Sunday, September 30, 2007 ;
2:53 AM
I took many pictures of new things I decided to try out in the kitchen, but realised I can't possibly keep up with the posting of all of them. So maybe I will try this, every couple of months, I'll combine them into 1 food post.

Ok, so some of the things we did from July to Sept.

We happened to meet up with a Singaporean couple. Or, more accurately, the wife is Sporean, the hubby's Malaysian. They met in Spore at a Catholic church retreat and just got married. The guy just got into the PhD program at the University of Utah (they call it UofU here). He's doing medical bioinformatics. He was an engineering graduate from NTU I think. The girl, was introduced to me by a church friend's colleague! It was so amusing, the whole story.

In brief, it goes like this: my church friend said her colleague was posted to UofU for an attachment. That'd be in Nov this yr, and can I please answer some of her colleague's Qs about moving here, and about the weather, places to visit etc...

I said no problem, and began emailing this friend of friend's. She is supposed to be here with the pharmacology dept or something (both of them work at SingHealth) for a month. Then suddenly, she asked me if I could email a friend of hers because she maybe coming to Utah also, and for 5 years! I said no problem! Wow, I am now emailing a friend of friend of friend's.

So turned out her hubby's going to be here for 5years and she'd quit her job to follow, but only in Jan 2008. ANd surprise of surprises! Our chats went on to what our jobs are, and she said she worked at NAC. And guess what?!?! She and dh worked together very closely on the SYF, because there was an awards ceremony or something!

When they both came over to SLC in late Aug to get their apartment, furniture, move in and settle down, we met up 2x, and she bought a few boxes of Prima mixes for me.

1. One of them is this Hokkien Mee mix. Needless to say, we were ecstatic. I didn't have any traditional noodles with me, so I used spaghetti. To both dh and my delight, it still tasted quite close to how Hokkien Mee is supposed to be. Yummy.



Above right would be dh's bowl. He so missed sambal, but there was none, so we put some Thai chilli paste for him. :-) He already asked Jessie (the Sporean lady mentioned above) to bring some when she comes over in Jan 2008. We dunno if it can cross customs!

2. Above left: the ingredients to making S'mores. The summer BBQ or campfire treat all kids love.

I am the kind of mom who would like my kids to know about every culture and to try out new things. Since this is a treat, they should have the chance to make it and eat it.

And in one of their Barney VCDs, they'd already heard about S'mores and Graham crackers. So I let them make their own. But I used white milk choc instead of the dark one, so the colour is a bit too uniform. The dark choc would look great as it oozes out from under the Graham crackers. The main part was watching the marshmallow "melt" in the toaster oven. Both ds loved that.

3. Our Korean church friend gave us some very hot and spicy "kimchi". She siad it is not really kimchi, but then it is also made with those sliced melons. It is soooo spicy I would tear at the eyes and have to wipe my nose every now and then, but it is so shiok! So we usually have a little of it with pasta or rice. (below left).

She also gave us many melons (like lao huang gua) that she grew herself. So we made "Old melon corn pork rib soup". Somehow, self-grown stuff tastes so much better. The soup was so sweet, so flavorful, even the kids slurped up whole bowls of it (below right).


By the way, I am not so sure if it's the custom, but I had given the kind Korean lady some of the fried rice I made before that, and she returned me the container with the "kimchi". Previously I made stuff for other friends too, and they returned me the containers with something they made inside too. Are we supposed to do that?

Cos if so, then I must've been pretty rude! I've returned others their containers, just washed and clean but empty!!

4. This has now become a frequently prepared dish, cos all 4 of us love it so much. Cream of wild mushroom soup. It's also quite nutritious for the kids, considering the whole milk and chicken soup I use, so I let it be lunch for them, just add some pasta or bread and some fruit at the end, it's quite a balanced meal!

Below: Boil some chicken with bones and onions/ ginger till you get a really good chicken stock. I add some sea salt to it at the end.

Then stir fry onions and chopped mushrooms, add some flour, the chicken stock and milk later on, and voila! Really great-tasting mushroom soup. Below left: the lovely fresh mushroom and ingredients. Initially I used heavy cream but then when I ran out of it, I started using just whole milk (full cream milk) and it works just fine too. I don't like very thick soup anyway.



5. Then the church members and our dear neighbors all started harvest their garden vegetables. So suddenly we had tons of zucchinis, squashes, peppers to cook. Decided to mix them all and cook with mushrooms. It became a huge lot in the wok so I gave some to my neighbors. They usually eat the veggies grilled or roasted or with salad, so the stir fry is new to them, I think. (below left)



6. The Dowdys grew such deliciously sweet cherry tomatoes that I had to keep a record of it here. In case I ever forgot they had such a variety that was so blissfully juicy and sweet! When you pop them into the mouth, there is only sweetness, no hint of sourness, or tastelessness. It is like eating fruit gummies. Unbelievable. Dh and I couldn't stop eating them, just like that, as if they were candy. (above right)

7. Blueberry cheesecake. Got the recipe from the Kaisers at church. It's a no-bake recipe.


Very easy to make. So I asked ds1 to help. He was in charge of crushing all the Graham crackers into a powdery consistency. We had no mortar and pestle, so he used a cup.

ds2 was very interested and kept standing behind him to watch, but we don't know why he had to keep stepping on ds1's calves/ feet at the same time, which made ds1 ticklish. (below)

8. Cherry pie. Got left over Cool Whip. Made some cherry pies, gave one away to the Crills.

The day after I gave it to them, the hubby had stomach flu and dh kept ribbing me that it must be due to the cherry pie! Excuse me!!!! (below right)

9. Above left: Banana pudding. This recipe came from the Crills. She made it for a church potluck, and it was so yummy I asked her for the recipe. It's got a lot of bananas inside, so it's another way to make the desserts full of fruit for the kids. Better than chocolate cake, I guess. I made mine in a tupperware container, so the presentation is terrible, don't mind that, please. :-)


10. Fried rice again, for church potluck. I think I mentioned this website called "cooking for engineers"? I liked how they photographed all the ingredients too. And after I bought the wrong thing for an item called "Cool Whip", I think have a picture of the ingredients helps a lot, esp if I am new to that culture or cuisine. (below right) Can't find the picture for the finished product! :-)

Below left: Farmer's Market at our city park. Only the watermelons caught our attention. The market was pathetically small, after we saw the ones in SLC and in Boston. So we didn't return for more. Walmart had cheaper and equally fresh produce! We were disappointed cos I expected to stock up on fresh veggies and fruits at the local farmers' market.

11. Homemade mantou. Below right: This recipe, my mom came up with. And she did it by trial and error. My kids loved eating the mantou and I had lots of flour at home, so making mantou is a good way to get rid of the flour. The kneading takes some time though, and is quite a workout!


12. Chicken curry. Had a lot of chicken breast meat left over from our BBQ party for the church members. Was thinking of totally different ways of cooking chicken for each meal so that our family doesn't get totally sick of it. So did curry one day, but it's so different from curry back home, cos the spices, and the chicken meat are different. I'd never used chicken breast meat in curries before! :-)



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
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;
1:54 AM
Remember I said it was snowing on the mountains already? Well, it's snowing now, right here, and we're watching all the snow fall on our trampoline, the swingset and the car.

Temp range today would be 0-10 deg Celsius. So it'd be very cold tonight, and I can't believe I have to get all the warm clothing out again. And we need to store all the short sleeves away already. So fast!

No wonder the local Utahns say there is only Winter & Summer here.


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
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Saturday, September 29, 2007 ;
1:51 PM
Am now going to slowly post updates on what happened between July and Sept (Summer months), since we were travelling around and I didn't get the chance to really blog then.


ds1's swim lessons at the aquatics center from late July to late Aug:

They've an outdoor area where there are water jet fountains, and an indoor area (above right) where there are kids' play equipment and so on.

Since the child who is taking lessons gets free admission (ds1), and those under 4 get in free (ds2), and if parents who accompany don't swim, then it's also free, the 4 of us always go together, and we try to go about 30min early, so both kids get to play first, before ds1's lesson starts.

When class time starts, the lifeguards will blow whistles and the indoor kids' pool is vacated. So those who still want to swim can go outdoors or to the adult lap swimming pool. Usually dh will stay with ds1 and sit at the side during his lesson, dozing off, or reading his Bible. I will bring ds2 outside to play somemore.

I think I like this system better cos whenever I go JE complex or CCK complex with the kids, I don't actually get to swim at all, but I still have to pay. No wonder there were so many babies ard, cos the babies swim free and parents can go in free too, as long as you're just accompanying baby and not swimming.

The showers here are nicer too, more family-friendly. And the ratio of lifeguards to swimmers is so high here. Outdoors there were 3 at the small pool, and indoors there were so many, I lost count. Whenever one takes a break, he/she must wait till someone takes over in the chair then he/she can go off. Very strict.


ds1 had 8 lessons in all. So we went 8 times, and this particular time, dh was with ds2 outside, so I got to take pictures. Above left: you can see ds2 in the middle. he's wearin a blue wetsuit. although it is summer, there's a strong breeze always and it can be very cold if any part of your body is above water. So i always let them wear full suits instead of briefs type of swimwear.

ds1's main swim tr is the lady, while a guy took them once as a relief. she is so good with the kids. I'm so glad ds1 got over his fear of getting his face wet or putting his face into the water.



I didn't see any other tr use bath toys, so I figured it was her own idea. Cos there were other classes of the same age group taking place around the same time, and there were relief trs, and they did not use her method. But ds1 loved her stories and her "tricks".

To get them to submerge themselves, she asks them to pick a toy and name the toy. That'd be the buddy they're responsible for. Then there'd be some stories and for the boys, she calls them superheroes who will save their buddies. When it is the kid's turn to swim, she'll fill the toy with water and toss it a distance away where it kind of sinks. She then asks them to dive in to save the buddy.

Then another method was, when they were floating on their backs, she placed their "buddy" on their tummies and ask them to make sure to keep their bodies level and not let their buddies fall into the water.

When she wanted them to swim and kick forward, she'll ask them to toss their buddy as far as possible, then she holds them as they swim towards the buddy and they'll "rescue" their buddy and swim back "home".

The toys were useful when each kid was waiting for his/her turn too. With the other teachers, the kids usually get restless while waiting for their turn to swim. Whereas this group were playing with their toys, squirting water and so on.

When the 8 lessons ended, each kid was given a certificate and promoted to the next level if they passed all the criteria. And they gave ice lollies to each kid too. ds1 was so thrilled.

Below: the cert. It's the American Red Cross system.

ds1 was "promoted" but he was due to start preschool and it was getting much colder, so we thought we'd only start the next level next summer. The good thing about Spore is you can swim all year round.

Over here, you can, indoors, but it is more troublesome, cos after showering them, I gotta layer on all their winter stuff before stepping out. Which I don't want. So next summer it is.



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
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Friday, September 28, 2007 ;
7:00 AM

video

ds1 is so happy to be just like the Big Ones now. He's riding with the older kids. There are 4 of them actually, but the 2 older boys went home to pump more air into their tyres just as I came out with the digicam. ds2 can also be seen here.

However, today is also the day he sustained his worst fall. He had knee guards and a helmet, so the injuries were mostly to his palms. He crashed into the kerbs of the carpark. And when he fell, the bike pinned him against the kerb. So his thumb got slashed and his nail on that thumb was cracked. The rest of the fingers and palms of both hands were also bruised and bleeding.

And the thing was, I didn't see it happen. The older kids rushed into my house to call me. I was bathing ds2 then cos he peed on his pants while running along with them in his Little Tikes car.

I left ds2 in the bathtub and went out to take a look. ds1 was getting up and I told him to get in to let me take a look, cos the older kids said he fell pretty badly. He said "I'm fine, mom. I'm all good and ready to go again." (In his American accent/ slang).

The girl told me what happened, cos ds1 was off already. I was shouted to him, "Get in to take a rest!" Then had no choice but to get back into the bathroom, in case ds2 drowned in it while I went out. Arrgh. Boys! They are so egoistic. I can't possibly go out and grab him in too, or to "mummy" him, cos then he'd be embarrassed.

Anyway when the older kids went home and ds1 finally came in, his wounds had so much dirt in them, I was afraid there'd be an infection. I told ds1 to make sure to wash his hands first, next time, then he can go out and play somemore.

When I washed those wounds, I was cringing myself, but he took it in his stride. I am really beginning to see how different girls and boys are. No doubt, there are some very garang girls who're as tough as boys, but I am not one of them.

I better get used to it. Can foresee many more falls to come. Sigh.



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007 ;
12:45 PM
So funny, the way the kids dance... So I'm posting 3 clips here.


video


It's the "Got my mind set on you" dance, and they're jumping so much on the bed till the bedsheet came off.


And they're wearing jackets cos it's getting very cold at night now, 4-8 deg Celsius. It has already started snowing at the higher altitudes cos the mountains are turning white. They are very pretty now cos the top half is white, the middle is red and yellow (autumn leaves) and the bottom's green and brown.



video


If you noticed they keep facing the foot of the bed, it's cos my mirror is there (hanging on that wall) and they are so egoistic, they keep wanting to see how they look when they "dance".


video


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


;
11:51 AM
25 Sept 2007

Tues
Mid-Autumn Festival

Well, there is no atmosphere here of course, no mooncakes and no lanterns, very sad... But I have always celebrated it every year so I needed to create something for my kids.


[Morning in preschool: ds1 has a classmate whom he had a playdate with, I mentioned her before. She has a French dad, Taiwanese mom, but she was born in New York and entirely American. However her mom is keen on her learning the Chinese culture too, so her mom brought lots of mooncakes, traditional and snowskin ones to school today. So nice of her. Cos I don't know where she got them. It must be awfully expensive or maybe she imported them from Taiwan. I didn't get to eat them of course (me and ds2 not part of the class), and silly ds1 said he doesn't like them. I was like, hey, give me the leftovers, I don't mind! :-) So at least ds1 got to learn and enjoy with his friends a little today, which is really rare over here. Hooray for Naia's mom!]

Since there are many moms out there with kids my age who might also be somewhere in the world without access to authentic mooncakes or pretty lanterns, I decided to post this "lesson plan" which I put together and hope maybe it can be of use to others as well.

This "lesson" was not conducted in a continuous flow, just pick and choose what you want. More like a list of activities and resources about the festival that you can compile into a lesson plan.

Target age group: 2-4 years old

(I let ds2 join in too, but he mainly just doodled and messed around, which is fine. He is absorbing some of it somehow, at the least through diffusion. Just kidding.)

Song (music and movement, and some counting/ math):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ Tweenies Go Round the Moon. There're lyrics and the song there.
CLick on tweenies then click on songs or just input the song title in the search. I couldn't get the link to work here.

Book (Math/ Shapes, English poetry):

1. "Round is a Mooncake: A book of shapes." Can get it from amazon.com

Excerpt: "Round is a mooncake, Round is the moon, Round are the lanterns, outside my room. Round is a pebble, that I found. A bowl of goldfish, that makes no sound."

2. "Rabbit Mooncakes" by Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer : more for older children, and is about how the Vietnamese celebrate this same festival.

3. "Moonbeams, Dumplings & Dragon Boats: A Treasury of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities & Recipes" by Nina Simonds (Author), Leslie Swartz (Author), Boston The Children's Museum (Author), Meilo So (Illustrator): the part on mooncakes tells kids how you can put different fillings into mooncakes, and talks about the full moon too.

4. "The Moon Lady" by Amy Tan (Author), Gretchen Schields (Illustrator): This book has a famour author... :-) I read her Joy Luck Club before. It doesn't really relate to MAF actually, but it is a good read. Teaches kids not to be whiny, to slow down, not always be so restless/ impatient, to be careful what you wish for.. The reference to Moon Festival is there, and it does talk about preparations for the festival.

5. "Moon Festival" by Ching Yeung Russell (Author), Christopher Zhong-Yuan Zhang (Illustrator): supposed to be for ages 4-8. I haven't read this, not sure if it's good, but it is relevant.

6. "Thank You, Meiling" by Linda Talley (Author), Itoko Maeno (Illustrator): title doesn't say much, but it is a story about a duck who accompanies a boy to buy lanterns, mooncakes and so on for MAF. Teaches manners and the phases of the moon also.

7. "Mr Ming and the Mooncake Dragon" by Kathy Creamer: thanks to Dory for adding this. Not found on amazon.com but UK's amazon only. It's set in Singapore!


Science/ nature:

1. http://www.earthsky.org/radioshows/51677/harvest-moon-lights-up-autumn-nights#c004705: Besides info about why the moon is so full and round during this time every year, it also explains MAF is sometimes called Harvest Moon Festival cos the moon is so bright and shines all night that people in the past used the moonlight to collect their harvest.

2. http://www.thenazareneway.com/current_moon_phase.htm: Brief explanation of the moon phases.

3. http://apollo.sese.asu.edu/index.html: Telling the kids men have also reached the moon.


Cookery/ food tasting:

1. (simple recipe for those without access to Phoon Huat, sob sob. I used to love to make snow-skin mooncakes and would make a lot for giving others too. Now can't get ingredients so cannot make also. Caution: this recipe would make mooncakes that are not traditional and won't look like the actual thing, but at least something you can try with the kids.)
http://www.dltk-holidays.com/china/easy_chinese_mooncakes.htm

2. Recipes for various mooncakes, but access to Phoon Huat seems required, when I took a look at the ingredients. http://www.kitchenlink.com/mf/3/4383


Legends of MAF:
1. http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/midfallstory.htm: Chang-E, Wu Kang, Jade Rabbit, Mooncake "origins". In brief and simplified.


2. http://www.hkedcity.net/resources/common/res_detail.phtml?res_cntr_id=17535: HK's Educational TV, which can be downloaded. I haven't used it yet on kids, but it looks very promising.


Art and Craft:
1. http://www.abcteach.com/china/lantern.htm: Making a simple lantern
2. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/chinesenewyear/lantern/: same as above
3. Can also make origami rabbits and print out black and white diagrams from the internet for kids to colour or draw.


A blog that I found has many links and resources. It has interesting ways for kids to learn Chinese and also contains a lot of other Chinese facts/ stories. http://mus-mandarin.blogspot.com/

Chinese poetry and stories:
1. http://www.chinapage.com/Moon/moon-poetry.html: has many poems about the moon, including the famous Li Bai one. But the font was too small, so I didn't print them out.
2. http://www.cnd.org/moon/: More Moon poetry in Chinese.
3. http://www.sacu.org/poetry.html: I used this for the kids, as in, I printed this out.

Finally, the one thing I always use at the end of lessons.... YouTube video clips.
Why use only at the end? The videos are alive, they are colourful and stimulate the kids the most... hearing, sight etc... If I use them first, they'll not be interested in writing or reading all that I offer above.

True enough, they were glued to several of these video clips below and watched them repeatedly. I didn't mind, cos their Mandarin speaking skills are so poor, they need more exposure.

We adults have to view everything first though, because there are just too many versions of the stories/ legends, and you may not believe or like some of them. Some of them, like one about Hou Yi being mean and killing many people, you may not like your young child to watch. So... screen them first. :-)

Video clips:
1. http://youtube.com/watch?v=_sqlHzkCZu4: Legend of MAF using clay figurines, very creative but done by Westerner so pronunciation of the CHinese names not very accurate.
2. http://youtube.com/watch?v=PBpT0sZppc8: This is most comprehensive. Done by students as their project, and is quite funny too. I like the ending. Gives different legends.
3. http://youtube.com/watch?v=P9iO2eUKb6E: I like the graphics, but you may want to do your own narration cos the accent is rather difficult to make out here. Hou Yi kills people here.
4. http://youtube.com/watch?v=lwIxmR31TV4: Nice music and great images, so I use it and narrate it myself to educate kids about the various Chinese items. Has mooncakes, lanterns and some Chinese words.
5. http://youtube.com/watch?v=kCVzBc6BMkM: Should be Taiwanese, cos accent sounds like that. Cute, but if you are short on time, you can fast forward the whole intro part (a bit lame). Second part has drawings and written story.
6. http://youtube.com/watch?v=dFaP_pB2yME: This is just a commercial for Cartoon Network, but it contains well-known CHinese phrases and kids like the cartoons.
7. http://youtube.com/watch?v=s4hTuIyLeUw: This is more for adults, slow Chinese music. But I placed it here still, cos it has Chinese poems, scenes of China, moon orbit in space, autumn scenery, just in case you want kids to know more.
8. http://youtube.com/watch?v=pvToK9c7NUU: This is the most detailed, and I like it because it has English, Hanyu Pinyin, and CHinese words. However, you may also want to turn off the narration after you've watched it and do your own. It also contains CHinese opera on Chang-E, and images of all varieties of mooncakes.

I also, without a doubt, searched for Hwa CHong's videos of this year's MAF celebrations since this year will be the 1st time in maybe 13 years that I've missed it. Surprise surprise, besides the videos of light-up, the stalls and the mass singing, I chanced upon all the Mass DAnce videos too.

If only I had those when I was in JC1. Ahhhh, the nostalgia I felt as I watched all the mass dances... I liked Electric Dreams a lot when I was in JC cos it was one of the easiest, and then Wild Wild West was most memorable cos it was the dance my CT class chose for the inter-CT mass dance competition, so we kind of spent more time learning that. Kudos to the 33rd SC's ECACO for coming up with those, cos all the steps are so clear and anyone can go revise if they forgot. Yay, I can even dance it with dh from here! hee hee.

dh was from S2 last time, 2 years my senior. Never met him in JC though, he was in NS when I entered. But cos of that, we had lots of mutual friends. There were a lot of times I met his friends and they knew me too. One interesting unexpected example: went with dh to his quartet rehearsal I think, and his friend plays in the SSO. Then his friend, who already knows I was from hc also, like both of them, asked me which year and class I was from, cos I look very familiar. When I told him, he said, oh! No wonder, his CT's class bench was also in the left wing and was very near mine, even though he was 1 year my senior and from a totally different faculty (not S7). Then instantly, everyone got bonding, cos then i knew some pple from his class and vice versa. And then CCA friends etc etc.

Thus, when dh attends my class gatherings and I attend his, we always have lots to talk about too, with initially complete strangers... My Sec Sch Chinese Orchestra senior so happened to be in dh's JC class and was even someone he chased before! haha.

Anyway here's some HC MAF videos, not for the mummies lah, just for my reference, for my students and maybe all my ex-classmates. (My JC best friend was from council too. :-))

1. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Y_3SUm2hzLw: Light up
2. http://youtube.com/watch?v=aciXzubfeSQ: PA/AVA's video demo. Law!!!! I want a copy!!!
3. http://youtube.com/watch?v=MPnREwl6Pjk: Mass singing

3 of my fav mass dances (although i loved all lah):
1. Wild wild west: http://youtube.com/watch?v=F3_JzjRLcRE
2. Together in Electric Dreams: http://youtube.com/watch?v=A3IE30jC8yU
3. I've got my mind set on you: http://youtube.com/watch?v=yDSlHuIj7Io

Off to listen to the mass dance music and dance with my kids until dh returns! He got rehearsal tonight! :-)


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
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Saturday, September 22, 2007 ;
10:48 AM
So sorry, my blog is in a disorganised mess. We just came back from Colorado and New Mexico, visiting friends and exploring too. Kind of a last minute trip. I will have trouble finding time to update on the trips so will just do them in the "near future" when I have more time (hopefully).

I will need to continue to post on the kids' milestones cos this blog is in part for their reference in future. :-)

First, an update on my newfound source of freedom -- this Toyota Corolla.
Given our current status - dh as student and me as SAHM - we would never have owned 2 cars in Spore. Much less to say dh having the Chev Malibu (a 3.1L car) and me this corolla (a 1.8L car with the works).
I am so happy with it, not just because of the good deal we got (more ltr), but because now I need not be cooped at home, and can bring kids anywhere I want in the day (theoretically). It is also a very good drive. And very economical (fuel consumption).


I totally like this pic also, cos it looks cool. Dh took it while we were at the Arches National Park. Me and kids were in the car and dh pulled over at a scenic viewpoint to take pics of the beautiful red rocks and natural bridges. Then he just turned towards us and snapped this. But it made the car look so new and beautiful, haha. It's actually very dirty/ dusty/ muddy, this day being our last day of the 6 day road trip.

Next, the reason for this post.

2 weeks ago, we were out in the backyard cycling again (as usual) then ds1 tried to perform some stunt on his bike and fell. I told him it was because the trainer wheels were at the side, so he cannot do the side-skidding-whatever thing he was doing cos the trainer wheels will prevent that and make the bike unstable. He then asked for the trainers to be removed.

I told him that he would find the bike difficult to ride after the trainers are removed, that cycling will be different and he may fall many times before he masters riding again. He said ok. So I searched for dh's toolbox and removed the trainers.

He did fall many times and at first I helped him to balance the bike then held the bike a bit while he set off. Then I had to run alongside him many times. I got really out of breath and exhausted so I told him to take a break. But he refused to give up. By then, I also needed to prepare dinner, so I went into the house with ds2.

When dinner was done, he was still at it. I observed him from the kitchen window. He's really stubborn, but at such things, it works to his advantage, cos he was making good progress.

The next few days were similar, he kept wanting to practise on the bike, and he didn't want any help from me anymore. When Sat came, dh helped him some, and gave him some advice in setting off, cos that was the hard part. (See pic below)


Then we set off on our road trip last week, and today was the 1st day he could go on his bike again. I am busier than usual cos there are more loads of laundry, stuff to unpack, photos to sort out and things to clear. So I let the kids play outside by themselves.

Suddenly, I heard ds1 hollering for me to go out to watch him. I went out and he actually could ride the bike smoothly now! I was very surprised and quickly went to grab my digicam and videocam. He still falls, but now he can ride from the doorstep down the path, veer across the grass patch, go down the kerb to the church building's carpark and reach the fence there. All without falling.





Very proud of him cos he kind of did it himself. And very happy for him cos the look of liberation and glee on his face tells it all. I cannot remember the day I learnt to ride my bike, but I certainly love the thrill of riding bikes, so I can understand how he feels.

The breeze on the face, the hair flying, the things whizzing by...

With this, I have to be prepared also for more serious injuries. I can remember my own. How I scraped my knee so badly the fats and even kneecap could be seen (seemingly). But then, in those days we didn't have knee guards and helmets, so...

I also have to brace myself for that inevitable day when he may want to get a motorbike licence. I don't think I can stop him because his dad rides and his mom rides pillion. SO.... Just have to educate them on safety... Although I think I will never stop worrying about them on the road.

Finally I understand why my mom nags so much. :-)


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Friday, September 21, 2007 ;
1:18 PM
Sep 19

Wed



Moab is the gateway to 2 of Utah's lovely National Parks: Canyonlands and Arches. We only had time for Arches this trip.


Moab is also where many movies were shot, and there were really many tourists in Moab, though the summer holidays were already over.



The scenery is really awesome, breathtaking, can someone give me more adjectives to use? Run out of great-sounding adjectives already. Nothing can describe how we feel when we hike amongst the towering rocks.



Arches and delicate structures are formed when the salts in between hard rock layers get eroded away with time and weather changes. Resulting in such beautiful works of art.


This is the most famous arch in the NP. Called the delicate arch, it is used as the background of the Utah Centennial car licence plate. So all the cars driving around sport this on their cars. Our Paseo has this plate too.

We hiked 2 different trails for 2 different views of the arch. Hiking to the arch itself can be done too, but we didn't cos it'd take 5 hours maybe?
Anyway, when we were hiking to the Upper view point of the arches, so many people coming down from there were telling us it's very steep and suggest for us to go to the lower one instead, seeing we have 2 young kids.

Of course, true to our hiking nature, we smiled but ignored their suggestions. Not just one group told us, but more than one. However, they were all well-dressed Americans (ie used to cushy life, not rough-it-out hiking), so they probably think that trail is difficult and steep. Not our sons. :-)

They walked the whole trail by themselves. We don't hurry them of course. It wasn't as bad as the Inspiration Point one at Grand Teton. And the view was worth it (see above pic). Much better than at Lower view. We went to the Lower viewpoint too.

Below shows some pics from the Lower viewpoint.




Above left: this one was really funny. We were standing right in front of the Delicate Arch, and asked someone to take a family pic for us. This is what he took. huh? Where's the Arch?

We did other trails too, within the Devils Gardens and the Windows Section.

Above: me and kids, then dh and kids, hiking through the Devils Gardens.

Weather was extremely hot and dry. No wonder they call it the Devil's Gardens. Not many plants and animals can survive here. And this was not even summer. Notice plants couldn't grow very much, most are short shrubs.

Fauna? They say the Bighorn sheep are in the Park, but they're in hiding and mostly in the higher parts of the mountains.

So we managed to spot mostly insects. These 2 animals are the most unique already. Above left: a lizard. Above right: A Bombardier Beetle.

Above: the Landscape Arch. It's very thin in the middle already. Not known how much longer it can withstand the elements of nature.

Below: we drove to the Windows Section. Saw "The Parade of Elephants" formation of rocks. This was the leading elephant. :-)

Across the park, there'd be signs reminding visitors not to take any of the red rock of Arches NP. The rocks are really glistening red/ orange and very beautiful. Even in our motel in Moab, there are signs saying "Please do not use our towels to wipe the red rock dust from your cars, bicycles or shoes. " :-)

Also saw this cute rock formation called "The Balanced Rock" below.

Just before getting out to hike the Windows Section, ds2 fell asleep in his car seat. Still holding on to our lunch drink. (Below right)

So dh and ds1 got out to hike while I stayed with ds2 in the car. It was so hot! Grrrr. But I don't relish carrying him around while hiking too. So...

Above left: A glimpse of the North and South Windows.

Above left: you can see ds1 as a tiny figure in an orange top standing right below the arch. He hiked all the way there first, ahead of dh, so dh could take these few photos.

Below left: caves within the rocks.


After that, which took almost 2hours, we left Arches to continue on our journey back home in Northern Utah.

Reached home at around 9pm. Tired but happy.

Random pic below: ds2 loved his Crayola markers so much -- besides drawing on paper and on his hands, he decided his face should be decorated too. Found him like that, in horror (me, not him. he was happy). Dh couldn't take it and took a pic of him, while I was carrying him to have a look at himself in the mirror.



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


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