Wednesday, October 22, 2008 ;
12:05 AM
Misc daily events
1. Bought the kids a tub of Lego-like bricks. But it's the ultra-cheap China-made brand. There were more than 200 bricks in a tub, but at a super low price, so we thought it might be good value. True enough, the kids played with them almost everyday till now.

I think it doesn't have lead paint, hopefully they don't find out something else that's toxic in China-made stuff!

ds1 used Dh's Black and Decker cordless drill chargers as part of his brick-play. Wonder if that could be a possible hazard? Or would he spoil tha charger? Dh's mostly not at home the whole day, so he doesn't know about it.
2. I mentioned my North Korean ayi before. I have requested her to teach me a few Korean dishes whenever there is not much housework to be done. This is the first dish.

She normally suggests kid-friendly dishes, so this is the korean egg roll.
Ingredients include Mexican green pepper (a little spicy and very fragrant), carrot, onion all chopped up within the egg. Basically, if you want more ingredients, you can do it.

It's kind of like an omelette but the skill involved during the rolling is important. When she did it, it looked very easy, just throw the beaten egg into the frying pan and use a spoon and ladle to slowly roll the egg up as it cooks.

She seemed to have 4 arms (haha, Ben 10 alien). She could handle the spoon and ladle, each in one hand, and then also turn the fire up or down when needed, and also use the spoon to constantly scrape uncooked egg away from the rolled part, to make sure the layers are even. Otherwise, the roll will be lumpy, and when cut into sushi-like segments, will look ugly.

Anyway, it looks just like a humble egg dish, but it is oh so yummy and oh so fragrant.

I have since made it 3 more times myself, for a guest from USA too, and for our own family. Dh and the guest loved it. Our sons, hmmm, they don't like the slightly spicy pepper.

3. My kind neighbors... ahh, what to do without them.

Both H and N go all out of their way to help me.

Dh had to go to Mudanjiang and Beijing for a couple of days (business trip). Both neighbors were very concerned for me and kids.

N actually got her ayi to prepare 3 bento sets for me, complete with a cup of Szechuan veggie soup. She said it was cos Dh is not around, and I probably want to spend time with the kids, so I should not bother to cook. That was on Sat night. Look how nicely her ayi packed the home-cooked food.

H will top up my phone card for me, bring me grocery shopping, even cook pork porridge for me when I was very tired.

13 Sep
11am - 2pm
Matt's birthday party

Dh had to work, so I brought kids only. N chided me as she had prepared a lot of extra food for the adults. haha. She said I have to bring Dh and I didn't.

The kids started out coloring and upon completion they will get their goodie bag, and a bracelet of a certain color. That color determines their grouping for games later on.

After that, there was a screening of Diego's DVD, then a real live Diego performed magic tricks for all the kids.

After magic tricks, there were a few party games, whereby all kids could get prizes. The kids' goodie bags were becoming very full. They had so many lollies and little figurines and toys.

Then the kids were blindfolded in turn and had a chance to pin the tail on the donkey. The butt of the donkey reminded me of Target stores' logo. Maybe she bought it there.

Then there was lunch. Adults had catered Bento sets and one cup of homemade corn and chicken soup. Kids had McDonalds sets with corn chips.

Then there was outdoor games. N had such an elaborate set up. There were these vehicles around and ds2 enjoyed the vehicles a lot.

Then they gave out animal masks. Ds2 got a hornbill (?) one. Ds1 got an elephant one.

Then the kids are asked to wear their masks and go treasure hunting using a knapsack. Most of the kids tore off their masks to facilitate faster collection of goodies later on. haha.

ds1 collected far fewer knick knacks and candy, because he looks at places that are far too complicated. The candy and presents are strewn all over the whole field of grass, and openly placed on rocks and so on. The earnest boy went looking above in the tree branches, under rocks and in far corners. ds2 got more than him, in fact. Fortunately the generous ds2 shared half his loot with the older brother, and ds1 was not very forlorn over his failed mission. He actually found only 1 item.

Then there was a vehicle race where the groups pitted themselves against each other. 2 kids in one vehicle.

And what birthday party would be complete without the popular pinata. Since this is a Diego-themed party, poor little Diego was the one being whacked.

Below shows ds2's turn.
And ds1's turn. Naturally ds1 did much better at smashing the thing, cos he's taller and has a stronger swing. I like the series of pics I took of him, cos his expression is priceless. Even when it was ds2's turn, he was shouting away, cheering him on. When it was his friends' turn, he was jumping and screaming for them to get Diego too.

A sack race ensued after Diego fell and tons of sweets fell onto the ground. As usual, both ds are more engrossed and interested in the playing and hitting of the pinata, so they didn't pick any of the candy up. I'm happy about that of course, since their teeth had so much work done on them already.

ds1 doesn't look like himself in the pic, cos his hair is flying about, with him so intent on hopping quickly. He fell a couple of times but he got up and continued. His competitor is the Japanese-Italian-German mixed boy M. He's very good-looking and I find it so adorable and interesting to hear him speak in rapid-fire Japanese. He looks totally European but speaks in Japanese, so it is very fascinating to watch and listen.

He's very mischievous though. But both my sons are like that too, so I'm used to it. When I am on the school bus or anywhere near him, he'll want to hit my head, punch my butt or grab my arm, just to give me a scare. It's very sudden, so I have been surprised a couple of times already, but I'll just play along. He is very good at sports and is such a good wrestler that everytime ds1 and him "fights", ds1 always gets much more injuries.

The other day he just came back from school with muddy footprint marks all over his tee, near the tummy area. I asked him about it and he said M kicked him repeatedly in the stomach. Of course it wasn't done in a mean way, and ds1 said he was roughhousing with M then. I guess, I'll just take it easy and let him learn. He gets a lot more bruises now, not surprisingly, since his accounts of playing at the playground after lunch involves a lot of "fighting" with this Indian boy, a Japanese, a German and an American. Those seem to be his usual sparring partners. I hear their names everyday.

The birthday boy blowing the candles on his gigantic Diego cake. The cake was from Holiland, this confectionery within our apartment estate. His Taiwanese Nainai is behind him, clapping her hands. They all look so young, his grandparents on both sides. Wow.

After that, I brought the kids home for a short nap, while my piano tuner tuned the piano.
H recommended me the piano tuner, and I had to use him because the piano had not been tuned since the landlady had movers drag it over to our house.

Tuning is so cheap here! I remember tuning my upright and baby grand for a much more expensive price. He charged me just S$30. And he is one of 5 expert tuners in Tianjin, certified by some Music and tuner assoc in China. And he didn't complain even though he had waited for me outside my home while we were at the birthday party, at least for 1 hour.

Then in the evening, we went to H's house for our Singaporean Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration. As we all know, Singaporean Chinese celebrate a lot of the Chinese festivals in our own way. I heard that during Chinese New Year, lao yu sheng, a common practice in Singapore, is not done in China. And the carrying of lighted lanterns by kids during MAF is also unique to Singapore/ Malaysia. Our Hainanese Chicken rice too, is nothing like the chicken rice found in Hainan, China.

We also found that our tastebuds have been attuned towards the kind of mooncake we always enjoyed, and the local mooncakes here taste different. Since we yearn to have a taste of home during festivals, it is of utmost importance that we celebrate together with people who have the same tastebuds. :-)

L, H's hubby, invited his GM, Goh, and the GM's gf, E. The boss is Singaporean. And another Sporean guy who lives in the same estate and works at the same company, Melvin. Melvin had just returned to Spore to get his work visa done. And his mother-in-law is a Teochew and makes her own mooncakes, so he brought 2 boxes over for us to enjoy!

H cooked all the food. The kids had their separate table. We had a great time chatting. Although we have never seen Goh, and Melvin, we could hit off at once, and were talking about all kinds of topics. Ah, the bonding between fellow countrymen who are abroad, feeling homesick and missing everything back home.

Look at the mooncakes. Both are yummy but I like the traditional brown one better. She made the lotus seed filling herself too, and it is not so sweet (I like) and very fragrant. We stuffed ourselves silly with the mooncakes.

We had wanted to get the kids out strolling, enjoying the full moon, and carrying the lanterns. But there were no such lanterns to be sold at this period since they don't have the custom of doing that now. They do it during CNY. So we just ate somemore and kept on chatting.

Goh is 48, according to H. His gf, E, a local Chinese, can't be older than 25. She was playing with the kids while we chatted. A very sweet girl. According to H, Goh has brought her home to Spore several times already to meet his family. Goh has a 15yr old daughter from a previous marriage. Melvin has 3 kids already, ranging from 2 to 12 yrs old. Coincidentally, he lives in Jurong West too, and so we had a lot of things to talk about since we hung out around all the same places when we are back home. His eldest daughter is doing PSLE this year at Rulang, so his family decided that only he should come to China alone.

It was a long day, but what an enjoyable day. As most people in Tianjin tell me, there is nothing to see here in Tianjin, and it is the people and the gatherings that make our stay memorable.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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