Monday, November 11, 2013

Country Garden @ Danga Bay

Last weekend, we were there for a visit. It was actually my second time there, the first time was during their carnival-like launch in August. It was crowded and raining. The rain stopped eventually and the boys got to play at the playground for a while.

This time, it was also raining... no fate it seems. But this time round, I visited the show gallery and I have to say, the decor is impressive. I don't like it as it is not my style at all, but I am impressed with the amount of detail in every room and corner. Here are some pictures if you'd like to see.

 Mini scale model of this mega project. It feels almost like a state. The husband commented "Imagine getting out of this place during rush hour or emergency"

 Hey, looks like Singapore!

 The lobby.

 The indoor play area.

 A pool of balls! I wanted to jump into it.

 Bowling alley.

The water feature.

 The pool. Gorgeous lotus design with shading made with tiles.

They spent a fortune on landscape. It's impressive. I love the variety of flowers, shrubs and trees they brought in. But the most noticeable features are the little figurines and props they put up all around the garden. Butterflies, mushrooms, fairies, little people, dogs, semua ada.

The outdoor playground.

Interior design galore. Very very meticulous. Lots of shiny surfaces, silver, gold, blings, chandelier, glass... very inorganic even when they place decorative plants, so not really my style.

 Studio apartment

 Studio apartment.

Studio apartment kitchen.

The rest of the pictures below, I can't remember which model they are. For floor plans, it's best to check their official website.

 The most popular apartment because of this walk-in closet.

 Every girl's favourite room.

 Gallery guide says this is not the actual bathtub. I think it's like a pre-installed tub.

The cherry blossom is 3D, as in, it IS a sculpted flower popping up from the artwork.

So there. I think the showroom gallery was more like an art gallery. If you ask me, I'd prefer a 'blank' showroom where my imagination can go to work.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Thoughts and Ideas for Parenting Stubborn & Determined Young Children

Taken from here.

At the dinner table, my two year old asked for water. I poured some into the glass that was at her place setting and she started protesting. The glass in front of her was not the purple fairy cup she wanted. She said “I don’t want that one…no no no…I not eating or drink until the fairy cup [is] on the table.”

While I think it’s wonderful that my daughter has an opinion and a wish for a different cup, dinner was already underway. I had to think for a second, do I fetch a new cup to avoid a meltdown?  Do I stand my ground and refuse to get a new cup?  Is there any other alternative to either giving in or standing my ground?
Some parents may say that water is water in any cup and if a child is thirsty will they just drink eventually anyways. Other parents may get up immediately and fetch the purple fairy cup to avoid tears or a meltdown that could throw off the entire evening routine. I think there is a way to meet in the middle!
My two, soon to be three year old, like her brothers before her and most children her age, is very determined. She knows what she wants and likes to have things done a certain way, but, she is also learning to be flexible and we are learning to work together instead of against each other. Here are some ideas that have been helpful along the way:
Differentiate needs and wants
Meeting our children’s needs for food, comfort, attention and affection is vital to their well being   so, If you feel like your child is being really “needy” or “demanding” try to notice if your child’s needs are truly being met.  Sometimes what comes across as demanding may really just your child’s way of letting you know something is missing or some need is not being met.
Use Limits, Kindness and Choices wisely
Children that experience limits that are set with kindness and that feel a sense of belonging and are encouraged to cooperate naturally tend to become flexible, responsible, happy and well adjusted. It’s alright to say no to certain requests, but do so with kindness and empathy. When possible add a choice that is reasonable as an alternative too.
  • “I know you want to stay home and play AND it’s time to climb into the car seat. Let’s go together, do you want to help me unlock the car?” or “It’s time to go. Do you need help getting into the car seat or will you do it alone?”
  • “I know you want to do it your way AND I worry it will break. Let’s both stop and think it through. What’s your idea?”
Expect and Support Disappointment
Once you set a limit, tears may be inevitable, especially when a child is very determined to do something that is not acceptable or safe.  Tears happen because it’s the child’s way of expressing disappointment and frustration and these tears don’t need to be shushed away or pacified with a distraction. We can be a supportive presence and allow the disappointment to unfold and be authentically felt – this is how a child will learn about flexibility and how to move forward.
Change the labels
It’s tiring sometimes to deal with all the stubbornness or demands, but I’ve found that transforming the labels we give to our children and their behavior makes a huge difference in how we approach them.  These are some of the words I try to transform to be more positive:
  • Stubborn or strong willed = determined, courageous
  • demanding = decisive, daring, confident
  • wild = creative, energetic, spunky, enthusiastic
When we look at our children with positive lenses and see that we can love them, just the way they are, the labels actually don’t matter so much anymore because we see a whole child – a whole being that needs love and acceptance all the time, not just when they are being “good” or  following directions or when we are getting along conflict free.

Understand the developmental stage
Expectations and understanding of our child’s developmental abilities are sometimes a bit, and sometimes lot off track and end up causing a lot of conflict.Two and three year old children naturally resist parental commands, it’s their way of letting us know they are becoming an individual, with ideas and thoughts all of their own! If what we expect and what our children can really do simply do not match then we all feel frustrated. 
Keep Things Predictable & Plan Well
Routines are fantastic for young children, and with really determined children one thing that works well is to have some flexibility and enough time built into the routine to allow for some of that negotiation that will naturally start to take place. Start transitioning between activities  sooner than you think you should and avoid rushing as much as possible.    Children like the predictability and assertive children like to keep some control over their own decisions.
Focus on Encouragement and  Cooperation instead of Compliance
Power struggles often happen when parents expect compliance and forget to involve their child in the process. Children on the other hand have ideas of their own but aren’t always able to express them!  When children feel involved, capable, connected to their parents and still able to maintain a certain amount of control over their own destiny children naturally tend to cooperate.   Instead of demanding that your determined child comply or follow orders:
  • try inviting your child to suggest a solution
  • ask for her help
  • listen to her ideas
  •  work together
  • Ask questions instead of giving commands
  • encourage and support your child’s independence
  • Explain what CAN be done instead of listing everything that is NOT allowed.
Many parents are hesitant to do this as they think they are giving in to demands – try to find a balance and to introduce cooperation well ahead of the power struggle so that you can strike a win-win situation for everyone.
Build Connection
Make time to be together doing things that are fun at least once a day for at least 10 minutes. Let your child direct the play and choose how the game unfolds, go outside for fresh air, dance to some silly music, connect and connect some more. The more connection the more cooperation follows.
Yes some children are more determined, feisty or alright let’s say demanding just for the sake of explanation – but often we feel this way because we are worn down. So along with these things, take time to refuel and re-charge your own batteries!!
Wondering how that cup situation ended?
I asked my daughter a question “Does the water taste different in this cup?” “I don’t know. I not trying it! Not the glass I want!” was her answer.  “Ok, it’s not the one you want.  Well I’m super hungry so I want to stay here and eat. What’s your idea?” I asked her.  ”I [am] hungry, so I eat some dinner then I use the stool and get cup myself. Deal?” “Yes, it’s a deal!” Crisis averted – phew!
Positive parenting is not about keeping our children happy 100% of the time or giving in to every demand or bending the earth to suit our child’s desires. It is important that we pay attention and strike a balance between the needs of the child, the family and our own. When everyone’s needs and feelings are being considered, and cooperation and communication are the focus instead of commands, demands and high expectation, parents and children can really find wonderful harmony.
So is your child determined, energetic, creative, daring or confident? What situations are most challenging for you to work together? 
Peace & Be Well,

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Women Over 40

CBS commentator, Andy Rooney on women over 40: "As I grow in age, I value women over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why: A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, 'What are you thinking?' She doesn't care what you think. If a woman over 40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it's usually more interesting. Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it. Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated. Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk if you are acting like one. You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her. Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress. Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, 'Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?', here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Left My Heart In Bangkok

A while back, we were suffering from a stressed marriage. We held onto each other and then I don't know how we came to this plan. "Let's go for a short trip, just us". And our little adventure began.

We are lucky because we have a trustworthy helper at home who's been with us for years. And my parents were elated to be given the full opportunity to babysit. It's so funny how my mom and dad reacted. Though they are separated, they first word they said were the same. "GOOOOOOOOD!!!! GO GO!" My mom even asked "How many days? 5? 6 days?" When I told her it was just for 3days2nights, she said "WHERE GOT ENOUGH?!"

Like I said, we were very lucky.

The hubz found our accommodation on Groupon, for a service apartment (I thought it was a boutique hotel). RM428 for 3D2N. The pool photo looks so inviting. Well, it did looked like this in real.

So, two weekends ago, we were in Bangkok! It felt so surreal. The 3 days passed like lighting but we had every moment to ourselves. It felt like a couple-spiritual renewal trip. You know how easy it is to put yourselves and your spouses aside when you have young children, you forget who you are inside and stopped listening to your inner child's voice because you are already so occupied with raising one or some. So this trip really gave us the space to just be with ourselves and with each other. So I highly recommend a couple-getaway!

Up at 5am, we drove into Singapore Changi Airport. Senai International Airport would have been a good take-off point but NOOOOO, Senai International is a lie. Only very limited flights. SUCKS.

We parked at the airport, capped at $20 a day (came to $60 in total when we left).

We flew by Jetstar... with no check-in luggage. I brought my infamous little girl's canvas luggage and a tote, and the husband went empty-handed. We just packed our innerwear, phone chargers, and one shorts (mine). Yes, you heard right. That means he brought ZERO clothes. Our hero.

We landed at 9am in Bangkok, took the Airport Rail Link to Makkassan (5th stop) and changed to Metro Petchaburi Train station. On the way to the Metro train station, we saw this jam towards the city. Smart aleck us. (map below)

After 5 minutes walk, we reached the station, took the Metro line for just one stop to Asok where we had to change line again, to the BTS line this time. It was just a 5 minute walk, up a couple of escalators. From Asok, we took the BTS train to Phrom Phong where our hotel is.

The adventure starts when you look for your hotel. Hahaha. We walked and walked and it seemed like we would never find it. Ahhh, no wonder on Groupon Deal. While finding our hotel, we checked out the area at the same time. There were lots of Japanese and Italian Restaurants. Lots of pubs, bars and massage spas. After half an hour of dragging our tired feet, we found our place.

39 Boulevard executive Residences at Soi Phromjitr, Sukhumvit 39.It didn't feel like a hotel. More like apartment. When we got to our room, holy smoke, it IS an apartment!

 Living Room with balcony (we left the lights off)

Bathroom. The tub could fit both of us.


We have a kitchen too! With stove, a pot, a pan, kettle, toaster, rice cooker, utensils, chopping board, fridge and washing machine!

Cozy dining table for two.

After we put our little luggage down, freshen up a bit, we were ready to start exploring the city. First thing was to equip ourselves with this map. Everyone takes train now! Bangkok traffic has gotten worse.

Outside our apartment, we saw a few restaurants already. Apparently, Whale's Belly is also located here, and it's a popular fine-dining place. We finally knew why there were so many Japanese and other international food eateries around. We stayed where expat families stay when they relocate here. We chatted with an Egyptian mom who was out with her little daughter, and saw several Japanese housewives coming back from grocery shopping. 

 Japanese restaurant

 A fancy restaurant/bar. Love the decor.

 The CUTEST bakery cafe.

...with the cutest name.

How cozy is this!

An interesting and unique shop along the way to Phrom Phong BTS station. It sells antiques and rustic home decor stuff. I LIKEY. But no luggage space for sure.

Our first stop was lunch. Where else but the street stalls! One thing I love about staying at Sukhumvit is the food stalls at almost every junction and along the Sois (road/lane). My first meal was basil chicken with rice and tom yam soup. Can't go wrong.

Then off we went to Chidlom station where the famous Erawan Shrine is located. The husband bought a 'package' from one of the many stalls along the temple, consisting flower garlands, little statues, joss sticks, and candles. These are for praying to the Four Faced Buddha at the shrine. No pictures taken because I didn't like capturing images of the holy and sacred.

Next stop, Wat Pho! Changed line at Siam, to Saphan Taksin where there are piers to take boats to two popular locations (opposite directions),Wat Pho and Asiatique, the night market. We went to Wat Pho first.

Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn, can be seen across the river.

Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok. It houses one of the longest Buddha image of 160ft in length! Yes, it's the Reclining Buddha. Picture courtesy of wiki, and more information about the temple.

I donated money to get a bowl of coins to drop into 108 bronze bowls along the corridor on the way out. The bowls represent 108 auspicious characters of Buddha.
The interior is amazing.

Kitty awaiting enlightenment?

Wat Pho is really huge. We tried to find the Wat Pho Massage School but couldn't walk any longer. So we went back to the pier and had a good one-hour foot massage. The folks are trained at Wat Pho anyway. After the massage, we had street snacks, like noodle and papaya salad.

Feeling rejuvenated, we went back to the original pier to take a free ferry-shuttle to Asiatique, the MUST-VISIT night market in Bangkok. It's like another version of Chatuchak.
 There's a ferris wheel there now!

It's divided into 'warehouses' where each warehouse consists many shops. We didn't get to see them all.

One of the interesting shops at Asiatique. Handcrafted By Myself. There is a bicycle outside the shopfront as decor. I think the dude inside is the designer and creator. He works with leather and fabric.
I think I see myself doing this in 5 years.

I didn't shop for clothes much, maybe we didn't explore the right warehouse. I caught glimpses of clothes that looked like they were made in China like those sold on online shops. Not nice. I bought these instead.

I have weakness for rubber stamps...

Mini tincart. HOW CUTE IS THIS.

At around 9.30pm, we were already dead tired. Asiatique closes around midnight I think, but no way we could stay. Our day started since 5am! So back we went to our little home to soak ourselves silly in that humongous tub.

The next day on Saturday, I woke up with excitement because it was Chatuchak day! It's another market we could never explore completely because it is H.U.G.E.

The crowd at Mo Chit station, to Chatuchak market.

There are many stalls on the way to the market already.

Handmade decoupaged art on wooden boards.

 Celadon ceramic shop.

I bought these for myself and a couple as souvenirs for colleagues.

Customized name plate on pouches, journal covers, wallets and key chains.

Your name is 'letter pressed' one by one.

I had some souvenirs made. The red pouch for my maid because she is an angel.

Our stomach's timing is impeccable. Must-have: Mango sticky rice and coconut ice cream.

Foodstall outside the entrance of Chatuchak. We had this when we left about 4pm.

The crowd is never-ending!

After that we got back to our apartment to unload my loot. As a Bangkok shopping ritual, I must perform a show-and-tell. But be warned, I did not shop much for clothes.

Who doesn't adore elephants huh huh? 

Notebooks. Because I collect 'em.

The quality of these tees are really good! I know because when I carry my little boy and stroke his back, his Tshirt feels so soft. Bangkok is really a T-shirt paradise.

I know I know, I fared badly. People bring home a truckload of clothes, bags, shoes and accessories. Not me. 
After that, we went to check out Terminal 21 mall at Asok station. Yada yada yada, I was bored! How can you compare Chatuchak and an air-conditioned mall?! We had dinner at The Reflections Thai restaurant and headed back. Food was good, as usual. But guess what. We never thought of taking a tuk-tuk because they always cheat. But this tuk-tuk was the taxi stand and coincidently it was our turn in the queue. We hopped into it for a short journey back.
How romantic.

The next morning, we took a stroll around the area stopped for breakfast at Subways, went back to pack our little luggage, took a cab to the airport and said 'goodbye, see you' to Bangkok. Ahhh, I miss Bangkok already! Most of all, I loved every moment we spent together... just the two of us. It was short, sweet, warm (the weather also), and simple.