Tuesday, November 24, 2009 ;
5:47 PM
It's been about a month since the renovation works started. This is update no. 4. I did weekly updates, so it's been 4 weeks.

The master bedroom bathroom. Tiles and the grooves for the glass partition are done.

Common bathroom tiles and grooves. Before the piping was concealed.

After the piping was concealed. Much better looking, but of course, the bathroom would be smaller. However, it need not look much smaller. The tiles we chose were long and larger than the previous ones, and the colour scheme will make the bathroom look bigger than it is.

And they patched up the wall to the study room from the living room. In anticipation of the glass to be fitted in.

Next week, the 5th week will move faster since fixtures will come in and the kitchen cabinetry will be in. Hopefully we can get the apt back in the 6th week! Yay!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

5:39 PM
12 Nov

We went for a playdate at Jess' house in the afternoon. It was great catching up again. My boys didn't immediately warm up and played between the 2 of them initially, while Jess' 2 boys and another girl played together.

After eating some yummy snacks (crepe made by Jess, some Lana carrot cake, muffins by Juzer), they started playing together a bit.

The boys remembered Juzer's trampoline, funnily enough, from a year ago. The last time we had a playdate was a year ago, and they must have had lots of fun with the trampoline, to have such a deep impression of it.

I enjoyed chatting and catching up with Jess and a new friend. Jess knew her cos her dd was Juzer's classmate. The kids were all so adorable. They grow up so fast. When we meet about once a year, we can see the difference indeed.

13 Nov

Swimmy, Frederick and Inch by Inch are stories beautifully told and illustrated by Leo Lionni. He's a good friend and contemporary as Eric Carle and their works are influenced by each other, or rather, Eric Carle says he was inspired by Leo.

Anyway, Act 3 brought in this play. I saw the advert on Act3's website and thought it was very interesting cos the 3 different stories used different puppetry styles, and I wanted to expose the kids to various forms.

So I got tickets for 4 of us for the 10am session on that day. Dh and the boys before the play.

16 Nov

Lunch at Ikea with my boys and Mag.

It was wonderful meeting up with M again. Just the 2 of us. Great for chatting. The boys were, of course, in the playroom.

Then we all walked around Ikea a bit. I always buy something so I can have free parking. So that day I bought the lint remover refills and a roll of gift wrap. So lame huh, everytime. I think I would start buying more substantial things again only when the apt is ready, and I can start thinking about cutlery and dishes for entertaining etc.

We're pretty sure we want to open up our house regularly to friends. Nothing fancy of course, just regular gatherings, let the kids play, the adults can have games nights... Potlucks, whatever.

17 Nov

Notice this week is fully packed. My in laws took a tour to China and having the liberty to go out as I wish and plan the whole day myself without needing to return for meals, I naturally arranged to meet up with as many friends as possible.

So off to Punggol we went. Usually I don't get to visit my dear friends who live too "far" from the western part of Singapore. Of course, in the USA or in China, this distance is nothing. How can anywhere in Singapore be far from each other....

But anyway, we spent almost the whole day there. We went for a lovely homecooked lunch prepared by Angeling. Then the kids played and played while we chatted and chatted.

Then we made the kids nap, and we prepared food for a picnic.

When the kids woke from their nap, we loaded the car and headed for Punggol beach for our picnic dinner. The trip didn't last too long because a drizzle of rain started, but at least the kids managed to play with sand and got a dip in the sea.

Both boys are rather wild at the beach. They would've swam in the sea if they could, I think. But I wasn't prepared for that because the water at Punggol point isn't really that clean, I think.... And I didn't bring extra clothes for them. We'd just wanted to let them play with sand, pick seashells, and talk.

The kids playing. Usually it is ds1 and dd1 of Angeling's who play together. A's dd2 and my ds2 play by themselves. It's the age difference, I think. A's dd2 is in the foreground with her own sand creation.

And this is ds2's. He was very proud of the "gigantic" hole he dug. He really was pleased to have me take a pic of his wonderful effort. It's so funny to see him mighty pleased with his hole and the mountain of sand.

The kids then had swimming on Wed and Fri, and then the Camden trip and movie treat on Thurs. On Sat, there was the P1 Orientation.

23-26 Nov

It would be a hectic week too. Will elaborate in another post on the Act 3 drama workshop.

But on 23rd, Mon night, we had a lovely dinner with Philip and YY. It was a farewell treat from us to Philip. But after the dinner at Jack's Place, we adjourned to Bakerzin (Jurong Point's) for dessert as well and he paid for our desserts.

Everyone had steak at JP, but for desserts, we had a wide spread. I had the profiteroles with the kids. Dh had a very rich choc cake. P Van Winkle had his creme brulee and YY had apple pie.

It was the conversation and discussion that was very engaging and entertaining. We had laughs, we had very serious discussion on church stuff and so on. The kids kept trying to ask him riddles and tell him jokes.

We would be sad to see PVW leave. But thankfully he will return in a year's time for the Bible lectureship in Dec 2010.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

5:29 PM
19 Nov
Appt at Camden Medical came again.

This time I brought both boys there alone because no one was free to look after them. My mom was with my sis and her newborn. My mil is on tour in China. Dh had to teach violin at the Boys' Home (a project with MCYS).

Both boys enjoyed looking at the ultrasound scan though. And when they couldn't tell that it was dd's side profile of her face (can't blame them, they thought it would look like a video clip or a full colour photograph), Dr Lai was kind enough to switch to 3D mode to show them. Both were very impressed that they can see her. They didn't comment that she looked like an alien, so that's good enough.

There was quite a long wait that morning. Fortunately Philip gave me a Dr Seuss book the prev night at church and I happened to still have it in my bag. (no wonder my bag is always so heavy, and i wonder why... it's cos i never review the contents. it still has tons of things from long ago)

We read that, and I weighed them on the electronic weighing scale and did all kinds of things before I was finally glad to be seen.

After that, we met Dh for lunch since Camden is in Orchard vicinity. Then Dh went back to work and I decided to let the boys watch Fantastic Mr Fox at GV Grand (Great World City).

After the movie, and loads of popcorn later, I decided to walk around GWC, especially since there were a couple of very interesting home furnishing lifestyle concept stores there. So I left both boys outside each store each time, to play their make-belief superhero games, while I browsed the stores, like Molecule, Laura Ashley, iwannagohome etc. Cos these shops tend to display all kinds of expensive or fragile knick knacks all over the place; and it's so much more fun for me to browse the store alone than have to be alert and see if the boys are in danger of knocking anything off.

Got some good home decor ideas from the stores. Hope I can replicate some ideas in a more economical way. :-)

My sis' house is nearby and my mom was still there, so we all popped by for a visit and ended up staying for dinner. Ordered spizza delivery. I like their portobello mushroom/ feta cheese salad (only to be reminded by sis that pregnant women should not eat feta cheese, oops). And their artichoke pizza (called Donna or something) was very yummy too. The kids don't care for such stuff. They only ate the garlic bread and penne carbonara.

But everyone was happy.

My sis said Eva doesn't keep still enough for her to try the piggyback function of her German Didymos wrap, so she asked ds2 to be her model. She's carrying this and other pouches and wraps and baby slings on her website (www.buddingbubs.com). He was very happy to be used.

My sis will give me one for my baby shower, and I think I need to learn how to do the wrap first. Had always used the MIM shoulder sling. This takes some practice.

21 Nov
Primary School Orientation!

It was an undescribable feeling to have ds1 go for the Orientation. Grade 1 or Primary 1 seems like such a milestone. I think I will be rather overwhelmed to see ds1 in his school uniform, grown-up school bag, going up the school bus to go to school on Jan 4 2010 (1st day of school).
He still seems so small to me. I can't believe he will be in Pri 1 soon.

The kids got into their classes in the school hall while parents gathered for a talk by the principal and other teachers. Kids were led to their classrooms by their form teachers (aka homeroom teachers) for some activities (ds1 said they took turns to introduce themselves, talk about their favourite food, and the teacher asked them to write the alphabet on the board!).

I was quite amused by that. The teacher was probably checking to see if everyone knew their ABCs and was ready for school. Yet in other schools' Orientation, I heard from friends that they had diagnostic tests because the school practised banding for English and Math. So I had thought ds1 might be sitting for some tests too. In the end, they wrote some ABCs.

Anyway, the parent talks were very informative. I got to hear how the school places an emphasis on holistic development. Indeed, the kids will have enrichment activities in the areas of sports and the arts integrated into their curriculum time. These are free, so every Tues and Thurs, they get dismissed later at 3pm (rest of the days at 1.30pm). They start at 8am. It's a single session school, and each P1 kid will have a P4 buddy.

There will be no tests and exams (paper and pen type) in P1. I said a quiet hooray in my heart. Cos I heard from friends and my niece that other schools still have CAs and SAs (term exams), e.g. Rulang, ACS... They will however have to compile an ongoing portfolio and do projects and of course, they still have spelling bees and Chinese tingxie. The tingxie alone would keep ds1 very busy, I am sure.

After the talk, parents filled in some registration forms, and then we were free to buy the school uniforms, sign up for school bus routes, and buy the books for next year. We did all of those, then met up with the Chess Club teacher. He asked if he can play a round of chess with ds1. We said ok, but he's not dismissed from his class yet. He said it was ok, they're just doing activities to take up the kids' time while the parents are busy getting paperwork done.

So he went to ds1's class and spoke to his tr and got him out. They played a round of chess near the staff room while I met up with another teacher-friend of mine.

Later the chess teacher told us his strengths and weaknesses and asked us to help work with him on those areas at home, reason being, he wants to train ds1 for the U9 chess competition eventually. Usually the P1s don't join the competitive chess club, so he hopes we can help and support him at home.

I think the chess teacher is very nice and helpful. We appreciate him wanting to help us develop ds1's interests.

You might ask, where is ds2 while Dh, I and ds1 were at his new primary school?
My mom babysat for us. Reason being, he kept wanting to go to "grade 1" like ds1 and he would insist following ds1 to class if we brought him.

When we went to meet him after the session, my mom said he was very upset and kept saying he wants to abandon us and leave us 3 forever. That kind of emotional extreme things he was wont to say when he gets very angry. But he was easily pacified after that when I said he will get to go to school, to a new big K1 class too.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Saturday, November 14, 2009 ;
12:25 AM
My sis did another full month celebration in church on Sunday, and then on Tues (actual 10 Nov), she gave out red eggs and cakes again.

So anyway, we got to see Elias a couple more times. ds1 and ds2 both carried him on their laps.

On Tuesday (10 Nov), the kids and I visited the zoo again. The weather was good till the afternoon when it rained. But the kids really wanted to feed the Giant rabbits, the guinea pigs and goats at the Kidzworld section (1.30pm), and then they wanted to feed the Hamadryas Baboons (2.30pm). So we braved the rain till they were done with both feedings.

The rabbit and guinea pig were supposed to be petted, but due to the sheer numbers of kids who were there (not sure why so many were there on a weekday morning when it is not the school hols yet), the rabbits and g.p.s stayed in their coops and only the taller kids manage to be able to reach and touch the animals.

The zookeeper had a bag of carrots and french beans to feed the animals, and he was a young obliging chap. I don't know what were the instructions given to him, but each time a child asked to have a piece of veggie to feed the animal, he looked as if he couldn't really give them more than one, but then when a child asks for more repeatedly, he still gave out to them with a pained look on his face.

Taking in the shouts and cries of many kids asking for veggies, and fighting for space to feed a few limited animals that happen to be near the edge of the coop in contact with the kids (the rest were not interested, sleeping or far away from the edge) I asked both boys to leave after feeding one stick to the rabbit and one stick to the g.p. each. Both boys asked for their veggies themselves, taking their cue from the other kids. They too, spoke up very loudly, asking for a french bean or carrot.

ds2 got his french bean taken away by an over-enthusiastic girl beside him who wanted to feed the rabbit many times (she was screaming away at the zookeeper to give her more, more, more!). I was afar, observing ds2, to see if he might hit back (then I need to stop him), because he and his brother tend to retaliate with each other that way.

He seems to know with others, he cannot be as rough as with his brother. He did stand up for himself though, in a way I felt was alright. He spoke in a loud voice, "Hey! That's mine!" and took it back from her. She was taken aback but did not pursue the matter. She turned towards the zookeeper and starting shouting for more again. I was glad ds2 managed to settle it himself in a non-crying, non-violent manner.

This is a pic of the lone rabbit who would let the kids feed him. There was a whole crowd of kids behind, clamouring for more veggies.

There were so many baboons. This is really an interesting arena because you can observe many different behaviours at the same time. Some were grooming, some were mating, some feeding, fighting, playing, nursing, feeding...

See the tiny infant nursing from the mom? We learnt that infants are born with black hair then the hair slowly changes colour when it matures into an adult.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Friday, November 13, 2009 ;
11:02 PM
ds1 still says "I love you, mom" once in a while. He may still hug me or give me a kiss when he wakes up in the morning and before he sleeps at night. But it's getting less in frequency now, and not so spontaneous.

ds2, being younger, is still very much spontaneous, and huggy. He has to look for me and hug me and kiss me and touch my nose (his quirk) whenever he wakes up, from a nap or in the morning. And he can't fall asleep very well at night if he doesn't have me to snuggle up to.

He will also profess his utmost admiration and undying love for me several times a day, sometimes at very unexpected moments too.

Well, he is still in his very uncontrolled-emotions state, I think. Because he will likewise shout angrily if I discipline him in an abrupt manner (eg turn off the TV when he wants to watch or is watching halfway). He usually shouts stuff like he hates living here and wants to fly to Tianjin alone, without me, without his dad, without his brother. Stuff like that, and stuff like buying his own house, driving his own car and basically not having us in the picture. Or that he is 10 years old now or an adult now and he doesn't need to listen to me anymore. blah blah blah.

Anyway, I caught him in a great mood, and he was drawing and writing all over post-it notes that he was given at the Asian Civilisations Museum. And he stuck it all over the study room at my in laws' place. It was so sweet.

One of the notes had heart shapes and "I love you, mummy". Small doodles of me and him doing something, I can't tell what it is. Either holding hands or playing some game.

There are all his "love notes".

He didn't forget his brother too. They do have a very fluctuating love-hate relationship. :-)

And he didn't forget himself. He wrote "i love me to" but he meant "too" of course.

He hadn't gotten down to writing any for his dad then. I hope he didn't forget because daddy is seldom at home nowadays. I need to remind them more often that daddy is busy working so they have food to eat. Otherwise they forget to "love" their daddy.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Monday, November 9, 2009 ;
8:16 AM
6 Nov
Fri 7.30pm

Elias' full month celebration

Brought satay and durian to my sis' house that day. She asked me to get satay cos the satay from the Bt Timah FC near Pei Hwa is nice. We bought durian only because we happened to see a stall there and felt like having some ourselves.

Good thing we bought the durian cos everyone seemed to like it. My mom did, and we saw VJ's mom take durian first, even before she ate any other food. All of VJ's side ate durian too.

My sis said she catered food. I was looking forward to a big spread. You know the word "cater" conjures up a lot of food in my mind. Aiyah, her idea of cater means order pizza delivery.

But like she said, the fellowship is more impt than the food. We did have fun. (Although I like fun and good food even more when combined, hee hee).

Here's the "birthday boy". ds2 is warming up to him, it seems! He kissed Elias many times that day.

ds1's turn. Elias has a tuft of hair standing up on his head. It was the same with Eva 2 yrs ago. They share this in common for sure! Apart from that, I think Elias doesn't look much like Eva.

Oh ya, do you know why the durian was so yummy? We found this inside!
Ewww, yes disgusting.... But if you find a worm inside, it's bound to be good. We checked the rest of the seeds in that fruit and they were all good. We made both boys try to open the durian also (must train them). They did think it was fun (the opening of durian) but they still don't like to eat it.

Both sets of grandparents with the family.

Then the whole group. I put my cam on timer mode. Aiyah, I always end up sitting nearest the cam. Not a good idea. See, I end up looking so much bigger than everyone else, even my dad.

That aside, did you notice how VJ and his brothers all married very beautiful wives? His 2 sister-in-laws both looks like Bollywood actresses, very very pretty features and then both his nieces are also going to be beauties when they grow up too.

Funny how the sharp beautiful nose disappears when it comes to Eva and Elias. Fortunately they did inherit the big, double eyelided, long eye-lashed eyes from VJ. Of course VJ did well by marrying my sis too. She's also such a beauty, inside and out. (except for the food "catered" that day) hee hee

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Sunday, November 8, 2009 ;
5:12 PM
5 Nov

Mil has relatives from China in Singapore for vacation. They've been busy entertaining and bringing them around from Mon to Wed. So I volunteered to bring them to the zoo and it was set for Thurs since that was the day they had free on their itinerary (sorry Jess, for postponing our meet up!).

Guess what, that day happened to rain so much! The rain was such a heavy downpour furthermore, with lightning and thunder. Sigh. I felt bad for wasting a huge part of the day for them. We wanted to walk the Fragile Forest and catch a few shows. Too bad.

This was in the morning when the weather was still fine. They managed to see the birds (parrots, macaws), the primates (white-faced ones, brown lemurs etc near the entrance, the gibbons), the otters, Orang Utans.. Then we walked toward the Australian Outback.

It was kangaroo feeding time, and this one was more worth it cos they said $5 for a family up to 5 members. Since it was just me and kids, plus 2 of them made 5 exactly, so we were all let in to feed the kangaroos. It was a fun time for them and the kids. I just played photographer, and helped them snap as many pics as possible.

They did enjoy all these close encounters with the animals cos they said most of the zoos back there have animals in cages or enclosures.

This was when we were waiting for the Elephants at Work and Play Show. However, just as we sat down, an thunderstorm ensued and the organisers let us wait for 20min, initially saying the show would be delayed. Finally, because the rain did not stop, they said it was not safe for the mahouts and the elephants to continue the show, so it was cancelled, after we waited for about 40min!!

I felt so bad for them. We have many opportunities to return to the zoo but for them, just this half day and it was all ruined by the bad weather.

So we went to KFC for lunch since it was raining so heavily most shows and feedings were cancelled and a lot of animals that were free-ranging went into hiding.

While I was ordering the food, they sneakily brought the kids to the souvenir shop (at Kidz Rainforest gift shop) and bought them what they wanted! And they chose Bakugan toy set which cost S$25 each. That set our guests back by $50 (that's 250 yuan!!). Argh... The boys were so thrilled of course, because I never would have bought them those toys.

After lunch, it was still pouring, so we decided to leave. They felt like shopping since the weather was so bad, so I sent them to Orchard Rd. Then I brought the boys to buy some gifts for them to bring home since they had to spend so much on the boys.

They love the chocolates so much, and fortunately it is close to Xmas now, so there were a lot of prettily wrapped choc boxes to choose from. Cadbury, Lindt.... spoilt for choice. Then I bought an umbrella for them cos I noticed their umbrellas were kind of worn out. You know, those kind so popular now, shaped like a wine bottle, but when you unscrew the top, it is the handle of a slim umbrella?

By the time we got home it was 4.30pm. My in laws had finished preparing the steamboat dinner already and they ordered us to rest, while they set off to pick up our guests from Orchard Rd at 6pm.

Everyone sat down for steamboat that night. I do enjoy steamboat normally, but not so much when I'm pregnant. It was so so hot. The constant steam emitted from the steamboat caused the dining room to become like a sauna. My in laws didn't have air conditioning, and the fans did not function well. I felt so hot to the point I was getting faint, so I couldn't enjoy the food much. The rest seemed ok, so it must be because I am pregnant?

After that my in laws brought them for a night drive around Chinatown and Geylang before sending them back to their hotel in Balestier. So Dh and I washed everything up. After that, I was ready to collapse. So I did, I fell onto the bed and let Dh shower the kids, brush their teeth and get them to sleep. It's good Dh can handle them by himself.

Next time, I need to tell overseas friends not to visit Singapore in Nov or Dec. It seems to rain everyday, bad for a vacation...

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

8:02 AM
Both boys enjoy their twice weekly sessions at the pool. So when their coach is on a vacation in Msia and took a week off, I still brought them. But I realised how much work the coach has to put in when I myself bring them to the pool.

If I tried to do the same thing he does, that is. He coaches ds1 in something, makes him do it, and while ds1 is practising that, he coaches ds2. This goes on the whole 1 hour. I was totally exhausted after 15min, so I said, let's get out of the main pool (where the water is deeper and I cannot relax and just mind my own business) and go to the kiddy fun pool.

Thus we spent the rest of our time there in the smaller kiddy pools. I could just sit and spray my back and arms and shoulders with the jets of water, so relaxing, while they have a lot of fun screaming and laughing at the water slides, the water cannons and so on.

We also went to the SAFRA club one. It was my first time bringing the 2 of them alone and also the first time we even used the facilities. The pools were not more impressive than the Jurong West public pool. Although what wins would be the shower stalls and the heated water. It was lovely to have the nice warm jet sprays. Jurong West is very cold and if it happens to be a rainy cloudy day when I bring the boys, they will shiver and their little chins vibrate uncontrollably, very funny.

But they adapt quickly, and I think regular swimming is indeed good, cos after the first week of very purple lips and shivering bodies after getting out of the pool, they now seem to take the changes in temperature very well. Since this is monsoon season (Nov-Feb), there are thunderstorms everyday, and sometimes it is very cloudy and windy in the mornings, no sun at all, or even raining a few times when we got out of the pool (no lightning yet). I would be cold, but somehow they can cope with it now.

This is ds1 flashing a grin with a gap in his teeth, I still find it so adorable that I have to snap pics when I see him.

They haven't completed a month of swim lessons yet, but they're already very proud of themselves. They haven't learnt a proper stroke yet but if you ask them, they'll say "I can swim already!". *roll eyes*

But yes, they do learn much faster if it is done 2x a week. They don't forget what they've been taught and I think at the start, having personalised coaching is beneficial. They love their coach to bits and they look forward to every single lesson. There seems to be no reluctance whatsoever on their part, when the coach asks them to try new things.

ds2 is more timid and when the coach asked them to hold their swim boards, stand at the edge of the pool, and jump right into the pool, he would hesitate. But they trust the coach so much that they'd do it. ds1 just jumps, he doesn't hesitate. I wondered if ds2 would, but yes, he did in the end.

Later both will tell me what stories their coach tells them. I like it that he talks to them at their level and always makes everything he teaches them very interesting. He also is very encouraging and motivating, so they will listen to him.

That's the 2 of them. It was going to rain them, so the sky was grey. Otherwise it would be a clearer picture.

So far, the coach has used Transformers, Boat needing fuel, and various other stories to make them do what he wants. He told me ds1 should be able to swim by Dec (less than 2 mth's time??). We shall see. ds2 is still in the "play play" stage but at least he loves the water and enjoys holding his breath and going underwater.

In the changing room, the 2 of them do try my patience. I have to get them to shower and clean up via proxy instructions cos I am fully clothed, and do not get into the shower stall with them. They like to fool around or take their time, and most times they don't follow my instructions very well. So this is my least favourite part of the swim sessions.

Eg. I have to keep shouting "Rinse off the shampoo! There's still shampoo on your hair!"
"no! Not the back of your head! The front part!"
"Argh! No, not that part, put your whole face into the water, that would get the shampoo off!!!"
"No no no!!! The shampoo suds are still there! ARRRRRGGH!!!"
"T!! Rinse for J!"
"J! Stop singing, start soaping!"
"YOu have to use your hands to spread the shower foam around your body, not just let the water wash it away!!!!"
"Ok, you are done! Come out!!!"

Shout shout shout...
I am glad it's always a weekday morning and usually there is no one else in the changing room.

Sometimes I wonder if I should go and swim also, like at the SAFRA club, but then I don't like bringing an even heavier bag (cos I also needed a change of clothes, towel and stuff) and I don't like squeezing with them into one cubicle.

Normally when they are swimming, I like to daydream and watch others around the pool and look at the lifeguards and wonder why they gossip all the time, and what are they talking abt.

Swim sessions means checking on renovation progress too.

Now this is how the kitchen looks like. It was in ruins 2 weeks ago. Progress, to me, seems slow but my ID and contractor says it is on schedule. Maybe we're just too excited.

Bathroom progress. Tiles are up. What comes next? Cabinetry?

We can't wait to move back!!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

5:24 AM
Nov 7
Asian Civilisations Museum

[They were having a Philippines Fiesta festival, and there was free admission.]

This Sat morning started with a piano trial lesson first. Dh is working in a friend's shop now right? His friend's wife teaches piano and Dh heard she's really good with motivating kids. He then asked ds1 to try a short 30min with Ms J.

ds1 flat out refused. Said he only wants to learn piano from mommy. (I wanted to kiss him then, but we needed to persuade him...) We explained, which is truthful, that with mommy, lessons are not fixed or structured because something always crops up during the week that mommy needs to attend to. And when dd comes along, mommy will be even busier. That's why until now he is still at the basic level with a limited repertoire of piano pieces.

ds1 said he didn't mind. He preferred swimming, gym, rollerblading, table tennis.

Dh was surprisingly persistent this time. Previously, he was as relaxed as me. Perhaps because he had already talked to Ms J and it's his friend, so he really wanted ds1 to try.

I am glad I kept quiet and let Dh do his talking. Cos after the 30min FOC trial, ds1 said he would like to start piano lessons. I don't know what Ms J did, cos I was with ds2 at ground level of the condominium, playing with him in the playground and observing kids at the swim pool. So good then, Dh will start bringing ds1 for piano every Sat, it seems. As long as it doesn't add to my workload, I am totally supportive. :-)

After that we had lunch at the Concorde hotel food court, and Dh started work for the day. He had 2 clients to meet. Business seems to be rolling in now, which is great news for him, but it means less family time, of course. Since he is starting out, it is important though, so I just need to learn to spend my weekends alone with the kids.

It helps that he has always been actively playing in the orchestra and keeping in contact with all his music circle friends. They've been spreading word of mouth for him. And the first few customers he's had so far were all very satisfied with his work. I do not know much about bowmaking, bow rehairing and so on, but he does bring his creations home, and I must say they're beautiful and I cannot even imagine making something so complicated from scratch.

I've got all sorts of weird parcels coming in now (they're sent to the house via FedEx or USPS usually). There's toad skin, snakewood, ivory, silver, gold etc etc. All these are apparently used in the making of a bow. It used to be very environmentally/ animal-unfriendly in the past. Olden times, only the aristocrats could learn and play music, so they always wanted the best and most exotic of bows. Hence, the different parts of the bows are all made using fine animal/ plant parts.

Anyway, so with kids in tow, I checked the Street directory in my mil's car to see which museum I can bring the kids to. I saw the ACM was near the Concorde hotel. Guess what, the street map says ACM is at Fort Canning Park, near the Philatelic Museum we visited previously.

So ok, I parked at the same carpark at Fort Canning.

We walked and walked around the area. Substation, Peranakan Museum, Philatelic Museum... Hot scorching sun. Both ds perspiring like mad and my back with aching already. Ok, no ACM. Nevermind, ask someone.

All the 3 people we asked had no idea.

Checked the street directory again. It's the 2005 edition!!!!! **#@%^*!@^#&%&^

How come it's still in use in the car??? I always assumed people had the latest edition. Furthermore, Sg is a place that changes every few months. There are new devts all the time.

Something clicked at that time. I recall going to an Arts Fest near the Spore River long ago, maybe 2008, and I think I passed by the ACM. Don't tell me?!?!?

But I was so mad, cos I tore parking coupons from 1pm till 4.30pm already. That open air carpark was the coupon type. Grrrrrr. I wasn't about to waste 15min of my time tearing coupons nor the money involved, cos it was $1 for every 30min at that carpark. Simple math will tell you, I had torn tons and tons of coupons cos my mil's car had only 50cents coupon. So for every 15min, I had to tear 1 coupon, yup, with the year, month, date, and timing. I was ready to tear all my hair out.

Nevermind, with gritted teeth, I dragged both boys with me, and walked to Funan the IT Mall. By the time we reached Funan, I was ready to collapse. Yes, you may laugh that I am so unfit. But hey it was very very hot, and hot weather makes me faint.

So we went in for some air con, for the restroom and for a cold beverage.

When I came out again, we got lost. The tall skyscrapers all around did not allow me to look ahead to see where Victoria Theatre is. That's always my landmark for knowing where the Sg river is.

I asked many people. One lady at the bus stop. 3 taxi drivers (cos they were all in their taxis in a queue, but there were no customers)... Can you believe it? Taxi drivers, and none of them knew where the ACM is. I used English and Chinese to ask, you know. I was about to use the Malay language or Hokkien dialect already. Sigh.

Then I asked security guards, and other passers-by. No one had the slightest idea where the ACM is. Did I recall reading the Straits Times that Singaporeans seldom visit the local museums? It seems true indeed.

One security guard kindly suggested I go ask the customer service desk within Funan. Ok. I went up to the 2nd level. There were 2 very friendly well-dressed lady officers there. Both were not sure where the ACM is. But fortunately they were very helpful. They searched for a Singapore Map, and scoured the map for ACM, found it, circled it and passed the map to me. Ok, with a map, no problem.


sigh... It's still so far away. So we walked past the padang, City Hall, Victoria Concert Hall... Finally... ahhhh. I was never so glad for air conditioning in my life. Even the kids slumped down on the bench in the ACM foyer and we just sat there stupidly for 10min, recovering from the extreme humidity and heat.

Ok, fortunately from this part onwards, it was fun.

They had many activities going on. First, we headed for the River room where all the kids events are held. There were story telling sessions, craft, martial arts, and goodies.

ds1 went for the Filipino snacks. He munched and munched and I realised I hadn't snapped many photos of his toothless grin yet, so here's one.

He liked this sweet snack a lot. Can't remember the Filipino name but it's fav amongst Filipino kids. They ran out of 7D mangoes, else I love that the most. I saw empty wrappers though, so I knew they were giving those out earlier.

There was a paper craft where you can make Jeepneys and Filipino national costume cut outs. Both boys chose the Jeepney craft. Yup, but of course, vehicles are more interesting to them than clothes.

Then there was this station with 4 different stencils of Filipino symbols/ treasures. ds2 chose one and starting paint-brushing. ds1 didn't want to do this.

The boys with their Jeepneys done. The wheels can turn!

Then we viewed all the exhibits in all the galleries. Some were general Asian ones. Like this is the section on Buddhism in Thailand. ds1 tried to do the Buddha action. They were enthralled by the many hands.

There were many interesting exhibits, especially in the Philippines section. Many private and rare collections were shown but they didn't allow any photography. It'd be difficult to take good pics too, since most stuff was enclosed in glass and the lighting was not bright.

This is a sampan. I think this is Indonesian or Malaysian?? I confess I didn't read the description for many exhibits cos the kids were rushing from one to the other.

Photo op area. Actually kids and adults can also dress up in traditional costumes from the Philippines, complete with props like beautiful fans and so on. But both boys were very repulsed by the idea, even though I was trying hard to persuade them to wear the costumes. Sigh.

They were very interested in the lethal weapons used by Filipino martial arts puglists though.

There was also necklace making, which was so exquisite and beautiful. ds2 was attracted by the beautiful shiny beads and did agree to make one. But we queued for a while and then decided to move on. The queue moved too slowly cos each necklace took a long time to make and only 4 can make at one sitting.

Every activity was free, by the way. The kids also received 4 magnets with Filipino symbols on it, and a goodie bag filled with traditional Filipino games, souvenir stationery, and snacks. We also received free ice cream each. We could choose between chendol, jackfruit, mango, yam and strawberry flavours. No prizes for guessing which the kids chose. With so many exciting and exotic flavours, they chose the most predictable and usual one.

There were also worksheets for the kids to fill up but the boys didn't do that. I intend to make them do it sometime this week though. It's all about the Filipino culture.

Then there were interesting Spanish bolero dances, Tinikling bamboo dances, songs and other performances.

We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. It was worth the killing walk there and then the long walk back again. It was still so hot when we left at 4.25pm. And you know kids??

It must be the ice cream. Cos either boy always love to torture me. They love to visit the toilet to do the big business at the most inconvenient times. See, I was rushing back to meet the timing of my carpark coupon. Then ds2 squatted down halfway during our walk and needed the loo. So we had to go into Funan Mall again, to use the toilet. I don't like bringing both boys to the ladies and I don't like squeezing into one tiny cubicle with either boy and waiting with them while they finish their business. I wish they'd do all these at home but they love to do it outside.

Finally we got back to the car, and headed off to pick Dh up.
What a day, once again.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 ;
11:32 PM
I mentioned before we've been making regular trips to the zoo.

The Sg zoo is wonderful. There are not many naturally beautiful places in Sg I can be proud of. Not that the zoo is a natural wonder. It's just very very well-organised, very child-friendly, and very animal-friendly.

The animals always look healthy and happy to me, and the breeding programmes are very successful. The grounds are clean and well-maintained and I love the many educational aspects. Not only the kids get to see, touch, feed, observe animals in their natural habitats, they also learn about the flora in those habitats.

Besides that, they also get to see many native plants of Sg. Trees, shrubs are not forgotten at the zoo, there are so many of them, and many have signs and educational facts written beside the plants.

Then of course, there is the new Kidz Rainforest area, where there are petting animal areas, a huge water play section, animal carousel and treehouse and so on. However, I realised it sucks up a lot of time once we enter that area, because which child can resist the water slides and guns and pools? And once in the water play area, it would take at least an hour before it is not cruel to ask them to get out.

So I think we've been to the zoo 3x already and we only went to the play area once. The other 2x, I told them we want to catch some animal feeding in action and there were some shows too, and they were willing to forego that (mainly cos they already go to the swimming pool 2x a week, I guess).

Also, it gets really hot once it's 12pm. Yet the kids often want to stay till 3pm at least (we reach the zoo typically at 9.30am). It gets exhausting for me towards the end because the heat and humidity is already bad enough, and then all the walking is so tiring with a 6.5mth pregnant belly to lug around.

Hence, after the 1st visit, I told them we can visit the zoo up to 2x a week, no problem, please let's just stick to one area per visit. They like to pore over the zoo map and pick out animals to see at random, so that first visit we were really walking/ taking the tram from one end to the other end of the zoo the whole time!

(We have the membership card so tram rides are free during weekdays but I realised the tram stops are too few and still involve a fair bit of walking , especially to view the animals they are interested in.)

That's the Lion habitat. We saw the Lion and his harem of 3 lionesses. ds2 is into reading all the signs, which is good. They take turns to carry a backpack which contains their swim clothes, towel, water, Ribena drink, apples (I cut them up into slices at home), notebooks and other snacks. It's actually really heavy so I am glad they carry it themselves.

They were so amused and laughed hysterically when they caught this cheetah in action - producing poop. Back home, it was something they brought up over and over again, to anyone who would listen. And they'd be falling over each other with laughter again.

There is one thing I like to indulge in. Different people go for different experiences. Some love the photo opportunities, to come up close with the snakes or the orang utans. Some like the rides, like the pony/ elephant rides. I like the feeding.

Before we went to Utah, when there was the old kids zoo area, we used to bring vegetables like carrots/ lettuce, fruits like bananas, to feed the goats/ rabbits/ horses in the kids zoo area. So on our first visit to the zoo this time, we brought carrots and celery sticks. We usually ask for permission from the zookeeper before feeding anyway, so we did the same at the Kidz Rainforest Area.

This time, they said we can't feed with our own stuff. We can, however, BUY from them to feed the animals. Guess what, it cost me $5 for 2 bananas, 1 apple and 1 carrot to feed the elephant. The boys shared those fruits of course, but it's like.... ouch!! I can spend much less than that amount and get better quality fruits than what was offered to the elephant, cos from what I saw, the bananas were kind of blackish and bruised already. Humph!

That said, I still feel that feeding animals is a terrific experience - to learn what the animals eat, how they eat, and to come up close and personal with the animals. When kids actually do that, they remember the animals' diet and behaviour as well as other biological traits much better than if they just observed or read the signs.

So that's why I termed it an "indulgence" because I feel it is way too expensive, but I still told the kids they could choose ONE animal to feed per visit to the zoo. And they have to share the food in that one feeding session.

Therefore, we have fed the elephants, then the Giant tortoise and then the manatees.

Below shows the kids feeding the Giant Tortoises with apples. They were taught by the keepers not to let the tortoise step on their feet, cos then their feet would be flattened totally (more like crushed into pieces?), and to feed using the plant stems instead of their fingers, else their fingers would get chomped off as well. It was funny.

I noticed with each feeding session, the zookeepers always tried to make it very educational for the kids as well, and they allowed touching, photo ops, all in one. They'll teach the kids how to care for the animals and how to interact with them gently. The one in red is ds1, the one at the bottom right side of the pic is ds2 (in orange tee).

For other animals, we tried to catch as many feeding sessions as possible, just to watch and observe their behaviour and diet patterns. This is the Orang utan feeding session. They eat guava, dragon fruit and drink some kind of juice from the coconut shell. They seem to have higher quality/ more expensive diet than the tortoise, manatee or elephant!

Of course, the carnivores are more expensive to feed. We saw the jaguar feeding on chunks of meat, which the keeper said would be varied from chicken, beef, veal to other kinds I forgot.

The manatee feeding session. I was so surprised to see them being fed potatoes and carrots. That doesn't seem like something that grew underwater that manatees usually eat! So all I explained to the kids (my own opinion/ logic) is that manatees like veggies, but the veggies they normally eat are hard to obtain or more expensive so the zoo feeds them the same veggies we eat, which are also very nutritious. And manatees are mammals too, so errm, they share a lot in common with us!

We caught the otter feeding session twice. It's just so funny to see them grabbing the fish with their paws and munching and tearing away at the fish. They eat so quickly... they have to, I guess, which such a large group living together, they have to eat quickly to eat more, and survive better!

It's been fun, all these trips. I wonder if I can keep it up when I get even bigger. Cos the boys run and hop and skip all the time in the zoo, I already find it hard to catch up with them. Dh never has the time to go with us, so it's always just me and the boys. I hope I can have the energy to continue until end of the year, at least. Cos when baby comes, they can only wait for their daddy to be free to bring them. At least, till baby is older and doesn't need to poop and feed all the time.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 ;
2:08 PM
This morning, bright and early, ds1 woke up and he remembered his tooth. He searched under his pillow and found a S$2 note. He was so excited.

So I smiled and exclaimed, "Ooh, the tooth fairy left something for you, huh?"

To me, he happily beamed and said, "Yes, I love the tooth fairy!"

He rushed to the toilet where his brother was and dashed in to show ds2 the $2.

He shouted, "Look! I got $2 from mommy because my tooth fell out!"

I was surprised.

Kids.... Actually they may know all along that Santa, Tooth fairy, Easter bunny, whatever, that these are all not real. But for the fun of it, THEY play along with us. It's not the other way around now, is it? Us making it fun for them?

ds1 never told me he thought I was the tooth fairy. He never said "nah, tooth fairies are not real". I read him those stories and showed them those video clips on YouTube, and they're all magical and full of fairy-tale fun. But somehow they assume and know in real life, the parents play the part of all these "nice magical characters".

It's good though. If he continues to play along, I can still have my own fun when it comes to no. 2 and no.3's turn.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

12:33 AM
2 Nov

ds1 lost his 3rd tooth. The first upper incisor.

I just wanted to make a record, and an observation.

Isn't it funny how sometimes a child could have done something many times before and not feel anything, but then suddenly be apprehensive?

ds1 has had both his lower incisors replaced with the permanent teeth already. I had also blogged about them. I pulled one off, and Dh pulled the other.

This time, I asked if he would like to pull it off himself. Then maybe the 4th incisor, ds2 can have the honour.

Funnily, this time, he said he wants to wait for it to drop off itself. Fine, it's like really wobbly already. But the permanent tooth is not sticking out yet and I can feel it right behind/ above the milk tooth. So we'll wait. I think we waited for 2 weeks?

For the past few days, ds1 had already kept saying he thought it would drop off the very minute, cos it was absolutely very wobbly and you could swing the whole tooth back and forth by more than 2 cm/ maybe an inch.

Today, when brushing his teeth for him (because he was afraid the tooth would fall off if he brushed it too hard), I felt that it could just come off with a simple tug, really. So I offered again, to just get it off for him. Otherwise, he was wondering all day everyday if it would drop off, if he would swallow it during his meals, or when he was asleep.... He had a lot of worries alright.

He said yes, but when I got some dental floss (didn't have thread in sight, cos we moved to in laws with very few belongings, and I didn't want to get out of my room to bother mil about thread at 9pm, and then get in laws both excited over his tooth), he changed his mind.

After 5 min, he said he couldn't sleep. He was worried it would come off during the night and then he would choke on it. And worse, the tooth fairy can't get it. (he wasn't that concerned about the risk of dying from being choked up)

So he decided to have it pulled off. So I tied the dental floss around his tooth. Took a long time cos floss is so smooth and slippery. When it was tugging time, he chickened out again. Said he was afraid it would be very painful. I said, well, I pulled your tooth out the other time, you said it wasn't painful, and it was done so quickly and easily.

Still, he was apprehensive. Then he lay down to try to sleep again.

After 10min, he said he really decided to do it. Could I please use thread instead, like last time, and can he be doing something else so he won't know I was pulling it? No problem... (but he could sense I was getting impatient).

Ok, so there wasn't any thread. I saw the old blanket on the bed. You know those type the older generation loves? Those thin blankets with fraying edges? Ok, lots of loose sewing thread there. I pulled out a suitable length, and used my teeth to cut it. Washed under the tap. Dried with tissue. Tied the thread around his tooth.

I suggested he read a book. He protested initially - "What if there was so much blood that it dripped all over the book?" . I had to assure him, most certainly there won't be that much blood. And I got tissue, just in case.
He was almost at the end of Fantastic Mr Fox (Roald Dahl) currently, so he continued where he left off. I gave him about 2-3 min to get into the story again. Then I put my hands on the thread. He stiffened. I said no, I am not pulling it now, just putting my fingers there.

With my fingers still on the thread, I asked him to continue reading. I sacrificed my arm muscle strength and stamina by holding that position for another minute while he got back into his story. Just when he was engrossed with the mean Boggis, Bunce and Bean farmer characters, I said a little prayer (that it would be successful with just one pull, else he'll definitely chicken out again, and that there won't be any pain or blood, cos then it'd be uphill tasks for all the other teeth in future), and pulled hard with a sudden jerk.

Ahhh, the tooth came off so easily! Even I was surprised, cos this one was even easier than the very 1st one.

He was so shocked. He exclaimed, "It came off??? Any blood???" I took a look. Hmm, no blood, none whatsoever.
I asked him "Was it painful?"
He thought about it, "Err, yes, still painful."
Huh?? He didn't even know it came off, yet he is sure it's painful.

But he was very proud of himself. Asked to see the tooth, showed his brother, both the tooth and the gap in his mouth.

And then he couldn't sleep at once due to excitement over the impending visit of the tooth fairy, and also he was trying out all the "f", "l", "s", "th" sounds that he needed a lot more effort to pronounce now.

I wonder how it will be like when ds2's turn comes. All the unexpected and infinite things parents need to do... and we have no prior training or reference manual with our firstborn...

I just hope we don't make that many mistakes along the way... :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Sunday, November 1, 2009 ;
10:26 PM
When we were at Jurong West, we tended to spend time around the area. So the kids go to the library, Chinese Garden, took bus to the entrance of the Bird Park (for fun), Science Center, Jurong West Swimming pool, SAFRA Club...

Now that we've moved to our in laws' place for the period of our apt's reno, we try to go to places around this area instead. Sometimes, I get the use of my mil's car when she's not using it. Then I bring the kids to the zoo (it's really very near, like 10min by car or less). Else there is the Bt Timah Nature reserve and its many "extensions".

They've built many park connectors, so there is the Dairy Farm and Singapore Quarry links now. We've walked to the Singapore Quarry about 4 times so far and tried the Dairy Farm Nature Park once (ds1 cried there cos an ant bit him! I was a little impatient cos it was, an ant, and I stressed that the ant is so many times smaller than him, so it shouldn't be that painful, but he insisted it was the most painful bite in the world etc etc etc).

Thereafter, ds1 was most concerned about not stepping near a crowd of ants. I hope it is a short passing phase. I read about fears and phobias in kids as developmental phases. And I remembered the times when they were younger and were afraid of the dark. They wanted the lights on even when they were going to sleep at night. Then there was the fear of loud aeroplanes flying past, or even the time when fireworks scared them to death.

During those times, it was always "oh man! how will we ever get to enjoy fireworks as a family if they're like that?!?!". Now, with more years of parenting, and on hindsight, every thing passes like a phase. So we can be a little more patient and more relaxed, just not be that worried and let it run its course.

Like my kids are finicky eaters, at least in the eyes of most Chinese in Singapore. Perhaps partly due to us being away from Sg for 3 yrs, there are some local yummy delights they still don't appreciate, or simply wouldn't touch. Or, they would like chicken rice without the chicken, pau without the filling, dumplings without the filling, and fishball noodles without the fishball.

A lot of people don't understand why they don't like prawns or crabs or abalone. To most Singaporeans, these are heavenly pleasures. I've had people say my kids are stupid, don't know how to enjoy life, "everything don't eat, that's why so thin" etc etc.

When they were younger, we'd really take these comments seriously. We'd try very hard to get the kids to eat whatever "offending" item that others deem necessary for kids to try or eat, sometimes to the point when the kids cry and we're still trying to get them to eat it.

Now, we just shrug. We'll encourage them to take a small bite or try it at least, if they don't like it, they need not eat anymore. It makes mealtimes much more pleasant and enjoyable, although we still have to endure comments from relatives and friends that our kids are fussy, poor eaters blah blah blah.

Dh is especially relaxed, when I am the one who would still worry what the boys will survive on if they were in school or worse, going through NS and have nothing they like to eat. Dh told me he ate the same thing when he was young (pork porridge) every single day for years, because he refused to eat anything else. So his mom had to cook that for his lunch, even after he started Primary school. Every day. But he still grew up strong and healthy. Yes, he and his siblings are genetically thin. But so are my sis and I. So how can our kids be nice and plump?? Unfair to expect them to be the sturdy muscular kind, isn't it?

Dh said he went through NS without a hitch and always got gold for IPPT. He said he learnt to eat other things along the way, so I shouldn't worry. Still, I think I shouldn't cook the same thing everyday. Haha, but now, I cook the same things every week. As in, the menu is still limited, cos there are just those few dishes the 3 of them all like. But let's try and see if we can expand the repertoire over time!

We have a friend in church now who's from USA. He's here for a year to help teach in the Bible college. We dined with him a few times and realised our kids are very like him. He's been here for almost 11months, and he only likes roti prata, and iced Milo. The rest of the stuff in the hawker center doesn't interest him and some things, like sushi or BBQ stingray actually look disgusting to him.

ds2 is exactly like that. ds1 is just slightly better only. So I guess the 2 yrs spent in US has kind of Americanised them somewhat in their eating habits? Another fellow blogging mom talked about formula milk. My kids don't drink that, they only drink fresh milk. This is also because we were overseas. But anyway I like the taste of fresh milk more than formula.

Ok, back to the pics and about our Bt Timah capers. These photos are taken when we went for the walks to the Singapore Quarry.

Kids were introduced to mimosa, and they were gently swiping the mimosa leaves with their feet or shoes to see the leaves all close up. Kids always find that fun. I told them about mimosa before we left Singapore 3 yrs ago but they don't recall it at all. Glad to get the chance to show them again. ds1 was grabbing ds2's shirt as if he was scared the mimosa would eat him up.

After we reach the quarry. I had to explain to them what "quarry" meant, and how it is formed, cos to them, it looked like a pond. There were cattails, ducks, fish and tadpoles and all those pond creatures.

And plenty of mosquitoes as well!

I made them sit there for at least 20min. It was tough getting them to keep still and quiet, but I intend to train them to do so for longer and longer periods each time. Cos the signs said there were many different bird species to be spotted there, but I told them there was no way we would spot any if they ran around playing and shouting.

We did see ducks and a couple of little grebe. Very adorable, and amazing how the grebe dives into the water and can stay underwater for quite long!

The only problem with walking in Singapore is the heat and humidity. I miss the hiking in USA when I didn't have my whole head full of perspiration and going back with my clothes soaked. There was this sticky feeling all the time too. Sigh.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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