Saturday, March 31, 2007 ;
5:03 AM
Our last box arrived today. Those sent via surface mail.

I can't even remember what I packed inside till I opened it and it turned out to be mainly the boys' toys. They were inseperable with these toys before we came so I packed them. But they had survived well these mths without these toys like the Noah's Ark, so I now feel I wasted time and money by shipping them over. Sigh.

They were delighted to see their toys though. And again set about playing more than unpacking. They went for their saxophone and trumpet first, respectively. Interesting. I got these cheap plastic toys at a mama shop at Jurong West St 52? I was surprised that they could really play notes so I bought them. The box said they were made in Italy... If that was true then it's a steal.

We got our swingset already. But haven't set it up because it is still snowing or raining and dh is having late nights these few days. Yet, the kids were raring to go, so I took the slide portion out and placed it on our sofa. Then added a stool at the side (for climbing up).

They spent the whole morning playing on it, so I was happy as I could do my own work. They did fall and squabble/ fight, but there's the carpet there (not too dangerous when they fall) so I left them on their own.

Below: in their rare loving moments, so I had to capture it. I was late in cooking lunch and gave each a banana to fill them up first, then sat them down to watch a VCD. I rushed off to the kitchen to cook, but popped my head out once in a while. Saw them sitting close tog and eating the bananas... quite heartwarming so dashed off to get my cam... maybe it was a scary part of the show ("Ant Bully"--my sis bought for them) so they needed comfort from each other. :-)

Haha, the pic below shows our stock of Campbell soups... $1 per can, Chunky and Select varieties.. so we stocked up our pantry. Very useful for late night suppers, simple lunches and for camping. We've settled our camping dates for summer already.

Didn't realise the National Parks are so popular. Lodging at Redwood and Yosemite NPs are all booked a few months ago. So we will stay at motels outside the NPs and do day trips into the NPs for a week late May. The rates are cheaper than motels within the NPs so it's ok, we lose out on time, but save money. And we'll be away from the bears too, hee.

While booking lodging for Yosemite, I read that if you stay at the campgrounds you need to pack food into special bear-proof containers, else the bears will come out since they have a keen sense of smell. They have lots of info on what to do if you meet a bear too. :-) Scary but exciting! I would so love to see bears catching salmon, hee...from far, that is...

We will be driving down again. Was concerned that dh may not be able to take it, but he is very garang and says no problem... Both NPs are really far from here, and on top of that, these 2 NPs are far from each other. 10-14 hours drive each time. Like driving to Thailand from Singapore again.

Below: light snow these few days... so we've decided to go skiing tmr. it'd prob be the last time this season, cos after this there should be very little snow left.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

4:01 AM
Just want to say our lives here have frustrating moments too, and we have uneventful days. But when I blog, or post photos, somehow I only feel like posting about the happy or interesting things. For photos, I only take the cam out when I think it is interesting or worth remembering.

Probably that's why my life seems like it is only happy. But that's not the whole picture lah. :-)

Oh, there are times when I want to complain to everyone at one go and feel tempted to rant on... like when we encounter some discrimination, or unfair treatment, or some very unpleasant encounters with people... But then for every such person, there are at least 2 that have been super kind and friendly to us... Since I don't gush about all the people who help me carry the stroller and open doors and come up to me on the streets just to tell me how cute my kids are, I guess I won't tear to pieces those who offended me too.

Ok! So this post is all about food.

We bought a new wok. We only had a frying saucepan initially but find it unsuitable for certain things like fried rice or frying fish/ eggs, cos the base of the saucepan is too broad and flat and wastes a lot of oil. I'm very pleased with it although I am sure it would cost less in Singapore, but it's really been a great help. Pictured below, the first time I fried rice in it, much easier than in the saucepan..rice and ingredients don't fall out so much. :-)

Then pineapple tarts, a month late. haha. I wanted to make them during CNY, so I asked my sister in law (Seach Hwee) for the recipe. She makes them every yr and they are very yummy. Then we went shopping for pineapples and they were simply too ex (cos it was still winter then). Now they are much cheaper although still cost US$3+. Those of you in the know will baulk cos Singapore pineapples can be bought at less than S$1.

I have a heart shaped cookie cutter so made them all as hearts. Somehow the kids like them better that way. :-)

My pastry looks pale, cos I didn't glaze them.. Next time must do so to make it look better and taste smoother.

There's a reason for the plate of tarts looking so different from each other. Initially I put the filling on as a circular blob, just like the round tarts we know. Then dh said we should just spread and cover the whole pastry with the filling. So i did. When he walked by a moment later, he commented that there was too little filling. He said since we were making our own, just pile it on man! :-) So you see some just smothered with pineapple that you can't even see the pastry.

I made some small hearts for ds2 who was just different from dh and ds1 who liked the filling. ds2 preferred the pastry.

I still had some pineapple left, and a church friend gave us some oranges. Then I had silken tofu in the fridge and thought, why not? Don't waste the leftover pineapple, and made a shake... It's a tofu milkshake with pineapple and orange and banana. The pineapple was just a small portion and it was very ripe, so it didn't taste sour at all but was actually very sweet! Thus the tofu was completely masked and I managed to get both kids to consume tofu by larger amounts than they would if they had eaten it solid. yay... :-)

ds2 drank 3 sips only and I finished the rest, but ds1 loved it so much he downed his with a slurrrp.

It was a large packet of silken tofu I bought from the Asian mart and so I made Tom Yam soup with the rest of it. This time it was Tom Yam fish soup.

Fish? Yes! Recall I was just complaining it was expensive? Somehow, prices are seasonal, it seems. Now that it is spring, the prices are dropping. I dunno why, can only postulate that since weather is better, more fish is easily transported from the coast into the mountains? :-) The cheapest we see now are tilapia and whiting... BUT we learnt a lesson.

We bought whiting fish fillet (they don't sell whole fish here, mainly fillet), and no matter what method I cooked it - stir fry, deep fry, soup, sweet and sour (pics above)... It doesn't taste good. The flesh is not firm. Yucks. Since it already is smelly and not firm, def cannot steam, it'd be worse. We'll just wait for the salmon and cod prices to go down further... Then we'll buy those. Dh says tilapia would be worse than whiting. He says it is the smelliest dirtiest fish around. haha. so we didn't even try buying it.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 ;
5:03 AM
Been crafting clay pieces on and off since last week. Did it today again.

I tried some clay that needed to be baked. see below. they would turn out hard and heavy (but solid feel) after baking, then they can be painted.

they don't look that good, but ds1 bascially did it himself. except for the Lightning McQueen car, which I helped to shape a bit. we didn't have enough to finish up the excavator so it's without tracks and levers, haha.

he made the snake thing right? but after it was baked he said it was a scorpion, then now it's a wasp. all because he made it with the pointy sharp tip. the fish somehow was very attractive to ds2 who has taken possession of it.

btw, ds2 was also fiddling with the clay while we were at work, only thing he was pulling it and breaking it up into tiny pieces. i've utterly destroyed my carpet now, got paint, clay and stains all over the place.

right above: shows ds1 painting his gun black. (he insists it must be black, all over)

below: shows the items all painted

ds2 likes the Shrek DVD my sis bought, so i made a Shrek for him too. It didn't turn out to resemble Shrek much. looks more like an alien. haha.

This was made using Crayola non-baking clay. It's soft, light and foam-like. It'll dry out and set after you've shaped it, then you can paint or use markers to decorate. I find it easier for the kids to handle, so I will use more of this in future. Also, then I need not bake the pieces, which take time and use up a lot of electricity. :-)

Below: "Shrek" fully painted, and then ds1 insisted his Shrek must hold the gun. he spent a lot of time balancing the gun on Shrek's hand and wanted me to snap a pic. :-)

Today we completed some weird creatures and weapons, all ds1's idea. And I made a dragon for ds2. Cos I asked him what he would like to make and he said "dar-gonnnn" then roared a loud roar and spat out fire. (In Shrek, that dragon). I'll post pics when they're painted!

When both of them read this in future, I am sure they'll laugh.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

3:24 AM
Another present came in the mail for ds2 today. Hey Angeling, it came much quicker than expected! Prob cos it didn't need extensive customs check. My huge boxes were probably inspected for a long time. Maybe the Chinese drum looked suspicious to them. :-)

ds1 helped ds2 with the puzzle. so it's great, both can play! Thanks!

Another sub-species of daffodils sprang up beside my house. This cluster is even lovelier.

And i spotted this beside the daffodils. They look like tulip leaves and this looks like a tulip bud. If it is going to be, I will be in seventh heaven. I love tulips! Only in Spore, when dh bought them for me, they wilt very fast, so I told him not to buy tulips anymore.

I also told my classes before about the tulip bulbs i bought and brought home all the way from Holland.. which I tried to grow in Spore, but failed. despite the vernalization in the fridge.

Now! I might be having them right here in my garden... wow... i will snap many pics... watch out for it. It should be hor?? The parallel venation of a monocotyledonous plant, and they way the leaves wrap around each other like a sheath... Anyone wants to confirm it?

Main dish this week is pork ribs with peanut soup. I cooked one whole pot on Sunday and divided them up for the whole of this week. Yesterday kids and I had rice with this. Then today we had noodles with this. Tmr we will have pasta with this... haha, and so on. Thanks to my mom for the peanuts! so yummy, ds1 ate so much of it.

in case this runs out, i actually have frozen chicken soup too. cos last Sun was church potluck and I did my roasted chicken wings again. Then you know the wings have the last section which has not much meat right? they were all chopped off, so that it is easy to roast. I used those tiny chopped off sections to make chicken soup. still smells and tastes like normal chicken soup, only we don't get any meat. :-)

and oh, i found 2 more pkts of Tom Yam soup paste my mom bought for me. so yay, can have more Tom Yam soup next week!

another thing, we are going to buy a swing set!

what happened is: buses around here appear once in 1 hour maybe and they cost US$1.50 per trip no matter how short my trip is, and i can't walk to any playground, and we couldn't get any second-hand stuff... then the kids are really restless. then.. i saw this ad from K-mart. $89 for this swing set. discussed with dh... we will save from other areas and he will make more bows... haha, we're getting it! hopefully still has stock cos i saw the ad quite late!

it has 2 swings, a pull up bar, a see-saw like attachment, and a climb-up slide. yay. that should be good enough for burning up the kids' energy?

weather is not so good these few days, raining and snowing again. back to being cold. but by Fri it should be sunny again! :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Sunday, March 25, 2007 ;
10:55 AM
24 Mar Sat

This morning we woke up to the postman bringing our first boxes to us!

Finally the boxes I had packed in Dec 2006 and marked for surface mail have arrived. Actually there are 4-5 boxes (can't even remember now) but the first 2 arrived already!

My sis and bro in law helped me to post them early Jan cos I had no time to do so in late Dec. Thus they had spent more than 2 months drifting on the ocean and perhaps being inspected by US customs.

So happy. ds got his Chinese drum, his Thomas train set... I got my clothes for summer, and other personal belongings. Yay.
ds1 immediately set up his train tracks and he was modifying them the whole day today. ds2 could remember the chinese dru,, surprisingly, i thought he might forget about all the stuff in Singapore, being so young when he left. He beat the drum like his brother, in an ecstatic manner. dh will have to go make some drum sticks for them now. I didn't bring any over...

Let's see when the rest will arrive! yay...

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

10:29 AM
23 Mar Fri

After the session, I let both boys play a little longer then decided to head out of Discovery. I wanted to visit the Ladies but both of them didn't want to follow me in. They were quite tired and cranky already...

So I left ds1 guarding the stroller and his brother belted up within the stroller, right outside the Ladies. I dashed in, and when I came out, ds2 was sleeping in the stroller already! Aiyoh, he was soooo exhausted, because he woke up early in the morning, and to last till 3pm is quite a feat already. That was easy! I like it when I don;t have to nurse him to sleep. haha

Anyway I praised ds1 for lulling his brother to sleep. haha.

Then we walked to the Olympic Legacy Fountain. It was still quite sunny at 3.15pm and not too cold, perhaps about 8-10deg Celsius. Wow, seemed like many others had the same idea as me! There were so many pple enjoying the fountain there.

It is kind of like the one at Bugis Junction and kids lvoe to play there too. I had many laughing moments and so decided to capture some on both video and still pics.

Eg. There was a cute toddler in a cute outfit running around too, a couple whose one half was forcing her to get in initially, but they ended up dancing inside, some topless boys having a whale of a time, some very fashionable barefoot pretty girls and a lot of screaming youngsters.

It was so fun I wanted to pull ds1 inside too. (recall: ds2 sleeping in stroller) But ds1 got angry with me. He preferred to be rock climbing and wading in the pools adjacent to the central fountain.

I will let pics do most of the story telling. I hope you find it as amusing as I did! :-)


Somehow while I was laughing away, 1.5 hrs passed so quickly and dh arrived at about 4.45pm?

Then we went grocery shopping before heading home.

Just a parting shot: cos shopping carts here come in many forms, some with the baby reclining seat (for infants to sleep), and some like this for moms with 2-3 toddlers/ preschoolers (the 3rd one sits in the normal seat area with the cart)... and I also saw a 4-seater before too. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

8:14 AM
23 Mar Fri

After the recce trip for the preschool, dh dropped us off at Discovery Gateway again, to while away the time till 4.30pm when his school day ends.

They have this "Amazing Me" sessions for kids from age 3-7 on Fridays, so I signed ds1 up for the 2pm slot.

Meanwhile, they just roamed around, playing whatever they fancy.

Everytime ds1 comes he will want to wear one of the uniforms and this time it is a policeman's. Now he tells me he wants to be a fireman when he grows up. :-) Seems like boys naturally love these rescue heroes' jobs. ds2 rode a scooter, and pretended to be a postman.

After all the role play stations downstairs, we went upstairs to the helicopter pad which is outdoors to have lunch. I saw many other families having their lunch outdoors now that the weather is better. Surprisingly, the families I saw ate very healthy meals -- lots of fruit and packet milk, some had sandwiches and others had wheat crackers. This group of families are a different breed from what I have seen so far, those that usually eat fast food. I mentioned it to dh and he said, probably that group I saw were Mormon families and they have to take good care of their bodies which are "temples of God" and they don't drink drinks with caffeine too, so they don't drink coke.

After lunch, we played upstairs, which are mostly science or mathematical based games. ds1 spent a lot of time with a wooden balance, and ds2 with a ball structure that can expand and shrink.

Then it was time for the activity and they were making parachutes for that session.

ds2 and I were also allowed to be in the room, and there were toys and books to occupy the siblings of those participating in the activity but cannot join themselves due to their age or whatever. I thought that was very nice and convenient. So ds2 played with a Thomas Tank Engine wood set and then read books.

It was a half hour session, in a very relaxed setting, there weren't many instructions and the kids were generally left to do their own thing with the materials. Hence ds1 did this all by himself. The only assistance I needed to render was to help him tie the strings.

He got a toy tiger as the weight to pull the parachute down, and he was very happy with that. :-) It was a very simple activity but was so much fun for him. He is still throwing the parachute around at home to see it glide down.

I think I will be back for more, even though it is very tiring for us to be out the whole day, especially for ds2. But ds1 needs more social activities and they need to get out of the house more. If only I stayed nearer, then I can go home as and when I like. Or if I had a car myself. :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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