Wednesday, January 31, 2007 ;
1:40 AM
Hooray!!!! Dh just passed his driving practical test! yay!

wrt yesterday's post, thanks for the tags and replies!
Sam, yes, that's why we were so naive, cos when dh wanted to apply for the driver's licence, he was told he can't and that he had to get that Tax ID called ITIN first. That we didn't check other resources for a second opinion was so naive. Thus began a 5 month application, wait and chase for the elusive ITIN at another dept. Yup. So glad it is over now.

Glori, thanks for your info! How's driving now? You doing in school is it? I did too, it was always fully booked indeed.

Ok, consolidated answers.

Theory tests here: 1 test, 25Qs, open book, no time limit
Theory tests there: 2 tests, 140Qs in total, closed book, fixed time limit

To pass theory test here: 75% and above correct answers
To pass in Spore: only 5 mistakes allowed (that's 92.8% and above correct answers)

Results here: Instantly known
Results in Spore: Have to wait for the mail (how long? 2 weeks?) {thanks for the update Glori, now it's computerised and results are instantaneous too!}

To take driving practical test here: can book a time once you pass theory (dh's case, yesterday fully booked, so he's taking today, else, like what sammi said, can do it the same day)
To take practical in Spore: can book after passing advanced theory, but must pass circuit test first, and the date is usually set much later because so many people are in the queue. I think I waited for 2 months after passing advanced last time? Glori, correct me if I am wrong abt the procedure.

Driving instructor here: can be your parent or anyone who has enough driving experience
Driving instructor there: must be from driving school or a certified, licenced and registered person

Test Car here: Your own (Dh took our Dodge Neon with peeling paint there)
Test car in Singapore: must be specially-fitted with brakes on the instructor's side of the car as well, usually belongs to driving school or registered driving instructor

Practical test components here: Circuit only. Within circuit the stuff are the same, stopping at lights, signals, U turn, 3 point turn, parking on slope, parallel parking.... But I am just so glad no need to go out onto the road cos it's so much easier then. I am not as used to driving on the other side of the road as dh yet!
Practical components there: Circuit then out on normal road conditions.

To pass practical here: 20 demerit point system. Exceed 20 and you fail. They're pretty strict though, even though it is within circuit only. Cos dh got 14 points and I read the checklist, he got points for not having both hands on steering, and minor stuff like that. So I have to be very careful and alert, he says. He missed some traffic signs too, cos he said they were overhead instead of by the roadside like in Singapore.
To pass practical there: same 20 points system.

One interesting difference I discovered:
When you sell off a car here: you keep your licence plates. The plates belong to you.
When you sell off a car in Spore: the plates go to the next owner. When you buy a new car, you have new plates, unless you pay more to keep your old numbers.

No wonder dh got caught when he parked at the supermarket. Cos it was easy for the traffic police to check the plates of that car and realise it belonged to an American, not this Chinese-looking guy! So maybe he got stopped on suspicion of stealing the car. :-)

Ok, we're off to settle the car stuff then have dinner out to celebrate! yay! yay!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 ;
4:57 AM
I need to update about ds1 and ds2 progress and devt once in a while. It is a good reference for me too. Eg in future, I can look back and see, hey, ds1 did this on such a date, and use it as a gauge to see when ds2 will do it.

Like when their 1st tooth appeared and so on... I had recorded the dates faithfully in a small booklet, but that's back home in Singapore, so this blog will be good for that purpose now. Best thing is I can access it anywhere and the time and date is automatically recorded.

1. Anyway, ds1 has been diaper-free totally (throughout the night) for about a week now. Think cos he stopped having his night-time bottle of milk, he has been able to wait till morning to pee.

2. I turn on my PC in the morning when I wake up and leave it on till night so that if someone skypes me I may be able to receive.

I realised ds2 has been playing with the computer by himself, when I am busy in the kitchen for what must be the longest time ever? Cos I discovered yesterday, while sitting with him at the PC, that he can boot up, wait till everything's settled, hold the mouse, point at the "Start" button, scroll up to "Internet Explorer", click, wait for window to appear, click on the "Star" on top which stands for "Favourites", then click on the Fisher-Price Games Online page that I bookmarked for them, then play his ABC game!!! All by himself! I was flabbergasted, shocked, taken aback... He's not even 2 yet and turning into an obsessed gamer, help!

I really have no idea how he learned that, must be through trial and error, else must be through observing how we did it without us knowing he was looking on. That's a bit scary. That's why it is very important I monitor what they see or watch on TV and elsewhere cos I think they soak everything up like sponges now.

3. ds1 has been thriving under the kind and friendly American teachers here. Actually besides Sunday school, other adults he meets elsewhere are also effusive with their praise and encouraging comments. I think Americans are good in that, they make others feel good and they say what they think very easily.

Asians are more reserved (of course not all, I'm just saying tend to..). Maybe I should just say "I". :-) And i don't really speak up in a large crowd if I have certain opinions. I also praise little but scold or advise more. And I guess, when we're very happy or feel good, we don't let everyone know or don't express it as much?

Eg. Someone helped ds1 into the gents when the ladies was full and I was carrying ds2 in my arms, and ds1 was really urgent. After they emerged from the gents, ds1 said "Thank you" to that gentleman and he had a loud enough and welcoming "You're welcome" with accent and all.

Very often in Singapore, it will just be a nod or a smile. So ds1 is now saying very loud "You're welcome" with the same accent and all. When I say Thanks to him for helping me out. It's quite funny, but I am glad he'll learning to be more polite and to be loud about it.

Eg 2. His Bible class teacher praises him with such varied vocab and at a frequency of maybe 1x in 5 min that ds1 feels very happy going to her class and is having high self esteem now. I personally heard the praises she dished out one day when I was about to pick him up. She was saying, "Well done, Titus! That was a great job, you completed this really tough puzzle! What fantastic effort! I am so glad you enjoyed this, wonderful!" This was then repeated with the other students but using different vocab and words.

In Singapore, I hold ds1's teachers in high regard and totally understand the work they are doing too. But, like me, they don't praise much. In fact, after class, the teacher will often complain to me how ds1 tried to fool around etc.

ds1 is now "encouraging" me too, using the words, and it is so funny, when I give him his lunch, and he goes "Thank you soooo much mummy, you did a great job in frying this delicious egg for me!" (Add in the accent for effect, and it is soooo hilarious.)

I must say ds1 mimics peopls's accents and the way they speak very well. Really amusing.

Yup, so these are the good things he has been learning so far.

Cannot always complain or wash dirty linen here right? :-)

If I ever do go back to teaching, I wonder if I will go, "Hey Bren, that was such a neat dissection you did! What a straight line down the abdomen! Fantastic, Mong, it is wonderful there isn't much blood shed there! Great job, Pam, your first aid skills are serving you well here. That sure was pinned down tight, Andy, marvellous! Junhong, you pulled the intestines long and straight, what an amazing illustration! Jin Guan, you're a walking encyclopaedia, you labelled all the parts correctly! Wee Loon, you tucked in your shirt today, wow, you're on your way to becoming a model student! Jona and Huang Hao, you turned up for class today? You will surely ace the Bio A levels now!"


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

3:16 AM
Need to quickly share a joyous event!

Dh received his Tax ID no, called ITIN. So he went to the Dept of Motor Vehicles Licensing Div this morn to apply for the Driver's Privilege Card.

The good news first, he passed the theory test already and will be taking the practical (called driving skills test here) tmr. After this, he can settle insurance for our car and get it inspected then we can finally drive!

The bad news is, he realised he wasted 5 months of time applying for the ITIN and also wasting all that time and money taking bus to school everyday (3hours commuting time) and also the US$400 fine for not having insurance etc etc etc... And not to mention mental anguish, emotional trauma, troubling others to fetch us to buy groceries, to go airport fetch us and so on and so forth...

WHY?!? Cos for foreigners who are here legally with a visa, who have a valid home country licence, who do not have Social Security No or even ITIN, but residing in Utah (having valid proof of local address), CAN ACTUALLY apply for the Driver's Privilege Card.

He just found out... So apparently, the different depts from the Motor Vehicle Div and the Traffic Police gave him the wrong information! Apparently the above was a new provision in the Law that was passed in July 2005. So i guess it being pretty new, many were not aware of it.

At first we wanted to recall which guy insisted dh had to get ITIN first, call that dept or file a complaint to get compensation. Then we decided, forget it lah. Probably that guy did not know about it and transferred us to all the wrong people who were not informed or perhaps they thought dh belonged to the category who required an ITIN.

We're just happy he got it now. Also dh is saying we were also naive to just accept one person's words, should not be so trusting... In future, we must learn to be wiser and check out further sources of info even when someone tells us something. Cos Dh surfed a website to find out more info about the theory test last night and that website had the latest Driver's Handbook 2006/07 in pdf format, and within it, it was stated clearly, the part on the Driver's Privilege Card concerning foreigners here legally.

By the way, the theory test was super easy: 25 MCQs, no time limit and open book! Dh and I were studying the handbook last night diligently. Turned out there was no need to! He finished the Qs in 15min and checked answers using the book. He found one mistake, corrected it, and handed it in-- results were released at once -- 100%. He came home and told me I could take it the next day, no problem for sure.

I am relieved cos I was wondering how to finish studying with the kids bugging me all the time. Dh said people who went through the Singapore system would ace this. I recalled taking 2 theory tests 11 yrs ago, Basic and then Advanced right? Then there were so many MCQs and of all the questions we were only allowed 3 wrong answers or else we failed and had to take again, correct me if I am wrong. Dear students who are taking your driving now, pls tag and inform me of the procedures now. We passed on our first tries then also, but I remember studying very hard for it - won't waste time and money.

Good that dh is going for the skills test tmr, then he can tell me how it's like too. I am more nervous about that, cos they drive on different sides of the road, I am worried I will endanger my life and the tester's life by turning into the wrong lane -- head on with oncoming traffic!

Will update you all soon then. And those of you (I recall, was it Tianhan or maybe Shouyi 01S73?) who took the driving test while studying here? Tag or email me your experience, would be nice to hear. And Shouyi, how did you get your hands on the SSN?!?

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Monday, January 29, 2007 ;
12:37 PM
Random pic first (for my sis, cos she bought the kids this pair of funny socks):

Ok, I baked Titus the banana cake he requested on Sat and after it cooled we decorated it, using the icing and frosting he chose. We bought those at Walmart, quite cheaply.

I also made the braised eggs for potluck on Sunday afternoon. Hey Xizzy, tianhan, pam etc who told me about Asian marts, I found one nearby, called Oriental Saigon. So I was able to get dark soy sauce and some other ingredients there! Indeed there was Milo, but it was soooo expensive, so I didn't buy. Anyway I'll make myself get used to hot choc.

Then on Sunday morning, Titus celebrated his birthday with his Sunday school class. His two teachers are pictured partially here too. One of them is a Vietnamese lady (left) who married an American, and she also told me about the Oriental Saigon store. She, and the Korean I mentioned earlier, are the only 2 Asians in the church. No, I haven't met any Singaporeans yet... still haven't...

Titus does miss his friends back home. Esp the birthday parties he had, all the friends, cousins. Even I miss all the excitement. Somehow, I don't know why, singing the birthday song just once in English is not so fun. It seems too short! There must be a MAndarin one following, and maybe even the Cantonese version, bahasa Indonesia one (my prev maid taught us), and the "you are born in the zoo" one. haha. that's our tradition...

There will be something coming up very soon that will make us miss home VERY MUCH.... guess you all know...

The potluck was fun and there was the chance to try food others made. All were delicious, mostly lasgane, pasta of various kinds, salads, baked rice, and a lot of desserts! So many experts in cake baking and jelly and pudding-making there. I forgot to take pics, cos Justus was napping too... Next time I'll remember to do so, let you all have a look.
I had a good time getting to know more people better too. It was enjoyable.

and oh yes, i faced several misconceptions today about Singaporeans again. It is prevalent here, because they meet very few Singaporeans. They are surprised when they hear us speak English.

They also automatically assume we take English as second lang back home. Someone even asked me did I have to take private lessons outside school back home to speak like I do now... And another church friend asked me how did Titus manage to learn to speak English cos he has a wider vocab than her daughter of the same age.

And then another kind lady just made a passing remark, but I can't help feeling a bit funny.. She told me, since we are here, if my kids attend school here, they'll learn a lot of English and be the best English speakers in the whole family when they return to Singapore. As in my and dh's whole family clan, I guess... hmm... I'm not so sure, since back home, our whole family speaks English so much too...

Initially I tried to explain about Singapore having English as first lang, but they find it hard to understand, so I don't now. I just smile. Also, if they feel we speak differently, it is cos of our accent. We stress different syllables differently and we use different terms. Like lift or elevator... Australians speak very differently from the Americans and so do the British or Irish. But I guess that doesn't mean they take English as their second language?!?

I'll just leave that as food for thought for today... Need to go now, kids running wild. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

12:09 PM
So this week has been a week of trying my best to find ways to save time so I can rest a bit myself.

Some of the ways I tried to cut corners are documented below. i.e. besides letting them watch one more VCD a day than usual (meaning 3, cos usually each one will choose one). But on Sat when I was baking Titus' birthday cake and then preparing braised pork and eggs (20 eggs!) for church potluck, they were watching VCDs almost the whole day. Very bad, but I hope it is only temporary.

1. I started off cooking 2 dishes for lunch for kids and myself, then changed to another 2 different dishes for dinner for dh and 3 of us. That lasted all but 2 days into this week. I found meal prep time and then the washing up too time-consuming.

I progressed to a 1-dish meal of pasta for lunch for kids and myself, then rice and 2 dishes for dinner. That was middle of the week.

Now, I cook A LOT in a 1-dish meal for lunch, and serve up the same thing for dinner at night. See this fried rice? That's 4 cups of rice.... haha, after I fried it, I looked at the amount and it shocked myself even, so MUCH!!! But then it saved me the time to prep dinner all over again. And I was glad for that. Until dh or the kids complain, I think it will remain status quo for some time.

2. I started off devoting the whole part of the morning just to homeschooling the kids, doing some educational worksheets with Titus, drawing or art and craft with both, and reading stories. I also imposed "strictly-Chinese" periods where Titus can only speak in Mandarin to me, and we will play only CHinese games. Cos his grandma is afraid he will lose his ability to converse in fluent Mandarin and chat with her when we return in future.

Then it got more tiring and there was more cleaning around the house and so on... So I started showing Chinese DVD to replace some of the Chinese activities. I also started playing CDs instead of teaching them music.

Finally I let them play "educational games" by themselves instead of playing with them! I lay on the sofa while they were playing blocks. I set up 2 stations for them using the chairs dh made. And I consoled myself while watching them, that they are also learning A LOT by playing with blocks. I mean, that's creativity and critical thinking skills and architecture, or even engineering they're learning right???!? All by themselves... :-) If you're reading this, no matter what you think, if you have to comment, say something encouraging ok? :-) If not, if you just want to tell me, don't be lazy anymore, please remain silent, k? :-)

3. I stopped showering them diligently also. I filled the tub and let them play awhile and then rinse them up.

4. This week I dressed myself and the kids in clothes that need not be ironed and I wear the clothes for longer than usual. :-)

Ok that's enough of the dirty linen washed in public. Here's random pic of my homemade raisins. I left the seedless red grapes out in the open (under the heater vent) just to see what'll happen. And in 2 days, they became raisins! They're plumper and juicier than Sunmaid's, but taste the same.

A more sobering thought was I kept thinking, is that happening to my skin too??? Horror of horrors.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

11:35 AM
Wow, haven't updated in a week...

Was sick on Monday, first headache and sore throat, till Tuesday then diarrhoea on Tuesday, intermittent till now. Wonder why, but didn't see a doctor of course. We haven't got medical insurance yet so doctors will be expensive. Sore throat and headache long gone, but replaced with runny nose and cough now. Anyway it will run its course.

On Monday night there was supposed to be a ladies Bible class but I missed it cos I was sick. Then on Tuesday, one of the sweet ladies gave me a call and then popped over to my house with a huge serving chicken rice soup to feed the whole family and homemade hot chocolate! I was so touched by her warmth and kindness. Her hot choc jar is so pretty too (pictured below). She's new to Utah too, and pregnant with her 1st baby, due in March. She used to be a teacher and has a M.Ed. I think. Something in common -- love for teaching.. Looks like we can have long chats then, about kids and teaching?

I also couldn't take it by Tuesday afternoon, having to drag my feet around still doing chores and caring for the kids who were as energetic and attention-seeking as ever. So I called dh and asked him to return earlier. He brought the kids to an air force museum so I could have time to rest. But in the end, I only managed to take a bath and sort out the clothes before they returned, cos the weather was cold, and the museum closed at 4.30pm. The kids enjoyed themselves though, evident in photos below.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 ;
12:28 PM
dh joined the Salt Lake Symphony Orch when he reached here some mths ago. They have regular concerts throughout the year, and he has been performing with them so far. Now that we are here, he may perform in less concerts, because their rehearsals are very frequent and it causes him to return home close to midnight when that occurs.

Since I usually wait for him to return before I can do more housework and bathe and check email etc, this schedule is very punishing on me, so a happy compromise has been made.
Anyway 20 Jan the symphony orch held a family concert at the University of Utah's Libby Gardner Hall and we went to support. Only for family concerts do they allow children under 8yo to enter, so that's why I could bring both sons. This would be similar to SSO's babies proms.

However, the difference is the concert does not allow the kids to move ard. And there are no gimmicks like clowns or balloons. It's just a regular concert, only they allow younger kids in, so they try to have a light programme. I guess I don't mind both kinds, they serve different purposes, like the SSO's babies proms, it is fun and the kids get to go onstage to conduct and to stand beside their fav instruments. We went for that for 3 yrs running. But dh doesn't like the idea of letting the kids march ard the whole hall, cos he feels that doesn't give them the correct idea of concerts and they may not learn proper concert etiquette. So a balance would be good.

This concert was entitled "The Magical Musical Weather Report", and the pieces chosen tried to depict different seasons and weather conditions. They had an emcee who was actually an anchorman from the TV Weather Channel's Channel 2. So he reported the weather conditions like he was doing a news report. then the orchestra would play accordingly.

So they played 1. Theme from "Twister".
2. Morning Mood from Peer Gynt Suite.
3. Vivaldi's Four Seasons (excerpts played to match the weather report: like heavy rain, thunder, hot humid summer, cold winter and cool autumn)
4. Waltz of the Snowflakes from The Nutcracker
5. Storm and Shipwreck from Scheherazade.
6. Cloudburst from Grand Canyon Suite.

For the Waltz, there were 3 ballerinas who danced like snowflakes in front of the orch who was playing. They were so adorable, all dressed in white, really like snowflakes.

I think the best thing is the price of the tickets. It is only US$3.50 for the kids, and $8.50 for adults. For the babies proms, we shelled out S$25 for adults and each kid irrespective of age. So a small family of 3 would already have to pay $75. But of course, at the babies proms, you get the clown and the balloons and the chance to go onstage and march ard. I'm just glad they have such cheap entertainment available, cos I wouldn't be able to afford the Babies Proms here.
Pics of the concert and others:
Uni of Utah (SLC)
Above centre: Concert Hall, just before concert. During concert, no photography or recording allowed (SOP).
Above right: After whole concert, when kids and I went to meet dh's fellow performers in the orch.
Above left: ds1 showing the steam cake we brought from home as a snack after the concert ended and we were waiting for dh to drive the rented car over to the hall. ds2 was also eating the same cake.
Above right: Seldom have dh with ds in pics, so just took one while having our lunch out on Sunday. It's an Italian fast food place called Fazioli's, and they have free-flow bread and drinks, so ds1 could eat all the bread he wanted and he really did eat so much we felt a bit embarrassed. Anyway a meal of pasta for me, pizza and pasta combo for dh and drinks cost US$9. The 2 kids ate the free bread and chicken from my pasta. That's still ex when compared to Spore, but very cheap amongst restaurants here, so we seldom eat out but if we do, such places are good for us. I get to drink quite a lot of Coke too, haha.
Above left: Ah ma's birthday present for ds1. ds1 has always loved riding, even in Spore. He was very sad to leave his bikes back in Spore. So it was good that grandma gave some money and asked him to get what he wanted. We got one of the cheapest in Walmart anyway, US$50+.
He insisted on riding, even though it's winter now, with snow, slippery and so cold. So I let him lah, how to ask him to wait till April, when it stops snowing?
Above right: The Ford Taurus we rented in order to send mom to airport, and we used it to go for the concert and buy the bike as well.

Above top: Our car, the one we already own but can't drive. Drove it out to backyard to accomodate the rented car in the garage. It's about 16yrs old but well maintained by the prev owner, who sold it to us at a steal too.

Above bottom: The peeling paint (right side of boot) was a result of lying unused for so long, waiting in vain for the Tax ID and driver's privilege card, just so we can drive this car locally.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

10:12 AM
Random photos at home:

The elder of the church here is passing me all his newspapers now. Hooray! I mentioned to him that I miss reading papers, that it's a kind of daily habit, but I don't wish to subscribe over here. So he will pass me all the papers after he's read it.

So much so that I have a backlog now, cos now that my mom is home in Sg, I am truly having a busy and hectic schedule. It doesn't read much here, but somehow I am worn out by the end of the day. Anyway, that kind of mundane thing won't be blog-worthy, so I'll just always post about the highlights.

Since I am now fairly current with what's happening in Utah, I found out that it's now the Sundance Film Fest here, quite nearby for me.... I remember people like Royston Tan showing his films at such indie film fests... Anyway the locals are excited about this annual event too, cos they get to rub shoulders with Hollywood stars, producers and such who flock to the screenings and previews.

The other thing is, now being ski season, there are a lot of tourists at SLC. So I got to see many more Asians around. My mom spoke to someone from Beijing who's here with her young kids, but they've been in New Jersey for 10yrs already. They come to SLC every yr for skiiing. So many people from all over gather here to ski, snowboard etc that it makes me want to go too, cos it'd be a pity not to, being so near. But, we'll hv to wait for our transport problems to be solved first. The other thing is, I've checked all the 20+ resorts featured in a magazine, the youngest age they allow for skiing is 4yrs. So Justus can't ski... anyway, common sense should have told me so. He can't even jump yet, how to ski??!? HAha. So probably if we go, I'd be minding ds2 while ds1 and dh skis. Most resorts have childcare for infants from 6 weeks old, but they are expensive... Maybe I can toboggan with ds2 lah!

Some pics from our neighbourhood. This mtn range stretches all the way from North UT to SLC and below. Called the Wasatch Front, I think.
By the way, we didn't manage to make another snowman cos the snow is very dry and fluffy so far. We tried a few times but the snowball could not get large and firm, unless I get water outside to firm it? But from what the papers said, this kind of powdery snow is what skiers love and is what makes Utah great for winter sports. Quoted: " Utah's prolific snowfall is due to a process called OROGRAPHICS. The jet stream, laden with storms from the Pacific Coast, dries out over the Nevada desert. It, and the moisture it carries, is cooled over the Great Salt Lake and then slams into Utah's Rocky Mountain Range, releasing a bounty of the driest, fluffiest snow in the World. Hence Utah is known for its Greatest Snow on Earth (R)."

I am now a full time stay at home mom (SAHM). So planning meals has become one of my most impt responsibilities. Yet it is impossible to cook 3 meals a day while still needing to homeschool and spend time with kids, plus wash clothes n such. But we can't eat out or take out often too, as it costs too much.
So I have resorted to cooking in large batches while dh is at home, eg at night or weekends, then freezing smaller amounts. I have scientifically labelled all my containers and placed some of the beef stew or chicken soup in the lower fridge area for eg, then some in the freezer. This will cut down food prep time by a lot, esp if both kids are super clingy just before mealtimes.
My mom also shredded carrots, minced meat and peeled garlics to store in the fridge too, so I can just whip out and cook a veggie dish. So now, rice, or pasta with stew and a veg dish is what makes up almost every meal of mine and kids. Everyday. Except Sun, when we eat out for lunch.
Below, just for interest, the seeds of the banana. Supp to be sterile. Somehow the pattern is beautiful to me, so I took it. ds1 and ds2 love bananas and eat one each everyday. So I buy 2-3 bunches every weekend. And I have to choose them in varying degrees of ripeness, to last out the week.
The other photo shows me making waffles in bulk. Then I freeze part of them too. This is to create some variety of the snacks ds takes. He is still eating 8 pcs of bread a day but I think I'll try and vary that a bit with pancakes, waffles (i rem Lay Hua and Mrs Tham's recipes) and cake (my mom's recipe). The waffles are funny cos the first few I made were all incomplete. Took some time to get the amount of batter to pour in.. And oh, forgot to mention the waffle-maker and slow-cooker crockpot (for stews) were passed to me by someone in church too. Thanks to them we are eating more interesting stuff now.

And I enjoy baking the most. Didn't have an oven that can bake back home, but now I do, given by church member too. The huge oven under the stove was very dirty and smelly. So I used a toaster oven to bake the cakes instead, just have to ensure the cakes are small. ds1 asked for a banana cake so I will bake one this Sunday for him to celebrate his birthday with his Sunday School friends. So fast, he is 4 now... wow.. sounds so big.. hope he can help me out with more chores then! :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Thursday, January 18, 2007 ;
1:23 PM
Random photos (taken just outside our house):

Just some things I noted since arriving here:
(random, unranked thoughts)
1. I haven't watched any TV for 3 weeks, not even news. I also miss the Straits Times.

2. I haven't drunk any Milo for 3 weeks too, when I did everyday for the past 20 years at least?

3. I haven't driven any car yet too.

4. I have only eaten out maybe 4 times in 3 weeks, compared to at least 3x a week in Spore (esp for lunch).

5. We all haven't gone to an outdoor playground, nor swum, nor cycled. Whereas I brought kids to the playground to cycle and climb almost everyday previously.

6. I have not been to the beach nor seen any sea or body of water for 3 weeks. Having grown up beside the sea, and bred on the sunny island of Spore, I miss the salty smell of the sea.

7. I haven't eaten any whole fish too, the kind with head, fins and bones. Not to mention hawker food of course.

8. I haven't seen any flowers outside (of course), and I guess even though I don't really fancy them, I miss seeing the ubiquitous Bougainvillea, especially on overhead bridges, haha. And maybe, bird nest ferns on rain trees.

9. I haven't heard any Singlish at all, there must be no Singaporeans here at all! I may lose my skills soon if I can't practise it much! Help!

10. And hey I kinda miss being greeted "Good morning Mrs Goh! Thank you Mrs Goh! Have a nice day Mrs Goh!". Here I am Paul's wife, or the kids' mom.

The other side of the coin:

1. I haven't sweat at all for 3 weeks. No, not a bead of perspiration!

2. Haven't seen any ants, cockroaches or lizards in my house! This would be a rare occurence in Singapore, since I meet these old friends daily.

3. I leave an oreo cookie on the table for 3 days. Lo and behold, it is still crispy and crunchy after I find it three days later.

4. I have not worn fewer than 6 pieces of clothing at any point in time.
5. The kids love this best - no need to take bath every day. In fact, we bathe only twice a week!

6. I did not have to touch Campbell or any bio lecture notes. I have been memorising recipes instead.
7. And hey, surprise, surprise, I did not yield to temptation at all. I did not buy cartons of coke to store and drink at home. I did drink when I eat out though, but no more a can a day! So jonathan, there's hope for you, k?

8. I need to eat so much more here. Prob to generate heat is it? ds1 eats 8 slices of bread and butter a day. I have to buy 2 super size loaves each Sunday, and the super size loaf is double the size of our Gardenia at home. I can't imagine getting through 4 loaves of Gardenia a week in Spore, but here, it's no choice, else starve. Every half hour, the kids would ask for a snack, and surprisingly I'd feel very ravenous too. So I find myself eating all the time as well. You all need to tag me and tell me if you start to see a change in our appearances --- ballooning!

9. ds1 needed his milk in his milk bottle 3x a day in spore. but since here, voila, he doesn't ask for his milk at all. instead, every morning we all have milk and cereal, in a bowl. and that's fresh full cream cow's milk. cheap and good. not like those powder ones, so ex. yay, i can save a lot of money now. since ds2 doesn't drink powder milk at all, i don't need to buy any!

10. I debated over listing this, but must be honest... I am very loyal, I fly the Spore flag in my living room. I brought it all the way here at the risk of getting charged for excess baggage. But, I'm still glad: there's no more flag raising and staff mtgs... :-) I mean, secretly, don't you all envy me for that? :-)
but aiyah, there're so many things and people and comforts i miss that you all have right now...

btw, anyone in California studying or working right now? we'd like to drive over to see the Yosemite and Redwood National Parks in March and if there are old friends there, we'll visit! tag me or email to let me know ok? the kids want to visit Disneyland, but that's ex, so we'd need to think abt it. although being so near is definitely a plus point. if i want to come in future, there's the air fare to add in as well, so.... consider...

The poor things, this is the first time I let them play in the bathtub. In Spore, they can soak and play with water all they want, in the bathroom, with the door ajar, doesn't matter.
Here, cos the water can suddenly run cold (heater problem), I am afraid to let them play.
Today, I jack up the thermostat to 75degF (still can't convert to celsius well and vice versa), close the door, and let the tub fill with warm water first, then I let them play. But only for 10min. Cos I realise the water was running cooler then, so I got them out. True enough, there wasn't any hot water for the next hour.
They miss getting wet and swimming... a lot... I should distract them with skiing hor? BUt it is so ex... see how. With the world class (Winter Olympics here in 2002) ski resorts, I will have to take a look someday.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

12:13 PM

Coldest spell over! My mom can't believe she survived -18deg! Past few days were really bone-chillingly cold. Hopefully from now on it'll get warmer, cos it seems that the days are getting longer now.

Today Dh finally received his credit card and hence we can rent a car! hooray. we got a Dodge 2L fr Budget Rentals for a week, which is quite cheap, under US$200. But just so happen they didn't have a 2L and so we got a free upgrade to a Ford Taurus (3L) car! wow, it was spacious and the boot space was huge. besides a whole lot of shopping, it could still accommodate the kids' stroller.

I haven't heard of Dodge before, but it is very common here. Even the toy cars given by others to ds are Dodge vehicles. Anyway the secondhand car we bought is a Dodge Neon, which is lying in the garage.

We set off at 8.30am, and took our first trip to downtown SLC, to show my mom ard just before she leaves tmr. We planned to walk ard more actually but it was -11deg. So we basically toured in the car, and saw the Mormon's Temple Square, the mountains, a lot of container trains etc.

We also went to dh's school, met his classmates, sat in his workshop and saw him do some work. The kids were mesmerised. I guess boys naturally like woodwork.

After that, (11am) mom, kids and I headed for The Gateway for lunch, leaving dh to his classes and work. The Gateway is one of the largest malls. BUt it is open air, as in, it is not like Jurong Point, or Taka, where there are enclosed areas you can walk ard to window shop. Here, if you window shop, it means you are walking along the streets in the icy wind and freezing temp. So we walked by Body Shop, Gap, Abercrombie and Fitch, Old Navy, etc. all the famous brands in Spore, where I would certainly have stopped to browse, but not here. I was too cold to want to shop. So we headed straight for the food court, where is was very welcomingly warm. Good thing it had a small play corner so we let the kids stay inside for as long as they wanted and we took our time to eat lunch and warm up.

Then we saw this Discovery Gateway, which is something like our Science Centre or Discovery Centre. So since we had a lot of time to spare before dh ends school and pick us up, we bought tickets and entered. Of course, it was nice and warm inside too, impt thing. So I actually gave up shopping and spent the entire afternoon watching the kids play.

Although the play areas and exhibits are not as scienc-y as Spore Science Centre, it offered a chance for kids to role play many familiar professions. Which i think is super great fun.
Titus enjoyed himself so much my mom bought him and Justus a year's unlimited membership, as an early bday present for them. It cost them about US$50. So if I bring them there 3 more times, it'd be more than worth it already. Maybe I'd just follow dh to school once every week then head for Discovery. It'd be a good way to exhaust the kids while letting them have fun and learn something along the way. Otherwise I'd also be racking my brains everyday trying to think of new ways to occupy their time.
In case you were wondering why there are so many pics of ds1, it's cos ds2 took a short nap. :-) And for the above shots, ds1 hated to get into costumes, and I managed to persuade him to do so by promising I would too. haha. and he took that photo for me! quite well-composed! haha
So later ds2 woke and was up and about, making up for lost time. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

about us ;
-{dear-hubby}- dh
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