May the Fourth be with you – Lego Star Wars Days at Leogland Malaysia!

LEGO Star Wars Days 2015

Did you know that May 4th is Star Wars Day?

Honestly, I was never a fan of Star Wars when I was growing up, and didn’t think too much of Episodes 1-3. I especially find the young Anakin whiney and prone to throwing tantrums. Maybe it stemmed from not knowing where you were conceived from, let alone know who your father is? But having said that, Luke was a much better Jedi, even though his father was absent all his life, and whose parenting methods are highly questionable – I mean, who cuts off their son’s hand?

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So I was naturally doubtful and apprehensive, when the husband started the boys on Star Wars, Episodes 4-6 of course, and I must say I grew to like it a lot more since there was much less whining (I have enough of that at home), and Harrison Ford really kicks ass.

It was amazing that the boys were so interested in the movies, and I think they were barely 3 when they started. Soon we had a whole collection of Star Wars books, light sabers, etc. The other day, Scout (all of 2.5 years old) pointed to Chewy and said, “He’s a wookiee, don’t be scared.”, and I was completely blown over. A few days later, I realised why:

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Still amused though.

This May 4th, Legoland Malaysia is celebrating Star Wars with a Big Bang, although not quite as big as blowing up the Death Star. There will be parades featuring the Star Wars interest group members on May 3rd and 4th, which I’m sure would be AMAZING, given how there are SO many Star Wars fanatics out there. If you can’t make it, for the rest of May there will be various activities, such as

  • Photo opportunities with a LEGO Star Wars™ photo wall,
  • Building stations for guests to try their hand at building LEGO Star Wars™ Microfighters and contribute to a LEGO Star Wars™ Mosaic mural
  • A LEGO Star Wars™ themed workshop for children at the LEGO Mindstorm Centre
  • Star Wars™ themed LEGO model creations competition winners from all over Asia will be displayed until August

You can also stand to win a 2D/1N experience at Legoland Malaysia with this contest by Tourism Malaysia!

 

We are going to have to plan a trip there soon!

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Check out Darth Vader and Son for more hilarious cartoons on parenting, and of course we are all excited about the upcoming movie too. There is really so much for the padawans to learn from these epic movies! I will always remember how each youngling has difficulty with “R2D2″, they will say things like “R2-doo-tee”, “ah-too”. I’m sure they’re going to love BB-8!

 

 

 

 

For the love of food (how baby weaning is like in my household)

Wow! I did not realise that I had this in my drafts folder for the longest time! It was meant to be an all photos post, but now I’ve added in a little introduction :D You can also read more about my thoughts on eating and mealtimes in my previous post here. **************************** Scout has always been a pretty good eater, she started off on cereals at 6-7 months, and then kind of lost interest, or maybe she was just trying to tell me something, until she started on rice at 9 months. She completely skipped the porridge phase, although today that’s one of the things she loves. So since she was already on rice (usually doused with soup of course) at 9 months, there was really no need for me to bring any homecooked food for her when we went out, since there was usually rice and other condiments. And if she wasn’t interested in anything, well there was always milk. I don’t sweat it if one or two meals are skipped because they’re not feeling it. We love eating, and I think eating is one of the joys of living. When I was pregnant with Scout, I had absolutely NO APPETITE in the first trimester, and could only eat about one-third or half of the portions I usually do. It was THE END OF THE WORLD! What was the point of living if you can’t enjoy food?? Ok maybe that’s being a little dramatic, but I’ve always been quite willing to let my kids try “outside” food at an appropriate age (although I frown on doritos for a 6 month old, tyvm MIL). At home we eat simply, with as little MSG as possible, so I think a little outside food on occasion never did anyone harm. It also makes it much easier when I’m out alone with the three kids, if they are interested and willing to feed themselves. Of course if the husband around my job is much easier! Recently my friend told me of her friends who never let their kids eat fast food, and will even go to the extent of eating french fries IN FRONT OF THE KIDS and proclaiming it was horrible. Sorry, I really can’t agree with that, because WHO DOESN’T LIKE FRENCH FRIES?? And isn’t it lying to your kids? Would it really kill them to have it once in a few months? I’m pretty sure that when those kids do finally get to taste the forbidden fruit, the flood gates will probably open and they might be at MacD’s every other night or something. I’ve heard and know of several cases of toddlers who aren’t exposed to much outside food past 18, 24 months, and they end up quite uninterested in food in general. Who can blame them if they’ve been eating the same stuff for so long? (Of course some kids are just more picky than others, I have both good eaters and picky eaters!) I also think that letting them try a variety of foods once they are able to (no allergies dangers) is an important step in weaning and enjoying life, especially when you can enjoy food together as a family. That excitement in their eyes when they see the food they like, or when they’re completely engrossed in eating their favourite dish, is really one of life’s most simple joys as a parent.

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Everyone loves macaroni!

Insist on feeding yourself even if you can hardly reach the table.

Insist on feeding yourself even if you can hardly reach the table.

She loves chewing on chicken drumsticks and will leave no drumstick un-gnawed!

She loves chewing on chicken drumsticks and will leave no drumstick un-gnawed!

Have a taste of everything. Even your brother's skate scooter.

Have a taste of everything. Even your brother’s skate scooter.

Who doesn't love breadsticks?

Who doesn’t love breadsticks?

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It helps when there are other kids to set an example. She now understands that in order to get her food she needs to go sit at the table! She used to go running to the table to sit down, saying “Yayyyy, lunchhhh”

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Love crunchy cornflakes.

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Love ha gao.

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This wasn’t even her dinner.

At least the kids did enjoy most of the food!

Beef noodles.

She absolutely loves corn and does a better job cleaning it up than the other kids!

She absolutely loves corn and does a better job cleaning it up than the other kids!

No high chair, no problem!!

No high chair, no problem!!

Her first time having curry... Although she did not try it again after that!

Her first time having curry… Although she did not try it again after that!

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Look at somebody – too busy slurping up the noodles at a Hong Kong 茶餐厅 to bother looking at the camera!

A long March into April

Has it already been a week since the funeral of the century? It feels as if life and everything else paused for a while there, and everyone spent their days devouring articles, opinions, videos, photos, anything and everything! (Although if there is ONE article you MUST read about what an AWFUL, TERRIBLE place Singapore is to live in, you must read THIS thoroughly entertaining and entirely true article. Poor us!) 

Things are now slowly getting back to normal, but I feel as if I’ve lost the momentum from the new year. I have so many items on my To-do list that I’m avoiding. I find it hard to get started or keep motivated on anything. It feels like how you know you have to study for an exam but keep procrastinating! 

Thankfully, as we move into Semester 2, the kids seem to be coping well with school. Scout is still clinging to me like a koala outside of school, but otherwise enjoying it and learning so much every day; as is Abacus who has improved in his Chinese by leaps and bounds and is doodling every day; and Mittens, who had to transit into Primary 1 this year, seems to be taking it much better than I am. In fact, I think he has been more prepared for it than I have. He’s pretty enthusiastic about his school work, and has even taken to reminding ME that he has e.g. spelling to learn. 

Although it was on the back of my mind to do so, he actually asked me for a timetable to follow at home, and last week he asked for a chore chart (in different terms) with rewards that could be exchanged for iPad time. We don’t even enforce that now, we allow them to use it on occasion, which if under my watch is actually very very seldom since I always say “No battery!”. So I think not only is he adapting well to school, he might just be a better parent than I am! Now if only I can get him to be more responsible for his belongings, and oh I wouldn’t mind if the boys would stop fighting too…

We have not gone on any holidays yet this year, shock! Horror! First world problems! I hardly stop thinking about traveling, and have been busy planning several trips. But after making all the arrangements for a 14-pax family holiday this coming June, I’m ready to retire from playing travel agent. Or until I get itchy again, which I suspect might be around 6 months. 

Honestly, life that revolves around school going kids, or kids in general, can get somewhat boring and monotonous. Wake, school, home, sleep, repeat. And there are many times when it is monotonous, when it is tiresome, when is it just “sian”; when you find yourself doing the same school drop on auto-pilot, when the kids won’t stop bickering, or when you have to think of what to eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner for everyone in the house AGAIN, I try to remind myself it’s the little things that count – the small pockets of time together, the jokes, changing diapers.

So excuse me while I’ve been quiet on the blog.”, there always seems to be so much to do and so little time! And while I’m looking forward to the school holidays (only a little more than a month to go!), I know it’s just going to get more hectic. Ah well, perhaps things will slow down when the kids are in their teens. Or twenties. Or… well whatever it is, we’ll just have to wing it in the meantime, won’t we? :)

Giveaway: Rise and Shine with the Rise and Shine Carnival 2015!

Hello folks! We have survived the school holidays, and a rather rough week if I may say so. I’m a bit relieved the holidays had only been one week, because our routines have been all out of whack, and I have been so muddled recently, forgetting about Mittens’ Berries classes TWICE. What’s up with that?! Not that I don’t like the holidays, but clearly I need to get my act together more.

And in a bid to do that, I’ve been thinking about waking up earlier, and I’ve even “started” Little Green Dot’s How to Become a Morning Person “course”…..but I’m such an owl, it’s not been easy changing habits I’ve formed for so many (many!) donkey years. I already consider ourselves extremely extremely lucky that now that we’re in Primary 1, we only have to be in school at 750am (YES!), and we just need to stumble across the road to school, but still I have trouble waking up! And worse still, I seldom have a good breakfast myself.

carnival poster_FINALThat brings me to the Rise and Shine Carnival 2015. The carnival was conceived as the largest outdoor carnival in Singapore that is breakfast picnic themed for families. It is aimed to raise awareness on healthy development of children through good dietary and lifestyle habits as research findings show 1 in 3 children have unhealthy breakfast. Oops I think all 3 of my kids do not have regular breakfasts, but does it count if 2 of them are often already full on milk, and for the last 1 he doesn’t usually have much time so he just gets a slice of bread or bun? Looks like I need to start channeling my inner supermummy and start getting my act together.

This year the Rise & Shine Carnival 2015 will be at a much larger venue, the floating platform, and they will have an Angry Birds performance, kiddy rides, sports and a soccer clinic plus a Manchester United legend apparently, bubbles, face painting, an obstacle course and gigantic bouncy castle, and meet & greet with mascots and more! The kids will definitely be entertained and spoilt for choice during this massive picnic. And for late risers like me who like to sleep in a little on the weekends, good news, the booth games will run until 5pm so you don’t have to rush down.

Giveaway!

Rise & Shine are sponsoring 2 pairs of tickets to the carnival for my readers! All you need to do is to enter this Rafflecopter and answer this simple question: Where is the venue of this year’s Rise & Shine Carnival? Winners will be selected by Sunday April 5th. Good luck!

 

And if you aren’t able to win, you can also buy your tickets online with a 15% discount if you use the code “MummyEd” online at the website

See you there!!

 

 

Rise & Shine Carnival 2015
Venue: The Float @ Marina Bay
Date: Saturday, 18 April 2015
Time: 8am – 12pm (booth activities will continue to run till 5pm! Kids have more time to try out games at each booth)
Ticket price: Free entry for kids below 12 years old.
$20/ ticket. Each paying adults will receive a play coupons worth $40 and each family will receive a picnic mat free.
Visit website for more details: http://www.riseandshine.com.sg/carnival2015

http://riseandshine.com.sg/carnival2015/?___store=tots

This is not a tribute

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It has been a tough week for all.

I’m pretty sure I don’t speak for myself when I say many of us have found ourselves unexpectedly tearing, if not sobbing, throughout the entire week. Many of us have been overwhelmed by our own emotions.

But I’m not here to tell you how much I am grateful for the man. No, how do you express such a wide range of pride, gratitude, loyalty and all kinds of other emotions into words?

Watching the documentaries, knowing the accolades and achievements, that was one thing. But the personal accounts from his political counterparts, his friends, his family, the mark of a great legend truly has to be how easily he reduced so many other great men to tears of love and respect.

I could tell you the story of how my father never completed his (then-equivalent) polytechnic certification before he was hired by an MNC where he spent all his working career, or how poor my husband’s family was in the early days. But certainly you don’t need to hear the details, because I know you have your own story – they are the Singapore Stories, they are our Singapore Stories.

After the funeral, Bill Clinton said, “He was a gift not only to Singapore, but to the world.”

My fellow Singaporeans, and friends of Singapore, let us remember to continue his good work in building the country we want it to be, the country we want for our children. Let us learn from him and agree to disagree; to seek out discourse among your peers; to do what we think is right. Let us not wait for someone else to provide it or do it, courtesy begins with me, and so does everything else. Let’s do it!

 

p.s. Here is a previous post on things you can do to change your country, by no means anywhere near exhaustive!

 

Hangzhou – July 2014

Rain rain rain go away...

Rain rain rain go away…

As part of the epic Shanghai trip last July (oops, has it been that long?), we took a short weekend trip to Hangzhou. Here is a short summary of our trip and perhaps some tips that might help.

I found the train times online, and we booked tickets through a little hole in the wall ticket office near our apartment. To book tickets you need to show your passport, or at least a copy of it, because it prevents people from scalping tickets during peak seasons like Golden Week.

The view of the lake.

The view of the lake.

We took a bullet train from the Shanghai Hongqiao Station, which is nice and new, but the place is absolutely packed. You are only allowed to board 15 minutes before the train departs, and people start queuing up as soon as you know the platform number. If you’re traveling with young kids, you can get priority boarding, which I recommend, because the crowd can get a little overwhelming. And everyone has allocated seats so I’m not sure what the rush is?? Being kiasu Singaporeans, we rushed in too. Ha!!!

Right after the gantry on the Shanghai side, there is one very lift down to the platform, which everyone will try to squeeze into; but if you have a baby with you, use it as your priority! The train ride took a little over an hour, hovering (literally, right?) around 300km/h. The time depends on the number of stops.

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When we got into Hangzhou, we could not find a lift on the platform, although I did see one on the return trip. The train station is a short, easy drive to the Grand Hyatt Hangzhou, but I’m glad we made arrangements with the hotel to have a pick up service because I wouldn’t want to have to deal with a long taxi queue.

The Grand Hyatt Hangzhou is not a new hotel, but the rooms are very comfortable and reasonably large. We had a lovely stay here. I did, however have problems making the booking because the Hyatt call centre when I called from Singapore firstly acted like they had never even heard of the hotel (“hung-chu-ah”?); and were very pushy over the phone. And this was more than one person. When I called the reservations centre from Shanghai, they first had to put me through to an English speaking officer (since I might miss out some important details if I had to speak Putonghua entirely); but they were fantastic. So, if you are calling Hyatt Reservations from Singapore, you have been warned.

We stayed at the Hyatt Gegency Hotel.

We stayed at the Hyatt Gegency Hotel.

The Grand Hyatt Hangzhou in a lovely location – right on the lake, right next to daily water performances. The Hangzhou Lake is supposed to be one of the most breathtaking places in China…..in the 15th century, perhaps. The lake is supposed to be poised to reflect the beauty of the moon on a clear night; but maybe that was before the lake became polluted and dirty.

The umbrellas are for the drizzle but when we got sprayed with water from the water show, we were all cringing a little.

The umbrellas are for the drizzle but when we got sprayed with water from the water show, we were all cringing a little.

As you can see, there is PLENTY of people, and really not much view. If I had to do it again, I’d have gone for a lake-view room so that I could just watch the water performances from my room.

These days the lake looks… a little disappoointing. A friend of mine said that the wetlands where a Banyan Tree resort and Four Seasons are, are actually much more picturesque, with hardly anyone.

What you think you are going to see. (Source)

What you really end up seeing

What you really end up seeing

On the day we arrived, it was very close to dinner time, so for convenience we had dinner in the hotel at 28 Hubin Road which apparently is quite a highly rated restaurant. The river shrimp with tea leaves wasn’t impressive, but the sweet honey fried pork ribs was so addictive and the kids loved it, and the dungpo pork is quite unusual, wouldn’t you say? The salt baked chicken was interesting since the kids had a go at breaking it open, but the taste wasn’t impressive.

Dung po pork!

Dung po pork!

On our second day, we had breakfast at a local place, it was decent. The entertainment by way of the English translation, was epic.

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I’d heard so much about the tea plantations, and tea tours, so we hired a driver from the hotel. However we were pretty disappointed and the kids were quite bored, because we only went to historical sites, like where the Emperor had visited a grand total of three times, in the 13th century. Riveting? Not really. We didn’t even get to sample any longjing! Argh!

What I thought we would see (Source)

This was the only and closest shot of the tea leaves that we managed to get. For all I know it's just bushes and not even tea.

This was the only and closest shot of the tea leaves that we managed to get. For all I know it’s just bushes and not even tea.

Looks promising right?

Looks promising right??

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So much to see, but I really don’t see much!

Amazing that there is so much history... But so little to see.

Amazing that there is so much history… But so little to see.

That afternoon it started to pour all the way to the next day, so we really didn’t do much more. We didn’t go a buggy around the lake, we didn’t even manage to walk around the lake, we didn’t go to the old streets, we didn’t… ah well, at least the kids had fun hanging out in the hotel. I really didn’t do much research on Hangzhou because we were so busy in Shanghai, and only on our last day I discovered one of my friends loves Hangzhou and knows all the ins and outs. Would’ve been useful knowledge earlier, eh?

Zhang Yimou’s Impression West Lake show is supposed to be really good, but I wasn’t sure the kids would be up to it, so we gave it a miss. I would definitely like to watch it the next time I’m in Hangzhou. I’m sure Hangzhou has a lot more to offer, but probably not during weekends (we didn’t have a choice though) when it’s a lot more crowded, and not when it’s raining the whole day. I wouldn’t mind returning to explore the city again, but at least I’m crossing this UNESCO site off my list for now.

When you hate mothering (How I wanted to quit my job)

When New Years came around, I was consoled that there would be “quite a bit of time” before Chinese New Year. Well, where did all the days go? We have been so busy with the every day, with moving to a new office space, me still trying to train my helper (a long story for another day), getting accustomed to the new schools and way of schooling for all three kids and everything else in between.

Mittens turned 7 early last month, and we celebrated it with a big lunch party…..at the neighborhood zhi char stall. With a last minute store bought cake. It was with all his cousins (from both sides!), and with a fish dish caught by his very own uncle, followed by lots of cycling, scooting, and pizza for dinner, still with cousins. Certainly not the most elaborate, but simple doesn’t mean it’s anything less.

I have not made any new year resolutions, but it’s obvious that simplicity is the key for me this year. For a long time last year, I was struggling with managing the kids. I felt as if I’d lost the joy of mothering. I began to wonder how post partum can the onset of post natal depression be? Would say, 2 – 2.5 years seem unreasonable? :D The kids seemed to be constantly getting on my nerves, and I felt as if I was the grumpiest mother. Ever. Constantly.

I wasn’t having fun and no one was having fun. Or maybe it was because I made sure no one else was having fun. I’d kinda lost that (fun) loving feeling. Was it because I had too much on my plate? More children than hands? Trying to multi-task too many things?

No amount of “How not to shout at your kids” articles and Orange Rhino tips were helpful. I wanted to feel like I didn’t need to give them a shelling all the time, rather than the need and tips to calm down when I wasn’t. I was totally over the every-mother-needs-me-time mantra – sometimes it was even more work coordinating care takers in my absence or it would have to be throwing the kids to a few hours of TV just to have some me time, and on return it seemed like there would be even more mess to clean up than before I left.

But somehow I made it through those long dark days, and I can truly say that I have been really enjoying the days with the kids. It’s hard to say what exactly was the solution, and I wish there was a magic formula I could share with you, but I’m pretty sure that it was a confluence of so many factors, I still have trouble pin-pointing the answer.

I do think that there were a few turning points. Something like noticing that the angst rubbing off on the kids; constantly feeling guilty about not being the mother I thought they need; realising that the kids were acting out mostly because they were trying to get attention rather than just being difficult or naughty. Most of all, I wondered what if they lost me today? Or tomorrow? Or if I had only a week? A month? A year? There is still so much moulding for me to do, there is just no time wasting being grumpy.

So I laughed more, played more, kissed more, and hugged more. While still being firm, of course. I decluttered (and built some shelves, instant gratification!). I resolved to be their biggest fan. I decided meals would be as simple as possible (less stress!). I am now constantly finding ways to streamline everything so that I can give more to the kids.

And every night, even despite my annoyance with them (if any), we would say our night prayers, and we would be thankful for all the wonderful things that happened that day, as well as all their good qualities for the day, and ask for assistance in where they could improve. They seemed to love it and soon were looking forward to saying our night prayers!

I often try to recall what I read in Professor Zhou Hong’s Appreciating Your Child – that parents are like farmers. We sow the seeds and tend to them with water and soil, and we gently persuade them to grow in the way we would like to see them grow. We can do our best to make sure they are healthy in order to survive pests and disease, while keeping an eye out for such invasion. We can’t rush their growth, and we can’t make basil grow into mint or vice versa.

Life is full of ups and downs, and being a parent even more so. But if you ever feel like quitting this mothering job, wonder where the job satisfaction is, feel frustrated or suffocated, I cannot tell you what to do. But I wish you well and hope you get your mojo back soon.