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Monday, January 31, 2011

CNY 2011 at Ikea

Ikea is really an inspiration to me for one of my favourite pastimes - interior decorating.  So on a lazy Sunday morning, we took all the kids to Ikea, and landed right into the atmosphere of Chinese New Year.

It is amazing that just with some simple colours and contrast, you could transform a space into a cosy room with a very CNY feel, like the model living room above. The kids just parked themselves on the red, high-pile carpet and almost refused to leave.  Cosy, cosy.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blowing on a Whistle Milestone

Baby Xin, 1 year old
Baby Xin was playing quietly at her toy corner when suddenly, we started to hear whistle sounds.  She had finally picked up her toy trumpet and learnt how to blow on it.  It was a messy affair with lots of saliva, but she managed to do it all by herself, without coaxing.  It's amazing how babies learn.  The toy trumpet was a gift to Wei.  I remember at 11 months, he also learnt how to blow on it.
Wei at 11 months, 2002

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Yuan's Rabbit Artwork

This evening, Yuan threw a huge temper tantrum because I asked her to complete her art homework.  I saw the half coloured piece lying around. However she was reluctant to do it, citing that she didn't know if the piece had to be handed up to the teacher.
Anyway after about half an hour of the drama and with me threatening to throw away the artwork as she didn't want to do it, she settled down and was willing to finish colouring.  Sometimes I wonder, same household, same parents, how come such a big difference between the temperament of the brother and the sister? It ended with a hug from her and apologies for bad behaviour.  Wei even played the good guy and retrieved the "thrown" artwork for her.
Here I want to showcase her masterpiece.  I don't know what the theme is, perhaps it is symbolic of the Rabbit Year.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Goals for 2011

I know that January is almost ending, and I have yet to put into action some of the plans that I said I would make this year. However I am thankful to come across this newsletter, which I would post the contents here to remind ourselves what sort of goals we should pursue.

Below excerpt from Daniel Scocco's newsletter.

2011 just started, and as usual people are setting new goals and 
making resolutions. But are you setting the right goals? Below
I'll talk about 3 goals I consider particularly important.

GOAL 1: Learn new things

If you want to stay competitive, regardless of your field and
profession, you should always be learning new things. And I am not
talking about opening a magazine and learning about what is going
on in Egypt or how many calories a hamburger has. I am talking
about learning new technical things related to your field.

If you work full time on the Internet, for example, you could set
the goal to learn one or more of the following things in 2011:

-HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SEO, PHP, MySQL, Apache 

 GOAL 2: Move closer to your ideal lifestyle

One of the things that certainly adds to our happiness is living 
a lifestyle that we like. This includes things like living in a city
you like, sleeping/working during the times you like, having the 
flexibility to make the activities you like and having the time to
spend time with the people you like.

In fact many people consider this more important than money. So 
instead of aiming to make as much money as possible in 2011, aim
to get closer to your ideal lifestyle. 

 GOAL 3: Work on projects you love and are proud of

We all need to work on stuff we don't particularly love to make 
the ends meet. That is fine. Over time, however, you should be
gradually doing fewer of those "pay the bills" projects and more
projects in areas you really love, doing things you'll be proud of.

Getting this started is really easy. You could simply dedicate one
hour of your nights to working on such a project, and as it grows
you start putting more work on it. 

If you pursue these 3 goals I am sure you'll end 2011 in great shape! 

 Best wishes for this new year,
Daniel Scocco
My Goal #1: Learn more about property investments and doing it right.
Yuan's work, created Mar 2010, 6+ years old.
My Goal #2:
I use one of Yuan's pictures drawn with "Paint" to remind myself to live a lifestyle that includes spending more time with my babies, playing with them, encouraging them and teaching discipline.
Exercise twice a week with J to keep healthy.

My Goal #3:
Work at home interiors - whether it is my own home or my rental properties. Contribute my time to my Sunday Class projects at the temple. Work at updating my blog regularly, and support & promote children's projects.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bed Upgrade for Baby Xin

Baby Xin has outgrown her baby playpen cot that she has been sleeping in for the past 1 year.  The cot was actually a hand-me-down when I had my first son, so altogether 6 babies had slept and used it, and it is probably 17 years old.  Good old sturdy playpen cot.
But Baby Xin is big now and can climb out of it - onto my bed which is next to it.
Baby Xin wears boys clothes reminiscent of her brother's era, but has a hairpin to show she's a girl.
So we restored the Ikea cot-convertible-to-child-bed, and now Baby Xin sleeps in a bigger cot.
Ikea convertible cot that we bought for Wei, 3 babies have now slept in it.
 Somehow, I feel a bit of nostalgia over this milestone, when we dismantled and stored the playpen cot away. Time flies....

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Ok, ok guys and girls, those of you who have been waiting for me to post the pictures of my costume - well, you've got to wait a bit longer.  Because Yours Truly had forgotten to bring a camera to the occasion and is now depending on other people to send me the photos.  Hopefully they won't forget.
Let me describe the masquerade ball.  You know what all my colleagues did? They just went in their normal dinner clothes and wore masks!  Arghh, I feel so silly for taking the trouble to rent my costume.  It turns out I really was the only one who honoured the true spirit of Masquerade.
But I am still grateful for the help of one of my colleagues, C, who helped me modify the headress.  The headdress was really "cacat", maybe it was too big for my head. So we removed the thick, blue band from the organza veil and pinned the veil to my hair instead.  Desperate times call for improvisation.
If I get any nice pictures of the ball from my colleague, I will add the photo here, hehehe....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Inspiration by Leonard Chua

Here I make a short post about my gratitude of having the chance to meet and listen to Leonard Chua.
When I heard the title "Motivational Talk" at my company's session, I groaned inwardly.  I was afraid to be wasting my time if the speakers are not good.  Besides that, when Leonard was making his appearance, people were already giving him a standing ovation, but I did not see why he deserved it.  Then I realized that they were all clapping while standing not because they really know him, but because he entered the room in a wheelchair. You see, Leonard is paralyzed from chest down, and he is only 30.

Leonard is not a motivational speaker to me.  I think he is more of an inspirational speaker.
You can read all about him in this article in The Star, A Model Life. He shared about how to have confidence, courage and beat all the odds even though life is so hard.  He taught us not to take life for granted, to do all the things that we set our heart to do, to dream, and to make things happen.  All the small things that sometimes make us so frustrated, after listening to him, becomes so petty and can be forgotten.  What is amazing to me is that instead of being handicapped and a burden to society, he sets his heart at contributing to society.
At the end of the talk, I shook his hand and said to him: "Thank you, and keep up the good work!"

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Costume Dinner on Friday

This coming week beginning Tuesday, we are going to be in intensive planning meetings.  I am only glad that these meetings happen only twice a year.  While we are busy with the preparations, something looms at the back of my mind that I've not prepared for.  The Annual Dinner & Dance this coming Friday night and the theme is Masquerade.
This is a common enough theme, but it means that I have to find time to get the costume and mask.  And after you find the costume and mask, you worry what to do with your hair and what shoes to go with it. Wahhhh...I wanted to cry, I don't have time for this, and yet I don't want to end up the odd one out at the dinner who is not in costume.  Annual dinner affairs at my company are very elaborate and people take things seriously.  Those who do not dress according to the theme, will be called to the stage to perform entertainment for the rest.
The other thing is this:  I don't want to overdo it either.  Asian faces will not fit elaborate costumes, it will be so weird.  And I don't want to spend a fortune on this.
Last year the theme was beach party.  So easy.  Just grab some Bermuda shorts and t shirt, beach pareo, etc and voila!  You don't even need to do the hair and can easily wear sandals.  And I missed that dinner because I was on maternity leave.
So today I took time to go to this costume rental shop in Sri Hartamas where they have rentals at reasonable prices.  The only problem is I may not find my size and the type of costume that I want.  However, I made a resolution to keep it to 30 minutes for the whole affair of choosing and renting.
I tried 2 themes, medieval lady or Arabian.

Image from http://medievalfancydresscostumes.co.uk/
Image from http://www.funwarehouse.co.uk

Okay, of course the costumes are not as beautiful as these images - lah!  I gave up on Arabian because I don't like the idea of exposing my tummy, haha, no toned abs to show off.  The medieval costume is conservative and a bit loose for me, but it will have to do. The good thing about the shop is that they also provide the mask and the headgear.  It was supposed to be for 2 days, but I explained to the lady owner that I will be stuck in long meetings everyday and will never be able to come collect the costume another day before it closes at 7.30pm.  So she let me take them today at no additional charge!  What a kind lady.   I will recommend this shop to anyone ;-)
I achieved my mission in 35mins, and headed home.  The other 2 headaches are the hair and the shoes right?  So I googled up the images up for medieval lady and what did I find - no need to do hair at all!  Just wear it untied.  And the shoes?
Image from http://www.avenue7.com/Outfit
According to this image, it looks like normal sandals. Actually I think it doesn't matter because the dress is so long, the footwear cannot be seen anyway. So it looks like I have got my problem solved.
Coming up next: Actual photos of the costume I rented.  Don't be too disappointed, it's not as nice as the web images here ;-)  And it also depends on the actual person wearing them, right?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Baby Xin's 1st Birthday

  It is hard to imagine that one year ago, I was lying at the hospital bed and Baby Xin was this tiny, wrinkly little thing that cried like a little cat. Today she reached her first year milestone.  We had a mini celebration for her, but I think that Wei and Yuan enjoyed it most because they get to eat the chicken nuggets, tuna sandwiches and drink the fruit juice.  Baby Xin got nothing but plain bread, milk and one mouthful of cake (a symbolic birthday gesture).
After the Happy Birthday song, we encouraged Baby Xin to blow out the candle. She responded by using the  cake knife to knock out the candle instead.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Temper tantrums are starting

Lately we noticed that Baby Xin is starting to throw temper tantrums.  At this early stage, it seems very cute to us.  For example, yesterday, she wanted to play with the baby powder container that has the powder puff inside.  She took out the puff and held in her hand.  I wanted to keep the thing back, so I took it from her hand, put it back inside the container and closed the lid.  She quickly grabbed the container and tried to open the lid to get the powder puff back.  When she couldn't open the lid, she simply lay down on the floor, faced down, and cried inconsolably. When we opened the lid for her, she immediately stopped crying.
Ok, so we are evil parents.  We experimented with this twice, and each time the same reaction.  Lying on the floor face-down, and crying like the sky has fallen.  J and I laughed, and then opened the lid for her.
Hmmm, we find it cute now, but we are thinking when she becomes a toddler in her terrible twos, we may be seeing a lot more of that lying-on-the-floor tantrums.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Appraisal and Feedback

Before I met my current boss, I always thought appraisals and feedback were just something that has to be done without any real meaning to it.  Sure, an employee may have done well for the year, so you give him a pat on the back on the year end appraisal. And then you go through the motions of asking what are their career plans etc, and decide on some training they could go for the year.
However, my impression changed when I met my boss.  She took appraisals and feedback really seriously.   I even had a multi-rater feedback (which was a feedback form sent to colleagues and peers) to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses.
So here is a list of room for improvement that I have to take note of:
1. Setting clear directions and vision so that the team could drive towards that
2. Keep cool under stress
3. Exude greater presence during management meetings
4. Clear communication on support expectations - i.e how much time I could dedicate to supporting which portfolio
5. Field presence and interaction with customers
6. Give personal touches to the subordinates - don't cut to the chase all the time.  Respond to personal touch emails, such as when your boss or subordinate gives you a thank you email.
7. Work-life balance
I am grateful to my boss for an objective evaluation and identify certain action points that I can make to improve myself.  I think every employee and boss owes it to themselves and their colleagues to conduct meaningful appraisals, making it practical so that the person could make changes for the better.

Photo credit: Autoauction Windsor

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2000-2010 The Decade That Was

This entry is inspired by a friend who said I should write about the decade that was, and the meaningful happenings in my life.  And I thought this was a great idea.

The new millennium began.
The year I got rid of eye-glasses by going through the pioneer version of Lasik.  Why did I do it - because I was getting complications from wearing contact lenses.  It was a good move, till today, superb vision.
Mom and Brother bought an apartment, and all of us moved in once completed.
Also the year J and I got married.  A decade ago....

Pregnant with Wei, running around as a sales rep.  Did lots of walking.  Won the best rep for the quarter and drove company's BMW for 3 months.  For Baby Wei, the first car he ever sat in was a BMW.

Promoted to sales manager because my boss left the company. Learnt to manage people for the first time.
In October, moved to become brand manager - no need to manage people, just mould the product.  And influence people to buy your marketing tactics.
Rented out my first apartment.

J, Baby Wei and I moved into our own apartment which is just 2 blocks away from Mom's place.
Intensive 20-days training in Singapore under the Asian Institute of Management, which was no joke because it involved slogging day and night. Emerged 1 of 3 best students.
Pregnant with Yuan.  Attended my first conference in Vienna.
Visited Salzburg, well known as the birth place as Mozart.


Backpacking trip with J and Wei (then 3 years old), and 3 other friends to Japan for 2 weeks because a friend was working and living there. Visited Universal Studios and my childhood dream place - Disneyland (Tokyo).   Went on lots of trains and on foot, with a stroller in tow.

Wei entered kindergarten at 4 years old. Baby Yuan was sent to the nursery downstairs as the babysitter got ill and was unable to continue to care for her.
Trip for J and I alone to Shanghai. Visited Q, the same friend in Japan who had now moved to Shanghai.
Baby Yuan's first flight onboard a plane.  She celebrated her 2nd birthday in Singapore, where we "tumpang" with another friend in her HDB flat.

Launched a new product for the very first time and gained valuable experience at work.
Travelled to Singapore so very often as the boss was now located in Singapore.
Family trip to Korea, with Wei, Yuan, and my mom.
At the end of the year, resigned from my first job, after 8 years of being with them.

Started a new career in current company, travelling 70km (2-ways) everyday as the company was located far away.  Learnt new skills under a new boss.
Yuan entered kindergarten.
Sent to Sydney and Hong Kong for training.
At the end of the Hong Kong meeting, J arrived bringing with him our 2 kids.  We took the chance to visit Disneyland HK, smack right in the middle of summer.  It was hotter than in KL. We ended up using all the indoor rides and facilities (with aircond).
End 2007, company moved to PJ, cut short my travelling time ;-)

Launched new product in current company, which turned out to be a success.
Wei entered Std 1.
Bought a second-hand piano for Wei to start lessons.
Trip with Wei and Yuan to Bangkok & Khao Yai, where we stayed with the friend from Singapore who was now working in Korat.

Due to the company's success last year, we were awarded with an incentive trip to Sydney.
Promoted to marketing position after working hard for a conference in April.
Took on the post of managing managers which is what I am still learning.
Purchased our house in Kepong for moving in, but later found out I was pregnant again, so we rented it out.
Purchased Cyberjaya apartment for rental after reading Property Jewels and doing some research (mostly reading Anie's blog lah...)
Backpacked in London with J while 7 months' pregnant, because we bought Air Asia earlier and couldn't cancel.  Everything went well.

I only count my blessings.
Yuan started Std 1.
Blessed with Baby Xin whom I think is the sweetest little baby in town.

Sold our old Iswara because J got his company car.
Started blogging on my last day of maternity leave, making this blog my gratitude journal.
Rented out Cyberjaya apartment and SD Tiara apartment.
Finished paying instalments on my car.
Company started work-from-home option 1 day of every week.
Visited Chengdu on family trip.
A very good year indeed ;-)

All in all, an exciting decade.  J and I look forward to this new one!