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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Seven Sisters, East Sussex

We woke up one morning and it was such a bright and sunny day that we decided to take a spur of the moment trip to the Seven Sisters.

It was the first time in a long time that we have been out in nature, away from London. It was so lovely and refreshing, albeit in 5°C weather. Peaceful and tranquil.

Driving out from the cliffs, we spotted a close with the most whimsical-looking trees. We had never seen anything like that before. Almost makes you feel like a giant just looking at it. 

En route to Brighton

We had the best burgers in the UK at Burger Brothers in Brighton. Simply delicious gourmet burgers in a small shop.

 Took a leisurely stroll after a late lunch and headed back to London. Wonderful day trip!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Callum is Thirteen Months Old

Another month has gone by. 
I wonder how long we should refer to the ages in months. I have started just saying that he is One. 
Our little man was very brave in his first year immunisations. Four jabs in total, two in one thigh, one on the other and one on the arm. On that visit to the doctor, he learned what a skylight was. He also learned where the noticeboard and fan was in the reception. The skylight proved a very useful distraction during his jabs.  

Our family was hit by wave after wave of colds due to the change of season. I first caught a cold off someone then passed it on. After we recovered, my husband caught fresher's flu off his students in class then passed it to us. After that, poor C had a fever from his immunisations. Thankfully, we made it through and are left with some residual coughing. We enjoyed giving C many cuddles (he is usually way too active to cuddle) and he just laid on us the entire time he had the fever. We watched amazing fireworks from our apartment for the first time as a family on Guy Fawkes Night. It was such a special experience. We turned off all the lights, sat down and cuddled C while we watched the sky light up with beautiful patterns.

 We picked out a book from a charity shop which had beautiful illustrations of the moon and the night sky. C loves looking at the moon but hadn't really taken to the book yet. On a particular day, I almost lost my voice from the cold. The raspy voice made for a captivating narration! Since then, C has been so taken with the book.

The children centres are amazing. We managed to go to the Toy Library and borrowed a tent for C to play with.

C loves soft play and tunnels as well.

We visited the children's library and found some books which C really likes. What a great resource!

Our big boy has also made his transition to the toddler carseat and he loves it! For the first time, he was silent throughout the journey! We love this seat too because it swivels to the door. Saves us so much backache and time. Highly recommend the swivel carseats.

We got him a little tricycle. He still hasn't figured out how to propel himself forward. He walks backward then gets off and turns the tricycle onto its side and plays with the wheels instead! He has started pushing the tricycle while crawling then just yesterday he started pushing it while walking. I tie a rope around the front and pull him around on a ride. 

He is getting stronger on his feet every day. Walking further and even trying to run before he can walk perfectly! Typical Callum! He beams proudly every time he walks towards us. He has been working hard on his U-turns midwalk and change in direction. He practices it by walking towards one of us and deliberately turning around at the last minute before reaching us with a cheeky grin. Then he walks to the other person and does the same.

He has been enjoying his time at the childminder's too. Now that he is more steady on his feet, he does this hilarious thing where he climbs onto and stands on our legs every time we play the piano.

Celebrated his buddy's birthday just a few weeks after his own!

I was sure that this year we would not be able to put up the Christmas tree because he would yank the tree or ornaments down and potentially hurt himself. However, after some persuasion from the husband, I decided to give it a try. I asked C to help me with the ornaments. His face and expression when he first saw the ornaments were priceless! I showed them to him and explained each one. I asked him where I should put them: 'Up' or 'Down'. Involving him in the process was so much fun. We took our own sweet time with each ornament. He even has his own special handpainted glass ornament, a gift from a neighbour when he was born. I tell him 'That's Callum's. That is a special one! We have to be gentle with this one!' 

Now, when he comes near to the tree, he will say 'maaaaaaaaaaaa' and point to the ornaments. I take one down and tell him about it and pass it to him. He takes it, looks at it then holds it out away from him towards the tree. I take it back from him and hang it back. We repeat this with a few more ornaments within reach until he is satisfied then he goes along his way. :) No chewing or ripping apart the tree! He even got to learn new words: 'snowflake', 'bauble', 'ornament', 'Christmas tree', 'big star on top', 'rocking horse', 'bell', 'pinecone', 'red and gold', 'tinsel', 'twinkle lights', 'shiny'..... So much fun. When we saw a Christmas tree in the grocery shop, we played spot the 'big star on top' and all the other objects he has learned.

We had a lovely surprise one evening when we were sitting down having a quiet dinner. Suddenly, the intercom buzzed and came a message, 'Delivery from Malaysia'. Lo and behold, my sister-in-law popped up and gave us all quite the shock. C broke into tears briefly from my exclamation. Haha. A belated birthday gift from Suk Suk and Sen Sen! 

Happy 13 Months, Callum!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Callum is One Year Old

So much has happened in the past month!

My dear boy is starting to learn his phonics. Never too early, I'm told. My mother-in-law had a brilliant idea of using Callum's formula lids to write the alphabets on. She also said that children can see better with blue and red ink. We have now started him off on 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd', 'e', 'g', 'l', 'm', 'o', 'p', and 't'. His attention span varies but on a good day, he makes a real attempt at making the sounds! He can do a,b,c,d,e and m. He is also able to pick out the alphabets and hand them to us correctly half the time so far. When we first started, he was less than keen. He only wanted to gnaw on the lids. But very quickly, after 2-3 days, he now looks forward to it. Whenever I take the container out, he bounces excitedly. How interesting it is to teach and parent in faith.

He also babbles in 'm' and says 'mueh, mueh' alot. I've been teaching him about the moon, stars, sun, night and day. I also try to speak Mandarin to him. He has some hand-me-down French books which are his favourite books! He goes straight for them every single time.

'mmmmmm' = moon which he loves to say.

Update: He has now moved on to 'G' in his babbles! He goes 'Guh! guh! Guh!' incessantly. It's so cute the way he scrounges his nose when he says it.

We decided one day to teach him how to draw on the Ipad. He really enjoys trying to draw the letter 't'. He struggles with the horizontal line but babbles so much when we draw.

We have been taking him out to play groups, music and adventure sessions. He had his first time on a slide and crawling in a tunnel.

He also found the screws that hold up the dining table. It's his latest discovery. Naturally, everytime he stands there playing with the screws, I say 'That's a screw!'
One day, while flipping through his book of animals, I decided it was time to introduce the squirrel. The moment I said 'squirrel', he turned to look at the table! Every time since, he has been doing that. Come to think of it, the two words really do sound similar!

Each time he experiences something new, he has this gleam in his eye and an excited smile. It's so precious. He also started playing Peekaboo with us all by himself. One day he just crawled to the curtains and peeked out from behind it saying 'Ah Booooo'. I'm so glad that I caught one of those moments on camera below.

He understands so much now and is able to pick a book and bring it to us when he wants us to read to him. He does it so much that I am getting breathless from reading. He tries very hard to crawl to us book in hand. After we take the book from him, he bounces excitedly on his knees and claps his hands. It's really cute.

Callum has started wanting to be close to us. He holds on to us more and stays very close by. He leans his head on us which makes us so happy and he gets upset when we leave the room.

He enjoys trips to the park even now when it's getting colder. He is also a very social baby.

C posing with his 'Welcome to the World' picture at Great Aunt Jessie's.

He really enjoys it when I sing to him so I've been adding new songs to the repertoire. Mostly songs from children church, nursery rhymes and wonderful songs that my mother-in-law has taught me.

He caught his first flu, two weeks shy of turning a year old! What a feat I must say. He has not fallen sick a single time since birth, bar his eczema. No fevers or colds. Despite that, he was still mostly a cheery boy. One day, he was a bit down and I decided to sit him on my lap and look through his latest photobook with him. I told him about this precious red book and how special it was. As I flipped the page, he saw a photo of his grandparents. His finger immediately went to grandpa's face and he made squealing noises while touching grandpa's face over and over again. He then did the same with grandma. It was such a touching moment!

He is definitely teething as well. He chomps down on both of us like a lion cub, grunting most earnestly. He has bitten us everywhere on our arms and legs. Poor boy. He doesn't like any teething toys and prefers the flesh, just like his mummy! (I'm told the love for biting runs in my family)

He also started walking! One night, he was just game on trying. He had been standing on his own here and there through the day. He hasn't really walked much since that night, as most things go with this boy. He tends to shoot straight into doing something amazing then not do it for a while. He was so pleased with himself when he took his first independent steps. He was squealing in excitement.

We also decided not to send him to daycare after we started seeing some things we didn't like about it. We found a childminder instead. Hopefully, it will be a wonderful experience for him.

Happy Birthday my darling!

You are such a joy and a wonderful boy. Your smile is the sweetest thing to behold! Your laughter is infectious and the best medicine to anyone who hears it. We love you so much and we cannot wait to see what you will be up to next. 

God bless you, my love, and may His grace and mercy follow you all the days of your life, my bright sun, Zhen Wei.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Callum is Eleven Months Old

Everyone, we have teeth! Teeth has been sighted! Teeth-age if you will!

Our darling boy finally sprouted his bottom-front left tooth when we were away on our second honeymoon. He was drooling buckets and biting down on everything a few days ago and his bottom-front right tooth has been sighted today!

We took our first trip alone after Callum's arrival, just my husband and I. We were supposed to all travel together but Callum's eczema was so furious that we couldn't risk the long flights and disruption to his already fragile schedule.

Packing one Callum to-go!

However, thank God his eczema cleared in time for Ye Ye and Ngen Ngen to enjoy him without his crippling eczema. They graciously came again to help care for their grandson who enjoyed the time so immensely that he didn't miss us at all!

We Face-timed from Asia and he would giggle and smile excitedly upon seeing our faces and hearing our voices. We had a wonderful time in Asia too, a much needed break from the 'dark ages' (as our new friend puts it- referring to a baby's first few years).

A happy reunion! 
When he first saw us, he started blushing so hard and he was so flushed with excitement!

In the two weeks that we were away, he learned so many new things. He had Mandarin language lessons from his grandparents and now knows quite a few things in Mandarin! He also could tell where the picture of Big Ben was merely from hearing its melody. He also knows which musical toy is which based on the melodies. We just need to sing a line and off he goes to grab that toy. Lately, he has been bobbing his head to some tunes and when he is excited. Funny little fella!

He has learned to push tiny buttons, flaps and levers on his toys and turn the switch on and off to the Dyson fan even!! He practiced standing up quite a bit and is gaining more stability. Today, he pulled himself up just grabbing on to my dress while I was doing the dishes! He started cruising a little already.

He also claps his hands quite a bit and he has learned to put balls into a funnel. However, his babbling has stopped and has been replaced by full-fledged pterodactyl screeching. I really do hope this phase passes soon. Both my husband and I have been tirelessly teaching him 'more', 'milk', 'sleep', etc signage as well as words to help him verbalise in some way apart from the high pitched ear-drum shattering squeals. But alas, it has not worked yet.

He also knows some books by their content and names. Even a French one! Haha! He can pick out the books according to what we say. He enjoys pulling his books out and trying to turn the pages. His latest thing though is to go down on a sprawl and lick the books/floor. Don't know what he is up to but he looks very cheeky when he does it.

He still enjoys playing the piano and is gaining more hand-eye coordination. He also still loves throwing things. A particular fascination he has is with the washing machine! My in-laws found that out because he would crawl into the kitchen and sit there and watch the clothes spin round and round.

We have started his first session of settling in at daycare. My heart can't take it, as all mothers would understand. My critical eye constantly tells me so many things are not good enough for Callum but something's gotta give at this point as I resume my studies. So, I hope things go well and that he settles in nicely. God help us.

Can't believe my boy is going to be One soon!

Happy Eleven Months, Callum! 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Hong Kong & Singapore

Our little family was supposed to fly to Asia to accompany my husband for work but due to C's eczema flares, we thought the long haul flight would not be good for him. So, it was just the two of us. Our very first trip without C! We got to experience the Swiss-port lounge at Heathrow for the first time. It was a very fun experience having some snacks, warm soup and some drinks before flying.

While we were away, we kept making mental notes of places we would take him to the next time we're all together in that part of the world. The HKU area is a really nice part of Hong Kong. New subway station and a more relaxed side of HK. The tourist spots in HK are mostly not for the faint-hearted- enormous crowds, long queues exacerbated by the summer heat and lots of pedlars. 

Be forewarned, this post will largely revolve around food as we have been so deprived of Asian food by that point. We were also too exhausted from caring for C to commit to other touristy activities. Our secondary purpose was to rest and eat! 

Upon landing we found ourselves deep in jet lag. At 230am, we walked down and asked for recommendations for food. The front desk pointed us to an alley across the hotel where there was a small shop selling a variety of foods (only in Chinese characters)- noodles, rice, fish, roast duck even at 2am! Thankfully, my husband can read some Chinese and managed to get us some giant beef ball and mooli noodles. We went back to the hotel, opened the little packet of chilli oil and the warm soup combined with just being off a long haul flight was heaven! We were probably two of the most overly enthusiastic people over something as simple as supper but being away from the foodie perks of Asia for so long does that to you. We were beyond thrilled and fascinated at the prospect of being able to get good warm food at such an ungodly hour. 

The next evening, we met up with a friend and his wife for some more delicious food which I had never tasted before. I also very quickly fell in love with the classic egg waffles. It was such a treat to have people we know in a strange city. It made the entire trip such a memorable and enjoyable one. 

We met again for some Chiu Chow cuisine at Kei Tak restaurant. The oyster omelette was mind-blowingly good and so was the whitebait dish. But the star of the meal was the soup. It tasted like it had been boiled for a day, such amazing flavour. I have no idea what soup that was but it had some sea cucumber in it with chicken pieces and herbs. I felt like writing a poem about it.

We had to leave for Singapore the next day for my husband's work. 

My attempt at doodling at an Apple store to kill time.

We were booked to stay at Carlton and they kindly gave us an upgrade as they were fully booked. 

We had a wonderful view overlooking some familiar sights, a free Android phone to use during our stay and a gorgeous bathroom which had those automated window blinds and an open-planned tub. We really did not expect such luxury and were so grateful to even be in Singapore. What a beautiful hotel.

We met up with some old friends from Nottingham for some chicken rice. They kindly helped my husband in his quest for durian. Poor guy has been kept away from his true (food) love for too long. We found some in Rochor. The Musang King in Singapore had me, a non-durian enthusiast, converted. It tasted so good! The rest of our time in Singapore was spent catching up with more old friends, having great conversation, some who spoiled us rotten with more delicious durian and meeting with family. I do regret not remembering to eat some rotis and curry!!! 

All too soon, we had to leave to go back to HK. Dim sum for breakfast? Yes, please! Good quality dimsum, easily obtainable and affordable too. Loved the hargaus and wantans. 

We greeted my brother-in-law and his wife who made the trip specially to meet C who unfortunately couldn't make it to see his Suk Suk and Sen Sen. We were thrilled to catch up and go around with them. We went to Victoria Peak together. It was quite a long queue to go up the tram and once we got up there, the view did not disappoint. However, it was a tad annoying that a photo-taking crew had blocked off quite a chunk of the scenic portion for photo-taking business. They taped it off and no one was allowed to step in that area. There was a huge crowd up there and people tended to hog spots once they got close to the glass panel. Thankfully my brother in law is very tall and he could take some nice pictures while my sister-in-law was small enough to squeeze and get a space which we could swap with them to get a turn at looking out. 

The gorgeous night view

Later that evening, we had a 1 Michelin Star experience at Yat Lok's Roast Goose! Such yummy sui kows too.

I got to visit my husband's temporary office which had such a beautiful view of the harbour. I love the long doors of the HKU offices. I got to sit in his staff seminar after a lovely lunch with a new friend. Such fun!

We met up for a friend's birthday celebration at a Japanese place. I tasted fatty tuna for the first time and it was marvelous!

My bro and sis-in-law recommended this amazing food called molten egg yolk custard ball law cowssant. Haha! Their friend told them to heat it up before eating it and it was so rich and yummy that we bought one back for my in-laws to try. Definitely must not miss this on any visit to HK. We also tried a matcha cake and it was good!

We were treated to a black pepper duck pau in Singapore by a family friend which interestingly was from London Fat Duck! It was a very unique taste. I also wanted to try Pocari Sweat and Honey Tong Tong of social media fame. Our favourite junk snack, however were these jelly pods with real fruit in them. They were so good! We also got to dine with my husband's colleagues at Shanghai Garden. A proper Chinese banquet with many courses and very refined cuisine. It was such a luxurious experience!

We also managed to try some amazing Dim Sum at Chiu Chow Garden and some really yummy egg tarts before taking the ferry over to Tsim Sha Tsui.

We decided to go to Mongkok area for some shopping and boy were we exhausted after a mere 2 hours. We did find some cool things for the family and ourselves. My husband is so good at haggling! Haha. I found a phone case which had 3 rubber duckies swimming on actual water. The baby one was on the papa's back! I couldn't resist that!

We tried the iconic curry fish balls and I also tried my first and last smelly tofu. It was not what I expected at all and it ended up in the dumpster. The street food we really enjoyed turned out being Taiwanese fried chicken and bubble tea. The bubbles in HK are so different in texture. Not the usual plasticky feel but soft and pleasant. The milk tea unquestionably lives up to its fame. 

All in all such a satisfying trip with so many sweet and tasty memories shared with friends and family alike. We love HK and Singapore!