretty reasonably-priced and you can get chinese food! Yayyyy! They even have a restaurant by Maxim's (famous for dimsum). Oh oh, the popcorn at Disneyland hongkong is the best I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. Browned with caramel and no sticky feeling betwen the grooves of your molars afterwards. Fantastic. Ice-cream was good too.


And prices aren’t exorbitant the way they usually are in theme-parks. Here's my er, sweet sour pork I think. I took the picture cos the bowl was cute.



Sean's and Brian's favourite land was Tomorrowland (there are just 3 lands, the other two being Fantasyland and Adventureland). Sean loves this ride, the Orbitron. But he had to comment to himself, "This is not right." "Why?", I asked. "The sun is orbiting the universe." Sheesh.



We did all the rides we wanted, watched a 30-minute Lion King show, and still had a few hours to loiter around (and shop) while waiting for the fireworks display at 7pm. That gives you an idea of how small this Disneyland is. It's very doable for those with young kids. Then again, perhaps it was because the day we chose to go was right after the Halloween celebrations, hence, there wasn't much crowd and we didn't have to queue.

What we should have done during the few hours break was to get out of the park and return later for the fireworks at 7pm. We didn't know we had this option and only thought to ask when it was already 5pm, duh! Cos the main outlet mall in Hongkong is located just a few stops away from Disneyland, right at the end of the Tungchung line. It's called Citygate. Just take the train back to Sunny Bay station, and continue on to Tungchung. I never went to Citygate so don't really know how good it is. (Alternatively, Citygate can be done another day cos Tungchung is the stop for the 360 deg cable car ride and Big Buddha).

Glad we stayed for the fireworks, the boys had a good time, we all did; Disneyland without queues, a first for us.

Headed back to the city where we had dinner at this famous Macau restaurant in Tsimshatsui. They display their Portuguese egg tarts outside the restaurant, you can't miss this place.

Address: 27 Lock Road, Tsimshatsui


Famous for their roast pigeons (good but so small), fried rice and curry too, excellent stuff. The pork ribs we ordered is also their signature dish.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Day 1 Hongkong

A good start to our 5-day holiday in Hongkong. Upon entering the aircraft of in my opinion the best airline in the world (of course I may be biased lah), I immediately noticed that the wall panels were a different colour, beigy and really really nice. I thought, eh, chi guai, this looks different. Then I passed Business Class and saw the huge seats there. And I realised we're on an airplane with the new seats that are used in the A380. Whooopeee, check out our Economy seats.

Gorgeous, gorgeous. I tell you, that few extra inches makes a lot of difference okay. I know, cos I felt the difference when I flew on the older seats on our way back from Hongkong. The colours used were soothing too, love them.



Yes, Sean brings Mary along on flights, and his old Carters blanket too. Brian keeps them for him.


Check this out. Huge screen, no more cumbersome console (is that what they call that handset thing) near your sides, it's stowed nicely in front of you. And I didn't take a picture, but the tray table can be folded in half (or two, whatever floats your boat) and when folded, there's a little mirror there, for us vain ones to pretty ourselves up before landing (or to check that there's no spinach stuck between your teeth, never an attractive sight). Clever!


Was a great flight and the food was actually good. Arrived in Chek Lak Kop airport on schedule. The last time I was in Hongkong was when Eddie was the Assistant Station Manager here (circa 1994/5) and landing was always such a fantastic experience, yup, that was Kai Tak airport in Kowloon. Chek Lak Kop reminds me of KLIA actually, big and spacious.

View from the back of our taxi. Cab fare, about S$60+ from airport to Tsimshatsui.

Freshened up and then headed to the Esprit outlet right around the corner from the hotel. A quick walk around and I only found one thing I 'maybe' liked, and bought it. But I eventually found some really good buys here on my last night in Hongkong.

Address: 4-6 Hankow Road, Tsimshatsui.

Walked around Harbour City, a huge shopping mall near the Star Ferry terminal. At this point, I've got to thank Kelly (a Hongkong native and my friend Helena's best friend) and my ex-colleague Hwee Hoon for all their recommendations on shopping and eating. Oh, Li Ping too, for passing me the travel itinerary template that her husband Yong uses each time they travel, very anal but at the end of the day, very useful.

Dinner was at Peking Garden at Star House 3rd Floor, 3 Salisbury Rd. Food was good but the Peking Duck, the signature dish here, wasn't really what we're used to. It's brownish in colour and very fatty and seems deep-fried, I'm not sure. The ones we have in London and Singapore are reddish-brown in colour and sweeter.

Returned to the hotel to change into more comfortable shoes, then headed out for more shopping. Tsimshatsui area has not changed much. But the shops are Park Lane appear to have gone slightly downmarket. Good thing it did cos I found hair clips and hair bands at one of the shops there. The exact same clip I got from Isetan Parkway just two days ago for S$12 was selling for S$3.60 here!

On our way back, we stopped at Xiu Liu Shan (I think that's the name), for mango dessert although we were already very stuffed. The boys refused to have any -- spoilsports!



Back to the hotel to bathe and sleep before our full day at Disneyland tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What Sean does when he Ponteng school

This past Tuesday, I kept Sean home for a couple of reasons but never mind that.

When he stays home, he typically:

1. Does some Kumon so Mummy can satisfy herself that she has done some work with him at home.
2. Reads all day. This is a book he read that day, which I bought for Brian probably 6 years ago.

3. Leaves books strewn on floor (this series of books on numbers, called Numberlies, is really quite silly, but he likes to look at them every now and then and laugh).

4. And as usual dozes off while reading. (This time, while reading one of his Korkor's favourite Horrible Science book, Shocking Electricity, he only reads the comics in there.)


This is actually my effort at cataloguing some of the books the boys like and enjoy, something I have been promising Hsien I would do for a long time.

While I was writing this, he was near me reading this book I had picked up for only GBP6.99 from Book Case in London's Chiswick High Road, called The Planets, A Journey through the Solar System. Great buy! His current favourite. Shucks, I just realised the book is only US$14.99 on Amazon. Oh well. As the reviewers said, this book has stunning pictures, really amazing ones! I love it too.