Saturday, July 18, 2009 ;
1:27 PM
My sis and her family has left. We had a great time.

Towards the end of her visit, they did explore more places. Some they went alone, some we went out together and some we all went out with H and her kids as well.

We had couple of lunches out. We had cravings for western food after their 1st week here. And in particular we were looking for fish and chips. The funny thing is, we went to Sinense Restaurant at Olympic Stadium mall (where the old Emart is) and they served steak and lamb chops but no fish and chips. I treated my sis to that meal. (The steak wasn't good. H said, what can you expect here? Her family tried the TGIF here and felt it falls way short of the normal TGIF standards.) [We had the whole 2nd level to ourselves. The server suggested that level to us after she saw our party of 9.]

Then, on the same hunt, we went to Gino Cafe (beside Din Tai Fung). They had nice pasta and pizza (the kids liked them) but again the steak was disappointing (tough and thin) AND still no fish and chips on the menu! Why do none of the Western restaurants serve fish and chips? H and her kids were with us too. We had a nice VIP room though, and the kids ran around the room playing together. VJ treated this meal.

H treated all of us to Korean food the next week. We also had a VIP room. With the high level of decibels our group of 4 adults and 5 kids generated, it's no wonder every restaurant gladly had us in their secluded VIP rooms.

We visited the playground a lot, went for walks, the kids rode their bikes or rollerbladed, and we just sat and talked. We also watched a lot of DVDs. Dh would go buy a few every couple of days and after the kids slept every night, we'd sit down and watch one. VJ said he might have movie-withdrawal symptoms after returning to Sg. After compromising to each others' tastes the 1st couple of nights (me and sis preferred romantic comedies, Dh and VJ preferred either sci-fi, CGI-heavy action flicks or thrillers), we decided to watch 2 DVDs each night. Me and my sis in one camp, Dh and VJ in the other camp.

Example, me and sis would watch Accidental Husband or Charlotte's Web while Dh and VJ watched Transformers 2 and Angels & Demons together. Stuff we did watch together were Red Cliff, The Mummy 3 (with all the Terracotta soldiers), Da Vinci Code. I think while they were here, we definitely watched more than 10 movies.

On the 8th of July, we set off for Beijing. My sis' flight was on SIA and flew from Beijing, so we decided to spend the last 4 days in Beijing. Beijing had a lot more attractions anyway.

We enjoyed the stay at Ascott a lot. Even met one of ds2's best friends in Nursery there, with his family. The boys chatted as if they never separated or had a break. The topics seemed to carry on right from when they were still in school, it was so funny and amusing to observe.

The kids used the swim pool, jacuzzi and playroom a lot this time, cos we had no agenda and spent a lot more time in the hotel. We only went out for meals and a little shopping.

For meals besides the 1st night at Ding Ding Xiang cos my sis and VJ wanted to eat famous hot pot, the rest were spent in Western restaurants. But even at big Western restaurants at places like The Place or The Village at Sanlitun, there were no fish and chips on the menus! We asked a local for a restaurant that would serve that, they couldn't recall any!

My sis consoled me that once I returned to Singapore, we could have that everyday. Cos a Jacks' Place just opened right beside our apartment block, and of course at Jurong Point across the street, there are Long John Silvers, Fish and Co, Swensens... I will not need to patronise the Din Tai Fung there for at least 6 months, I think, haha. I like the fish and chips at Manhattan Fish Market too, just need to travel a little further than Jurong Point. Dh and I are dreaming of crabs, prawns, and various lovely fish at the many seafood restaurants too.

I am digressing.

My sis and I had the chance to do some shopping at Yashow by ourselves cos the dads watched the kids at Ascott. Dh even brought the boys to meet with his Sg friends for a Japanese meal.

My sis was so happy to get shoes for both her kids (my niece and my soon-to-be-born nephew), clothes, bags, etc etc. I was happy to buy clothes and bags. The quality was better than at Dahutong, and the styles more appealing to us. Best of all, it was air-conditioned, with better air ventilation and the stalls were arranged in a neater more organised way.

So when it was time for them to go, they had really packed luggage, plus a Graco double stroller to boot. My sis decided to bring my double stroller home. Since now she is the one who would have a 2 yr old and a baby. Last time, it was me with ds1 and ds2. My nephew and niece would have around the same age gap as well.

With the tiny car boot of the local cabs, we had to rearrange the luggage and double stroller several times before we found a way to get all the people and stuff in one cab. It would be tough to have 2 cabs since it meant VJ might be alone and he can't communicate with the driver in Chinese. And with my sis carrying Eva, there would be problems if she arrived at the airport first. She wouldn't be able to get all the luggage out of the cab.

When we arrived at the Beijing South Railway station from Tianjin, an MPV cab driver saw our group of 7 and the huge double stroller and asked us to take his MPV. It cost 12yuan per km. So it's really much much more expensive than if we took 2 normal cabs, but we still took up his offer because my sis may not know how to get to Ascott if she were on her own. The MPV was very comfy indeed. And safer for everyone cos his MPV was very new and all his seat belts worked. The kids napped on the MPV on the way to Ascott. A good option for any large group with a lot of luggage in future.

After bidding my sis and her family goodbye, we returned to Tianjin.

Although the house became much quieter and I could sleep better at night (no more Eva waking at all odd hours to wail and scream), I missed their chatter, the movies (so much more fun watching together), playing Sims3 together and making up weird characters who are evil and killed other characters in the neighborhood (oops), and the kids had less distractions. VJ made it a point to play a game with the boys everyday. Be it chess, or magic cards, or silly monster games, the kids had so much fun with him. Mommy is much more boring compared to that. :-)

And both my sis and VJ liked to eat the same food as the kids, so the kids had a lot more chances to drink Milo, eat chips, chocolate, ice cream... And my kids learnt to ask them for snacks and meals instead of me, so I did have a lot more free time. haha. They did discover that their good old Aunt Grace spread the bread with so much thicker layer of Nutella than their mom!

Now, the kids have their summer fun classes at CF, so everyday we'd go with H and her boys. However, we did miss 2 days. One of which was when we were still in Beijing and the other was when it was raining, and I didn't feel like going.

They're having fun now, despite initial reluctance in having some structured schedule after a long relaxing chaotic hol time. When they're in their classes, H and I will have a good time in the Mighty Deli cafe, eating sandwiches, she sipping her iced Mocha and watching Desperate Housewives DVD (she bought the entire season 5) on my Mac.

Injuries update:
During school term, the kids get into falls and scrapes in school which the school nurse has to call me often about. I know both school nurses very well by now, not a surprise.

Now that they have vacation, it seems I have to bear the brunt of all these. And it seems to cause even more heart pain when I have to witness it myself.

So this week alone, ds2 first fell from the upper bunk of the bunk bed. That's ds1's bed at night, but they were playing some pirates games in the bedroom while I was in the living room. They were climbing up and down the bunk bed. ds2 likes to follow his elder brother. But of course his elder brother is taller, and can do more stunts without falling. ds2 was holding on to 2 toys, one in each hand, yet still attempted to climb down from the upper bunk by swinging down onto the lower bunk, instead of using the ladder. ds1 does this frequently, so ds2 must have wanted to follow suit.

Yet, he slipped cos his hands couldn't hold the wooden railing tight enough due to both hands already clutching some toys. His left side of the face bore the brunt of the fall. The sound of the fall already brought me running to the room. Imagine his whimpering cries that followed. He didn't dare to wail, because he knew this was his fault. If it was his brother who pushed him, he'd be screaming loudly.

So I put him on the bed and applied an ice pack. It didn't swell but had a really angry bruise for the whole week. It was greenish at first, now it's more blackish.

Then at CF rollerblade class, he took off his helmet during the break and didn't put it on as he started to blade again after the break. At this time, a much older boy crashed into him and he fell backwards, with the back of his head receiving the first and hardest knock.

Sigh. He cried really loudly then, according to ds1, and the teacher had to calm him down and allow him to do drawing for the rest of the class.

The weird thing is, when I appeared at the end of the class to pick them up, the teacher didn't mention the fall, nor did he apply an ice pack. So by the time the boys told me about the accident at home, there was already a bump the size of an egg!!! Any slight touch of the bump from me brought a wince from ds2, so I just let it subside by itself, and observed him closely.

Thankfully, he did not exhibit signs of concussion.

By today, the 3rd day after the incident, the bump is already down to a Chupa Chup lolly size. But ds2 still doesn't want us to touch it, says it's very painful.
Other than that, he is his normal self.

I told him never to take the helmet off at all, next time. They still have 1 more week of the classes, then it's a one week break, then the Aug classes start. In Aug, they are not doing painting and rollerblading anymore. It is table tennis and crayon art.

I guess table tennis has less risk of serious falls or injuries?? Keeping my fingers crossed and praying hard for no trips to the hospital till we get home to Singapore safely.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 ;
11:18 PM
Blogger still blocked...

Text updates again:

My sis and her family are here now!
So we've been busy busy. Mainly busy yakking, letting kids play, cooking and then playing Sims3 together. Cos she bought Sims3 for my birthday and brought it over. Hooray!

Backdated updates:

1. June 11th
Kids had Water Fun Day in school. They enjoyed themselves very much. Even though I reminded them that with the hot summer sun, they should not get too soaked and then still eat the popsicles (given out by the school), cos the last Water Fun Day, ds2 did that and shivered with cold (soaking wet plus the huge popsicle) and got sick.

But when they came home from school, I learnt that they turned a deaf ear to my good advice and went ahead. ds1's excuse was that ds2 had dumped a whole bucket of water on his head right at the start so since he was already wet, he joined everyone in the wet slides and so on.

ds2 had no excuse. Just said "Yup, I ran under the spraying hose and got all wet."

AND they ate their popsicles.

2. June 12th, Friday
Last day of school!

I asked Dh to go cos I was not feeling well. He was tasked to go to the Lost and Found Corner in Nursery, and retrieve all of ds2's missing socks (tons of them not brought home) and other stuff.

The teachers handed the kids all their very detailed student reports too, and they received glowing reports.

They also had a special visit from their school head. She visited each class and handed out farewell gifts to all students who were not returning for the new school year.

Hence, ds1 and ds2 each received a glass or crystal block with laser-engraved logo and name of the school, plus their personalised names engraved at the bottom. I wasn't sure if it was meant to be just an ornamental souvenir, cos once the kids saw that, they proclaimed that it must be a stamp and asked me for an ink pad. They then started using the expensive-looking thing to ink and stamp their names everywhere, on notebooks and papers.

They had a great time hugging all their teachers and Dh did take pics for all of them.

The class lists for next year were up in the foyer too, and well, it is a little sad not to see the kids' name on the lists, cos it meant they would not be together with their friends anymore.

But it is ok, they're still young, they can adapt quickly back to the system in Spore (hopefully).

We had lots of fun reading their portfolios. They brought home both hard copies and soft copies (called the e-portfolio). ds1's hard copy came as a huge black clear holder. So huge, I couldn't fit it into any of my shelves.
It contained a lot of precious art and craft pieces and his quirky works of writing and booklets and other projects. The teachers took lots of pics too, and it went in all over the folder's various UOI sections too.

Both kids' e-portfolios were a DVD with their video files/ speech and music files. And a powerpoint slideshow of what they had done over the past year. It is so precious to see them having so much fun with their friends, and to see how much progress they had made over the 10 months. I enjoyed seeing ds1 dance in PE, and ds2 reading a book with his teacher on the big red comfy rocking chair. Tons of other too precious snippets.

3. The next week passed by in a blur. Somehow when the kids are at home 24/7, I hardly get the time to sit down, check email or blog. ds1 had his home drum lessons and art lessons.
But by now, both are terminated. For art, his teacher had to go to Beijing for an attachment. For drum, ds1 decided he was not interested anymore.

If you ask me how I spent the days with them, I can't recall too. I only know I manage to get all the meals out, they eat, we clean up, they paint, they draw, write, fight, wrestle, jump on the couch, then throw toys around while they play... Then we clean up again, and then read some books, and have some shouting matches, then it's time to shower and sleep at night.

Somedays we really spent the whole day at home. That was not too great. They have too much energy.

Other days, we have to get some things done, like go to Emart and the wet market. And those days we have lunch with H outside. Those days passed more quickly. Weekends were good too, cos Dh would be at home and the kids have another adult to be distracted with.

4. 22nd June, Mon
My sis and her family arrived in Beijing.
She's 6 mth pregnant, almost 7th month, and decided she wouldn't take Xiamen airlines like we normally do and land in Tianjin. Even though it is more convenient, she said she remembered her SIA stewardess friend's training courses involved how to deliver babies in an emergency on board the plane, and she felt it was safer flying Singapore Airlines.
haha. It's funny.

But anyway, SIA was having a promotion, so she took that offer up.

They then decided to stay 3 days at Hilton Wangfujing before coming over to Tianjin.

However, Dh made the trip to Beijing to collect fried fishballs and xiancai and other Spore foodstuff from my sis. And yes, even some tidbits like dried guava, Campbell soups, pasta sauces...

My mom knew I missed the fishballs a lot, and so fried some in the morning and had my sis bring over for me. But it had to be consumed within a day, preferably. So all these dear people made my Mon night's dinner very enjoyable. Our family of 4 missed the fishballs so much, we downed all 20 at once. The kids forgot how much they loved them too.

The funniest thing was, the China security police within the airport had dogs sniffing all the luggage as they came out of the baggage claim and my sis said the dogs sniffed at that piece of luggage with the fishballs.

So that bag got checked by the security personnel and they took out the bags of fishballs. They asked my sis what they were, she said "yuyuan" and they said, "oh! yuwan!", then they looked at her in disbelief and said that you could buy fishballs in China too.

My sis didn't want to say the fishballs tasted different and so she just smiled sheepishly. Thankfully, they were very nice and let the fishballs through. Possibly cos she had my little niece. Fortunately for my mom's (and sis') gargantuan effort, and fortunately for our craving, it was allowed through. Phew.

5. 24th June
My sis finally arrived in my house. She's been in the house till now. They haven't really visited anything in Tianjin yet, and we're really spending a lot of quality time bumming around together, haha.

Others may think it is a waste of air ticket money but actually, family time is family time. You can choose to spend it sightseeing together, or you could choose to spend it at home.

The kids (cousins) have been having a lot of fun together, and they've learnt through crying and laughing over various matters, how to play together despite a wide age range.

ds1 learnt to put his various Lego creations high up, after they got destroyed unwittingly by his cousin. And both of them kept their card games away too, because all Eva liked to do was fling the cards around the whole room. It was just plain funny to me.

Then, ds1 learnt to be more alert after Eva wacked him with a maraca the first day, and a recorded the 2nd. Both times, it hurt him so much (it was squarely, and fully on his head) that he cried. Now he is more careful to be further away from her when she walks around wielding a hard object.

Eva, learnt to cry in protest when the boys wanted to play with her or run with her while holding her hand. Cos they did that once, and she fell over them (cos of course her running speed is not the same), tripped and knocked her lips and teeth on the ground. That caused her to have a bleed on the lips and a scream for a while.

Other than that, they have lots and lots of fun. And the first thing the boys want to greet in the morning when they wake up is Eva. When we go out for meals, they clamour to sit beside her. They feed her their banana, Goldfish snacks, and read her books.

Life is pretty good right now, and all spent at home too. Hmmm...

6. Today.
ds1 had a treat. H had tickets and she brought ds1 out with her sons to the cinema to catch Transformers 2. She treated them to popcorn and then a meal at McD's after that. So ds1 was bubbling with excitement.

ds2 did shed a few tears when he learnt ds1 was leaving home in the morning without him, but we kept him fully occupied and the tears didn't last very long. He was very interested in hearing the Transformers story when ds1 was back, and he was really happy to play transformers-related games the rest of the day with ds1.

They are learning to lead separate lives from now, I guess. We haven't had the resources to spend regular 1-on-1 days or outings with them yet, in their entire duration of their lives. They eat together, sleep together, do almost everything together.

Now they are learning to be separate individuals.

7. Next week, we will head to Beijing for a few days. To spend time together with sis' family for the last few days then they fly home from there.

It will be fun!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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