Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas... oh Christmas...

Merry Christmas from the Chais!

This year seems to fly past so quickly... from the moment we moved to England from Aberdeen, to the arrival of Alana, and now it hits us that we have been in this house for a year already. Time just zooms past when we were busy. It has been a life changing year for us with parenthood.

Well... Christmas cards are half sent. Another load to bring to the post office tomorrow, hopefully. This year we are not travelling during the festive season. Mainly because we've just come back from Houston in Nov. It took 3 weeks for Alana to fully recover from the jetlag. We thought it would be too much to distrupt her routine again just when she had settled in. So... we will simply chill out at home this time round. Some friends are visiting from Aberdeen and Hertfordshire, and that should keep us occupied for at least first half of the break. That also means that we need to start thinking about what food to prepare for our visiting friends, ie. traditional Christmas roast turkey, Malaysian nasi lemak, ... hopefully it will be a white Christmas, setting up the BBQ pit at the backgarden, in the cold. :) .... would be fun.

This post seems aimless... it shows that I am not in the right mind to write any further. Shall make it short and hopefully something more interesting will evolve soon... in the meantime, have a blessed Christmas and a better year for everyone in 2010!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Changing season - arrival of Bugaboo

The nights are getting colder, Alana is getting bigger, and we're getting leaner, at least gear-wise. We did a bit of research on eBay last week and it has finally arrived. Here they are in order of brand-spanking newness:

Here is it - 2009 Bugaboo Cameleon Denim 007 Special Collection. We have been struggling with the old 3-wheeler because the front wheel does not swivel making it very difficult to navigate on rough terrain in the woods here. We have to pivot the rear wheel and lift the front with Alana in it when we have to navigate around. It is extremely unsafe especially when the terrain is already not that easy to walk on.

This new buggy will hopefully come in handy for the daily 30 mins walk in the neighborhood. The weather is getting colder, fleece footmuff are out in action. It compliments perfectly with the special denim collection with orange trims. When the weather gets warmer, it can then be replaced with its standard tailored fabric.

Denim seat cover

Shopping basket in denim

It looks like she is enjoying every bit of it already even though she is feeling unwell this few days.. :)

Suddenly, everything seems to turn orange entering into Autumn, even the Bloom high chair is turning orange!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thought we are over with the jetlag ....

Yes... we are back home in the UK now.

It has been more than a week since we come back from Houston. It took a while for Alana to recover from jetlag, especially coming back this way (west to east). One week after the trip, she has almost gone back to her normal routine of 7pm to 7am night sleep, that's when things started to change.

She had been having temperature over the last 3 days now, fluctuating between 37.5 degree Celcius to 39.2 degrees. We tried Calpol (paracetamol) and alternating it with Nurofen (Ibuprofen). That help keeping her temperature under control. We feel that she is teething and that is causing her the pain in the night and temperature as well.

Alana's first tooth!

We took her to the GP and all he can said is possible viral infection on the throat. With H1N1 looming around, it is difficult to tell what is the real cause since all the symptons are similar to each other.

Prescribed with more paracetamol and cross our fingers that she will be alright over the next few days.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Alana in Houston

We arrived safely in Houston over the weekend despite delays over at Heathrow.

Woke up at 4:30am on Saturday in order to make the 45 mins road ride to the airport. She did not make much fuss over it although her typical routine is to wake up at about 7am. She usually sleeps through from 7pm to 7am. Anyway, we were prepared for some distruption to her routine for this travel.

Reached Terminal 4 at Heathrow at 6:30am only to be informed that the flight has been delayed by about 1.5 hours. Air travel these days is no longer the same as what it used to be 5 or more years ago. You gotto do your own check-in, bag drop on one single queue for all flights, etc... No fun... simply raising unnecessary stress level to passenger at the cost of keeping the airlines' bottom line above the water. Sorry about the groan and moan here.

The good thing about travelling with Alana is you get the special treatment, especially in the baby friendly world of GB, you get to join the fast lane from security check to boarding. Alan was saying she is our Gold pass for air travel at least for the next 10 years.

We took Continental Airlines this time for a few reasons. It is a direct flight from London to Houston, save all the transiting trouble. Secondly Continental just joined Star Alliance network, so it is good for our air miles on our Frequent Flyer Program. We were not expecting much for service to be honest. We settled into the seats and sort ourselves out. Alan then asked for an infant seat belt from the cabin crew. Guess what was the response? "NO! You are supposed to carry her on your lap during take off" The crew was raising his voice so that everyone can hear that statement. I was in the lavatory expressing milk and when Alan told me what just happened, I was utterly surprise as I was taught in my flying career, that was a mandatory rules by FAA, perhaps that has changed.

By the time we took off, it was already way past Alana's morning nap. We were both very surprise that she sat calmly on Alan's tummy and eventually doze off for a short nap. She looks like a koala bear on Alan's chest.

This is a 10 hour day flight and expecting the worst for Alana, nap distrupted, meals distrupted... lots of crying, etc. But... it turns out pretty Ok. She didn't make any fuss throughout the flight, not crawling too much. Just happy and contented to be on Alan's tummy or in my arms. The only thing that worries us was she aint eating much and we do not have her proper food (rice or noodle) with us. The airlines didn't serve her infant meal by the way. So, she was on light snacks throughout the 10 hour journey.

Her body temperature were somehow "higher" than normal. But we do not have any scientific means to confirm that other than using our palms to feel her forehead. At high altitude and inside a aircraft cabin, sometimes you may feel hot/cold but in actual fact you are just normal. We decided not to take the risks and start sponging her with cold towel, just in case. Also, she got one full seat to herself... while we (adults) were served our lunch, she was behaving very well by sitting on her own quietly and let us enjoy our meals. Bravo to Alana... usually she would be all over the place exploring the new environment.

Clearing the immigration was the usual standard... long queue. We waited for about 30 mins in the queue and many people around us were already late or missing their flight connection. Fortunately we were not in a rush other than getting Alana into bed. Alan was again asked to go for secondary interview, that took another 35 mins (quicker than the previous trip) while we were waiting outside at the hall.

We promptly made our way to the Car Rental terminal and got the car for the next two weeks. Alan was adamant that the car we got this time is the same identical Chevolet Malibu we had the previous trip. There is a similar fault in the boot space (a screw spike on the base on the boot). Can't believe it can be such a coincident, I wasn't convinced it is the same car. :)

Alana was seated on a front facing child seat and was getting excited in the 30 mins journey to the hotel. She was talking (wah wah wah... hello.. ) for about 15 mins (yes, she tried to say "Hello"), before she knocked out when the sun set. Good for her.

We quickly settled into the room and gave her a good bath before putting her into the cribs. She slept through...

to be continued...... 2nd night... she slept through again (5pm to 5:30am)

Monday, October 26, 2009

A bigger car

Bought our 320d back in Dec 2008, and with Alana now taking one full seat with her Group 1+ baby car seat, we are starting to feel the need for more space. Initially, we went for the estate model as it gives more boot space for the buggy. It looks like we have starting to "outgrown" this car soon.

We love the low running cost for this 320d, with 55mpg the fuel tank takes longer than normal to dry out, which is fantastic. Also the very low CO2 emission, bring the road tax to one of the lowest group.. less than 10 pound Sterling a month. We were pleasantly surprise that it was 50% less to run this car compare to our previous old faithful Stream. The in-built Satnav is an additional bonus for Ann as it makes her more confident and independent to drive out without me. So it is gonna be tough to replace the 320d.

Now that space is becoming a bigger issue, we start to look around for alternatives. We need a people carrier, a full size people carrier. Perhaps it was due to the fact that we were so spoiled by the Stream which gives us the flexibility of carrying people as well as a multi purpose car for transporting goods for our house project back in Aberdeen. So we went to the garage on Saturday and found this wonder beauty - R Class.

The weekend discovery trip was simply to see what is available out there... We will have a serious look at it more when we come back from Houston in mid Nov.

Should we go for it?

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Best way to reach us is by email or drop us a comment in here.

Until we get our Google Voice setup (which has to be a US residence)... there is no point remembering our numbers which keep changing year on year.

Bladeless Fan

Another incredible invention by Sir James Dyson. After making a big wave with his bagless vacumm cleaner more than twenty years ago, his latest product is set to change the way we perceive how a fan should look like.

He is applying the aerodynamics theory by spraying a very thin flow of air on the ring which then drag the stream of air from surrounding into it. Very clever indeed.

The media mentioned that the fan is available for £199, which is pretty steep compare to a conventional fan. It is however ... safe, easy to clean, sleek, a focal point by itself... is it worth it? Judge it by yourself :)

Sometimes the simplest idea could well be the one that works! Check out his demo video.

Dyson's Bladeless Fan Air Multiplier

Reactions to Dyson's Bladeless Fan

Demo with baby

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Free Antivirus Protection

Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft is now giving away PC antivirus for free to home users. It is called Microsoft Security Essentials and it contains anti spyware and antivirus protection.

Available as free download to all Genuine Copy of Windows. There is a check during installation to verify that you copy of Windows is not one of those doggy copies purchased from the back alley streets :)

So if you want to save money from buying 3rd party antivirus like McAfee or Norton, this could be a good alternative. I wouldn't say it is 100% proven to give the strong PC protection but sufficient for Home use.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Houston 2009-11

Houston ... another business trip to Houston this coming November. Both Annette and Alana will come along this time round. This is going to be Alana's first trip to the United States. Other than the border control which may take a little longer than usual and a little more stressful than other countries, we always enjoy the stay in Houston. Good food, friendly people, good factory outlet shopping... can't complain. :)

Will write more about it when we get there. In the meantime, below are some of the food we love to have in Houston.

Cheesecake Factory's Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake
(Ann goes "gaga" about this whenever we are in Houston)

Pappadeaux's Seafood Platter

Daylight Saving Time

UK Daylight Saving Time or more commonly known as British Summer Time (BST)

Folks back home always ask about the time difference between Malaysia and the UK. It is hard sometimes for ones who have never experienced the time change their whole life to comprehend the time change. I am going to try to explain it in simpler terms.

Twice a year, the clock is tuned either forward or backward during the last Sunday in March and last Sunday in October. During the Last Sunday in March of every year, the clock is tuned to one hour forward at 1am. If you have your TV or computer on, the clock will magically skip forward to 2am bringing us to GMT +1 timezone. However, this does not apply to your "standalone" clock at home which are not tied to a time server.

The clock will stay at this GMT +1 timezone until the Last Sunday of October. Again, at 2am of the last Sunday of October, the clock will move backward to 1am bringing it back to GMT +0.

The cycle will repeat itself year on year every March and October.

So this weekend is the last Sunday of October, the clock will switch backward by 1 hour for us in the UK.

Since 1996 all member states of the European Union change their clocks on the same date at 1am GMT. DST or BST first began in 1916 with a mandate from parliament.

This time change, however, differs for Continent of Northern America. The time-change for US Continents happen on the 2nd Sunday of March and 1st Sunday of November instead.

So is it simple enough to understand? Or am I still too technical in the explanation? :)

For further reference, check this out http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/index.html

Rationale and original idea

The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time (called "Summer Time" in many places in the world) is to make better use of daylight. We change our clocks during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.

If you live near the equator, day and night are nearly the same length (12 hours). But elsewhere on Earth, there is much more daylight in the summer than in the winter. The closer you live to the North or South Pole, the longer the period of daylight in the summer. Thus, Daylight Saving Time (Summer Time) is usually not helpful in the tropics, and countries near the equator generally do not change their clocks.

A poll conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that Americans liked Daylight Saving Time because "there is more light in the evenings / can do more in the evenings." A 1976 survey of 2.7 million citizens in New South Wales, Australia, found 68% liked daylight saving.

Indeed, some say that the primary reason that Daylight Saving Time is a part of many societies is simply because people like to enjoy long summer evenings, and that reasons such as energy conservation are merely rationalizations.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fairy Cakehouse

Annette's sister is starting up a new blogshop on custom cakes in Singapore. They are really good. Helped her with the initial blog setup, site tracking, etc... the rest of the contents from her were really great.

If you are based in Singapore and have a birthday in the coming weeks or months, why not get Jean to make you special one?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Here we are...

Here we are, joining the rest of the blogging world! Will be using this space to update friends and family. I can't promise that it will be regular, but whenever we can.

And here is my other more technical blog - Sharepoint Garage.