Saturday, July 28, 2012

The rest of our trip

Here are some random shots of the trip.

Ryan and his cousin Malcolm at the hotel coffee house in Ipoh.

Terri at the dinner in Ipoh.

Yuen Fun at the dinner in Ipoh.

Having dim sum breakfast with Terri, Vincent and Yuen Fun on Sunday.

Rachel with her great-grandmother.

After lunch with the family, we drove back to KL in time for dinner with Terri and Vincent at Wondermama in Bangsar Village on Sunday evening.

My dinner at Wondermama was fried maggi mee with seafood.

Ryan's dinner was KFC.

More chillin' with cousin Malcolm.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Celebrating Rachel's full month

Rachel's full month was celebrated in grand style in Ipoh, with a Chinese banquet. One of my aunts (Aunty Sharon) arranged everything. She even made a chicken wine soup for the restaurant to serve at the dinner! 

We had 50-60 guests, mostly relatives. 

Personalised menu.

Some of my dear friends came as well, including three who drove up from KL.

Here is Richard with his two pretty sisters.

Rachel was passed from loving arm to loving arm, from aunt to uncle, to friend to cousin. Too many photos to post - suffice it to say that Rachel spent the whole duration of the dinner in someone's arms.

Ryan was asleep for the first half of the dinner. He awoke to the company of his cousins.

His cousin, Justin.

His cousin, Malcolm.

Nothing much to say, it was a fabulous event - food was good, company was great. It was wonderful to see everyone and everyone was happy to be part of the celebration. It was one of those times when you feel so blessed to be surrounded by family and friends.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My underwater maternity photoshoot!

Yes! After seeing these images back in 2010, I promised myself that I would do an underwater maternity shoot when I had the chance.

So when I was pregnant with Rachel, I looked around for a photographer who was willing and able to shoot underwater and found tomato photo - and I'm absolutely happy with how everything turned out. When I look at the images, I still can't believe it's me!

I love the serenity of the shots - so weightless, so peaceful. To me, it is a beautiful celebration of the pregnant form. Having said that, I guess it's not to everyone's taste - I showed the photos to my inlaws, and they didn't say a single word - which is not a good sign, hahaha! Everyone else was quite intrigued and complimentary though, ;-). There are lots more photos - the ones here are some of my favourites.

I was about 37 weeks along in my pregnancy when these were taken. If you are thinking of doing something like this, you must be very comfortable in the water. It takes a lot of effort and strength just to get your pregnant and very buoyant belly underwater, and then you have to fight to stay underwater! It was a really good workout!

I enjoyed myself thoroughly, thanks to the wonderful photographer, Hart Tan, and yes, I did it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A summary of last week

The week before we drove back to Malaysia was hectic. We'd planned to drive back to KL on Thursday and then to Ipoh on Friday. In the end, we could only set off from Singapore on Friday evening. We drove all the way to Ipoh and arrived just past midnight.

We were delayed mainly because of Ryan's commitments and Rachel's passport. Ryan had a full week - he had a fitting on Monday and filming on Tuesday for one job, and a photoshoot for another job (for a detergent advertisement) on Thursday morning. In between, upon the client's request, we had to take him to get his hair cut twice for the film shoot. Then, on Friday morning, we brought him to visit a pre-school - more on that in a separate post.

Fooling around at the photoshoot on Thursday
Rachel's passport was only issued on Friday afternoon, despite numerous trips to the High Commission.   Richard was told to go back four times (on four different days) and we were left guessing, up till the last minute, as to whether we would get it in time for us to make the trip back. The problem centred on her passport photo: first her face was too big in the photo, then they wanted it shot in the studio (and not at home), then they wanted the blue background to be a particular shade, then ... well, let's just say that I'm glad it was Richard who went to face them. If it were me, I would have blown my top. After Richard collected the passport, he made a quick and relatively painless trip to Singapore immigration to get Rachel cleared with them and we left Singapore right after that.

If you laughed at Ryan's first passport photo, you'll bellyache at Rachel's.

Sigh, where do I even start to try to explain the photo ... no, her hair is not like that in reality ... it's been cropped in Photoshop because Richard had to change the background colour... sigh never mind. Here she is - with her hair in its full glory.

In between all that, we had contractors to fix some stuff in the house - a leak that seems to plague us perpetually.

Richard had a tough time. He was running in all directions at the same time, in addition to running on the spot trying to remote control his staff while he was not in the office. In addition to everything that I mentioned above, he took Ryan for all his classes over the weekend plus he had to squeeze in a dinner with a client on Monday. Not funny.

On Wednesday, Rachel turned one month old and we distributed cupcakes to our colleagues. Rachel came with me to my office and she was ooh-ed and ahh-ed over. I ordered the cupcakes from cupcakedivinity - aren't they lovely?

My confinement also ended on Wednesday, and my confinement lady left the same day. It was good having her around, although I think my cat and dog will miss her most of all - she fed them day in and day out (despite Richard and I telling her not to). Now they're back to their usual portions, which are measly in comparison.

I've had some questions come through via the blog comments about whether we have a helper and how we handle everything. I do want to post a proper reply - for now, the short answer is that we don't have a helper. It's just Richard and me. We do have a local lady that comes on Saturdays to help mainly with the ironing. As for handling all that goes on at home, well, it's going to be a whole new ball game now that Rachel is here, so let's cross our fingers and see. Now that my confinement lady has left, and all the full month celebrations are done, we will have to find our (new) rhythm and hope that things fall smoothly into place.

We just got back from travelling over the weekend and there's loads to update and blog about, so let's get right into it!

Rachel is five weeks old now and doing well. We took her to see her PD, Dr Ngiam, this morning for a routine checkup and a vaccination. She is 4.49 kg and growing well. 

We celebrated her one-month in Ipoh over the weekend with a Chinese dinner for about 50-60 guests. We had a fabulous time - more on that in a separate post! 

The Saturday before that (14 July), we invited Alicia's and Shann's families over to our place for dinner. It was a playdate to let the children play with each other. We haven't met them for a while, although Alicia's and Shann's families meet up with each other occasionally, so it's really nice to see that their children, Brayden and Rou Ern, unquestioningly accept Ryan as their good friend.  

Shann has a newborn daughter as well, so the two infants were coo-ed over and much admired by all. It's always a nice feeling to have a baby in the house and two babies is double the goodness. As usual, the adults gathered around and chatted while the children ran around and played. Rachel spent most of the time asleep except when it got too noisy - she kicked up a fuss about that! The noise level in our home is usually close to nothing, so having three boisterous children running about and chattering away at the top of their voices must have been quite a change!

Photo taken by Alicia
And yes, the three 3-year olds had a good time. There were the usual skirmishes of course, but these got resolved as quickly as they arose, so no harm done. 

Dinner was walloped by the adults, the plates were licked clean with nothing left for the children, so we ordered some more food for the children who, when the food arrived, were still more interested in their play and didn't eat much. There was always cake of course! Yes, we took the chance to have another mini-full month celebration for little Rachel. Shann and Alicia arranged a lovely gift for us for the occasion (which was delivered beforehand) - thanks so much ladies!  

The evening ended just before 11 pm and each family left with a box of cupcakes from awfully chocolate.

Photo taken by Alicia
Now that my confinement is over, we are hoping to arrange another playdate soon for Ryan!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Little professional at work

Ryan had his first TV shoot yesterday! So now he is a model AND an actor! We can't reveal any details until the thing airs - well, actually we don't know the concept  or what the final thing is going to look like, so there's not a lot to reveal. Here, I'm just going to pen down some observations about how Ryan fared yesterday.

Well, Ryan was amazing yesterday! He worked from 9 to 6.30 pm without a nap (but with a lunch break) and he stayed cooperative and cheerful throughout. Everyone was so happy with him and sang his praises.

In fact, reflecting on yesterday's experience, there were a lot of positives. For one, Ryan was incredibly focused. Being on set can be so distracting for little children - there are wires, props, cameras, lights and stuff just everywhere, plus the hair and make-up people are always rushing in between takes to fix his hair and touch up his face. There are little noises and sounds coming from everywhere because someone is always adjusting something, people are having little discussions and conversations in different groups, and people are running around everywhere fetching things and doing stuff. Ryan just focused on what he had to do, he drowned everything else out and he was perfectly fine with people coming up to touch up his hair and makeup every so often, adjusting his outfit, etc.

Second, he took instructions well, even when they came from strangers (ie. the director/assistant director/hair and makeup/wardrobe/etc). That was everyone's worry because children are so unpredictable, but he managed to deliver and act out all the live scenes and stills that they needed. Ryan even had to say a line - and he did! I got so many of the crew coming up to me and telling me that he is the best child that they've worked with, which of course was very nice to hear.

Third, I was pleased to see that Ryan socialised well with everyone. Ryan was the only child on set and everyone's attention was on him all the time but he took it in his stride and didn't let it overwhelm him. He was happy and easygoing with everyone.

Ryan was completely tired out the moment they finished shooting the last scene, and he literally fell asleep in my arms as I took him off the set and sat down with him. He continued sleeping even as I changed him out of his outfit. That, in itself, was amazing - that he worked through his tiredness and gave it his all. A true professional.

Here he is in the car. He continued sleeping all the way home.

I have to say that the crew and everyone at the shoot made it a wonderful experience for Ryan, so a big thank you to all of them.

Richard and I both accompanied Ryan for the shoot, and I brought Rachel along too, together with my confinement lady. Rachel slept through it all, in between feeds.

Monday, July 16, 2012

What Ryan Wore

I've not done a "What Ryan Wore" post for some time. I just can't keep up with his wardrobe! Anyway, this is what he wore this morning when he went for an appointment - looks quite professional huh?

Top: Buffalo Springs by Mothercare (size 2-3 years)
Vest and bottom: Paul Smith Junior (size 3a)
Shoes: Kenneth Cole Reaction
Book: "Dr Seuss' ABC" by Dr Seuss

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sewing 08: Newborn Kimono Top

Here's something I whipped up for little Rachel - a kimono top!

I just finished it! The model is asleep right now (which is when I get to blog!). I'll try to get some photos with her wearing the top later. 

I think I might make another one with a ribbon to tie the front pieces together. This one has two snap buttons to hold it closed. It's really tiny, about the size of my hand. I used pink linen and grey bias tape. The bias tape was a horror to sew on, because the tape I chose was half the width of the one recommended. I must have taken twice as long to sew it on than to put together the rest of the top. I should have followed the pattern and used a wider tape, but I had to do my own twist eh! I used a free pattern from the purl bee.

I'm not going to sew clothes for Ryan for a while because that boy has a ton of clothes. We can't wear them fast enough before new ones join his wardrobe. A lot of his clothes are bought by his nanny - there was a week sometime back when he would come home wearing something new every day! We are immensely grateful for all the love his nanny showers upon him!

It's good to get back to my sewing machine. I had to take a break when I was in my last weeks of pregnancy because of all the social commitments plus the fact that carrying an extra 8-9 kg of weight around doesn't help one to stand around for hours drawing and cutting patterns and fabric.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nameless no more

After three weeks and three different geomancers, we have finally decided on Rachel's Chinese name!

Some people were surprised to hear that we used geomancers, because Richard and I don't seem like the type to subscribe to this stuff about calculating your destiny and determining your character by the date and time of your birth. We don't seem like the type to believe that a name makes that much of a difference in one's future. Plus, at the end of the day, we are probably going to refer to her as Rachel.

Well, I guess it's precisely because we are "not the type", ie. we are Chinese-illiterate, that we needed help! If it were up to us to think up a Chinese name, we wouldn't know where to start. The options are endless! Some sounds can be represented by different characters and some characters are more suited to boys and some to girls. And then, there are the different shades of meaning with each character. Books and the internet aren't much help because we don't read Chinese. With thousands of Chinese characters and a bazillion possible combinations, it is an impossible task for us, as potato parents.

I would also say that the fact that we are hopeless at reading Chinese or that we don't know much about choosing a Chinese name, doesn't detract from the fact that we do have a lot of respect for our Chinese culture. We did recognise that some thought should be given to the intricacies of choosing a Chinese name, for example, whether there is a balance of the five different elements (earth, water, fire, wood and metal) and other such considerations. We took the matter quite seriously and, since we knew we couldn't do the job and the job needed to be done well, we outsourced it to the professionals.

Still, we didn't just accept what the geomancers gave us. We spent a lot of time considering the choices and discussing the options ... and rejecting most of them! We went through four rounds of names with three different masters. The first two rounds were with the first master, and after we concluded that we weren't going to get much more joy from there, we went to No. 2, and then to No. 3. A lot of running around, a lot of time discussing and deliberating, a lot of money ...  we're so relieved that it's finally settled.

We went through the same thing for Ryan's Chinese name too, except that we only had to go through two masters before we found a name we liked.

Anyway, we are back on track now. Now Richard has got to get Rachel's birth certificate and her passport issued and all the immigration matters settled before we make our way back to Malaysia next week for her full month celebration with our relatives and friends back there. Most of the preparations are done - restaurant booked, hotel rooms for out-of-town guests booked, invitations sent out. We're so grateful to our family and relatives in Malaysia for helping us to put everything together! All that remains is to wait for all the RSVPs to come in so we can finalise the numbers.

Ok, that wasn't a very interesting post, I know. I just had to pen it down for memory's sake. Perhaps this will make up for it - this is a photo taken when Rachel was 7 days old, by The Studio Loft. The Studio Loft put it up on their Facebook wall and I pinched it from there!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Random updates

In our household, our weekend is really just one day - Saturday. Saturday is free from work and classes, so it is the one day in the week when we feel like we aren't running on a hamster wheel. Sunday is like a slow start to the week ahead - we get back onto a schedule because Ryan has his classes. However, soon we won't have that luxury anymore, as we've signed Ryan up for a Saturday class which starts soon, so these last few lazy and OTOT ("own time own target") Saturdays are quite precious.

Last Saturday, we had my old-time friends over for Rachel's full month. This Saturday, we are having another mini full month celebration for Rachel which will also be a mini children's gathering for Ryan. Then next Saturday, we will be back in Malaysia to celebrate Rachel's full month with our relatives.

Apart from that, we have been very busy. We are getting a few things done around the house - fixing some stuff, putting up new blinds, getting the air-cons and other appliances serviced, putting one of the cars in for servicing, etc. Plus there have been the children's stuff - the photoshoots for Rachel, Ryan's casting call, the cupcakes for Rachel's full month (different batches from different shops), celebrations for the full month (we are having three!) and, of course, spending time with both of the children doing what they want to do.

Richard has just been promoted (yay!) and is very tied up with work matters. He still makes it for every gynae/PD appointment and any other appointment I ask him to attend, but he's being pulled in all directions at once so he's pretty tired.

Here're some shots I took while we were at my gynae's last week.

A quick kiss...

... a quick nose rub...

... and a quick forty winks.

As for Ryan, he is definitely a lot more chatty nowadays. From spouting one word declarations, he suddenly started speaking in perfect sentences, with prepositions and all. We were quite amazed, actually. He speaks with a definite Western accent, even when reading Chinese. I'm guessing that a lot of children nowadays start out with a Western accent and gradually pick up the local accent when they are in school?

Ryan still uses his one-word sentences, of course - it's his trademark. Well, specifically, his trademark is to write the first letter of his word in the air. For example, if you tell him, "It's time for us to have our rice", he will acknowledge you by saying "R!" while writing the letter R with his finger in the air (R for Rice). Or, when I pick him up from his nanny, he will point at me and say "M!" and write the letter M in the air. Sometimes he spells the entire word out. And, sometimes when he's thinking to himself, you can see him writing letters in the air without saying anything. It's really quite funny.

We still read a lot with Ryan and we continue to give him a lot of open-ended activities to do, mostly building and construction activities with blocks, Lego/Duplo or other similar things.

Ryan has started a new term at Shichida. Richard accompanied him for the class and before that, they went for swimming class together, while I stayed home with the baby. I'm still going through the Chinese confinement (although I must have broken most of the rules by now) so we have not gotten any sort of routine going yet. I do want to accompany Ryan for some of his classes when my confinement is done. A little bit tricky with the baby latching on fully, so we'll have to see how we can manage it.

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