Sunday, December 23, 2007

Active boy

Since coming back from Penang, little boy has suddenly decided that he had enough of lying down, and has been crawling around the house super fast. At times he gets over-ambitious and even tries to stand on his own. So... he has been knocking his head on the ground a few times each day, and has a blue-black bengkak on his forehead to show. He is now super-energetic and not easy to keep up with.

He has also developed some itchy eczema rashes on his elbow crease, neck and ankles. A pediatrician friend recommended Aqueous cream to keep the area moist always. Some senior parents have suggested formula milk may be a cause of his itch.

Anybody out there got some good advice?

Winter Solstice

Not sure when is the exact date, but I think Dongzhi, the Winter Solstice Festival is around this time. A friend called to wish Happy Dongzhi just now. I know some families have big reunion dinners during Dongzhi.

My mum used to make Tangyuen (glutinuous rice balls in sweet soup) around this time. Inspired by the tasty Tangyuen we ate during Tony's wedding dinner last weekend, I decided to try make some this week. Made a first batch on Tuesday... but didn't know how to wrap the gula Melaka fillings properly, and they all leaked.

The second batch today looked better... coz I made all plain ones. Hehehe.

Happy Dongzhi Festival, and a bowl of delicious Tangyuen for you. Play the Winter Sonata if you like.

Christmas is coming soon

Members of the Kingfisher Methodist Church came over to our place for carolling on Tuesday. Really appreciate them for coming.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A trip to Penang

My little sister got married.

We flew over to Penang on the 5th of December to attend Julia's wedding. It was the first flight of the day. We had to wake little boy from his sleep to catch the 6.30 am flight (which took off at 7.00 am urrrghh).

It was little boy's first experience aboard an aeroplane. Lucky fella. 8 months old already got to fly on a plane. Luckily he was quiet and slept through most part of the flight, and it was a direct flight to Penang.

It was also Ryan and his mummy's first trip to Penang. He was obviously very excited. Well, I have been to Penang a couple of times. It's still a much awaited break and holiday. Besides, we'll be meeting families and relatives that we have not seen for a long time.

The first day was rather uneventful. We dropped our stuffs at Julia's apartment. Then went for a bit of shopping at TESCO hypermart. Hey, it's also little boy's first trip to a TESCO. The rest of the day was spent resting at home and a dinner at a dimsum restaurant (don't believe me? Penang people really eat dimsum for dinner!).

Julia lives in an apartment that's quite near the sea. Here's the view from the balcony. You can see the Penang Bridge at the right upper corner. Many people live in apartments on the Penang Island. What to do, land is limited and expensive.

On the second day, we did the tourist thing... we went to the Kek Lok Si temple. Actually it's more than just a temple. It's a huge temple complex, with big prayer halls, living quarters, and the famous pagoda, built on a hillslope. So, it really take some leg muscles to tackle those stairs.

There is even a cable car that takes tourists up the hill to see the gigantic bronze KuanYin (Goddess of Mercy) statue. The statue is done already, now they're building an equally gigantic "pondok" to shelter the KuanYin from rain and sunshine. But we were more interested in the nearby park which looked like a playground with stone animals and cute doggy benches.

After Kek Lok Si, we went and check into the Vistana Hotel Apartments, where we will be staying for the rest of the days.

My parents and brother's family arrived from Seremban in the afternoon. Here's little boy meeting his faraway cousin Aden for the first time. Aden was born four months after Ryan. Other relatives arrived later in the evening. At night, we went to see Julia's wedding rehearsal.

Friday was pretty free. We went to Penang Hill in the afternoon. Gosh, the place was crowded because of the school holidays. And since the little train has only very limited capacity, we had to wait for more than an hour to get onto it. Makan makan in the mean time.

We weren't sure what to expect on top of Penang Hill. Julia said there's nothing much. Well, we were greeted by a wonderful view of the Penang Island and the bridge that links it to the mainland of Peninsular Malaysia.

There was the cool air, some souvenir stalls, monkeys running around, and a couple of grand colonial mansions. Didn't have time to explore far as it was getting late.

After coming down from Penang Hill, we went to QueensBay Mall, the largest shopping mall in Penang. Didn't shop much la. We were totally exhausted from carrying little boy all day. Went there for dinner only. There was this restaurant where you get to see the chefs stretch out hand-made noodles from doughs of flour in a matter of minutes. Business must be really good. They distribute numbers (like government hospital) for you to wait for an available seat.

We bought a Secret Recipe with mix and match flavours, to celebrate my mum's birthday later in the night.

The next day was the actual wedding day. We got ready early, coz the bridal gang was coming. Little boy got an angpau for opening the car door for the bridegroom. There were the usual wedding tricks they played onto the bridegroom and his gang. Then we left for church.

The chuch wedding was held at the Penang Christian Church. I was very impressed to see a church like that. There was a guardhouse with a real guard inside, a posh elevator, and a very modern and luxurious main sanctuary.

The pastor gave the wedding sermon in English, and his wife translated into Mandarin.

The senior pastor did the solemnisation part.

And my little sister became Mrs Wong. How time flies. Not too long ago, we were still fighting over toys and tantrums. I only managed to give her angpau for Chinese New Year for the first and last time early this year. Now she no longer qualifies for angpau anymore.

I am really thankful that both my siblings married Christain spouses and had their weddings in church.

In the evening, Mark and Julia hosted a Chinese wedding dinner at a nearby restaurant.

We had a good time of get-together with relatives from near and afar. Most of them had not seen Ryan before, and so little boy was quite popular that night.

Mark drove us around Penang Island the next day. We bought many boxes of the famous HeongPeah biscuits to bring home. We cramped in a little shop for a taste of the famous Penang Road Asam Laksa and Cendol. Then went back to Kek Lok Si to buy some Penang T-shirts for souvenir.

Little boy playing with his little cousin.

The new in-laws had a seafood dinner together that night.

On Monday we bade farewell and flew back to Kota Kinabalu, while my parents drove back to Seremban.

To see more photos, click HERE. Hardly any food photos la. They went into my stomach before I could get my camera out.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

One small step for Ryan

Little boy is getting bored being cuddled and carried around.

He has been doing kicking exercises for some time. We thought he was learning kungfu kicks.

Finally, he began to make the first step.

"Look at me! I am walking!"

Sigh, soon he'll be running around beyond control. With pants on please.

Messy meals

Since little boy was reaching six months, we started to expand his little tastebuds by letting him try more delicious food available on earth. As it is written "Man shall not live by bread alone", little boys shall not live by milk alone.

We started him with mummy cooking porridge for him. He didn't quite like it. Or was it because of mummy's not-so-nice cooking.

Then we fed him with baby cereals from Nestle. Yes, that worked. Nowadays he can finish five scoops of those in one sitting. Emm, including those that ends up on his face, his shirt, his baby chair, the floor, and mummy's shirt.

We have some success with baby chewy biscuits too.

Some time ago, his face was having a bad rash. We tried to feed him with fresh orange juice, since he can't swallow vitamin C tablets yet. He didn't seem to like yucky sour oranges.

However, no matter how hard we try to pursuade little boy to drink those fifty-bucks-a-tin infant formula, he wouldn't be fooled.

He settles for nothing but the best. Smart fella.

Be like newborn babies, always thirsty for the pure spiritual milk, so that by drinking it you may grow up and be saved.
1 Peter 2:2

MV Doulos

We went up THE SHIP. MV Doulos docked in Kota Kinabalu since Hari Raya eve. Here's how she looks like, taken from a postcard.

Let me tell you a bit about the history of Doulos.
From posters onboard "Built in 1914, DOULOS is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest active ocean-going passenger vessel. DOULOS began life as Medina, carrying cargo from New York to Calveston, Texas. Then for a few years, as Roma, the ship carried pilgrims and immigrants. The role of the ship changed when it was remodelled into Franca C, a cruise liner in the Mediterranean. In 1977 the ship became DOULOS."

"DOULOS is a Greek word for "servant". Each member of the ship's company endeavours to serve. Some serve with their professional expertise as qualified seamen, officers, doctors, welders, teachers, cooks, secretaries etc. Others come without specialised skills, but with a willingness to serve in any way they can. All - from the captain to the cooks - serve as volunteers. "

From Wikipedia "the MV Doulos currently holds the biggest floating library in the world."

From Mikestation "the MV is a distant relative of this blog author's little red vehicle, the MyVi. Though they differ in extremes in terms of size, passenger capacity, function... and almost everything else, but what the heck, it's still good to have big fat relatives."

We went on the second day of Hari Raya. I was working all night the day before, attending to Hari Raya babies. We thought it would be a quiet day, with most city folks out of the city for balik kampung, or making their open house makan-makan rounds. See, little boy was so excited, he was about to board a ship for the first time in his life!

We were very very wrong.

Look at the line! No, those folks were not queueing up to buy tickets. Entrance was FREE. They were waiting for the crowd ON the ship to clear, so that they would have some standing space onboard. We didn't have the stamina to join the crowd on a hot afternoon... and it was beginning to rain.

We decided to come back another day. Well, at least little boy got a glimpse of how sailors look like.

We came back on Thursday night. Cool night sea breeze, city folks taking rest from a hard day's work and dining with their families... that would be good timing.

Yup. It wasn't too crowded. We had lots of space to move around and look at books. The last time I went to Doulos was a many years ago when she docked in Klang. I managed to get some books that I couldn't find elsewhere, particularly Thomas Hale's stories about being a missinary doctor in a little hospital high up in the hills of Nepal (which I had the opportunity to drop by).

The selection of books was quite huge, with most of them being children's books, Christian books, novels, and a smaller section on other interests. Some books are very well priced.

About an hour later, little boy got impatient and hot. The crowd began to swell after dinner, there was no air-con, and the sea breeze couldn't cope. We grabbed a few books and left. Wanted to buy a slim Bible (my current NIV is bigger than a brick. Two bricks.). Auntie Liz recommended a leather-cover NKJV... but the price was a bit overwhelming; and with little boy crying I was not in the mood for an expensive purchase. Anyway, we got some books...

My loupo chose "Bringing Up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson. The cover says "practical advice and encouragement for those shaping the next generation of men". Who doesn't know this doctor? The shopping centers in Keningau play his Focus On The Family audio tapes over and over again. Little boy is growing up very fast, he grew more than double his size in six months. We figured that we needed some help in shaping him into the right kind of little man. Hopefully he willl grow up fine.

Then I bought two "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. The cover asks "what on earth am I here for". What's your answer? What on earth are you on earth for? This book is a top best seller among Christian literature. Many churches in Kota Kinabalu and beyond are getting their congregation to buy this book en-masse and el-cheapo, so that they can spend forty days studying the book together. When was the last time since the Bible, has any book gain such recognition? If you haven't read it, go get one. I have a copy each in Mandarin and English. We gave a couple more to friends. So, these too, are for Hari Raya, or Deepavali, or Christmas gifts. See that golden stamp at the lower right corner? It says The Gold Medallion Book Award. I've got some good books by Philip Yancey which carries the same golden stamp.

Next is "The Man In The Mirror" written by Michael Jackson. It says "solving the 24 problems men face". Men are the last creatures on earth to admit a problem. So, it's really good of Michael Jackson to write about it, especially his child abuse trials. And for all you know, the GOLDEN STAMP is there! Wait a minute. Hey it's not Michael Jackson! The author is a Patrick M. Morley who-is-that. Since I haven't read enough books to choose good writers, I'll just kiasu-ly follow the golden stamp. The golden question now is how to find time to read it. Auntie Liz recommended books by Frank Viola, but tak jumpa la bos.

How can little boy go home empty handed? We found a book for him too. More like forcing a book into his little hands, hahaha... "Piglet's BIG movie" by Disney. This may be the DOULOS' last trip to KK, we thought it will make a good souvenir for his first trip on a ship. Well, you never know when little boy will start asking for books. I remember having a book like this when I was a little boy. A book with curves on its pages. It was a story about Pooh and Tiger getting stung by bees over a pot of honey. Something like that; read it during the years when learning to read was done over canes and tears. I think my parents bought it on a Doulos long looooooonnngggg ago.

Pretty nice book it is. Colourful and lots of nice cartoons, though the story plot is quite silly. If only they make medical books so beautiful. Then everybody would become doctors.

It began to rain just as we reached the car. Along the highway leaving the port, we stopped for a moment to admire the jewel of the sea shining brightly against the dark and stormy night, quietly serving the people of the world. DOULOS, bringing knowledge, help and hope as it's mission statement says. How well do we shine in a dark and fallen world?

It was crazy, I went out in the rain to catch this photo. We bade farewell to this "Grand Old Lady of the Sea" as she cruises on blessing the nations for many good more years. Also, secretly envying those volunteers who have a year or two to spare for the life-onboard-around-the-world experience of their lifetime; on sea and away from the rat race. If I were still young and single, I might just go with them. Hehehe... too late to jump ship now.

To see more photos, click HERE.
Auntie Liz has a brief entry about her Doulos trip HERE.