Monday, December 31, 2007 ;
10:30 AM
Nov 17

Dinner with 2 other Singaporeans. Anthony who's doing Bioinformatics PhD at UofU and Sarah, the pharmacist who I went shopping with the other day.

It would be our last time meeting with Sarah, and it's been a while since we last saw Anthony, so it was a great time to catch up.

Steak at Applebees is the perfect way to do that. All of us love the steak there. Kids enjoyed themselves too. And we ended it with super delicious dessert. Dh treated, cos Sarah is the guest today.

Above left: when Sarah asked ds1 to pose for a picture, I don't know why he put his hand on the face! Did he see his female friends do that and so copied that??!? So funny. He held up his drawing which he was working on while waiting for the food. Both kids were doodling away cos the adults were engaged in "boring adult conversation".

Yes, we also remarked that the lamps overhead resembled Swensen's. haha.

Anyway, after the dinner, we felt like we were longtime friends, and so with the thought that we might not see each other for a long time to come, we hugged our goodbyes. So sentimental? drama?

Just like when we met our friends at Chicago. Some of them, I just got to know only. Didn't even know them in Singapore. But when you're overseas, and you meet people from your hometown that's far far away, you feel so close to each other. We also hugged each other like old friends when we left.

we received more parcels and presents.

This one all the way from Helsinki, Finland. From chow cw. postcard and Meizhenxiang's BBQ pork dried chips. He said it is a new product. really nice, the kids loved it too.

Below: from Angeling and Linda. heartwarming letters and cards, Spore magazines, newspapers, Chinese VCD for the kids, finger puppets and other personal items, hehe.


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Thursday, December 27, 2007 ;
3:01 PM
Dec 26

Checked out of hotel and drove south to enjoy some of the state parks and alpine scenery before heading back.

Reached Heber City, very beautiful, with many farms. We have a church friend who lives here and owns a farm. We should visit him, but may not have much time now. Spring is a good time to visit farms, because the animals are having their young. Baby animals are such a joy to behold.

Above left: horses. Above right: cows. Really wonder how come they're not cold. They don't have that much hair/ fur or fats right?

Then we cut right to Midway, another small town, and drove along the base of the Wasatch Mountains. There is a huge lake there too. Very beautiful. The Heber Railway passes through the mountains and end up at Provo or Orem. Very popular train ride. They're running the "Polar Express" during this season.

And I was wrong about the Thomas the Tank Engine Carnival. I thought it didn't come to Utah, but it did come to Heber sometime in May. That was when we were in California so I didn't know about it.

We didn't have time for the train ride, cos it lasts about 2-3hrs I think.

That pic above shows the Wasatch Mtn State Park.

Above : Deer Creek State Park.
Further down south, we passed by Deer Creek. It's actually quite big. In Spore, it would be referred to as a lake already, haha. There was a layer of thin ice all across.

Then we turned into a small road called Alpine Scenic Loop Road. It was winding, narrow and steep. And it started snowing. But dh said as long as we can still see the roads, it is alright to continue on.

It was really beautiful though. The trees, the mountains. There were a lot of pines and aspens.

Then we passed by Robert Redford's secluded and famous Sundance Resort. He had a vision/ dream of creating a resort that was eco-friendly, that incorporated culture, nature and some other factors, which I cannot remember. But I do know they host music festivals too, that are quite well-known and popular. However, the cottages for rent at this resort is way out of our budget. We saw skiers on the slopes at Sundance too. It's definitely a more private and less crowded slope than PCMR or the Canyons. No wonder the advert says the rich and famous come here. And they go to Aspen in Colorado to ski too.

Sundance area, along the main highway.

After going past the Sundance resort, the roads were no longer plowed. The alpine loop road was supposed to meet with more winding and narrower roads and last for quite a bit before meeting with the Timpanogos Caves road then exit at Orem. We wanted to see the Caves (its closed in winter because the steep steps are icy and slippery, but we just wanted to see it from the outside).

As the snowfall got heavier and heavier, and we truly cannot see the roads anymore, and there was a huge warning sign saying "Snow tires and chains compulsory". So we turned back. Shouldn't risk getting stuck in snow and not be able to go forward or back. Worse, cell phones may not have a signal further in.

We hit Orem and drove to Draper, where Ikea beckoned. We headed for the cafe for lunch.

There's dh. haha. they actually gave him a cart for his trays. And that's him smiling happily. Just before the drama.

Dh had salmon for lunch. Then right after lunch, he said his stomach was queasy again. Recall he just recovered from indigestion etc on Mon?

He said he wanted to rest in the car and asked me to go ahead and buy some items we needed. Ikea was having a big post-Xmas sale. So I brought both kids along with me.

We shopped very quickly, and just stopped for awhile at the kids' area cos both boys wanted to play. I had to literally drag both away. The older one still could reason: "Daddy is not feeling well, let's go back earlier." The younger one, sigh, still will not listen, have to pull, drag and forcefully carry away.

So he was crying and struggling as I paid for the stuff. Then came the balancing act. Each plastic bag costs 5cents, and I wouldn't pay for such things, so I carried ds2, got ds1 to carry 2 items and I tried to put one item each under each armpit, then grabbed the rest with the other free hand. Slung the diaper bag across the shoulder. Ok, went to car.

Dh looked postively green in the face. So I drove. Halfway through, both kids napped, and then dh started having those "about-to-puke" noises. Good thing my bag always has plastic bags. He grabbed one and started vomitting everything out. And that lasted really long. Poor thing.

When we got home, all he could do was lie on the couch.

I brought the kids and stuff in, then cooked some porridge and oats. And veggie soup. Dh was still resting, so I fed kids and myself then we went for Wed Bible class alone.

Dh could only stomach the liquids, he had no appetite for anything else. So, for the next day, he also only drank oats water, porridge water, and clear soups.

Mary Jo recommended this Pepto-Bismol, so I went to buy it on Thursday. Seems very effective. Settled the stomach.

Good, dh was back at work on Friday.

Then ds1 caught a cold. Started having sore throat, runny nose. I told him, must be the almond cookies and the refusal to wear his beanie and mittens. Now he is very conscientious about wearing full gear before going out. Because the whole time he was sick, I made sure he took nap, and slept at 7pm (earlier bedtime, which he absolutely loathed), no cookies or snacks, have to eat plain foods, more veggies. Everytime he wanted to play anything that required jumping or climbing, I forbade him, saying he was sick. Basically took away everything he enjoyed.

I sound like a mom who loves to torture her kids hor? The thing is, if he had privileges when he is sick, he would like to get sick. Another that is very controversial, is my reluctance to administer medicine that relieves symptoms, unless it is very bad. If he has a fever up to about 38deg, I would not give him any paracetamol or fever-reducing medicine.

A slightly raised temp helps the body to fight back better. And if he felt unwell, he would rest more. That helps in recovery. If he took the correct dosage of medicine on the label, then he would be running around, feeling well. That might just bring the illness back once the effects of the medicine wore off.

As for runny nose, I prefer to let it run the course too. Unless we were on a tour, or somewhere where it needs to be curbed. Why is there a runny nose? Viruses and bacteria need to be expelled. Why a cough? Phelgm in the passageways need to be expelled. I feel that suppresants work in the opposite way instead. I would give medicine when the symptoms are serious enough to affect his sleep and rest, then the body cannot fight back well.

I had a lot of problem with my in laws because of these beliefs I had. Last time when we lived together, and the kids had fever, they got so angry with me when I refused to give them medicine. They felt that Panadol is a cure-all, that it cures the illness. While I was trying to explain that it only brings the temp down and relieves pain. It was difficult.

I don't force this on others. It's my own personal beliefs so I practise it on myself and my kids. I would respect others' opinions and let them do what they wish, to their own kids. But not to mine. I think I get to decide what to do with my kids. Afterall, however they turn out would be the parents' responsibility. The parents would get the blame. So the parents have the say. Dh shares the same thinking as me, fortunately.

Anyway, they seldom fall sick. And now everyone is well. They'll take a longer time to recover but I like to think it trains the body to fight well and the immune system is better prepared to tackle the same strain of virus or bacteria the next time around. Much like how a vaccine works.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

12:32 PM
Dec 24

Supposed to set off early in the morning to go Gorgoza Park for sledding and tubing with the kids. But dh was not feeling well, probably indigestion or something he ate on Sun, so we left only after he felt better, around evening time. Hence we reached Park City at night, just nice for checking in to the hotel. It was snowing heavily as we drove to Park City, and dark too, since it was at night.

Dec 25

Woke up bright and early. Saw some tourists making snowmen in the courtyard already, and having a snowball fight. haha.

Breakfast at the hotel was good. Then we dropped ds1 off first, at his ski school at the Park City Mountain Resort. This PCMR was one of the Winter Olympics 2002 venues. And it had an interesting history. Park City was dying off and almost wiped out as a city in the past, when PCMR started as a winter recreational area. After that, more people started visiting and moving to the area.

His ski class has only 3 kids to an instructor, yet was not as expensive as Deer Valley. Deer Valley is the famous one, voted as top ski resort for don't know how many years running, in Ski Magazine or something. His program lasted from 9am to 3pm.

Then we ferried ds2 to The Canyons resort. They ran a daycare that let the kids play with snow, ride the gondola up the mountains and do sledding too. Since ds2 wasn't old enough for skiing yet. His was to be from 8.30am to 4.30pm but since we had never put ds2 in childcare before, and never left him with any stranger to babysit (always familiar people), we thought we'd just be relaxed and leave him there just for the duration of our snowboarding.

I was quite nervous about the drop off. Was worried that ds2 will cry non stop then I won't have the mood to go snowboarding myself. Surprisingly, the friendly staff said hi to him, brought him into the playarea, and he started playing with an electronic keyboard. So I signed the forms, handed them to the staff and say my goodbye. He seemed fine. I wouldn't know if he cried later or not...

But the forms had a lot of stuff I had to fill in, including how often he drank water/ huice, what he eats, and how often I want his diaper changed. They had a Q asking how long would I let him cry before I wanted them to call me. I put 30min. :-) Deliberated really long before I answered that Q.

Above: where the Canyons is. That's the gondolas from base to top of mountain. And the icicles hanging from the roof edge are so pretty.

We headed back to PCMR for our snowboarding. Initially we wanted to sign up for lessons but later on felt that we should just do our own free and easy. Just in case ds2 cried too much and we have to leave.

We got fitted with our rental gear and then headed out. We observed snowboarders before, in the past when we went skiing.... And so tried to "look and learn". People say snowboarding is easier. But I think it must be my age. I first tried skiing 10 years ago. It was fun and easy to pick up. I wasn't that afraid to fall.

Now, what a different story. My progress was slow, I was too scared to fall badly, and then it was so tiring each time I fell, to pick myself up. :-) Sigh, must be terribly unfit. (The next day my body ached too.)

PCMR parking lots and entrance to the village.

Left: ds1's ski school drop off area. Right: a skiing moose

Above: it was a very sunny day. looks dark here only cos I was taking the pic directly facing the sun. PCMR ski lifts.

We will also meet ds1 once in a while cos they were learning in the same beginner's area too.

Above left: ds1 threw off his beanie and was trudging along to pick it up, with so many instructors looking on. :-)

Above right: the silly fella (laughing away somemore!) kept insisting on skiing without mittens and beanie. See his instructor holding his beanie for him, behind? arrrrggh. scolded him after that, and he learnt his lesson when he caught a cold after we reached home on the 27th.

Above: earlier on when he was still behaving well, wearing his goggles, beanie, mittens and all. The kids were riding the magic carpet, that will transport them up the slope.

Ski and snowboard valet.

Above left: ds1 from far, skiing down the slope.

Above right: dh snowboarding down the slope. He's in dark blue and black, to the left of the purple clad skier. He did wayyy better than me, cos he was not afraid to fall, just chiong down.

Above left: close up of Dh snowboarding.

Above right: saw a disabled person skiing with her friends too. Must say the disabled people here have a lot more recreation, sports and activities to do than back in Spore!

Above left: fell, then too tired to get up. rest first.
Above right: the pole was my security blanket. Noooo! I am not going to let go of it for you to take pic! Must look cool, ok?

We decided to stop after I was too tired to continue and Dh was going to freeze. He forgot to pack his waterproof pants, and was skiing in normal pants, so with the falling down and all, his bum and legs were freezing already. :-)

It was around 12.30pm then, and still no call from the Canyons Daycare, so we went ahead and had a nice warm lunch all by ourselves. Then we picked ds2 up.

I was very curious as to what ds2 was doing, so I crept into the daycare. It was about 1.30pm then. The staff thought I just came to check on him. They pointed to where he was. He was lying down on a mat, with all the other kids. Only he and another girl were not asleep yet. So he had this guy lying beside him, patting him and talking softly to him, or maybe singing, not sure. And I could hear ds2 talking to him.

The other girl also had someone beside her. Another staff just came in with a double stroller and 2 kids (very young, maybe 1+ only, and another a few months old) fast asleep. [She wheeled them out for a walk to make them sleep easily] They told me it was nap time. And that ds2 did very well (I assume that meant not much crying?).

Since they made no move to bring ds2 to me, I said I was there to pick him up. They said, "Oh!". They were very surprised, so I think most other babies and kids stay all day. She said, she hasn't filled up everything in the report card yet, so I said that's fine.

They went to ds2 quietly and said "Mummy's here, you can go home now!" That boy! Didn't even look happy to see me! Grrrr... He has never been away from me that long before, and never been with so many total strangers, yet he didn't miss me. Hummph, so much for all our checking of our cell phones every once in a while the whole morning.

So they brought all the stuff to me, the snacks and stuff I packed for him. And he came over. Fortunately, he asked me to carry him, and when I asked him if he would like to stay, he said no. haha.

But I was really impressed with the staff. They were very helpful, friendly and good with the kids. It was Xmas day, but they were working to let us have a good time. The ratio of staff to kids was very high too.

The report card was such a nice touch. It was very detailed, telling me what his moods were, what they ate for snack and lunch (he'll miss the 2nd snack so it was blank), how much he ate or drank... Even what time he pooed and then they changed him. Also wrote in what he did: sledding, gondola ride, playing with snow etc.

What a relief. And we enjoyed ourselves so much too. So in the end, the whole family had a really great day doing our own thing. Maybe vacations should be like that. The rest of the days could be spent together, but a day should be set aside for each member of the family to do something he or she wanted to do that was specially-tailored to him/ her and that was different from the rest of the family.

We drove back to PCMR, and in the parking lot, I saw this Saab, with hail-inflicted damage. Aiyoh...

ds2 napped right away in the car, so we took a walk around PCMR while waiting for ds1 to finish up.

At 3pm, we picked him up and he had a detailed report card too. His was more about the lessons, what he can do now, and so on. That he rode the ski lift, and could do slight turns and was able to put on the skis by himself and so on.

He said he enjoyed the whole day very much too, and he liked his instructor a lot. He was even singing Xmas songs with the guy towards the end of the lesson!

Everyone was very tired. So we went back to the hotel for a nap, then set off again in the evening to soak in all the Xmas lights. We drove around Park City, went to the Deer Valley resort area. All the lights, mountains, snow and quaint buildings put together made a postcard perfect scene. Really magical, and romantic.

We then drove along historic Park City's main street and stopped at this place for dinner. It's called The Eating Establishment, and the menu looked good. Only thing, the wait was soooo long. I think we waited an hour. There was a fireplace in the restaurant and everything was cosy and country-like.

That's ds2 above, giving a high-and-mighty "tao" look while we were waiting to be seated, at the restaurant.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Saturday, December 22, 2007 ;
2:12 PM
Misc activities in Oct/ Nov:

1. After the bakery field trip, the kids baked bread in school. I went to school to help out but forgot to bring my camera. The kids made bread from scratch and then ate them at snack time. This is what I took of the left overs that ds1 brought home. 2. Bought a cheap but very fun game from Toys R Us called "twister Scram". It has several coloured circles and a spinner. Besides the original game, we could make up lots of other games using the circular mats, which was why I bought it in the first place.

With the 2 kids, I can just throw the circles around and get them to hop or run to whatever colour I call out. With dh, we played more challenging games.

3. I was assisting in the Grade 2-4 Bible class on Wed nights. The teacher in charge often uses puppets and many other visual/ hands-on aids in her lesson. Here's puppet one. Her day job is a librarian for the main library that serves blind and hearing disabled kids in the county. Thus, she does storytime sessions for these kids everyday and is especially good at stimulating other senses in her stories. Recently, a new black family joined the church and the kids like playing with Elisha a lot.

4. A parcel came from my mom in law. She and my mom toured Taiwan and so she sent many Chinese books, tapes and VCDs from there. Some are from our church friends in Taiwan too. Fortunately I can read traditional Chinese characters so I can still read them to the kids.

There's a series of cartoons (originally from Japan) on Vicky the Viking which the kids love. Even dh and I got addicted to it. There's something about Japanese cartoons -- the songs are catchy, the characters are so real and cute.

Best of all, the series teach kids to think out of the box, because Vicky is a young boy who helps to solve many problems by thinking creatively and critically. The only con is -- it illustrates lives of pirates and kind of glorifies them, which I am a little worried the kids may follow.

A search on YouTube surprised me further. It is actually an old series! Lots of adults were reminiscing about it. I didn't watch it when I was young, did any of you?
There are Spanish, Dutch, German, French, Swiss (almost all European countries) versions too. And all the clips are on YouTube. Amazing.

5. I still have a lot of candy and chocolates left over from Halloween. The kids know that.

But I don't like them to eat too much. Yet, after lunch or dinner, they like to ask me for a snack and indicate that cabinet in which I keep the STASH.

I don't like to just hand out the candy, so I thought of a way. However, I am not encouraging nor recommending it, cos experts all say we should not use candy or food as reward (or the withholding of it as punishment). It will supposedly lead to eating disorders in later life.

I don't intend to do this for long, and will stop when the candy runs out.

I told ds1 a marshmallow = 1 point, M&M choc = 2 points, bubblegum = 5 points, lollipop = 10 points, Oreo cookie = 15 points and so on. He went and drew it on a piece of paper.

Then I said, if he helped me do extra chores, he gets to earn points and then he can exchange the points for whatever he wants.

Wow, he was so keen. He began looking under the sofa for trash, asking to peel garlic, wanting to help bake, sort clothes, fold clothes...

Then I was busy, and noticed he was busy too. He was tallying his points and calculating what he can exchange for.

When I finally had time, I went to take a peek at what he was scribbling, and saw several sheets of what looked like this below:

It was so funny to me. He was doing a simplified model method cos he doesn't know how to spell the candy and write out the points. He also did not know how to do subtraction, so he had to draw all those circles and cancel them. Hahaha. That really gave me a kick that day.

6. After Halloween, everywhere was selling their costumes at 50-90% off. I saw some angel and fairy ones, complete with wings and tiara or wands and sparkly shoes, going for prices ranging from $1.99 to $9.99. Wanted to buy online for my niece, Charlene, Minxi etc girls back home, but after I placed the order, they emailed me to say all were out of stock. Sigh.

Managed to get this fireman set, outfit plus boots, maybe because boys' stuff are less in demand. But then after he wore it, all he would do was kung fu and fighting moves. Not like a true fireman at all.

Anyway, it acts as a raincoat too. And the boots are good for snow or wet weather.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 ;
1:05 PM
Dec 18

This was a very memorable day for me!
I tried my hand at being a mother of 6 kids.

Morning was usual. Pick ds1 up from school, go for drums, then home.
Then I quickly tidied up the whole house.

5pm, the Hoovers came over. I would be helping to babysit for them so they can attend the Air Force's Xmas party. I actually looked forward to having the kids over.

I wasn't very experienced in the babysitting thing. This is something I can learn. Karen packed a first aid kit with her kids' medicines and all (below). She also wrote and signed a statement that allowed me to seek medical advice or help for her kids should an emergency occur. Good. There were also some instructions on allergies, medications and Tim needing to finish his homework.

Then the merry making began. The kids went straight for all the instruments. Jammed together for quite a long time. Until I thought I better set a time when everyone should quieten down. So I told them 7.30pm. I would keep the drum sticks. The keyboard was still ok but the drums were really deafening. :-)

Anna (Hoover) on the guiro, ds1 on the drumset, Tim on the Chinese drum. Some others would conduct.

They took turns very well. They kept swapping instruments. So right: Daniel on the chinese drums, Anna on the drumset, and below, ds2 on the keyboard.

From 5pm to 7.30pm, that was basically what they did. In between, they did stop to eat and drink, then it was back to playing.

7.30pm, I reminded Tim to finish his homework then he can play again. I kept the drumsticks as promised. Then played with Daniel while the rest played by themselves.

Daniel is also a breastfed child, and he's still nursing. I hoped that he would not miss his mom too much and start crying, so whenever he got bored with anything, I switched a game. So you can see, I got the Twister mats, trains, boxes and toys all strewn ard the floor after some time. Haha, but I did have a blast playing with him. Got to know him much better. He just turned 2 in Nov or early Dec.

Then the kids played Curious George games on the laptop. Which were challenging enough for the older ones, cos it requires thinking and strategy (physics principles again), yet entertaining for the younger ones. So all the 6 were doing that at one point in time. Right pic: all were cheering loudly for Nathan who managed to tip the meatball accurately onto the spaghetti plate (using angles and momentum).

8pm: I had set the alarm clock, fortunately. Medicine time! Anna and Tim needed their medicines for allergies. Anna has had liver transplant when she was a baby so she needed medication at a strict timing. Both were really good at swallowing their pills! I am impressed. I think I gave my mom a hard time when I was younger, regarding eating medicine.

Around 8.30pm, Dh returned home. Good, another pair of hands to watch over them.

Daniel and I happened to be playing the game of "drinking water" at that time. I wanted all of them to be hydrated, esp since they were shouting and cheering so much. The older ones had no problems. Daniel liked the Pixar Cars movie, and ds2 happened to have such a plastic cup. So I filled it with a little water at a time, and he'll drink some from his cup, then I drink (from my own cup), then his turn and so on. That explains his slightly wet tee (below). Cos he liked to just flip the whole cup up suddenly to drink (which made me wonder if he used a sippy cup at home, and if I should have done that too, oops).

We played stickers for awhile after that, then I told him his clothes were wet, why don;t we change into his PJs.

Changed his diaper and all also. Then changed ds2 and cleaned both of them up. Then I brushed ds2's teeth. When Daniel saw that, he also wanted to brush teeth. Like insisted. So I got another toothbrush for him, and he brushed on his own. He really loves to do that!

His parents brought his playpen for him to sleep in also. Just when I was wondering if I should start getting him to sleep, his parents called, saying they are on the way back, and would reach at around 9+pm, which was in about 20min. So I thought, no need..

I then brought out the books I borrowed from the library, wanting to read to the younger ones, but Anna ended up reading them instead (above). :-)

Time passed quickly when there was a lot to do. Their parents came and then they all went home.

It was a great experience. I myself would never have 6 kids, so I appreciated this opportunity. Furthermore my kids had great playmates. I would do it more often for them if they wanted! Their kids are very good kids, so it was no problem at all.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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