Goodbye Auntie Rose!

Just about 5 days before we left for our vacation to the US which was in late May, our faithful helper of 7.5 years went home! She was planning to go home to get married and we were happy for her.

She came when Talia Ann was about 2.5 months old, on 14 Feb 2007. I remembered what happened the next morning and this is a story I often retell to the children and will have them in stitches. At 6.45am the next day, we heard loud scrubbing noises in the balcony. Rose was up and scrubbing the balcony floor! Shortly after that, we smelled fried rice coming from the kitchen downstairs. She was frying the rice from last night for her breakfast! Over the years, she acquired the taste for bread for breakfasts and thankfully we do not have to smell fried rice at 7am in the mornings!

The first three months was challenging as we had difficulty communicating with each other. I got around this by writing my instructions on a white board. Due to the speed with which I spoke and the accent, it has hard for her to understand me but once it is written down, it became crystal clear, helped in no small measure by the English-Burmese dictionary she kept handy!

She practically helped me raise both my kids as I returned to work after my maternity leave both times. I thank God for her! I remembered her telling me how apprehensive she was about the family she was going for work for when she was coming out to work and prayed very hard and I told her I was praying very hard over here as well!

This picture was taken in a photo shoot we took with her in April.

20140227_165948

In May, her cousin who was recommended by her came to our house to take over and after 3 weeks of “training” with Rose, she left! It was bittersweet at the airport, while we were happy for her, the children were so sad to see her go! and for me, I lose a helper/companion who knew my children as well as me and who love Cookie as much as me!

The 3 weeks in the US were in a way very good as it was a break from our normal routine and helped to distract the kids.

To our greatest surprise, she was back in Singapore in September and was able to share my grief over Cookie’s passing and my mother-in-law’s passing in late September as well. Her presence was a source of comfort to both the kids and me!

I remembered I went into a crying fit post the funeral as I could not find the hand-made baby booties and socks that my late mil made for the children, and just one call to her, she pointed us to the box and where it was kept! What a relief it was!

Good helpers are hard to come by and I am glad to have met Rose, to have gotten her help for the past 7.5 years and I pray God will continue to bless her. And I know we will continue to keep in touch!

Cookie girl!

This little darling came into my life when she was just 3 months old and I have just been married for 3 months at that time. In fact, she was born on 31 Mar 2003, 5 days before I got married.

This was what she looked like when she first came.

cookie3

Scruffy, tiny ball of fur! and I remembered the first night she was home, we left her downstairs in the balcony in her cage and she was crying and whining. We guessed she was missing her mummy and sister. So we took her upstairs into our room for the night, still in her cage and she quietened down.

At 1 year old, she was less scruffy looking! She was a feisty little girl who fancied herself a husky trapped in a maltese’s body. She would attempt to mount other dogs, sometimes even bigger ones just to show her dominance! Imagine my horror! But she was lovely with humans, affectionate and obedient.

100_0024

This is one of the few early pictures of me and her! I love to see how young I used to be and how adorable she looks!

100_0034

She spent the first 3 years of her life with us enjoying our full attention before the children came. To be honest, I had no plans for children actually. Cookie girl drew out all my maternal instincts and up till this day, I regarded her as my eldest daughter.

We took her to many doggie gatherings for her to socialise!

104_0458

Can you spot her?
P1010318-1

We invested time in training her and she can do tricks like bang! (to play dead), roll, hold and so many other tricks so well that she never fails to impress people who saw them. We were hosting care groups at our place during those couple of years and she would always lie down quietly beside me when care groups are going on. Even many years after all those care group days, some members could still remember her fondly.

We brought her out to the beach at Sentosa! She swam, she ran like mad on the beach! What fun she had!
108_0842

We took lots of pics of her!

104_0468

9mth6-26dec03

Enjoyed all her antics! like this poking her head through the railings to spy on happenings downstairs!

109_0966

She even went to the cinemas and even to church once with us. That is because she is so quiet that when she is in her doggie bag (which does not look like a doggie bag incidentally) nobody actually knows a doggie is inside. Besides, she is very obedient when it comes to paper training, so we only need to put newspapers on the floor and she would settle her business there!

The first 3 birthdays came and went very fast!

Her second birthday!
105_0565

At her fourth birthday, Talia Ann has just been born and is a couple of months old! She adored the baby! Always following her and allowing the baby to sometimes terrorise her!

107_0757

Sitting in the pram together with the baby when we go out for our walks.
seletartaliaandcookie

Talia Ann walking Cookie girl!
IMG_0016

Then it was her fifth birthday!

IMG_0113

And then the second baby came and I had less and less time for her. Evident by how the number of photos I could find of her dwindling!

I can barely remember her being sick. Her only problem is her skin allergy which is brought on when she eats random food, most particularly human food. She is a foodie and would always paw me when I am at the dining table having my meals! As she grew older, she became more intolerant and sensitive that even some of the foods she used to be able to enjoy would trigger an allergy, like her favourite cheese cake. When she was about 10 years old, she had a particularly bad episode of skin allergy and when I brought her to the vet, I was told that a murmur could be heard in her heart!

I did not realised the seriousness of that and up till now, I still blame myself for not acting on that earlier. 2014 was a bad year for me in terms of my work. In the midst of grappling with work issues, Cookie started gasping/coughing intermittently and it took me a long while before I took her to the vet in July 2014. When I finally did, I was told by the vet that her heart has failed and is very much enlarged. It was a wake up call. She was to be on medication all her life to stay alive but I was hopeful as the vet said that many dogs could go on for quite long on medication even with heart failure. However, on one fateful night on 4 Sep 2014, she started gasping really badly and I took her into the vet late at night, not realising that she would never return home after that!

After the x-ray, the vet told me that her trachea has collapsed and they would try to open her airway but she would need to be in the oxygen tank that night. I left her curled up in the corner of the tank and went home and at 4am that morning, she left us. I could not stop crying for weeks after that. I wished I had not brought her in that night so that she could die in my arms, at home instead of that cold lonely oxygen tank by herself. Even the thought of that right now tears my heart into pieces!

It’s Christmas again and this is the first time in my married life that I am not spending it with her…

Remember our first tree Cookie? which we bought when the baby just came?
104_0435

Merry Christmas my Cookie girl! I missed you so much!
Photo-0060a

West coast of USA- June 2014

During the June holidays, the whole family went to the West Coast of US for three weeks. The plan is to get in at LA and get out from San Francisco. We transited at Narita Airport and were glad to be able to get out and walk for a bit. Snowy the doll got the privilege of being the travel companion for the little girl 20140531_142437

Almost 24 hrs later we touched down at LA airport sometime before noon. The kids and the husband all managed to get maybe 5-6 hrs of sleep? As for me? I perhaps watched 7-8 movies back to back? @_@ The Jeep that is going to get us around! 20140601_033714

We put up at the hotel near Hollywood and headed out to Hollywood Boulevard to feel the buzz and erm shop? Shopping not quite his thing I guess? DSCF0917 Out in the streets! and spotted Bug Bunny in the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the children promptly announced he is their idol? hmm… DSCF0919

Chanced upon these obese Spiderman and Ironman toys and the little guy took a long time to decide that he will have Spidey to be his travel companion for the rest of the trip! and that roly-poly fella caused Thaddeus much distress because Spidey is so fat and kept rolling away from him especially when we are in a hurry while on the road! DSCF0920

It says “The road to Hollywood”, to us it’s the “stairs to see the TINY Hollywood sign”! DSCF0924

The sign was so small it can’t really be seen in this picture even! DSCF0925 and it was pizzas for dinner! one of many pizzas we will end up eating throughout the trip! DSCF0931 The next day was a Sunday and the plan was to enroute visit the California Science Centre while heading towards Anaheim. Drove past the famous shopping districts, movie studios etc. DSCF0933 We had all our luggages with us and while exiting from the car, one of the children actually accidentally lowered one of the windows in the back but we were not aware of it. We spent the entire afternoon in the Science Centre and only realised that when we were about to leave. And purely by God’s grace, nothing was missing in the car! Amazing divine protection! Ok! Back to the Science Centre, right at the entrance was already an interesting exhibit on the power of the pulleys! The children has lots of fun trying to lift up the truck! DSCF0935 Fascinated by frogs’ brains……

20140601_163538

microscopic organisms…

DSCF0949 …and bird watching…

20140601_170524

A highlight at the Science Centre was the space shuttle Endeavour! DSCF0943 We watched vids of how the entire city came to a standstill so as to transport the space shuttle to the Science Centre. Talia was especially fascinated by the toilet bowl in the space shuttle! The contraption to allow you to do gravity-defying erm poo-poo! DSCF0940 We left when the Science Centre closed its doors at 5pm and headed towards Anaheim. Reached Hotel Indigo which is going to be our base camp while we spent the next 2 days at Disneyland! Spidey, Thaddie and Cheekie in a row! DSCF0951

Walked out to look for dinner and found The Cheesecake factory! Just looked at all the types of cheesecake they have! DSCF0956 and somebody ate a plate of pasta with a plate bigger than the size of his face! but seriously, the portions are really enormous! We learnt our lessons and downsized our orders from 3 mains to 2 mains perhaps coupled with a appetizer. DSCF0958 The next day, its DISNEYLAND! A shot with Minnie Mouse first! DSCF0959

The girl went on the Indiana Jones ride which the boy either was too short or didn’t want to go. So he went up and down the Tarzan tree house at least 3 times! DSCF0966 Couple of rides later, the children posed with some props (because I didn’t want to buy them! hahaha!) in the shops. DSCF0964 Then it’s lunch time! The good thing about restaurants in the US is that they have activities for the children to do all the time! DSCF0969 Followed by Pooh Bear ride and a pic with Pooh Bear! DSCF0977

We came to the Frozen hut and oh my goodness! the queue was almost 2 hours long to get inside to take a pic with Elsa! Decided we shall just take a pic with the hut with Olaf on the roof!

DSCF0979

The buzz lightyear ride was exactly how I remembered it when we went to HK Disneyland when the kiddos were younger, unfortunately none of the children could recall it! DSCF0984 Taking a pic of the hubs taking a pic of the children! DSCF0985

It was sunny yet windy. Very warm when you are out there in the sun yet can get chilly when you are under the shade. We had fun until the park closed at 10pm! The next day we headed to the park next door, the Disney California Adventure and made a beeline for Cars Land. DSCF0998 Lightning Mcqueen! DSCF1008 We loved Cars Land. It was as though we stepped into the cartoon! So many picture moments! The children admiring the Frozen merchandise I bought for their cousin. There were almost nothing left of the merchandise when we were at Disneyland the day before and we did not even see this set of Frozen figurines there. DSCF1017 There was this really cute caterpillar ride where even though it was real slow, when we passed by foods like watermelon and cookies, you actually can smell them! We didn’t expect that so cheap thrills for a while! DSCF1021 Muppet*Vision 3D was the 3D show that was immensely entertaining! DSCF1027 The next ride was perhaps one of the most fun rides according to the children. It’s arcade style shooting over and over again! DSCF1035

It is no wonder this is the happiest place on earth! Just look at how happy the children are!

DSCF1042

And we experienced God’s grace afresh again when we reached Soarin’ Over California. The ride was only opened to people who have a ticket pre-booked earlier. We didn’t know and were just queuing there when the couple behind us asked us if we could like the 4 tickets they have in their hands. I can’t quite remember now why they wanted to give up the tickets and we happily thanked them and jumped queue to the front and got in! It’s a simulated airborne ride where you sit elevated in a gondola and treated to 3D scenes (4D actually as we feel breeze on our faces) of California underneath you! Amazing ride! and with that we ended our two days at Disneyland! DSCF1054 The next day we are headed out to San Diego and to visit the USS Midway, a naval ship museum. And before that, we had lunch again at The cheesecake factory and this time managed to finally enjoy some cheesecake! On our way to lunch and check out the Frozen tee on the little girl! She was mighty pleased with it! DSCF1056 Drove off after lunch and took a break halfway when the little guy turned a little green in the face due to carsickness! Cutest little wild squirrel! DSCF1060 Made it to San Diego and USS Midway! The USS Midway is a naval aviation museum right in an ex-aircraft carrier. DSCF1061

Thaddeus the fighter jet pilot! DSCF1065 Saw so many fighter jets and planes that I lost count! DSCF1069 we were able to climb in most of them to take a look too! DSCF1088 We also took a guided tour around the naval ship and it was already an eye-opener for the adults, what more the kids! We spent the night in San Diego and were at Sea World bright and early the next day! San Diego Sea World will always be memorable to me because the little guy had an upset tummy that day and I wiped backside 7 times that day in the park and also because Talia lost her second front teeth there and got a huge ice cream as a treat to remember that! Funny how sometimes we remember places we go to with unforgetable events like these? Needless to say, we enjoyed the dolphin and whale shows, little girl took rides, we ogled at penguins and flamingos and spent a wonderful and sunny day at Sea World. DSCF1099 We set off the next day towards Las Vegas. Drove 5 hours and it was amazing when we were nearing LV, how out of the desert a gleaming and bustling city just come into sight! 20140606_172640

Spent the night at The Venetian! and the children’s verdict was that it was the best room they stayed in during the whole trip! It has got to be considering how much we had to pay for it!DSCF1117 It was a split level unit and has its own whole spacious living area! DSCF1119 Spent half an hour fooling the kids that we had supernatural powers in controlling how the binds go up and down *chuckles* (it had a remote control which we hid in our hands), we left the room to explore the rest of the hotel! DSCF1122 This was an oxygen bar where you can have yourself a dose of different types of oxygen! Little girl could only content herself with a pose in front of it! DSCF1125 Dinner was at the Grand Lux Café from the people behind The Cheesecake factory. It was cosy and had great food plus little knickknacks to entertain the kids to boot! We had food ranging from miso-glazed salmon to pastas and after our tummies were filled. It was time to venture out! DSCF1129 Within minutes of stepping out, all their jackets were dumped onto me!  It sure felt sweltering hot, I cannot imagine how it would be like during the day! We trooped down the main street and were amazed at the spectacle that greeted us!  Neon-lights, swanky hotels, fountains and music, people dressed as Bumble-bee/spider-man/Iron-man you name it, or girls wearing so little clothes I feel embarrassed for them. It was really sin city at its decadent seediest! Worth one trip to just see for yourself and for me, no reason to come back again!

DSCF1134

We headed back to the hotel about 10-ish in the night and the next morning, after a Chinese lunch (voted erm top 3 in Las Vegas but was really quite bleh), ready to head towards Mammoth Lakes, a ski resort in the mountains except we are going there in summer! It was a 6-hrs drive from Vegas to Mammoth. We started the journey with some serious looking desert outside the car windows. We passed by scrubby bushes, cactuses in the distance and dusty mountains in the even further distance. But eventually as we began to climb higher, the landscape turned a little greener and we finally reached our hotel for 2 nights, the Sierra Nevada at around 6pm. The children wasted no time to play at the playground! DSCF1141 Dinner was at Rafters, right next to the hotel! DSCF1147 The next morning we set off to explore around the Mammoth Lakes area. First stop was Convict Lake. It was so named because apparently in the 1800s, a group of convict escaped here! Anyway, it was serene. A beautiful lake set on a backdrop of rugged alpine peaks. It is also popular for fishing and we encountered quite a few chaps doing that. DSCF1152 We packed a picnic lunch of bread, ham, salads, ice cream (Can you believe that Ben and Jerry’s only costs US$2.99 there! hnnng!) and enjoyed an outdoor lunch in the gorgeous mountain air, breath taking mountain scenery. After lunch, we took a trek to see Devil’s Postpile! What a name! DSCF1167 Devils Postpile is a unique geologic feature, formed 100,000 years ago by an eruption of lava. The lava cooled uniformly, leaving surface cracks, resulting in six-sided basalt vertical columns.

DSCF1170

We then took a drive to Minaret Vista which offers breath taking views of the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas. It has the 2 tallest peaks in the range, all at an elevation of about 12,000-13,000 feet. DSCF1174 The Minaret Vista is a popular spot for star gazing but alas since we were there during the day, we only feasted our eyes on peaks gazing instead. DSCF1178 The little girl even joined the father in trying to follow a wild deer which was roaming nearby! The next day we were ready to head to Yosemite via the tioga pass. 20140610_112940

Before we even came to the pass, we just had to stop at this spot to check it out because it was so pretty!

20140610_124540

After many a winding turns in the scenic drive of mountain pine forest, alpine meadows and granite rocks, we are finally at the Tioga pass! DSCF1201 Stopped at this beautiful spot for lunch! DSCF1203 and yes you can see! Ben and Jerry’s again! It was so cold eating in the shade that the children had to sit in the sun to really enjoy the food. DSCF1207 Finally reached Yosemite Valley and decided we shall take a little trek out to see the lake/waterfalls. DSCF1226 Somebody made sure he had a lot of snacks along the way! DSCF1230 Halfway through the trek, we were informed by people heading back that there was nothing much to see as there has been a severe drought and not enough water for a nice lake or waterfall. We promptly turned around as well and headed to the store. Kids made a beeline for the books. DSCF1234 The destination to spend the night was 2 hrs away at Oakdale. We reached about 8-ish at night and had a junk food dinner at Jack in a box! Yumz by the way! Thought we will check out the K-mart before checking into the hotel and the entire store was virtually deserted! All the toys were so cheap but no luggage space to cart back! *weeps* DSCF1237 We set off early next morning towards San Francisco. First stop was UC Berkeley. We drove around the campus, soaked in the atmosphere and had Japanese ramen within campus. Also bought the girl’s first rainbow loom set in an art and craft shop there. We headed to Fisherman’s wharf afterwards. DSCF1242

Alcatraz in the distance but we were not planning to visit. We walked around,  browsed the shops, enjoyed clam chowder and seafood and headed to our friend’s house where we were going to stay for the next 2 nights just for the experience of staying in a house in the US. DSCF1247 The children were really glad to meet their new friends. Played with them until late into the night and we headed out for a pancake breakfast the next day. DSCF1255 After breakfast we headed to the California Academy of Sciences. The children’s new friends were not able to join us as they are actually in the midst of a shift to their new house. We were actually privileged to spend the last couple of days together with them in their old one! We spent an amazing day there! There are so much to see and experience what with an enclosed tropical rainforest to walk through, a planetarium where we watched a show on dark matter which was absolutely mind boggling, an aquarium, an interactive earthquake exhibit. DSCF1286

The little girl very carefully going through the exhibits on the earthquake. 20140612_162830

We took a nice stroll in the Golden Gate Park where the Academy of Sciences was situated and had fun in the playground there! DSCF1302 We went home, caught up with our friends for dinner at a shopping cluster in Foster City and went shopping at Costco where our friend is a member. It was unbelievably cheap and I could only weep some more for not being able to bring more stuff home even though we bought ourselves 2 more luggage there! DSCF1311 In the night, the kids had another wonderful night of playing together The next morning, we were off to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Oh the wonderful breeze! DSCF1274 The very beautiful bridge! DSCF1279 Children having a snack in the car, away from the very chilly and strong wind!DSCF1285 We spent the rest of the day exploring Fisherman’s wharf again! Before that we went to San Francisco Cable Car Museum where we saw historic cable cars, photographs, mechanical displays and a rather nice gift shop run by the Friends of the Cable Car Museum.

DSCF1346

On our way walking to the wharf, we saw a naked brigade of men and women on bicycles cycling by. The children were too slow to realise what was going on and asked what’s happening! Thank goodness they were cycling by rather fast!

Our first stop was the San Francisco Maritime Museum.DSCF1385Here we boarded the Balclutha and made our way below deck to experience where this ship has sailed to and carried what kind of cargo in the past

20140614_160030

and explored the insides of the ship.

DSCF1380

After a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream break, the little guy refused to let go of the B&J cow he saw outside!

DSCF1388

Someone was very interested in the shopping!

 DSCF1395

The number of sea lions at Pier 39 apparently has shrunk!

DSCF1401

The hustle and bustle at Pier 39. We had the most yummy seafood dinner and had an enjoyable night shopping, people watching and snacking on clam chowder.

DSCF1403

In the morning, we said our goodbyes to our friends, did farewell shots and hugs around and we are off to Stanford University.DSCF1312

We visited the Hoover Tower on campus.

DSCF1322

In the lobby, we viewed the Herbert Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover exhibits, which feature memorabilia from the careers and lives of the thirty-first U.S. president and his wife, both of whom were Stanford alumni. DSCF1323

The observation platform is on the 14th floor and we were treated to a panoramic view of Stanford’s campus. Told the children Daddy and Mummy is not every going to come back here again unless one of them made good and study here so we can come again for the graduation ceremony *grin*

DSCF1326

Then we made our merry way to Silicon Valley to pay homage to Google and Apple.

DSCF1337

The next morning we went shopping at DSW before starting our journey back to Los Angeles for the flight home. The plan was to travel by the coast to see Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara etc.

DSCF1410

We were greeted by the beautiful Pacific coast.

DSCF1419

 

Lovely quaint shopping along the way.

DSCF1413

The rugged coastline set amidst the blue skies and the even bluer waters. We stopped to see wild seals whilst on the 17-Mile Drive.DSCF1449Reached Monterey and visited the Presidio Museum where the exhibits lead visitors through Monterey’s various stages of military development from the indigenous period which highlights the area’s native populations; through the Spanish and Mexican periods; and up to present day.

DSCF1422

A life-size horse and lieutenant depicts the Presidio that is clearest in the memories of long-time residents of Monterey.

DSCF1425

Stopped for lunch at Cannery Row at Monterey Bay and enjoyed this lovely coastal scene.

DSCF1442

 

I could have spent all day just staring at the waters!

DSCF1443

Arrived at Pismo Beach about dinner time and this is the hotel where we will be spending the night. Chose to have our dinner indoors as the temperatures really starts to dip when the sun goes down.

DSCF1474

It’s really lovely when it gets dark.

DSCF1478

The next morning we had our breakfast in the park facing the sea. It was actually kind of chilly even under the sun as the sea breeze was just so strong

DSCF1488

and so we set off, continuing our southward journey towards Santa Barbara. There were lots of opportunity to play at the beach. We were so overdressed for the beach but really it was so chilly. How did the rest manage to lounge around just in their bathing suits?

DSCF1496

One of the places we visited in Santa Barbara was the Old Mission Santa Barbara.

DSCF1506

It was established by the Spanish Franciscans almost 200 years ago. It was serene just walking around the grounds. It has a beautiful church apparently with an active parish. On site there is also a cemetery and mausoleum and a huge beautifully landscaped gardens. There is also a museum with information about the early days of the Mission and Santa Barbara.

DSCF1510

We had a Chinese lunch, one of the few we had during the trip, in town and continued driving towards Los Angeles.

We reached Santa Monica sometime in the late afternoon.

DSCF1527

And the kids had a great time playing at the sand. And as usual we were overdressed! Brrrrr!

DSCF1530 We just sat at the beach and watched the sun go down.

DSCF1540

As the evening progressed and the light slowly waned, the kiddos were still reluctant to leave.

DSCF1536

Dinner was at Bubba Gump. The food was nothing to shout about really.

DSCF1549

Back in LA, We decided to spend the last morning with some last minute shopping and end the day at the Griffith Observatory. The observatory is set on top of a hill and offers great views of downtown LA. And apparently the best time to visit would be at sunset as the night view is spectacular as well.DSCF1560

The front lawn of the observatory is full of green spaces. Beautiful historic building from the 1930s and a wonderful place to experience astronomy.

DSCF1557

There are some amazing and interactive exhibits inside. We were treated to an interesting presentation on the Tesla coil and viewed Saturn on one of the massive telescopes

20140618_172245

Fun and engaging exhibits!

20140618_174404

and with that we ended our almost 3 weeks holiday to the West Coast of the US. It was an unforgettable experience and one of many family memories that we will always cherish!

Bali again, this time nice and slow…

We are no strangers to Bali, even for the kids. But this time round we wanted to spend more time chilling out, exploring and which is why we gave this trip a good 9 days to do all that. Decided to skip all the usual spots of Nusa Dua and Kuta and headed straight to Ubud in Central Bali right after we arrived.

We stayed at the Komaneka Rasa Sayang at Ubud. http://www.komaneka.com/komaneka-at-rasa-sayang.php The hotel is surrounded by lush vegetation and retained the flavour of traditional Balinese architecture yet complemented with modern amenities. And when we arrived, they were just serving afternoon tea which we were happy to enjoy after a 1 plus hour drive from the airport.

The room was cosy and comfortable! We found to our surprise that the TV in the room is plugged into a cloud of movie titles and song albums which we enjoyed for free during our stay

We took a little stroll out and had ourselves a nice foot massage (children as well) before having dinner at Ibu Rai. I had one of the tastiest beef curry I have ever eaten there! I tried the little girl’s nasi goreng and it was fabulous as well.

Yummy fried rice!

The next morning we set off towards the art market and on the way there, we signed up for a cooking class at Bumibali for the morning on the next day.

And so the shopping starts..

…while men wait outside the shops?

We trooped back to the hotel and after I have sanitised the bathtub twice with boiling water *Grin* I allowed the kids some time in the tub!

Breakfast was really great! We get to order all sorts of fresh juices, pancakes, Indonesian type breakfast. Needless to say, Ms Foodie was very happy!

It’s about a 15 mins stroll to the Ubud Arts Market and more shopping ensues…

Lunch was at Lotus Café which is right next to a huge lotus pond. We went for traditional Balinese fare and was not disappointed!

It was a lovely, quiet spot to spend some time exploring after lunch.

Children taking peeps into the temple.

We took a nice slow stroll back to the hotel, enjoying the little quaint shops along the way and decided to spend some time in the pool.

It’s an infinity pool of sorts as the edge of the pool overlooks a tiny valley amid the lush vegetation.

We chilled out for a bit in the room and headed out to dinner! Didn’t I tell ya! this trip is all about shopping and eating! 🙂 Eating by the candlelight and hearing sounds of insects of the night is another experience altogether!

And before we knew it, its Sunday morning and time for our cooking class! Turns out there were just us in the class!

For the first part of the lesson, we took a walk to the market to see and smell the food and spices on sale. and because it was so hot, the children got their first ride back to the kitchen on a motorbike!

We were then introduced to the spices the Balinese people use in their cooking.

Getting our spices all blended together in preparation for the cooking proper to start!

The first dish was salad/veggie dish of sorts where boiled cabbage/greens/beansprouts were mixed together with Balinese spices to serve as an appetizer. That wasn’t a crowd pleaser to say the least!

Next up, we mixed in spices with minced meat and did “satay”. Children were given the opportunity to mix with their hands (they loved that!) and to grill them subsequently!

We did 2 other dishes after that and got out of the kitchen (which really is part of a restaurant) about 3 hrs later. After that we decided to stroll towards Monkey Forest which is a big tourist attraction in Ubud but our purpose was not to go there

Just next to Monkey forest, there is a little café that overlooks lovely padi fields! We chilled out for a while here before heading back to the hotel to check out and prepare to head northern towards Lovina.

Enroute, we stopped at this lovely spot for lunch overlooking huge padi terraces!

We also visited Lake Bratan which really is a lake formed by a volcanic eruption in the past. Way too crowded for our liking so we took a quick look and quickly left the place.

Despite the rain, somebody wanted a picture with the misty mountains so we obliged him!

And so we went on our merry way towards Lovina, without first stopping several times in Singaraja while attempting to find a doctor for the little boy who had 2 nosebleeds and had a running nose! One doctor we located told us he was washing his car and so, sorry he can’t attend to us!?! We finally found a ENT specialist who looked like he’s 100 years old with a set of equipment almost as old as him as I thought I wanted to really just check the little boy’s nose. Well he said all is ok and gave us a prescription and we had to find a pharmacy to find the medicine. After all the running around, we finally arrived at our hotel in Lovina – The Lovina!

We were given a room with an outdoor toilet area! ermmm…To be very honest, I really didn’t relish having to shower and do my “businesses” like right out there in the open!

There was even a pool in our own backyard which we could have a dip in. I supposed it is for people who loves to skinny-dip? 😛

Anyway we headed out to dinner, to this little local eating place called Warung Apple. Apparently it is one of the best-raved eatery in Lovina on Tripadvisor. Apple actually is the name of the owner of the place which by the way is a man! It’s a nondescript place but served this really amazing grilled fish!

We went home and had an early night because the place was to get up at 5am the next morning, get out on a canoe-thingy and try to go chase wild dolphins. And at midnight, the boy woke up crying and when I touched his forehead, it was burning. I have sort of anticipated this and had already gotten myself some amoxicillin from the local pharmacy the day before. But still it was a sleepless night for me with measurement and sponging to be done. The father and the daughter went off on a wild dolphin chase while the rest of us took a snooze till late morning as the fever broke. The duo came back unsatisfied, claiming that their boat was too slow! and they have went to sign up with the fastest boat to attempt this again the next morning so that the whole family could experience this together.

We spent the rest of the day really just relaxing! The adults took turns to go for a spa while the little girl spent some time at the kid’s club. The little man rested in the room, watching cartoons and napping. And by evening, he was well enough that we decided to walk out along the beach to try and find some food.

Quite a nice stroll we took, listening to the waters and watching the villagers go about their chores.

All these canoes/boats were for dolphin watching!

We had an early night and by 6 am, we were out at sea!

It was a soothing ride out. I have expected to get a bit seasick but I was surprised I wasn’t at all. I think the fact that we were in a bay of sorts made the water very calm. We enjoyed looking at how the colours of the sky changed and how quiet it was!

About 1.5 hrs later, we were told by our boatman that we are close and should start to look out for any dolphin activities! W

When we spotted the first dolphin and subsequently saw the whole school swimming by, the excitement was indescribable! and true to her reputation to being the first boat the day before, “The Blue Pearl” was really one of the fastest boat around and we kept pace with the dolphins!

The little girl wanted a pic with the boat to remember how wonderful the experience it has been!

After that wonderful encounter with the dolphins, we left Lovina and headed south all the way to the beach area of Seminyak! Reached Seminyak almost during the evening and had a traditional Balinese meal somewhere near the villa.

The next morning, after breakfast that was served in the villa, everybody wasted no time to jump into our own private pool!

Seminyak is supposed to be a happening beach with lots of interesting shops and good dining. We shopped (bought quaint lamps, hip accessories, cute tees). Found ourselves a conveyor belt sushi place and had a great Japanese lunch!

Spent time just lazing by the beach!

Ate at many great restaurants but one of the more unforgettable one was the Italian dinner on the last night at Ultimo! Great food, great ambience at really reasonable prices!

We came back rested and fed! 🙂 and Bali will remain as one of our favourite getaway spots!

Fun December 2013!

The school holidays of December 2013 was packed with fun! We went for 2 staycations, a 5-day trip to KL and a 9-day trip to Bali. I shall save the Bali trip for another post.

We have been to the Changi Village hotel many times for staycation. We like the rustic charm and laid-back pace of the place. The rooftop pool is a favourite of the kids but since we decided we are not going to go to Ubin this time round, we had time to check out the pool on the ground floor which has a fish-tank concept.

The gleeful boy took many trips up and down the “tank” for me to take pics and videos which he had big laughs after when admiring them!

We also spent a whole lazy morning at the beach just chilling out!

There were folks fishing, whole families camping out, joggers, but it looks like we are the only family there on the sand!

The little man looking introspective!

We went back to the hotel to wash up and could even make it for 3rd service at church! ha!

The next weekend we were at RWS Sentosa for a 3-day staycation to celebrate the little girl’s birthday, along with all her Dec-babies friends, actually for a mass Dec-babies birthday celebration!

The first day we spent the whole day at Universal studios.

The mummies could even sneak out for a girls’ night out that night! Even went shopping at Victoria Secrets together! Hilarious event! Woohoo!

The next day we were at Sentosa Cove! It started raining at 2 plus in the afternoon so the day was cut short! but still my two little ones could go do snorkelling again for a second time! That was to them the highlights of the day!

The third day which was also Talia Ann’s actual birthday (and also Audrey’s), we had a birthday celebration at breakfast!

Oh! just look at them! just look at how much they have grown!

Some of the mummies even prepared nice pressies for the birthday boys and girls and goodie bags for the rest of the children! Sure made every kid a happy kid that morning!

After breakfast, it was to the S.E.A aquarium. We trooped along with those who had the RWS Invites Cards and could walk through the Maritime Museum, enjoy the Typhoon Theatre again to get into the aquarium.

Mine are always fascinated with these interactive games!

and then it was fish galore!

And just 4 days later, we took a road trip up to KL. This is our third time to Kidzania but the first time that we are going with so many friends! 5 families to be exact!

This time we spent 3 whole different sessions at Kidzania over 3 days and even at the end of the third session, the kids were reluctant to leave the place. Just poor us parents who literally vegetated over that 3 days!

They had fun staging a musical where the girl played Dora and the boy was dressed up as a monkey.

And also tried their hands at being news casters. Forgetful mummy forgot to buy a CD of the recording though! oops!

We also spent one whole Saturday shopping at Sungei Wang (while some of the rest of the families continue their 4th or 5th sessions at Kidzania! *grins*).

The boy met Ironman in one of the malls!

We also ate lots of good food and I told the kids this will be our last time at KL Kidzania (I think 3 times is more than enough?) and should we go again, it would either be to the one that is going to be opened in Singapore or we go to the one at Bangkok!

Eatplaylove Cafe

Couple of months ago, together with Trix, we brought the kids to Eatplaylove Café. It’s a little café around Arab Street where kids can have a free hand in making crafts while parents can chomp down on delectable delights peacefully. Even the concept alone was highly appealing, without even first tasting the food!

We made reservations for a Saturday afternoon and as expected, the place was pretty crowded and buzzling. Guess word goes around fast for a idea as ingenious as this!

There were crafting tables on both ends of the café, one side with a slightly larger table. And that side has a pretty wall decorated with many crafting ideas and materials, even crafting books!

The adults plonked ourselves at the tables after ordering food and paying a nominal fee for the kids to craft and the kids wasted no time to get their hands all dirty, literally!

The little girl with the hand-made ice cream and spaghetti necklace!

Both trying to make a caterpillar!

The girls cutting and pasting and decorating! Don’t ask me where the boys were!

We spent a happy 3-4 hrs there! Bellies full of yummy food and a big bag of crafts to show for when we were leaving. Definitely a place we will visit again!

Bangkok – what’s that smell?

Geez! It’s going to be June and I have yet to put up my post for Bangkok which we did as one of those impromptu trips during the March school holidays. This time we decided we shall have one of those eat till you drop, shop till you drop and massage till you drop kinda trip. Yes, you heard it right! The first time a trip that isn’t centred around the kids. But even as I said that, we slotted in a day at a theme park so the children wouldn’t get too bored.

Bangkok. The last time I was here was 2 years ago with my besties! And the children who are very used to a very sanitised Singapore were overwhelmed at the smell, the traffic, the rubbish that greeted them when they got off the cab! Not a very good sign and I made a mental note to myself that more efforts should be made to expose them!

This time we checked into a 3-month old hotel called the Glow Hotel diagonally across from the Platinum Mall

Platinum Mall. I have realised that the prices there are really the best so far, even compared to Chatuchat Market. And what’s best, you get to shop in air-con comfort! Unbeatable in my opinion! *grins*

Breakfast’s not bad at the hotel!

Kids tucking in!

And then we are off shopping!

The husband looking at ties and little girl twirling amongst them!

Did not agree to buy the toy tiger for him so at least he gets a shot with it!

The shopaholic coming out of the little girl as she browse through all sorts of  knickknacks!

The great thing about staying so close to Platinum mall was that we took a short stroll back and put the kids down for a nap! The kids woke about 1 plus hour later and we were off to Asiatique, the more atas night market by the river!

There is even a free short cruise that brings you to that night market!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and we saw little houses by the river

We arrived at Asiatique and thought it was quite a nicely done up tourist attraction!

It has the godowns that reminiscse of older days when river banks were full of activities, men carrying cargos, bumboats anchored by the river bank…

Couldn’t resist taking a pic of this gigantic anchor!

Interesting graffiti on the wall that the children just had to pose with!

So gleeful that they can straddle the Chao Phraya River!

I spotted a few boutiques catering to the kiddy fashionistas!

and tasteful knickknacks!

Cutest bike spotted outside one of the shops!

There were many F&B outlets and we were spoilt for choice! Really buzzling by the night!

There was also the “Bangkok Wheel” which I took the kids on. That became one of the highlights of the whole Bangkok trip, surprisingly!

The boy watching with awe as the wheel goes round and round!

The next day we headed to Dream World, Bangkok’s answer to Disneyland, not quite! Still the children were really enjoying every thing, down to the stationary pink train!

There was water cycling to be had too!

and this time, trains that moves, that goes round the park!

Mini miniland! Great wall of China too, I kid you not!

Simple joy on a simple swing!

Stepping into fairytale land!

See the shoe? Ring a bell? The old woman who lived in a shoe I think…

Cinderella’s carriage!

They even had a live animal show with dogs and birds and little lamps to feed at the end of it all!

Rides galore follow after!

Row row row your boat, gently down the stream!

And yes, they even had a snow world! And tada, we get to experience freezing temperatures all over again! Minus 2 degrees, mind you! and they had slopes for sledding down as well!

Eskimo igloos as well!

and finally the giant’s house in Jack and the beanstalk!

We spent the next day at Chatuchat market! We reached the place at about 9am and it was such an eye-opener for the kids. The shopper in Talia arose and she really enjoyed browsing through all the shops. The little boy was just as enthusiastic but by 2pm, he was hanging on my arm like a wet, limp rag that we decided it was time to get home! We showered, put the kids down for a short nap and went out to have dinner with Talia’s classmate who incidentally was also in Bangkok at the same time!

I forgot to mention that the kids had their foot massage alongside us every night as well and it was a highlight of the trip for them as well!

We left Bangkok shopped, massaged, fed and very happy and when I asked the children who wants to come back to Bangkok again! Both raised their hands immediately! Nobody said anything about the smell!

 

 

Freezing Korea in Dec 2012

In December last year, we took a family trip to Korea. Just a week before going, another friend who just went and came back told us temperatures were a freezing -15 degrees! Brrr!

The kids were in high spirits when we arrived some time in the evening!

We arrived!

The plan was to spend the next two days in the Jamsil area where we are staying to visit Lotte world

There is an outdoor area as well as the indoor theme park!

We decided to stay indoor first due to the cold! and took lots of rides!

Its an all encompassing theme park with musuems on site as well.

The first of many Korean meals to come!

After lunch. We visited the Korean cultural musuem. Being their first exposure to the Korean culture, it was interesting for the children. There were also little stations for little children to engage in some art and craft!

Creating our own badges!

Admiring korean architecture!

And then it was time to brave the cold and venture outside. I reckoned the temperatures were about 0 degrees! We could hardly stay outside for long! Took refuge at rides where the waiting area is out of the cold, fed the kids lotsa hot food! and after 2 hrs we hastily retreated back indoors! Little did we know that it would just get colder by the day! brrrrrrrrrrrr!

Yummy hotdog!

Next stop was this fairytales based playgym where they have the most beautiful fixtures I have ever seen!

Talia Ann and the three bears! heh!

Took more rides including this kids bumper car!

Ended the day with a buffet dinner where there was chicken curry served! Not quite the fare I am used to but suffice to say, still good enough!

Kids got to eat ice cream in icy cold weather! A first for them!

Early the next morning, we set off for Alpensia Ski resort. Wasn’t easy pushing 2 luggages + 1 stroller with 2 kids in tow on icy roads to the designated bus stop. I was grateful it took only 10 mins! The journey only took us about 2 hrs and by 11 am, we reached the ski resort! By then, we were definitely in sub-zero temperatures!

Children eagerly reading the map to orientate themselves!

Check-in was fast and the view from our hotel room was fabulous to say the least!

Kids excitedly talking amongst themselves the plans later!

Wasted no time in getting their hands full of snow…

and loved it!

I thought I’d better gear them up since we will be spending at least 3 days at the slopes! and the least of which are protective ski masks for their eyes! I thought they looked really funny though!

They were excited and proud however!

Wanted to sign both up for skiing lessons but the little guy was too young! Aww! so we settled and bought a sleigh for him to amuse himself with!

Row away?

While the girl got her ski equipement!

There is something about being extremely hungry in cold weather, I guess you burn more while in cold weather? (that’s my excuse anyway for all the excessive chomping!) and lunches were really delicious!

After lunch it was more ski lessons for the girl! and it was up the ski-lift for her!

The little boy amused himself with the sleigh or how about amused himself with ME pulling him all around in the sleigh? It wasn’t that hard though seriously, surprisingly easy to pull that as demonstrated later when the little ones could drag one another around in the sleigh. We also took couple of rounds down the slopes in it. Pretty high speed stuff and with me breaking using my boots in the snow, spraying snow all over the little guy! ha!

Mascots appeared for a while, which amused the kids tremendously! I think this must be one of the few occasions when being dressed in that huge mascot costume is a wonderful barrier against the cold!

The girl came back from her ski lessons exhausted, i saw her at one point lying spreadeagle on the snow! But as soon as she was out of her ski equipment, she regained all her energy!

Frolicking in the snow!

Dragging each other around in the sleigh!

Building snowman! Just kidding, the snow was surprisingly hard, so they only got to POSE beside snowman built by other people!

The next day, we took a short ride to the nearby Yongpyong ski resort. I was here many years ago with the husband, then inspired by the Korea drama Winter Sonata (“hides face in shame”). But seriously it was nice to revisit the place.

Some resemblence between the boy’s headgear and the bears? the tummy as well? *grins*

The best part about this ski resort is the gondola trip up to the peak!

It was a chilling -10 degrees up at the peak and coupled with the wind, we could hardly last more than 10 minutes out in the open!

Fooling around indoors!

Ah! there you go! See the -10 degrees?

We spend the next day spending more time at the slopes! and just before we left, we had lelong our sleigh in the lobby! But good thing, the minute a new bus load of visitors came, we were able to very quickly to close a deal!

Lelong lelong!

Last chance at the snow!

We headed back to Seoul where we realised to our horror, it’s not warmer compared to the ski slopes. In fact the temperatures have been dropping and coupled with the wind, was really freezing. And the second morning we landed back in Seoul, it SNOWED! It was a wonderful experience for the kids! We wasted no time in dashing out to relish this experience!

Getting them to stand still for a shot was highly challenging as well!

Scrambled all round having fun! Writing words on the ground!

The next days were spent in a blur! but we went everywhere on the mrt!

I remember COEX and the aquarium!

Ehwa University…

See how far those two fellas ran off to?

and the shopping district around it…

Shopping in the cold is no fun at all! and I saw many young girls in just mini skirts and stockings! It is definitely sub-zero, how do they do it?

the trick-eye musuem…

HO HO HO! We are taller than papa!

Interacting with the art pieces just to raise a laugh or two…

We also went to the folk village near Namsan.

Playing traditional korean games.

Really pretty little korean houses. Did not have time to make a trip to Andong this time but I guess these are good enough for the children.

Lots of exploring to do.

The kitchen.

I really loved all these little colourful traditional straw footwear for children! Didi asked me if I could get him a pair! Glupz!

And since we were near Namsan, went to the top as well!

Visited the Bear Museum. It was pretty small, but I guess interesting enough for the children. And me? I was just glad to be out of the cold!

Now what else did we do? We were at City Hall, where there was an outdoor skating rink set up!

We went shopping at dongdaemum until late!

and all in all, a wonderful trip! which the cold left such an impression that Talia would exclaim now and then, I WISH I WAS IN KOREA when the weather turns hot and humid as it normally does!

The year of the Snake!

I am not particularly fond of snakes! In fact I hate them *actually I am scared to death of them*! and the children know that. I got lots of teases from them when they know the year of the Snake is cominggg! aissh!

The Friday before the Chinese New Year weekend, from the little girl’s diary (how not to know, when it was reminded at least 2 times) we were told that the girls should come in their cheongsams and bring 2 oranges! With the funeral and the shift just days before, I really had to make a last minute dash to Holland Village during Thursday lunch to get the girl something to wear so she does not become the only one in class in her school uniform attending the CNY celebrations in school! *sweat*

This is the little dress! I really like it! Not too ching-chiong yet perfect for the occasion!

And all the time, there was a little voice in the background, mumbling that he MAY also have a CNY celebration and all the adults neglected to check until its Thursday night and horrors of horrors, there really IS a celebration going on and he has nothing to wear too! I remembered a ex-Japanese colleague gave me something ethnic Japanese for the boy before but he was never big enough to wear it. I went to dig it out and gleefully told him Japanese boys wear that to celebrate their new years! (when i have absolutely no idea if that is true!)

Pleased as punch!

Every year’s reunion dinner with my mum is done outside. This year we chose the Imperial Treasure restaurant at Great World City. Our reservations was at 8.15pm and by the time we were seated down, it was already 9 pm! The poor starving children!

Po-po with all her grandkids!

We had the usual steam boat dinner with my mil and sil at our place and the kids got to stay way past their bedtimes!

The first day of the Lunar New Year this year was a Sunday and we chose to honour God first! and off we go to Church!

Pink is the theme this year!

After church, it was off to my mum’s for the usual Chu Yi lunch! As usual we tried to take a shot with all the kids and it was an uphill task!

Best we can managed!

We trooped home to catch a nap before going off to my mil’s for the usual Chu Yi dinner. And because I (YES ME!) thought it would be sad if cookie did not have some of the sumptous beef we were having for our steam boat, gave her just a bit! and I was greeted with a kitchen full of wet poo! and so YES, i spent the afternoon of the first day of the Lunar New Year scrubbing the kitchen floor!

Woke the troop up at 5pm and we went to my mil’s place.

HO HO HO! Ang Baos! HERE WE COME!

We spend Chu Er with friends at Legoland. It wasn’t overly crowded in the morning but more people streamed in in the afternoon when the sky brightened up and looked like it may not rain. We enjoyed a morning of overcast weather!

Posing with friends as FRIENDS!

We stayed until 8.15pm for the fireworks and what a spectacular fireworks it was. It was a full 15 mins worth of display accompanied by music. I actually thought it’s even better than our hoo-ha National Day fireworks which is like, erm, 7 mins? 9 mins? To top it off, we were given 3D glasses that when you view through it, you actually can see lego bricks popping out from the fireworks. Initially when we were first handed the specs, the children were exclaiming “hey i see lego everywhere!” The adults dismissed the comments as we thought they were making it up but when we donned the glasses, we realised the 3D glasses transformed any bright light sources into lego bricks so that kids were not lying! Muahaha!

Chu San was a lazy day spent at home. I am someone who is never big on CNY and CNY visitations and this year with a valid reason that I cannot go and Bai Nian, it suited me just fine! and before we knew it, it was back to school and back to work!

Legoland

At the time of this writing, I have already been to Legoland more than one time, maybe 3 or 4 times? and Hello Kitty Town once (another post for that!) To say that the children really enjoyed the place would be an understatement! They simply love the place to bits! and no wonder! because the park was built exactly for little children like them!

The first thing we saw when we dashed in was the miniland! You should have seen how their mouths became cute little “O”s when they saw how exquisite the re-construction of famous places were done with the lego bricks! and the little details put into the structures…families having picnics, and moving vehicles, there were just so many little details to capture the little minds!

It was blazing hot!

We chanced upon this yo-yo ride (Talia’s term) which Talia took for the first time last year when we were at Sea World in Gold Coast and the little boy was too scared to get on. This time we managed to persuade him to try it!

Not just once! But three times! ?

The Park is fairly large (at least much bigger than Universal Studios Singapore) and we just trooped around without a fixed idea of how we are going to explore the place. We came to I think Imagination Land and the musical fountain plays music when it detects motion. This caused the little girl to run many rounds around it!

There were also many amazing lego structures scattered all around!

Respite came when we spied a huge tentage below which was a playground. It spots some climbing structures and a little train as well.

We continued walking around and concluded that the park was nicely constructed with different ambience music for different sections. There were also little play areas with lego for play cordoned off so while parents queue, little kids can play. I like that very much!

Talia and her papa went off to ride the scary dragon roller coaster while I kept the little guy company. He declared he had enough after we rode the dragon apprentice roller coaster which was supposed to be a tamer version of the actual dragon roller coaster.

After which they went for several times on the Royal jousts which essentially is a mechanical rocking horse that goes round and round!

It was rides galore! We played from 10am to 8pm! And with the annual pass I have gotten for ourselves. We are sure we will be back many times more!