Friday, January 9, 2009 ;
8:17 PM
Back to Spore again...

Our third trip back since Aug.

Running family joke: the more we return, the less they will be excited about our return.
1st time return from Utah to Spore - both sides of our families, mine and Dh's came to Changi Airport in full force, waiting at the baggage claim to meet us.

When we left for China from Spore - both sides of our families went to send us off too. (My parents have no car, they took MRT all the way from Jurong to Changi Airport, early in the morning!)

1st trip back from China (Oct) - Dh parents came in car to pick us up at pick up point. No waiting at baggage claim now.

We were sent to airport for return trip also.

2nd trip back from China (Nov) - Dh parents came in car to pick us up at pick up point. We waited at pick up point for 45 min for them.

We took cab to airport by ourselves for return trip.

3rd trip back from China (27 Dec) {this trip} - No one could come and pick us up. Dh parents had concert to attend. My parents were in Malaysia. My sis, VJ and niece came to pick us up. Their car is too small for our luggage, so our dear friend Wee Kheat came in his van to pick up our luggage back to his home (Punggol), then send to us the next morning when there was church service (Jurong).

We took cab to airport by ourselves too.

Now the joke is, next time we return, maybe no place to stay even. haha. No one wants to put us up anymore!! :-)

This trip back to Singapore was made solely because Dh's sister and her family is back in Singapore too. They had emigrated to Perth in 2006 and this was their first visit home. Mil wants a big reunion and for us all to take pictures.

So after worship and church activities in the afternoon on Sunday, we all met in Mil's house for the reunion dinner. This time, we didn't stay there because Dh's sister's family is putting up there, so we stayed with my parents in the Jurong flat.

Mil had cooked up a storm, and we tucked in. The 8 kids had their own table, and the adults crowded around the other table. It was so nice to see Dh's sister's kids again. I missed them a lot. Gave my niece, YX, a big hug when I saw her, she is 10 yrs old now, such a big girl already.

It was very cute to hear and see them speak. Being in the local Australian school, they have very strong Aussie accents and slang now. Just 2 yrs ago, they spoke Singlish (English, Mandarin, Hokkien and Malay). Now they are totally different. They can still speak Mandarin, because my sil speaks Mandarin to them and they take Chinese classes on Saturdays over there. In school, they learn German as a 2nd lang instead.

They are big on CCAs too. My nephew, YL, does BMX biking there, and I have watched his videos, they are so amazing. He was in full gear, on his BMX bike, zooming up little hills and flying over the little valleys (sorry I don't know the terms for those mountain biking bumps and pits). He also competes there. And he plays the violin and joins scouts too.

For my niece, she is in the Basketball team, and orchestra too. She learns the cello for free, and the school loans out the cello to her for her to play at home, and she gets free private cello lessons as well. She is allowed to have lessons and keep the cello right up till she graduates in high school. I think it is wonderful. Dh is absolutely supportive of such a good music programme in school.

Even my sil joins a women's basketball league team. I think it is great that mothers over there have a lot of activities to choose from. In Singapore, a lot of former team sports players who get married and kids do not have a lot of opportunities to continue playing competitive sports anymore. My sil enjoys herself a lot with all her various activites, gardening and school volunteering too.

She told me the kids' school do not have full time canteen staff. Mothers volunteer the whole week. She says it is very good cos the moms always make sure the kids choose healthier options and also teach kids to manage their money well. She told me anecdotes of how she saw one mom insist on every kid who was buying food from her saying "please" and "thank you".

And she herself also had a very young kid who had 20cents and asking her what he can buy with 20 cents. After she showed him his options and he bought his food, the next kid bought the same thing (a hotdog i think), using $1. So my sil gave him change, and the 1st kid asked my sil why she gave him money but did not return him any. So the young kid got some lessons in money-handling too. I think it's great.

After dinner, the kids played in the music room which had A/C, very impt since it was a hot and humid evening.

I saw the erhu fil made for ds last time when he was about 2 yrs old.
Took a pic of that, cos I realise I don't have any pics of it, and it does have sentimental value.

Then the kids had ice cream together, and we just sat together chatting and laughing. The girl standing at the doorway is the neighbor's kid. She used to play with ds a lot last time when we were here. When we moved to Utah and sil emigrated to Perth, she became a lot lonelier. She's always happy when we return and she'll pop by. Usually she plays with them too, but in this shot, I suddenly noticed her standing there, looking a little lonely. Maybe we forgot to invite her to eat ice cream? I have no idea...

29 Dec

Morning and afternoon were spent doing admin, and settling some outstanding official matters, then Dh and I went shopping for supplies. Supplies meaning: things we cannot find in Tianjin or things that are very expensive or have a different quality in Tianjin.

Also, gifts for people in Tianjin. I also bought a lot of Ferrero Rocher. Why? They sell it here too, but a small 200g box here in Tianjin costs 54yuan during a sale. That's more than S$10. In NTUC, it is selling for S$6.40. So I bought many boxes back. You may think I am crazy, but you should have seen my ayi's face light up when I gave it to her for her son. She smiled and laughed and thanked me and the next day said her son loved it so much.

Dh also took some for his business partners' kids.

I also bought Body Shop gift sets, kids' stationery, snacks, my baking supplies, ds birthday party supplies. Organic stuff, like organic hi-protein flour (cannot find such things here), raw sugar, Manuka honey... All the more, I must make sure my kids eat healthy at home since they live here and are exposed to polluted air and potential poisoning from other foods.

In the evening, we went to Dh's brother's flat, also in Jurong. His flat is the really big type, I don't think they build it so big anymore.

He organised a concert whereby each kid must present an item.

We had dinner then the adults sat on chairs and enjoyed the performances.

They said the kids should start from the youngest (good idea, since the youngest ones have the shortest attention span).

1. XP went up first. She's just 3 (younger than ds2). She started learning Suzuki violin since she was 2.5 yrs old. She played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the violin beautifully and her sister accompanied her on the piano. (see pic below my ds)

2. Next was ds2 and ds1. 3.5 and 5.5 yrs old. They sang the "Teddy Bear's Picnic" song. Mainly it was ds1 singing though, ds2 clammed up, and only swung the teddy bear around during the song. I think ds1 did great.

3. XY's turn. She's 7. She played "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin on the piano.
4. XQ's turn. He's 8. He played Gavotte from Cello Suite no 3 by Bach adapted for violin. Super long piece but he played from memory!
5. YL's turn. He's 8.5. Forgot what piece he played, but he also played it from memory.
6. YX is 10. She prepared a piece on the cello and had practised on the cello Dh helped her to buy in Tianjin, but she forgot to bring it over to DH's bro's flat. So she played the piano (which she is also learning in Perth). She did really well, considering she played from memory, and it was not prepared.
7. XN is the oldest. She'll be 11 this year. She played Alla Turca (Mozart).

It was very enjoyable, and I can imagine doing this again years down the road. They'll be very much better by then, it'll be so fun.

However, Dh got some "poking" later on. Fil commented that Dh was the only one among his siblings who learnt a music instrument, took lessons for years and reached quite a high standard. However, it turns out that for the next generation (ie the grandkids), Dh's bro's and sis's kids do much better musically than his. Fil asked ds1, "为什么你没有学拉小提琴?爸爸没有教你吗?” (Why didn't you learn to play the violin? Didn't Daddy teach you?)

Dh was very indignant. He insists that when the kids are ready and willing, they can learn. He also feels that an appreciation for music is more important, and it doesn't matter if in the end they don't learn any specific music instrument, but it is essential that they enjoy all kinds of music.

So we do expose the kids to a lot of music, singing, concerts and all. But lessons in a specific instrument can wait, since they haven't asked for it yet. We'll wait till they really want to learn, then we'll teach them. Otherwise, I can foresee that getting them to practise playing will be a big problem and I prefer not to go through all that.

After the concert, we had our photo-taking. Will upload some in the next post.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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