Saturday, May 29, 2010

Trying to Work in Singapore, NOT!!!

The first night in Singapore was spent recuperating in bed. I don't know what happened to Aiden, but he definitely made the flight to Singapore a very unpleasant experience. We nearly missed the flight (what else is new), and I was so looking forward to resting in the plane. Aiden was fine when we boarded the plane, he started exploring the pocket in front, the retractable table, looking out the window. Then a mat saleh gentleman sat beside us. Aiden started looking at him curiously, even smiling at him. He was still okay when the plane took off. But the minute the plane was in the air, Aiden turned to look at the mat saleh, and started wailing his lungs out. I politely asked to stand and spent the whole flight standing with the flight stewardess at the back - even sitting in the toilet on the toilet bowl when my legs felt like they were going to give in. Then it was time to land, so of course we had to go back to our seats. Aiden saw the mat saleh again and started screaming and screaming like there was no tomorrow. The flight stewardess tried to console him, the mat saleh tried to look away, I tried to calm him down - but nothing worked. Some of the people in the plane even turned around to look. Malunya Mummy!

The first day in Singapore, was of course spent at Orchard Road. No pictures because I was too busy shopping. Arms are still sore from the shopping bags. But today I finally mustered up the drive to work. Yes, work.

Weekends are generally quiet where we are in Singapore. Padahal, Hubby's crib is actually on top of a small shopping mall. There's a Burger King, a Watsons, a Coffee Bean, a Seven Eleven and multiple other restaurants, kiosks, laundrettes, printing shop and offices. And they allllll close during the weekend! (Okay, except for the 7-11 and the 24hours McDonalds right across the road, but that doesn't count!) To get food and such, we would have to walk either to the nearest FairPrice (like Giant lah) or hop on the MRT to more busy and family oriented areas. And jangan harap to get nasi berlauk over here. When Hubby is out at work, I would just munch on bread. No wonder I lose weight whenever I am in Singapore.

But this time around, we needed to find some porridge for Aiden. He's old enough to communicate his dislike for Nestum and Mummy is hopeless at cooking, so Daddy brought us to the train station! Not any train station, but Keretapi Tanah Melayu.

Did you know that the land where the station is plus the railway track towards Johor - all belongs to Malaysia? Prime land, since it is right smack in the middle of an area full of offices, business and such. This place is also of prime importance to Hubby since this is where he frequents for lunch, satisfy his cravings for Malay food and most importantly, where he can puff Malaysian cigarettes and not be penalised by the Singaporean police! (They are very anal about people smoking only Singaporean purchased cigarettes.) But recently, there was news that this train station will be relocated to Woodlands, and the land handed over to Singapore. Such a shame!

Malaysia, Truly Asia!

They even had a replica of a homestay kampung pondok.

Quaint, but just nice. After all, the train only heads towards one destination - Johor!

Model tak berbayar, with bubur ayam in hand.

It is hard walking in peace when you have a paparazzi as a husband. Now I know how celebrities feel! *chewah*

Then off we went to Hubby's office, in hunt for an internet connection so that Mummy can log on to the VPN network. I promised my boss that I was going to work during the weekend, so here I am honouring my word! But guess what? I could not log on because of the million and one security settings that the Dutch Oil Company implements on all its company issued laptops!

Mummy on the phone with the IT helpdesk while Aiden squeals for attention.

Aiden playing with the stroller wheels.

And got into trouble with Daddy, the designated babysitter.

Aiden throwing a tantrum.

At this point, Daddy was this *showing tiny gap between my thumb and forefinger* close to losing his patience.

Then it was time for some office fun with Mummy!

One, two.....


After spending nearly an hour with the IT helpdesk, I finally gave up. Well at least I tried! Work was just going to have to wait until another internet connection is secured. So, to Vivo City we went for more shopping!

Another milestone for Aiden, his first time in a bus!

Traffic jam in Singapore.

Ready to start shopping!

Upon arriving at the mall, we were greeted by a huge stage - they were looking for the cutest baby in Singapore! To enter the 'beauty pageant', babies and kids were asked to complete 4 different games/tasks and then pose as king/queen, complete with robe, crown and sceptre! The cutest baby pose will get to compete in the finals on Sunday.

Aiden completing game number one - jigsaw puzzles!

Aiden at game number two - place the plush animals in the box.

Aiden at game number three - and then we found out that to qualify, we need to be Singaporeans. Sheesh!!!

I was so confident that Aiden would win, hands down! So we left disappointed and started shopping. I finally found a Gap store in Vivo, where I went crazy shopping spree for Aiden's clothes. They were all 30% off, and plus an additional 20% if you buy more than 5 items. Which therefore makes everything half price! Daddy was so excited with Aiden's new clothes that he insisted that we dress him up with the outfit of his choice.

Aiden taking a power break. Check out the new outfit!

Okay, super recharged and ready to go!

Aiden the explorer.

"Nobody can stop meeeee!!!!"

Except for Mummy of course!

Aiden listening intently, being reprimanded by Mummy.

Finally, peace is restored!

I love the new pants design in Gap. I purchased another one similar to this, but longer in brown/red.

Back home, Mummy and Daddy crashed in the living hall while Aiden watched Ice Age 2 on TV.

Tomorrow is the last day of the weekend! Need to find an internet connection to do work!!!!! Aarrgghh!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

We're in Singapore! Yeay!!

Sorry for the silent week. Work has been killing me even more than usual. We're in the midst of sending out a package of confidential documents for the project's competitve bidding and I am in the middle of it all - interfacing with everyone, (standing - we don't even have time to sit down) meetings to solve issues, editing input from others, proof reading every single line and even formatting them in the middle of the night. I've worked part time during the weekend for the past 3 weekends. I've been clocking in 10-12 hours each day for the past week and I have the eye bags to prove them! Just yesterday during a working community meeting, the boss mentioned about the work I was doing, even giving me special recognition - but alas I was to busy to even attend the meeting! (How was I to know that he was going to compliment me, kan?) Despite the hectic schedule, I am happy to be busy. I don't know how to do nothing. And being this important in a project gives me the confidence that at least, my job is secure!

The documents are currently 98% done. But my bags are packed, and I am ready to go. No way am I missing my holiday. I had already burned a pair of tickets to Singapore last week because of this dateline. And my boss cornered me at the exit two days ago and asked whether I could cancel my trip, in which I brilliantly and politely declined. No way, no how, no why was I going to burn the tickets again this week. I'm going! (Although I did promise my boss that I was going to work during the weekend - now how did he talk me into doing that??!!)

Well, we're here. And incidentally, it is the start of the Great Singapore Sale! (When I booked the tickets I didn't know that it was going to coincide with this amazing shopping event - I swear!)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Renovation Progress: Week 11

Remember the date with the matriculation mates which didn't materialise? Well, they were so sweet to organize another get together brunch, this time to fit my schedule! And since Hubby is a weekend husband and all, it is a bit hard to squeeze in any time apart from him, except during Gymboree! I figured, let Daddy sweat it out this week, flinging Aiden up in the air (one of the activities in Gymboree - good for toning flabby arms) while Mummy dress up and have brunch with the girls.

On the way to Gymboree. My hair is free and loose instead of the normal pony tail I usually adopt for a sweaty Gymboree class.

"No more sucking binky! Pose for a picture, baby!"

Aiden touching his lips only to find that his binky was gone.

And it was great fun hanging out with the girls again. Gossiping until I forgot to snap any pictures at all. Swapping shocking stories about one another (and also others). It was also their first time meeting Aiden (who eventually arrived after Gymboree and was all sweaty, sleep deprived and cranky, as usual). They even commented that Aiden is much much more active that a fellow friend's son. And they even had an answer for that comment: "Tengok la mak dia siapa, patutlah anak dia active and banyak cakap!"

You know that you are good friends with someone when he/she can make blunt comments like that!

But it was all good. I am happy that Aiden is active. Yes, he climbs chairs, screams for attention, baby talks with just about anyone, demands to hold bowls , hands stuff to random people and bangs on the table with spoons. But I rather have an active extrovert than a docile child.

Then off to Shah Alam. On our way we stopped at a petrol station for some bottled water. It is usually very hot in the new house so we would always stock up on cold drinks to keep us hyrdated. And look at what I bought!

Mini Milo for Aiden. I never knew they packaged it in this size!

Size comparison between Aiden's Milo and Mummy's strawberry milk.

We have never been successful in teaching Aiden how to drink with a straw. Even my friend's daughter who was around 5 months old when we met them in Singapore knows how to drink with a straw. Whenever we give him a drink with a straw, he would just bite on it. No matter how many times you show him how to slurp through the straw, or how tiny and short the straw is, he would simply not geddit! And I honestly thought I was going to fail again with this mini Milo. Until I got this idea letting him put the straw in his mouth and then squeeze the pack so that Milo flows into his mouth through the straw. And bloody hell, it actually worked! He started sipping through the straw! Another milestone for Aiden *yeay*!!

Half a mini Milo later, we arrived in Cahaya SPK.

They were cleaning the front porch when we arrived. The house is officially 75% renovation complete.

Remember my pedestrian gate? Well, I know I said it was cute and everything, but really - it is actually too small!

Hubby illustrating my point. We're going to tell the contractor to remove that grey cement strip at the sides and just make it flushed with the pillars. Hopefully that would make it bigger!

Working on the stairway/patio plaster ceiling.

Kitchen windows installed.

Dining hall plaster ceiling. Too small for my liking though!

The drying area outside the maid's room fitted with tiles.

Existing window frames to be discarded. Anyone wants besi buruk?

The wrongly laid tiles have now been removed.

Just as we were leaving, we noticed that the plaster ceiling was done!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Of an Old Piano and a Loyal Television

Soon, we will be throwing a lot of junk out of the house. It is, after all, part and parcel of moving houses. Unfortunately, for a hoarder like me, it is hard to separate between the junk and the keepsakes. Living in the same house for the past 18 years does not help either. Since I occupied the second largest bedroom in the house during my teenage years, up until I inherited the house and moved into the master bedroom, I have never been forced to pack my things into a box. Yes, I have packed multiple times and lived out of a suitcase, but I always knew that I had a place back home where all my precious memories and items of sentimental value are safely stored.

I once had a television which was as old as I am. Well, a few months younger actually. Must have cost a bomb since it was a Sony and a colour TV too! I had fond memories of watching the television with my Mum. Back then Astro was unheard of, therefore TV2 was the channel to watch for quality English movies. And when NTV7 was launched, my old but loyal television was incapable of searching for that particular frequency and I remember thinking that it was probably time for a new TV. We eventually did get a new TV and the old TV was placed in the store room where it collected dust over time. Fast forward to just last year, while Hubby was spring cleaning the house, he convinced me that it was time to throw the TV away. It wasn't the first time he hatched that brilliant idea - I just was able to thwart all his prior coaxing trials! Besides, the television still works albeit poor reception and limited channels. But this time I relented. To cut a long story short, I couldn't bear to look when Hubby brought the TV out and left it at the back lane, I cried when I discovered that I couldn't live without it and cried even harder when Hubby rushed out to take it in again, only to find that it was gone.

Another precious item that has been with me since I can ever remember, is my piano. I started piano classes back when I was only 6 years old. I remember having extra piano classes in the kindergarten hall with the music teacher after kindergarten hours were over. Then my Mum enrolled me into Yamaha where I started Grade 1 classes with another girl (my Mum's friend's daughter). And I remember making a million and one excuses to not go to class, just because the other girl was better at playing the piano and therefore I would get scolded like crazy by the garang teacher for not playing as well as I should. She later told me that the other girl had the drive to practice, but I was actually the more talented one - just unfortunately a bit pemalas. But yes, I did learn a lot from my teacher. Once she even taped my crooked chicken fingers with celophane tape so that I would curve my fingers the 'correct' way in preparation for a piano exam. Yes, Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) piano examinations were not easy. The theory exam was usually not too bad (although I hated the part where you had to compose your own music piece), but the practical exam was horrible! Every year I would be at the Federal Hotel in KL (that's where they had the practical exams those days) and I remember walking up and down the hallway, putting my icy cold nervous fingers to my neck trying to warm them up, and playing my music set pieces and scales in the air with my imaginary piano. The worst part was the sight reading exam, where they give you a song piece and you had exactly 30 seconds to study it then play it as best as your can. (I usually score badly with this one!)

Another fond memory I had with the piano was when my Mum was home in bed recuperating from a fibroid surgery, and I was practicing for my piano exams. Since she was at home all day, she would force me to practice multiple times in a day. But because she was upstairs while the piano was downstairs, we would make use of the telephone to communicate. We used to have 2 house phones with the same line - one for downstairs, one for upstairs (those days cordless phones were not cheap), so she would pick up the upstairs phone and I would pick up the downstairs phone and put it to the piano. I would play for her while she listened through the phone. For scales, she would say "Play me A minor!" or "Arpeggio in the key of C major". Truthfully, I don't know how my Mum picked out any of my mistakes on the piano since she wasn't trained musically!

And another memory I had with the piano, which wasn't that pleasant, was failing my 5th grade examination. Piano exams are not cheap, and my Mum would drill that into me constantly, nagging about how expensive the exams are, how my father wasn't helping us financially and grumbling that I wasn't practicing enough. Unfortunately, I failed my 5th grade exam by three measly marks, mainly because of sight reading. And when I found out, I was so scared, I didn't know how to tell my Mum. I kept that secret for more than a week. Whenever she asked me about my results, I told her it wasn't out yet. In the end, I wrote her a note (with plenty of apologies), stapled it with my results and left it in her handbag before she left for work. Needless to say, I got an earful from her that night! And that became the last (and only!) time I failed an ABRSM exam.

As time passed by, I discovered that I did have the flair for playing the piano. As I grew older, I played because I loved to play and hear the sweet songs that my fingers created. When I broke up with my boyfriend, I would bang on the piano for hours. When I am happy, I would play sweet melodies, which even influenced my neighbour to purchase a piano for his daughters. And when my Mum passed away, I played with so much sorrow that I cried and cried - tears pouring on the piano keys.

So imagine my anguish, just a few months after my Mum passed away, my youngest Aunt called and told me that she wanted her piano back. Yes, it was her piano. My grandfather bought her the piano, but when she went to university, my Mum took the piano in. And now she wants it back. She wanted to play the piano again. So she says. I must say I am disappointed to report that since the piano arrived at her house, the piano isn't well maintained, some keys are broken, even the piano seat is stripped!

Recently, I visited my Aunt and plonked Aiden on the piano seat, waiting for a reaction:

My future piano protege'...

Insyaallah, Mummy will buy herself a piano and send you to piano classes when you're old enough. So that you won't be tone deaf!

He looks so at ease with the piano, like he was born to play!

Wonder if I will turn out like my Mum, nagging at Aiden to practice on the piano.

And recently we visited my in-laws, and I was so surprised to find that they too had a television which was as old as Hubby! And it still works!

Nothing can beat my first television, but this is as close as it can get!

Two very distinct generations.

Muaaahhh for sentimental value!

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