Wednesday, March 26, 2008 ;
2:15 PM
Updates on the China move:

Our move to Tianjin has been postponed from Mar 18th as earlier planned. I guess most of you would have known already, since we are still here, now.


The company had considered switching the factory location to Shanghai at first, so we were looking at moving to Shanghai for awhile. Shanghai would be more cosmopolitan, and it is more convenient for transport and communication with the rest of their suppliers in China. However, a long search turned up no suitable factory location that had a reasonable rent. They were too expensive. Not to mention our living costs, which will be much higher than in Tianjin.

So they considered Suzhou. I was also ok with Suzhou because they also had a Singapore International School, like Shanghai. Then they realised the bows made there will warp and bend when they are exported over here. As did a batch they sent over. Change in humidity too great.

So it is back to Tianjin, because wrt climate, humidity, temperature etc, it is the most like Salt Lake City and many other parts of USA where the bows will go to.

That's why now, Dh will make another trip to Tianjin in April.
And that is also why Dh decided that me and kids would go back to Singapore first and not fly from Utah direct to Tianjin. There is just too much that is not confirmed, and we don't have a place to live in Tianjin yet. He would like to settle things in the factory first, then look for an apartment for the family, then get us to go over.

Since the kids have no school, and I don't have any commitments, we are agreeable. In fact, I am excited over the prospect of spending more time in Spore. But everything will only be confirmed after Dh's trip to Tianjin this April. So if we go back, it would be in May, I guess.

The other thing is, Dh has asked both my mom and his mom (my mom in law) to come to Utah for the last vacation. My mom in law hasn't been to USA before. I think Spring is a good time to come, for them. I'll bring them to see the tulips at Thanksgiving Point.

Then I'd be able to do more packing as well, since Dh is perpetually out the whole day now. And then me, kids, and both grandmas will be flying home to Spore together.

See you guys real soon!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

7:04 AM
Mothering can be such a dirty job.

I thought I am past most of it: the meconium-clearing when they were newborns, then the half-hourly poo-wiping when they were infants... ds2 especially. He nursed every 30min then, and each time after he was done, he'd do a poop.

I've had both of them suddenly decide to pee when I change their soiled diaper too. So I've had to clean myself, themselves, and all the surrounding stuff up as well, because everyone knows how far boys can aim. I remembered both of them did it like sprinklers. 360 degrees.

Then of course, all the drooling when they were teething, all the mouthing of everything they see, including my hair... And then all the throwing up and regurgitations. ds2 was such a refluxer, when he burped as a baby, half of what he just drank would come up. I used to have 2 cloth nappies on my shoulders permanently the whole day last time, which is why I didn't go out much. lol. And did I mention that he nursed every 30 min?

It hasn't occurred for a long time though, the dirty business. ds1 had been toilet trained a long time ago, and though I still help him clean up after big business in the toilet, he can do it himself too, if I am busy. ds2 is diaper-free in the day, so I usually just wear a clean diaper for him at night, and remove the heavy diaper in the morning.

Today though, grrrrrrrrowl.
After the usual morning romp outside, riding bikes, running around, peering at insects under tree bark, and chalking more of the concrete in the backyard, ds2 rushed in the back door, saying he needed to pee.
I have a plastic cup used exclusively for those "cannot-make-it-in-time-to-the-toilet" pees, so I whipped it out, kneeled down beside him and pulled his pants down, cup ready in position.

Too late. Somehow the release of the pants flung it up, and something wet sprayed all over my face.

Can I please have a daughter next time???

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Monday, March 24, 2008 ;
7:02 AM
Mar 21

It's Spring break so the Hoovers' kids and ours got together to play the whole morning. After tiring themselves out, we went to their house.

Tim and Nathan did a puppet show for the younger ones. It's about God's creation. This part is when Adam and Eve were surveying all the animals and plants God made. Pretty funny and cute. You can hear ds2 laughing away at Adam and Eve's actions. Tim was doing the puppets, Nathan was reading from Genesis.

The Hoovers gave him his bday presents of a Hot Wheels car and a Blue (of Blues Clues) stuffed toy. Very adorable!

Mar 23



Brought the cake I baked to Sunday School class and they sang the bday song for ds2. He joined in the singing at the end, and he was looking around to watch everyone singing too, I think.


After worship, we headed to the park near the church building, where Chip (ds2's Sun sch tr) had organised an Egg Hunt for the kids.

It's the Easter weekend now. Although none of the church members really celebrate Easter, they do follow a number of American traditions like egg decorating and the hunting for candy and eggs for the kids.

The kids did have a lot of fun. I just told ds that we're going to play "treasure hunt" and you can keep whatever you put in your basket.

There was a rather strong breeze then, so the video has this wind blowing sound throughout. At the beginning, ds2 was saying "find egg" or something, I couldn't catch the whole sentence too. He seems to have acquired a little of an American accent, having been here during his formative speech devt stage. He'll often ask me, "mama, what you doin'?".

Towards the end, ds1 came to tell me that everyone was helping each other find "treasures" and exchanging stuff (in case it is not clear in the clip).

[some problem in uploading the video, file is larger than ther others... will try again soon]


We had lunch outside today, and after we reached home we let ds2 open the presents he received today, from his teachers Chip and Yen.

His response was quite funny.

He had an enjoyable bday. We also had a mini-celebration at the Crills' on Sat night, with the Wasatch Young Professionals. Jennifer gave him a lovely Melissa and Doug wooden block set that can be laced up and stacked and so on. He loves it. Didn't take video clips of him playing with that, but pics of that night will come up soon. Am having trouble keeping up with the loadds of photos that I take everyday. Soon, I will sort through them.

In the 1st clip, he was opening Yen's present of a dino book and McQueen markers. I was repeating everything he said to make it clearer. He does slur his words together sometimes.

In the 2nd clip, he was opening Chip's gift of a bulldozer. You can hear Dh's voice, haha. He didn't know I was filming. Ds2 likes to boogie to any kind of music. If he were standing up when the music played from the bulldozer, he'd look funnier.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 ;
11:42 AM
Mar 6

VIDEOS first:

Visit to the Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

1. Millions of monarchs flying about in the oyamel fir forest

Sorry video a little shaky, ds2 was clinging onto me. He was still sick, had a cough, and you can hear him clearly, coughing away.

2. ds1 sitting right in the midst of the many flying butterflies, hoping they will land on him. :-)

Not sure if you can hear it, but he kept saying "land on me? land on me?" many times. I took a short clip only, because I wanted to just enjoy the butterflies swooshing around me, but yeah, he was really pleading with them to land on him, at least a thousand times.

They didn't, not at this part, but later one did rest on his shoulder and Dh took a quick pic, but ds1 didn't get to enjoy it, cos before Dh could tell him, it flew away. He was quite sad. :-)

Mar 7


Trip to Xochimilco - "garden of flowers"/"floating gardens"

3. ds1 standing at the front of the punt and pretending to be a boater rowing the trajineras with a wooden pole.

A thread on the parenting forum I am on were recently debating whether the daddies or mummies are more relaxed in letting kids take risks. I didn't take part in the discussion because for Dh and me, there are different situations where we are more relaxed.

Here, it is very interesting. We were all sitting down in the boat actually, then ds1 wanted to peer at the water and to get int front. I let him, he was sitting beside me. Then gradually he got more bold, lying on the boat and standing up, moving ard and then wanting to row the boat like the boater who was at the other end of the trajinera.

In this instance, I was the one who encouraged him, and I quickly took the cam to take a short clip, but you can hear Dh's voice in the clip, at first telling him to be careful, and then to "not stand too near the edge". You can also see that ds1 is very "obedient" towards his dad. Each time Dh said something, he will tone down a bit more. After the 2nd caution, he stopped rowing and sat down.

I felt it was ok. But I can understand why dh won't want him to fall in. The water is really green and slimy. Dh commented that it has "eutrophicated" till it can't saturate any further with nitrates (aka faecal matter). haha.

Other times, I would be the cautious one, especially when the kids are scaling rocks when we are hiking. That one, Dh would let them take risks.

Well it's good the kids have both of us, creates a balance, I guess.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

9:42 AM
Feb 22

Forgot to update about how my sewage/ plumbing problem was fixed by the Bachman company plumbers.

And there are soome misc events to post about too.

First, because of the plumbing problem, and the various packed activities leading up to our Mexico trip, I let the boys be independent for most parts of the day. That's putting it nicely, I guess. lol. I kind of just leave them alone the whole day unsupervised and rush around doing my work.

So, when it is meal time, I'd rush to put the meal on the table, then get them to eat. I'll finish my meal faster than them of course, and I'd just leave them there to feed themselves and I'll go do my chores. Then, when it's time for ds2's nap (ds1 hasn't taken nap for a long time already), I'll get him to lie on the bed and make him stay there, then continue with my business.

One day, I got too carried away with my stuff, and saw that it was already 4pm. Oh no, I haven't made ds2 take his nap! I went to the living room, and this sight greeted me: the boy was under the dining table, hugging the table legs, fast asleep!

ds1 was playing chess on the computer, so I asked him if he knew when ds2 slept. He said he didn't know ds2 was asleep, but that ds2 split cheerios onto the carpet, and he went under the table to pick them up. He must have been too tired, cos he fell asleep while trying to pick them up! Can't believe it.

Next, ds1's obsession is still on International chess and Magic Cards. He seems to have put his Ultraman aside for the time being. ds2? He's very into Blues Clues now, having watched the NickJr videos on the NickJr website. (We realised the videos can only be watched FOC in USA! Cos when we were in Mexico and he asked about Blue, I tried accesing the videos and NickJr site said we were not in USA, so we can't watch them.)

There is one episode where Blue tries to find different colored keys to fit into doors to ultimately find a treasure chest. He likes that episode so much, he'll watch it over and over again. So I made some cardboard keys and keyholes for him. We colored them with different colors too, for matching. He'll play with them all the time. Unbelievable too.

Recent paintings by them, and some lady's finger printings. Lady's fingers are called okra here. I bought a very nice pack from the Asian mart the other day to stir fry with ikan bilis and my own chilli sauce. So I let them play with one of them, during their painting session. No prizes for guessing which set was drawn by which boy. :-)

Ok, now comes the sewage update.

Please do not continue reading if you don't like seeing gross matter.

This is the underground view of the house. Basically, pull up the carpets, remove the wood, and the pipes are below.

As Dh was crawling below, I took these pics for fun. Cos my HDB flat doesn't have this.

The guys were very professional. They first lined my carpet with a thick wide plastic sheet that was sticky on the underside, so it stays put on my carpet. Then they wheeled their equipment into my bathroom/ toilet.

They also wore shoe covers on their shoes, so that they need not take off their shoes and they go in and out of my house to their van to grab stuff, and maybe they also won't get their shoes dirty with the mess in the bathroom?

They removed the toilet bowl, and attached some part of the machine to the drainage pipe, then they turned the machine on, and there was a loud whirring suction noise. Ron, me and dh (who came home earlier) had to raise our voices to talk. We were outside, in the living room because there were 2 guys in the toilet already- too crowded. We did peek in to see how the machine works though, cos it looked very interesting.

While we were conversing, and Ron was complimenting me on being a good housekeeper (whether sarcastic or what, I'll never know, cos he's such a funny man), we suddenly heard the machine having louder than normal jarring sounds. It sounded like something was choking up the suction and causing a jam inside. Somewhat like a lawn mower cutting a piece of metal, or a vacuum cleaner sucking up a big piece of glass.

We went to take a look, and the plumber was trying to extricate something long and hard from the machine. Ugh, it was soooo smelly and sticky and yuckky, all the black goo covering it. I couldn't recognise what it was, until the guy said it was a root! A tree root!

After that, the same thing occured several more times, and more roots were taken out. There were so many that they asked me for a trash bag. The main guy who was handling all the yuck asked me for rags I didn't want anymore too, cos he had to wipe his arms. He said he can forget about dinner cos he didn't have any more appetite. I can understand that. The stink was filling up my entire house too. Poor guy. Ok, he's not that poor thing if you see how much he is paid. :-) They were in our house for maybe 30min and it cost US$430. Ron paid, but we still were shocked at how expensive it was.

The pic above right shows a root sticking out of the trash bag. I didn't dare to open the bag too wide cos I was afraid of getting the black sewage slime on my hands. So you can't see all the roots. But the guys said this amount of roots were the largest they ever seen, and can certainly break records.

Ron said it would have to be the 2 huge trees out in our front lawn that caused the wreckage. Their roots just kept growing till they grew into the sewage pipes. The house is very old and so are the trees. The trees are so beautiful and give us good shade, but they can do damage in this way too. Ron said maybe after we leave they'll tear the house down. The trees will remain to give shade to the new parking lot I guess.

I tested my washing machine right after that. And hooray! No leaking anymore! Expensive though it was, it sure was a job well done! Dh said the toilet flushed faster than he'd ever seen before. haha.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 ;
4:30 AM
Mar 4

Our 3rd day in Mexico City, D.F.

This day was even "better" for me. Ds2 was still not well, and obviously needed more rest, since he woke up in the morning still groggy, though his fever has subsided. He is left with a phlegmy cough. Sometimes, when he coughs continuously, he'll end up vomitting some of his stomach contents. Ugh, so I have been busy cleaning and washing his clothes and towels.

Since I had to stay in the hotel again, this time I let ds1 stay too. A number of reasons. 1. Dh would be viewing the anthropology museum and other architectural wonders today. Since there wasn't much of hiking/ climbing which ds1 likes, he might not be very appreciative and might cause more of a disturbance to Dh more than company. 2. I was tired of eating the same few things on the room service menu, and wanted to head out to the surrounding area to see what else I could buy for lunch. With only ds2 with me, it was impossible to go out. With ds1 around, he not only could keep ds2 occupied and happy, he can take care of him, make sure they both are safe, while I go out for a short while.

So Dh went out alone.

Our day: We had watermelon and waffles and pancakes for breakfast. When ds2 napped, ds1 and I read books, played guessing games on the Magna Doodle (like pictionary where we take turns to draw), and watched quiet TV. When ds2 is awake, he'll be cranky and want me to carry him, so ds1 will play by himself (either magic cards or doodling). When I went out to buy lunch, ds2 was taking his 2nd nap and ds1 was taught to latch the door, and not open the door to anyone but me. He was taught to check the eye peephole too. I also left him instructions on how to pacify ds2 should he wake up.

I walked around outside, and can only find a burrito/ taco stall. Smelt really good, but I know both ds might not eat much as it would be rather spicy. There was a 7-Eleven and McDonalds too, so I walked into Macs. They serve lunch only from 12pm here! Every country's Mac is different! Spore's is still 11am right? Utah starts lunch at 10.30am. I think it reflects the nation's habits. Like in Mexico, lunch is usually later, and can end mid-afternoon. It is their biggest meal of the day too. Dinner for them is small, and maybe only at 10pm.

So I waited a while, then got to order my fish fillet. However, after that, we ran into language problems. The "filet marino" was easy for me to order. But when it came to the Happy Meal, there were many choices right? The McNugget went across fine, but I wanted milk as the drink, and they couldn't understand me. So besides saying milk, I was contemplating using the action of milking a cow. (Dh later said I could just milk myself to show them. argh.) But they kept shaking their heads and saying "Fanta or Coca". So I gave up and said Coca. Ok, drink done. Now I wanted apple slices instead of fries. I saw the apple picture there, and said "apple" while pointing to the apple. They kept shaking their heads also. Maybe they didn't have that option. So ok, fries then.

Then I wanted to take-away. I said take-away, and did a carrying away action, but she still gave me all the fries and burger on the tray. So I said "bag, bag?" and pointed at their paper bags, then I got one. Phew. Then I wanted straws, and couldn't see them anywhere, but then didn't feel like asking for it anymore, so I just paid and left.

When I reached the hotel room and knocked, I heard ds1 pushing the chair up to the door, and saw a shadow across the peephole. Then I heard him shout (presumably to ds2) "Mummy is back!". Then he unlatched the door and let me in. He said ds2 woke and cried for me but he managed to appease him by patting him and saying I went out to buy fries for him!

I praised him for doing a good job, then I saw chocolate milk all over ds2's clothes (neck area) and the bed where he was lying on. What happened?!? I asked... He said ds2 wanted to drink milk, so he got the packet milk and squeezed it through the straw into ds2's mouth. Thus making such a big mess. Argh.

Ok, I held back from being too uptight abt the mess, and just washed everyhthing up with his help. Then we had a nice cozy lunch, sitting on the bed, watching TV, the 3 of us cuddled together. :-)

Dh came back at about 3pm and showed us pictures of what he saw. The Anthropology Museum is so huge he didn't finish exploring it too. It contains many historical and culturally important artefacts, and is considered a world-class museum, attracting visitors all over America. However, everything is in Spanish, so renting the headphones or having a guide would be more useful and educational.

Tomorrow we'll be heading out to the butterfly sanctuaries and will stay overnight in a small mountain town. The hotel room there has no heating, and temperatures can be freezing at night. I did ask the tour guide (we're with S&S Tours) to ask for a portable heater for us, but we are also prepared with camping heat packs. That'll be really exciting for me, the main reason why I came here, and the absolute highlight for me. Let's hope ds2 gets allof his energy back tomorrow!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

3:02 AM
Mar 3

I'll start with my day, since it's very brief. I stayed with ds2 in the room. As he had fever, he slept most of the time. Whenever he roused from his sleep, he'll cry and look for me, and I'll give him some water and pat him, then he'll sleep again.

For the rest of the day, I read, emailed and blogged. The wireless network is very dodgy though, so the connection was dropped many times and speed was slow, so I didn't do any surfing. I also stood at the hotel room window and observed Mexicans and tourists. For meals, I kept ordering room service.

Their room service menu is not varied, and consists only of sandwiches or Mexican tacos. However, I had no choice since I could not leave the room. It was very reasonably priced though, and with $7.50 I could eat till I was really stuffed. For lunch, my biggest order, I spent $7.50 on 3 chicken tacos with grated cheese, cream, guacamole and beans, and they gave me a bowl of green salsa-like thing. I tried it, and it was very spicy, tasted like a blend of jalapenos, tomato, lime etc, sour and spicy. I didn't know what to use it with, so I just put a little on the whole lot of lettuce they shredded for me at the side, and ate up all the lettuce. I did tip the guy who brought the food all the time, so perhaps I spent $10 on average, for each meal.

ds2? He ate a plain waffle in the morning (from my room service breakfast), some watermelon and milk and cereal (our own) for lunch and some crackers and watermelon for dinner. He didn't have a good appetite, so I just kept giving him water and milk, if he asked for it. We brought milk packets and milo sachets along, so the kids can have snacks whenever they wanted. Now he was consuming them as his meals.

Mid-morning, the housekeeping lady knocked and was surprised to see me in the room. I said "Hola, como estas, buenos dias " and that's about half the Spanish I know already. She then rattled on in her fast and furious Spanish, so I said "non comprehendo". I gestured for her to come in. And she gestured if I wanted to make my beds. I said no and gestured that I just wanted my trash cleared and change 1 face towel. Then she just went "Si, Si" and brought my trash and towel out. She gave me a new towel (good, our gesturing worked), and returned my bins, then I said "gracias, gracias" and bowed (don't know why, but felt like it is more polite to bow, even though I'm not Japanese). Then she disappeared.

Shortly after I closed the door, she knocked again. When I opened the door, she shoved 3 bottles of distilled water into my arms. So I "gracias gracias" non stop and bowed till she left again. Haha.
Actually we thought we'd have to buy lots of bottled water here for drinking, cos we drink a lot of water, but so far, the friendly hotel staff has been giving us all the bottled water we ever needed. Nice.

At 4pm, Dh and ds1 returned. Ds1 was brimming with excitement and he first excitedly told me how the guide gave him some sweet water from a cactus in the desert to drink. He spent at least 45min relating the whole day's events to me, while Dh added in details if I was confused.

They went to the Teotihuacan pyramids (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in the morning, with 4 other Canadians. An elderly couple from Quebec region, so they spoke only French and some English, and a father and teenage daughter from Vancouver, who spoke both Spanish and English. It was a 40 min ride to the pyramids and the Avenue of the Dead. I had wanted to see this very badly. The ancient civilisations had always been fascinating to me. The Chinese, Europeans and Mesoamericans. The natives of the New World had very sophisticated systems in place already, long before Christopher Columbus landed, or before the Spanish landed in Mexico.

The Aztecs are famous, and their empire was really great. They are one of the first people in the world to have compulsory schooling for both boys and girls of any background. But, the Teotihuacan pyramids and amazing city structures were already in ruins when the Aztecs arrived and found it. They were so shocked to see the great big pyramids and complicated structures that they felt it could not be the work of any Man, hence they called the place "Teotihuacan" meaning "the place where Gods are made".

So the plant ds1 was talking about was growing all around the dry arid areas there, and it's actually the Agave americana, or "maguey", as it is known here. It is native to Mexico but is now cultivated all around the world. The natives used the whole plant, so amazing. The fibers in the leaves are used to make ropes, mats, cloth, leather etc, the center of the plant has a sharp spike that the women use as needles. If the flower stem is cut without flowering, a liquid gathers in the center of the stem. I think, together with the plant sugars/ juices, it becomes very sweet ("agua miel"), just like what ds1 described. He said it tasted like honey in water. When fermented and distilled, it forms pulque and mezcal respectively. They were asked to try also, but Dh and ds1 didn't try that. Dh said the father and daughter didn't try also, and he later found out they are Mormons. :-) Just a side note, the tequila comes from the same family of succulents too, but specifically the Agave tequilana species.

ds1 said he was shown how to peel the outer membrane of the "cactus" also, and when dried, served as paper for the natives. They were then shown how the fibers are weaved with cotton into scarves, table cloths and other handicraft.

About the pyramids, I viewed the photos and they are so magnificent, despite being in ruins for so many hundreds of years. There are the Pyramid of the Sun and the Moon. Ds1 climbed both right to the top and down! There are 248 steps for the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Moon one is about half the height of the Sun's. Dh said the Canadians were very impressed with him. haha. Pictures will come after I get home to download them.

The excavations of the ruins are still not completed yet! But from what was excavated, a lot more was learnt, about the ancient civilisations. Some say the population died out probably from a combination of attack from enemies and long drought. Some juvenile skeletons obtained from the site showed signs of malnutrition. But it was obvious that they were a very thriving population in their peak. Tools and other artifacts like arrowheads made of obsidian were found in the pyramids too. (Dh bought an obsidian chess set from a souvenir shop nearby! He said must try and help boost their economy. Ermmm, ok, now we have like so many chess sets at home. He said the poor quality ones kept getting broken, and obsidian is like such a hard rock.)

The Aztecs were also known for their human sacrifice rituals and cannibalistic practices. Drawings and other codices were found that documented their slaying of warriors to present to the gods. They had elaborate altars erected, and rituals too. The Avenue of the Dead was probably named after that? The avenue was flanked by numerous ceremonial architectural structures, probably tombs or sacrificial platforms.

After that, they went on to view other significant architecture in the area, including the Palacio de Bellas Artes (like an arts theatre that's very grand) and the hilltop Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (considered by Catholics as the holiest site in the Western hemisphere and visited by famous dignitaries, incld JF Kennedy).

That was their interesting eventful first day.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Tuesday, March 4, 2008 ;
6:00 AM
Mar 2

Woke up at 6am to get ready. Left house at 7am with both kids still sleepy. Parked at economy lots at the airport, took a shuttle from there to the Delta terminal, then checked in for our flight. We had only 1 check-in bag.

When we reached the security area, once again, we were "selected" for more thorough security checks. Dh again muttered "racial discrimination" under his breath, in Mandarin. Sigh, I think they should let us have a pass with numbers or something, and if you have been through the same airport more than 10 times, and each time you get a more thorough "criminal" check, and pass through it without problems, they should record it electronically on the card or something, so we don't have to go through it another 50 times. Because it is just ridiculous to detain us every single trip. Why should us always be punished??

Even the kids had to stretch out their hands and get touched everywhere from top to toe. Of course, mine was done by a female officer. I do understand it is due to the Sept 11 incident and terrorism. I am super against terrorists. But I do not like it when you harass us law-abiding people, time and again, just because we don't have blonde hair and blue eyes? It doesn't help that SLC does not have many Chinese, so we become a very small minority. Which is why I am suggesting the pass card system. After you check us so thoroughly 10 times, you should trust us right??!?

Ok, we didn't trust them to let us off, which is why we had to punish ourselves and go to the airport so much earlier. So we passed that and went on to board our plane.

The journey was very pleasant. Delta staff were very nice. Both ds did sleep for a while. Ds2 even got very friendly with the Mexican guy we were sitting with. The guy sat beside the window (there were 3 seats) and ds2 was between me and the guy. Ds1 and Dh were in front. The guy carried ds2 on his lap and ds2 will point out of the window and talk to him. He'll just nod his head and smile at ds2. This continued for a long time! haha. Thanks to him, I enjoyed the movie the airline was playing.

I read a lot about Mexico and Mexico City before the trip. I learnt that is was a big city with 22 million people. With so many people of big social and status divide in a city, there was an inevitably high crime rate too. Many people cautioned us about the trip, and some sites even said it was the "kidnapping capital of the world". However, our first impression is really good!

No wonder Spore places so much emphasis on Changi Airport. Because that is really the 1st impression tourists form. We arrived at Mexico City's intl airport to find it very clean and spacious. Friendly people greeted us, and large LCD screens everywhere projected instructions and directions in many languages. We spotted Korean, Chinese, Japanese, amongst many others as we made our way to Customs and Baggage Claim.

As we queued up behind the long snaking line, a officer saw us and led us right to the front! So we skipped the long queue and were attended to at once. We were able to get our luggage easily and then hailed a taxicab very quickly as well, even though the queue was long.

We reached the Holiday Inn in Zocalo (traffic is very congested, and they drive dangerously too, just like in some big Asian cities), and checked in. The room is fantastic, for the same rate in USA, I get a much worse room in a motel. We also liked the laminated wooden panelled floor better than carpeted ones, because it looked so much cleaner and very homely. Carpets always tended to have a musty smell and hotel ones usually have some stains and spots. Ugh. Wooden ones can be cleaned very well, and if there's no stain, means no colonies of bacteria/ fungi sitting there!

The unfortunate thing was: ds2 developed a fever at night. Perhaps due to the change in temperature and climate. Mexico City is situated at 7349ft above sea level, higher than SLC but nearer to the Equator, so it is warmer in the daytime (about 20-26 deg C) and cold at night (around 1-2 deg C). The air pollution is quite bad too, so maybe that aggravated his original cough.

So, the sacrificial mom stayed with ds2 in the hotel room the whole day on Mon, while ds1 and Dh went out to see the Pyramids of Teotihuacan. Sob sob. Ok, I was able to catch up on posting on the blog and check emails.... And read up more about the fascinating Mexican history and culture. But... I want to be in the thick of action! Especially since I can see so much of it from the hotel room window. We're facing the street, and can see Aztec drummers, Medicine Men (with big headpieces and lots of feathers), people doing native dances, and other buskers. I can see the magnificent cathedral near the great temple Templo Mayor too, so majestic. I can imagine the empire of ancient times, so grand and wealthy, before the Spaniards came to destroy them.

I'm praying so hard he will get well quickly! I want to go out tomorrow!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Sunday, March 2, 2008 ;
3:33 AM

Feb 29

Started preparing dinner in the morning. We invited the Whites over for dinner. The date was set long ago, when we thought we had to leave mid-March. Was meant to be some kind of farewell dinner, but now it was just to catch up.

Although my headache was gone, I was starting to develop a cough. Quite a bother, now that we are going on a trip soon.

Tidied up the whole house, with both ds' help. Ds1 is getting much better in making the house neat. He can make all 3 beds for me, and put away all the toys neatly. He also likes to do other work, but I rather do those myself, either because I do it quicker or neater. Ds2 mainly puts away toys only, and he doesn't sort very well yet, so ds1 has to help him decide where each toy goes. Eg the beanbags go into the larger box cos there are many more beanbags. The egg shakers go into the smaller bin, since there are fewer eggs.

Dh came home early as promised, so we got dinner ready in good time. We had nasi lemak (coconut rice) again, this time with chicken curry (I used only drumsticks), mixed veggies with mushrooms and pork, and honey roasted chicken. A bit overloaded on chicken, because we had chicken spinach salad too. But fish and beef are trickier to prepare for guests.

They came on the dot at 6.30pm. Mary Jo brought her homemade boysenberry pie, sparkling juice and some toys for the boys. Some of the toys opened up to reveal little chocolate balls. Very cute.

We started eating and chatting, having a good time. I discovered that ds2 ate up all his choc balls before he even started dinner, grrrr. Ds1 knew to wait till after meals to eat such things, but ds2 still has totally no regard for my warnings. Don't know what to do with him. Mary Jo said she shouldn't have given it to him before dinner, but really, it wasn't her fault. The kids should know better. So ds2 did not eat much rice.

Ron made lots of jokes. He feigned surprise at being able to like the food, and told Mary Jo he would be able to "fit right in" in China (meaning Chinese cuisine). Anyway, we all know how much he likes to joke.

After dinner, we had the pie. It was delicious. We can't find boysenberries in Utah. Since the Whites came from California, they brought some over and planted them in their own backyard, so every spring MJ will pick and freeze the berries to be used throughout the rest of the year. She'll make jams, pies or jellies. Boysenberries are more tangy, though they look very like blackberries. Dh especially likes the sweet and sour taste. MJ also taught me how to make the pie crust, and passed me a recipe. Yay!

We took group pics then they left at 9.30pm.

Ds2 started becoming cranky, and that night, he coughed throughout the night. Sigh, now it was his turn to be sick!

The next day, Sat, he became better after a whole day of rest, fruits, soups and lots of water. That was a relief because our flight was on Sun morning.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

12:32 AM
Feb 28

ds1's last day of school

On Wed evening, I fell ill with a fever. Haha, at first, I even thought I had such a splitting headache due to the dental costs being so high, yet I want to get both ds' teeth fixed. I don't want them to experience serious tooth decay, feel the pain, and then have traumatic experience at the dentist. They still don't complain of toothaches yet, which means it hasn't got very serious. So it has to be fixed now, otherwise it may result in malocclusion or other teeth problems in future, when the permanent ones grow in.

Dh himself had braces before (I didn't need them) and he said it was not a pleasant experience, thus, if possible, we hope both ds do not need to go through that. In order for that to happen, there must be very good teeth care on our part, besides genetics, of course. We just have to make the best use of whatever genetics dealt to us. :-)

Ok, so I was ill on Thursday still, and Dh brought ds1 to school and back. The teacher bought a beautiful book "The tale of the Firebird" by Spirin (acclaimed for his art) for ds1 and got the rest of his class to sign it too. She also sent him back with his mat, 2 "magic beans" (patterned beans) for both ds to grow, and all his other art/ work done in school. We gave the teacher a photo book with photos that chronicled ds1's interesting school life over the past months, titled "The best preschool class and teacher, ever!".

If I picked ds1 up, I would give the teacher a big hug and get ds1 to hug all his classmates and teacher too. But, dh was the one who picked him up, and even though I gave Dh the instruction to ask ds1 to give his teacher a farewell hug, Dh forgot, because he had been running late and just as he was leaving work, his boss talked to him, so he ended up picking ds1 30min late! The teacher was having lunch then, and he was with her.

Oh, they also had show and tell and they're doing "My body" this month. For this particular week, it is about the skeletal system, so I let ds1 bring the chicken wing bones from the chicken we ate the previous day. I boiled the bones in water and cleaned them thoroughly first. Then we assembled the bones together on a piece of paper.

What an exciting last day of school.

I got better in the evening. Dh took time off school and work to take care of the boys, but they were not very good at letting me rest. Even though Dh was at home, they still came into the bedroom to ask me all kinds of things, so I didn't have a really peaceful rest. That's the downside of being a SAHM.

The kids are so used to asking me for help and for other things, so used to playing with me in the day, that even though Dh was there, they still come to me for everything. It wouldn't help when Dh closed the bedroom door and carried them out, cos ds2 started crying and then I couldn't rest either, because I can hear the continuous crying anyway. He couldn't bring them both out as well, cos both of them were having a runny nose. (We must have caught a bug from somewhere again. There are many members at church who are also sick.)

Having Dh at home did have other advantages though. He helped out in many other chores and also prepared dinner. I had cooked a big pot of pork rib soup the previous weekend, so we had batches to eat from. He just needed to heat that up and cook some rice.

Fortunately I got better with just a little rest. Thank God for making moms strong, physically, mentally and emotionally.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Saturday, March 1, 2008 ;
3:31 PM
Feb 27


Brought both boys for a dental check-up. This paedriatic dentist had advertised in a coupon sent to my house, and provided free dental check-ups for kids 5 and under. I had already seen some cavities forming in ds2, but had put off visits to a dentist, because of the cost. Over here, health insurance does not usually cover dental fees, so you have to get an extra plan or a different insurance just for your teeth. A few checks with friends confirmed that.
Being afraid that ds2 teeth may drop off before we get back to Spore (where I intended to see the dentist myself), I scheduled an appointment.

The dental clinic is just 5-10min away from my house. It is a very child-friendly place indeed. From the Nintendo games, to a whole playroom stocked to the brim with all kinds of toys like a play kitchen, Fisher-price toys, to a very beautiful marine aquarium that even I enjoyed looking at.... it is definitely very impressive. The kids enjoyed the large wall-to-wall murals of Dr Seuss and friends characters. (We have tons of his books at home, so the kids could relate to them well.)

When it was our turn, we went in to find the TV screening Mr Incredibles, and the TV was placed overhead such that ds1 told me he could still watch the movie while his teeth were being checked! hmm...

Ds1 went onto the chair first, and I sat with ds2 nearby in the same room. The dentist told ds1 he was going to wear his "silly spects" to see his teeth better. That referred to the 2 magnifying lenses he put across his glasses. ds1 also had cavities! His were in between his teeth. Arrgh, no wonder I thought his teeth were fine cos I couldn't see them. He was given a kids' toothpaste and Oral-B kids toothbrush when he was done. He was allowed to pick a toy from a drawer full of treasures too.

Ds2's turn. Ds1 had been to the dentist with me in Spore, at NTUC Denticare (JP). But ds2 has never been. He refused to siton the chair, so the dentist checked him while he lay on my lap. ds2 was fine with that, and didn't cry or anything.
Sigh, the dentist confirmed my fears, he had quite a few cavities. His, of course, were visible.

The dentist asked me a few Qs to determine the reasons. The kids don't eat a lot of sweets at home, but they are allowed to drink soda and eat sweets outside, when other people give to them or when we dine out. There is of course, the cakes and cookies I bake. According to the dentist, that should be ok. So Dh and I came to the conclusion that it must be genetic. I myself had plenty of fillings. I know of friends who consume much more sugary food than me and seldom brush as frequently as me, but they had no cavities while I had so many. Dh himself had cavities before he turned 2 years old, his mom confirmed. Although I didn't have them so young, but I ended up having more teeth filled than him, cos I had cavities to my permanent teeth too.

Anyway, ds2 was given his freebies, then the dental assistant showed and gave me their dental charts with all the details of their teeth and where the cavities are. It's quite cute, she was highlighting the spots on this dental diagram on the computer and she printed out both copies for me. The dentist had left to see to the next patient.

She then told me the estimated costs for fixing everything, including ds2's sedation if he required fixing all the cavities, cos it is likely that he wouldn't be able to keep still for every tooth to be fixed. None of their teeth needed to be pulled out, but filling would take time too. They also wanted to do X-rays to determine if there were further cavities in between the teeth that are just starting out and are not visible now.

In fact, a lot of kids are sedated here when they have dental work done, whereas it is unheard of in Spore? Not sure, cos I am talking about my time. Of course, we were older when we really had teeth filled. Dh was very young when he had a cavity, but then in those days, parents will just let the tooth fall out eventually. I discussed this with Dh and did a lot more research when I got home. Finally we decided to go ahead, so we have an appointment made for 13th of March.

Anyway, the receptionist who made the appointment for me was surprised that ds1 didn't need sedation too. The dentist said he should be fine, and I think he will too. He's old enough to understand he shouldn't move when his teeth are being fixed. So ds1's estimated total cost was much lower. Ds2 needed sedation and more teeth to be fixed, so his total came up to more than $1K.

I wasn't too surprised because given my elbow bill of $550+, I inflated the normal dental fees in Spore also and did my own estimates already. I just set out to apply for more discounts with another organization that specialized in kids dental bills. Hopefully I get that!

I would also be discussing with the dentist about the need to treat every single tooth that he mentioned. There were 2 for ds2 that were for a surface resin, and maybe those can wait till we return to Spore.

Anyway, for the day's check-up, I didn't have to pay because of the coupon, so it was free.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

3:30 AM
Feb 24

After church worship, the Lawrences invited us out for lunch. Judy is going to spend at least a month with her many grandchildren, who live in Texas. Sometimes they come to visit, so we have met a few of them, of which, Riley is ds1's favorite friend. They hit it off during the Teton camp last year.

Some other families including Ron and MJ went to Hometown Buffet too, and Danny/ Judy chose to go there. We've never tried it before, so we were game for it.

Dh did not eat as much because he got involved in a lengthy and serious discussion with Stan (Bradford) soon after he started lunch. For me, I ate till I was stuffed, even though towards the end the kids were getting restless and playing more and more violently with the balloons that Stan got for them. Hometown Buffet provides a whole bag of balloons which we blow up with helium ourselves (a tank was there) for the kids.

I managed to chat with Danny and Judy too, and got to know them better. They had actually been stationed in Germany for 4 years when Danny (used to be from US Air Force) was posted there. So they also travelled around Europe quite a bit during their stint there. Danny is a very loyal Air Force officer. He always has at least 2 different Air Force pins on his jacket lapel. ds2 likes to finger the airplane pins he has. Both of them are very friendly and nice to the kids, so the kids could talk with them easily.

After lunch, we went home and prepared guo tie for the fingerfood potluck in the evening. Guo tie is literally translated over here as "pot stickers". It was amusing when we first saw a menu from a Chinese restaurant here and could not recognise a lot of the items. Things like "egg drop soup", "pot stickers", "moo shu" had us confused at first.

It was also very funny when I first ordered delivery service. The guy on the line could speak Mandarin, so I said I wanted "chao3 fan4". What came later was "Chow Fun" as they call it. They must be Cantonese, because it was fried kway teow that came, something like our "hor fun". Good thing we like hor fun too.

We also found out that moo shu is something wrapped up, and egg drop soup was just a clear soup with beaten egg dropped in and stirred.

So we went for evening church service and had potluck dinner after service. This time, I sat with Elly and Gary Robinson and was able to chat at length with them too. Elly was originally from the Netherlands and Gary met her there when he was posted there by the US army. He ended up staying there for 10 years, so both their kids were born there too. They were later posted to Germany as well (same as the Lawrences), before going to South Carolina, then Utah. The Dowdys were from South Carolina too. Many of the church members we know move around a lot, especially those with the US Army or Air Force.

As I always tell them, it is so interesting and nice to get to know all of them. They have made us very much a part of their family.

Below: just the kids having some horseplay in the bedroom.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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