Friday, August 22, 2008 ;
10:39 PM
Some pics of daily life around here:

1. The effect of having the spouse at home for most of the day.

Currently, Dh still has unfixed work hours, because he is busy stocking and refurbishing the factory. They're renting a factory space and it has some basic equipment already but Dh has to buy a lot of stuff to make it function-able. So most days, he goes out to meet suppliers, work partners, and to wholesale places to get lighting, furniture, electricals and tools.

Most times, he goes out in the morning then comes back for lunch, and goes out again till dinner time. At night, he'll be on the phone or computer, linking up with the bosses in USA, updating them and getting further instructions.

Once his bosses arrive in China in a week or two, he'll be really busy. So I shall treasure this time.

Pluses: He helps out a lot with the housework. He has been in charge of mopping the whole apartment so far, and I decided I should take a pic of that. In case, in future, I get disgruntled about his long working hours again, and complain about him not helping out at home, I should look at this pic. haha.

And I think that happens to be the 1st pic of the apt's interior? So yes, that's the dining area, and where we placed the piano.

This area is continuous with the living room. Will post pics when I have decent ones taken.

The other plus point is: I get to go out with H to buy groceries and other essentials without the kids. Since setting up the home requires bulky purchases, it's been most useful NOT to have the kids around.

And, hehe, when I had a headache yesterday, Dh went to the wet market with H instead, and when he got home, he cooked. :-)

Having Dh around for all meal times means that I have to prepare all meals with a lot more effort. With only the kids and me, we tend to eat simply for lunches. I only prepare proper dishes for dinner in the past.

Dh tends to be a little more intolerant of noise and nonsense from the kids, so the kids get scolded a lot more now. Besides their rough-housing, they also like to play with tools and knick knacks around the house. Since I am very busy with cleaning the whole area, and setting up some kind of organisation, I just leave them to their own devices. So they may be cutting up their play dough into a million pieces at their play area, or playing with the flashlight, or the battery-operated hand-held fan that Charlene gave them.

Dh does not like the playdough pieces, the shining of the flashlight everywhere, incl into their eyes, and the usage of things that are not for the correct purpose. Eg, using the fan's whirring plastic blades to "cut" and entangle things. I mean, I also think there is a time for every activity and a purpose for everything.... but I do close my eye to some mess sometimes and just make sure they clear it up later. As a result, they get scolded a lot more with dh at home, haha.

When ds2 comes running to me to complain or whine after being scolded, I'll stand on Dh's side of course. Ds1 will usually just sulk, he's past the stage of running to me crying.

Ahh, I'm just waiting for a normal routine to kick in. Too chaotic a life is not good too.

2. Our kids have been playing a lot with H's kids, since it is the summer hols for H's kids too. Either ds1 will pop over their house (ds2 is still sticky and usually will stay home with me), or H's boys will come over to mine (more frequently that way). Being boys, and similar in age and interests, they really hit of very well. Often, the longer they play together, the more rowdy and boisterious they'll be.

We've invited the whole family over 2x so far. Once for the Olympics opening ceremony, and the other time for Spore's women's table tennis team finals, cum Malaysia's Men's badminton singles finals, both on the same night, one after the other. The adults will watch the match, and munch on goodies, while the kids play together.

The 4 of them can really create a ruckus. They were climbing all over the bunk bed in our study room, and pretending to be pirates for a while, with the bed as the ship, and then later as train engineers (Thomas the tank engine?) with the bed as the train.

I noticed, both dads have lower tolerance for noise. It'd be Dh and H's hubby who will get very irritated and scold the kids. Perhaps the mom's threshold has been shifted higher due to being with the kids 24/7.

Last Saturday evening, we also went out to Nankai district (university district here) to eat at a Hong Kong restaurant. H's hubby Lui drove, Dh and ds2 sat in front, H, me, and 3 boys sat behind. I guess, it's only possible here. In Spore, the traffic police will say hi to me once I get out on the road. (Oh, and the taxis have no rear seat belts at all, so far. and that's another long story).

So far, for us Sporeans and them Malaysians, we still prefer the southern chinese cuisine to the northern one (Tianjin falls under northern china). So H's recommendations have so far been very suitable to our palate. This place serves very nice Japanese curry, and beef and we drank Yuanyang milk tea too. Very nice.

Below is the group pic. ds1 enjoyed having the curry (not very spicy) all over his rice, while ds2 didn't want any curry on his rice at all. But both still ate quite a fair amount. So we will definitely become regular customers! Prices are very reasonable too.

Dh managed to give them a treat, almost was paid by H again! They have helped us so much! We should thank them properly.

After the dinner, we proceeded for a city tour, thanks to tour guide Lui. Wow, having this tour made it more positive for me to be here on a long term basis.

Suddenly my horizons were broadened, and I realised I probably can slowly explore more of this very big city. The city center is just like Spore or SLC, with all the big names and big signs. LV, Zara, Armani etc American, European brands... all there. Carrefour, Walmart, Isetan, Parkson, Tesco... Starbucks, KFC, Mac. Our place is a little far off, but just seeing familiar things made me feel better.

Passed by a number of parks and big wide TV screens where many people were gathered to watch the Olympic events together.

Then Lui brought us to the 古文化街 (Old Culture Street) area. Beautiful buildings. There were a couple of bridges and a musical fountain performance was underway. We strolled across the bridge together, and watched the musical fountain, then walked along the river for some distance. There were people playing badminton along the riverside, rollerblading, rollerskating, and even ballroom dancing! Seems like a nice community congregation area.

3. On Sunday, after our own family worship in the morning, we went to the nearby Korea Town for lunch. H recommended this place that sells very cheap but authentic Korean food. Her Korean friends said it tasted good too.

It was really much cheaper than Spore's Korean places. We were stuffed to our brim with the free-flow and really free appetizers (seen in photo below). We liked the tofu, fermented soy bean strips, and pickled beef best. Ds1 loved the pumpkin porridge with tangyuan/ muah chee kind of glutinous rice bits in it. He loved it so much, he ate up ds2's share too.

ds2 was too busy playing with his cute little chair on the floor (Korean style). He has never sat like that on the floor to eat before, so he was very engrossed with the mini-chairs and tables.

We didn't know there'd be so many appetizers, so we were already quite full before the main course arrived. That was the only thing we ordered. But it is sooo huge!

Look at the beef noodle steamboat set. There were so many ingredients and so much noodles! There were a lot of veggies and beef in the steamboat already, but we had another plate of tempura veggies too. So in the end, they packed up the tempura for us "to-go".

The total cost was less than S$18 for our family of four. To think, it would've cost even less, because we had too much food already.

H says, it's no wonder a lot of Koreans come here and settle here for good. They've got a big community here, lots of their own cuisine, and movies and their own supermarkets (e-mart is Korean-owned). The Korean food is authentic, and much cheaper than back in their own country. They can afford full-time ayis here (back home it is very costly for them), send kids to international schools, have chauffeurs... Back home, the women have to work, here, they are tai-tais.

For us, we still miss home too much. We can only hope the Eco-city that Spore is building with Tianjin quickly progresses and bring many more Sporeans here, so that the restaurants, food, daily stuff will all follow. That'll make more things we love readily available and drive prices down. We also wish for a direct SQ flight from TJ to Spore.

4. Our daily meals. Same old stuff over and over again, especially since I have to cook a lot for both lunch and dinner, I tend to split the same kind of veggies up, and cook one batch for lunch in a certain way, then modify a little and cook the same veggie in another way for dinner.

A lot of veggie soup during the days ds2 had the bad rash. He likes it all over his rice, and it is supposed to help clear his skin?

I haven't been buying a lot of meat too, cos I don't dare to. I see the meat slabs lying all over the wet market, and am afraid we are not used to the hygiene level, so I'm trying to gradually increase intake. So for some meals, we really go vegetarian. No meat at all. Sometimes I just stir fry some tofu.

5. Ds1 cried when we went to KFC and didn't get to eat his favorite of all time- mashed potato. The 1st 2 times we went, Dh ordered food and he said there wasn't any on the menu.

The 3rd time I brought kids alone with H and her kids. She pointed out to the 鸡汁土豆泥 and said that's mashed potato! No wonder Dh thought there wasn't any here. There were no pictures of mash potato, and their meal bundles had no mash potato, unlike in Utah or Spore. Probably not popular here.

Dh would be thinking of potato as 马铃薯 instead. That's what most Sporeans call the potato in chinese.

Ahh, all chinese, but so much difference too.
We've a lot to learn!

Ds1 was ecstatic, but that probably led to a bigger fall in his emotions. To yearn for something so much, and not get it, later to find you can get it, and then you got it, only to realise it is not what you want... that was too much for him to take. His tears started rolling down his cheeks. He didn't cry loudly, it was the painful sadness kind of tears.

I was quite irritated and unsympathetic then, actually, because we were in public and for him to cry over a trivial mash potato seemed childish.

He claimed it tasted totally different. I tried it. Hmm, indeed, they used different spices. The gravy tasted different, and the potatoes they use must be a different kind too. It was fluffy and creamy but lumpy.

Ds1 didn't want anymore, so I packed it home for Dh to try later that evening. Dh even spat out what he put in the mouth. Sigh.

So the next day, I made mash potato for him.
(pic below).

He was so touched, because he saw me mashing it manually with a fork. It took very long to get a creamy consistency. I didn't have my blender or mincer with me. It's still in the boxes from Utah.

He helped some too, which made him realise it was hard work. Haha.

The look of respect, admiration, love and gratitude he had in his eyes, as he tasted it and told me "mom, you're the best in the world! and this mash potato is the best in the whole world, better than KFC's. and i love you the best in the world!"

Guess what? I made it again the next day and the next. Haha, just to hear those words a few more times. :-)

6. Remember how I said I am the family's rubbish bin? Cos I have to finish up any leftovers?

Well, now I have some help with the rice. I used to lick up every grain from the rice cooker in Utah, because rice is expensive there. Here, there is a wide range of prices. If I insisted on buying Thai white jasmine rice (the long grains) then it is very expensive. So we've been eating medium grains, local-grown rice.

I still have the habit of licking up remaining rice, and the kids have often seen me eating off the rice scoop. Now they fight over this job of finishing up the last grains. Totally fine with me!

It was very funny, and I stood one side laughing. People will think they are starving kids. The way they fight over a few grains. Ds2 will be shouting "my turn, my turn!" impatiently when ds1 is eating his mouthful.

So now, I've left more rice in the pot on purpose to let them have more to chew on.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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