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Settling

We’ve been in our new place for 2 weeks now, but we’re still not quite settled yet. To be honest, it’s been a challenging couple of weeks.

For starters, Alyssa fell ill the night before we moved. She developed a fever in the middle of the night that lasted for the next five days, and a bad cough too. The cough got progressively worse in the morning and we decided that rather than keeping her with me for the move and exposing her to all the dust which aggravated her cough, that my parents would bring her home for a couple of hours.

What a milestone for her. She’s never been taken care of by anyone outside of my home, nor for that many hours. That was the day she was started on formula as well. We had emptied out the freezer, so all the stored expressed breastmilk was finished. I had planned on nursing her during the day. So all of a sudden she had to try formula. Thankfully she took well to it!

What a change. For Asher and Ellery I had planned exactly when they would try formula milk, bought a small tin several days in advance, introduced it slowly with half-and-half breastmilk and formula milk, slowly increasing the amount of formula until it was just formula milk. For Alyssa, we just decided that very morning, told my mum which brand and she hurried to the supermarket to get a tin :) And the best part was, I was totally ok with it. Definitely third child laissez-faire-ness.

The movers were great. We hired Alliance Movers on recommendation from a friend and they were excellent! The guy who came around to give the quote was friendly and reassuring. The movers themselves were super efficient, professional, helpful, and despite all the work, cheerful! I loved seeing the movers chatting and joking with each other even as they worked. It made moving a less stressful affair. And there seemed to be nothing they couldn’t do. They helped to disassemble and reassemble our bed, dismounted then mounted some shelves, wrapped up everything quickly and properly (sofas, tables, computers, etc), provided 2 large clothes rack for moving clothes (fantastic! No need to re-iron Jon’s shirts!) and helped with packing our stray items. And they were so fast. I spent weeks packing, and in just a few hours the entire house was empty. The only things left were some items in the storeroom that we hadn’t had the chance to run through yet so told them to leave it behind.

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Filling the truck with our stuff

 

With Alyssa ill I couldn’t unpack much though. So for days the boxes just sat there. I started to feel stressed and overwhelmed. I don’t like mess. I’m actually quite OCD about cleanliness and having everything in its place (even though I’ve lowered my expectations since the kids came along). When the house is messy, my internal life feels messy. So living in a house full of boxes before moving, and then still living in a house full of boxes after moving, plus the dust that inevitably plagues new houses, and noticing the rectifications missed out by the interior designers, and finding new things that needed rectification, and scuttling back to the old house to clear it out for the new tenant, and a sick baby that was quite literally stuck to me the whole time…all this really drove me crazy. Everything felt grimy and dusty. Everything seemed to be going wrong.

The boys and the husband were perfectly happy though. In fact, the boys settled right in as if they lived here all along! It was a real blessing, but in my stressed state I failed to be more grateful for it. Even though we now have a view to die for outside our window, I was grumpy and focusing on the mess.

Until one afternoon, as I sat glumly staring out the upper windows at the dust encrusted on the outside, cursing to myself at how the interior designers didn’t clean it up as they were supposed to, I found my eyes refocusing from the glass of the window, to the clouds that were framed by the window. Beautiful, white fluffy clouds set against a gorgeous blue sky. And then it hit me that, like my eyes just a moment before, I was focusing on the wrong thing. Instead of looking at the dirt on the window, I should be looking at the clouds outside the window.

I felt lighter. I wouldn’t say completely at ease, but lighter and less stressed. I can do this, I thought. And prayed.

And the change in attitude came not a moment too soon, because the day after, I somehow found myself with a sprained back. I couldn’t stand upright. Walking was painful. Sitting was painful. Sigh. But I’m grateful for the people who prayed for me, and that my back is better now. Not perfect, but better.

And in spite of the back I kept trying to unpack. Now the house is less cluttered even though there are still boxes that need to be unpacked. It’s reaching the point where I can’t see how it’s all going to fit into the cupboards. Might need to do another round of throwing out things. I grumbled to my husband about how we should have made more cabinets. We have planned some things to be built in a second phase to save on costs for now, but I felt we needed it now. But his position is that we should just throw out more stuff. I suppose he’s right too. I probably hang on to too much stuff. Overly sentimental about so many things.

So, the unpacking is not done yet.

In the meantime, the boys have been having a blast here. They love going downstairs to play, they’ve been enjoying playing with boxes, and they’ve been rediscovering a lot of our books. Previously they were kept on a shelf that wasn’t so conducive for browsing. Now they are pulling out all the old books and reading through them. I reminded myself to be thankful that they could entertain themselves this way while I handled Alyssa.

And yes, as for Alyssa, she’s better now. She’s finally not coughing all the time, at night her coughing is much better too (it was worst at night). She’s back to being a smiley, happy baby. For those five days that she was feverish, she barely smiled. It was so unlike her. I had to scramble to find a paediatrician near our house to attend to her after we moved. Thankfully I have some friends with kids in the east who could recommend me their doctor. She hated the nasal spray and didn’t like her medicine. She also lost her appetite and didn’t eat anything, only drank milk, and even then not that much. As a result she lost quite a bit of weight. But she’s regained her appetite again, thankfully.

The bad part is, her routine is completely messed up. I never enforced a routine. She kind of fell into one naturally. She used to nap around 10am, then barely slept, taking maybe 5 to 15 minute naps here and there, before knocking out around 7/730pm. She’d then sleep for several hours without waking up until around midnight or 1am. Now, she sleeps around 8pm and she’s up every hour or so. Less sleep is no fun. Am hoping she somehow falls back into her usual routine again.

So, yes. It’s been a tough 2 weeks.

Hope to make the house look more presentable soon and have some semblance of a Christmassy home before Christmas arrives!

How many boys fit into a box? The boys packing themselves away before we moved

How many boys fit into a box?

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The boys packing themselves away before we moved

Saying goodbye to our first home

Saying goodbye to our first home

Empty!

Empty!

Boxes in our new place

Boxes in our new place

Boxes in our livingroom and the view outside :)

Boxes in our livingroom and the view outside :)

We have a balcony now! Great for messy things like excavating bones

We have a balcony now! Great for messy things like excavating bones

Bookish boys

Bookish boys

Making a tunnel of boxes to race through

Making a tunnel of boxes to race through

It's a tie!

It’s a tie!

 

The boys and I had the opportunity to catch Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story which made its Asian premiere at Resorts World Sentosa on 27 November 2014. They were so excited in the run up to the show! When we read the story, they were very tickled by Mr Croc and all his tick-tocking that they kept talking about how they couldn’t wait to see Mr Croc in the show. I was really praying that the show would feature Mr Croc, else they’d be so disappointed. And thankfully, they did! A huge Mr Croc too!

Peter Pan Cover Image

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story, is presented by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) in association with Belgium’s Music Hall. It tells the enchanting story of Peter Pan, a mischievous boy with the ability to fly and who refuses to grow up. One night, he visits Wendy, John, and Michael Darling in their London nursery and takes them on an unforgettable flight where the Lost Boys, Indians, mermaids and pirates await them at Neverland. While they revel in adventures beyond their wildest imaginations, the villainous Captain Hook hatches an evil scheme to capture Peter Pan – his greatest enemy. In a fight years ago, Peter had cut off Captain Hook’s hand and a crocodile ate it. It tasted so delicious that the crocodile followed Captain Hook everywhere in the hope of eating the rest of him! The story climaxes in a duel between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, with the crocodile getting his treat in the end.

Beautiful set

The nursery in London (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Wendy with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Wendy with Peter Pan and the Lost Boys (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

The Indians on Neverland (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

The Indians on Neverland (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Peter Pan and Captain Hook (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Peter Pan and Captain Hook (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

The giant crocodile! (Photo from The Desert Life)

The concept for this version of Peter Pan was to use familiar, chart-topping hits to bring across the story. Songs such as “Angels” by Robbie Williams, “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban, “Forever Young” by Alphaville, and many others, were rearranged to fit the feel and context of the story. It’s pretty well done, and for the most part you don’t feel it’s been forced into the storyline. I left the show with “One Day I’ll Fly Away” stuck in my head for days!

The downside to this concept is that if you are not very familiar with the storyline, you may have trouble understanding what is going on – because there is so much going on! There is a narrator, but no dialogue between the various characters at all. Tinkerbell takes on the role of the narrator and remains unseen for almost the entire show. As she speaks, the performers are acting, and there is dancing, and the set is changing. Basically, plenty to distract you from what Tinkerbell is saying. Children, in particular, may find it hard to follow the story if they haven’t already read the book. If you are bringing kids, I strongly recommend you read them the story first. It also didn’t quite make sense to me that Tinkerbell was the narrator as she was supposed to be locked up in a box in Peter Pan’s hideout, so how could she know what was going on elsewhere?

Tinkerbell, the narrator (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Tinkerbell, the narrator (Photo by Leslie Artamonow)

Still, this production is a real visual treat. Elaborate costumes, a whimsical set featuring giant books, high-flying action, acrobatic stunts, and really good dancing. I was impressed by the dancers and Martino Muller’s choreography. Unlike other musicals I’ve seen, almost every segment of this show featured a full contemporary-style dance routine. It was like a double treat for me – watching the story of Peter Pan, and watching a dance performance. I really loved how the dancers attacked their moves and were so expressive. It as a pity that the programme booklet didn’t feature the details of the dancers as I would very much have liked to read up about them.

Dancers in Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story

Dancers from Peter Pan (Photo from City & Style Magazine)

At the end of the show we were unanimous in our choice of favourite character – Captain Hook. We loved Captain Hook! Played perfectly by Wim Van Den Driesche, from the moment he appeared on stage, he was a force to be reckoned with. He sang Rossini’s Largo Al Factotum and portrayed a pompous Captain Hook that was at once melodramatic yet extremely endearing. The drama continued when Captain Hook sang Puccini’s Nessun Dorma and his crew were falling all over themselves in their adoration of him. It was hilarious! The boys left singing nonsense words pretending to be Captain Hook singing in Italian. They also spent the next few days using anything vaguely hook-like to role play as Captain Hook in their games.

Captain Hook (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Captain Hook (Photo by Luk Montsaert)

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story makes for a fun and entertaining family outing. The action (and Captain Hook!) will delight children – just make sure you read the story first. If I may quote Ellery as we walked out of the theatre, “It was awesome, Mummy!”

Super happy!

Happy boys on a late night outing to catch Peter Pan

Us before the show

Us before the show

Peter Pan, The Never Ending Story run at Resorts World Theatre, Resorts World Sentore, until 20 Jan 2015. Tickets are available from the SISTIC website, or through the SISTIC hotline (63485555).

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We received complementary tickets for the show. All opinions are my own.

Boxed & Ready to Go

Well, almost. We are mostly packed, but still have more to go even though the movers are coming tomorrow morning at 930am! Help!

It’s been hectic here, to say the least. I’ve been packing for the last two weeks! And I can tell you packing with a little baby is not so easy. She doesn’t sleep long so I don’t get much done during her naps. When she’s awake I can’t get anything done because she wants to play.

In the end my Mum had to come and help entertain Alyssa a few times, which was a big help!

But still so much to go! We’ve accumulated so much stuff over these last 8 years that we’ve lived here.

Well it’s late and there’s more packing to be done in the morning! So here’s a quick photo to show the state of my house now.

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Boxes everywhere

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More boxes

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Taking their job of clearing the freezer of ice cream very seriously

Youngling

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The newest youngling on the block!

LEGO is such a timeless toy and the boys are big fans of it. They regularly create various machines and creatures, breaking it apart, recreating, and improving their designs. When I  heard about LEGO robotics, I thought it would be something that would definitely interest the boys and would introduce an exciting new dimension to the their LEGO playing.

They went for a trial Junior Robotics Engineers class at Wonderswork, a place that offers courses for children on robotics and inventions. Wonderswork seeks to nurture creative and inventive thinking, problem solving, critical thinking, and cross-cultural communication in children. The LEGO robotics programs, in particular, aim to educate and equip children from young with essential skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

At each Junior Robotics Engineers class, kids are given a project to complete. This project involves following instructions on a computer to build something, then using simple graphical programming to make the object perform a particular action. A graphical format is adopted so that it is not too complex for children, but yet still teaches them the logic and thinking behind programming.

While I was confident that Asher would be able to follow what was going on, I was a little worried that Ellery would be distracted and unable to keep up. I was also concerned about whether they boys would have problems using a computer because, if you can believe it, the boys have never used a computer! They’ve watched things on a computer, but not used one.

So I was happy to see that Enzo, the founder of Wonderswork, and the other teachers were extremely patient with both of them, and especially so with Ellery. They took the time to explain how to use the computer (!) and the computer programme, they guided Ellery on how to determine if what he was doing was correct and let him figure out whether he was on the right track by posing questions and letting him draw his own conclusions.

Tapping on the arrows to move to the instructions for the next step

Tapping on the arrows to move to the instructions for the next step

I would say the teachers functioned more as facilitators. Children are guided through the project and assisted when the teachers saw they needed help, or the kids asked for help. I thought that was a good approach. It is in the doing that kids learn best, and they need space to figure things out for themselves. I found out from Enzo that this is also how they approach the Young Inventors class as well. In that class, kids are given a challenge and have to create their own solutions to solve the problem.

It was also good to see that the other boys who were there for their regular class had very good rapport with the teachers. The kids and teachers were talking and joking with one another, clearly enjoying themselves.

I was surprised at how Ellery remained focused on his task throughout. He has a tendency to be easily distracted when disinterested in something, but that was clearly not the case here. By the end of the session he had built a rocking horse, and with some guidance had programmed the horse to rock back and forth. He was happily tapping on ‘Enter’ and ‘Esc’ to start and stop the horse over and over again. He was also able to explain to me how the horse could rock – that the electricity came from the computer and powered the motor, that the motor moved one a long block that was connected to the base of the horse, and that in turn moved the horse.

Ellery's rocking horse

Ellery’s rocking horse

Enter! Esc! Enter! Esc!

Enter! Esc! Enter! Esc!

For Asher, he was delighted to have been given a Star Wars walker to build. It even had a sensor that made the walker stop when it reached the edge of a table. Enzo also showed him how the sensor could be triggered to do different things. Besides stopping at the edge of a table, it could be programmed to play a sound when something came near. Asher’s favourite was when the walker made laser shooting sounds whenever he put his hand in front of it :) He was quite amazed by the sensor and mentioned it to me several times after we left the class, and was one of the first things he told Jon.

The Star Wars walker

The Star Wars walker

Watching his walker move

Watching his walker move and waiting for it to reach the edge of the table

The Junior Robotics Engineers class was fascinating and the boys loved it! I’d definitely recommend the robotics class, especially if your kid – girl or boy – is interested in LEGO.

Wonderswork conducts its robotics and invention classes weekly. There are also two holiday camps coming up – a Space Inventors camp and a Master Inventor camp. Five sessions of each camp are being conducted until the middle of December, but spaces are limited so you should sign up quickly if interested! You can click on the links above for more details.

Space Invention Lego Robotics Invention School Holiday Camp Nov - Dec 2014

Camp 1: 17-19 Nov (over)
Camp 2: 24-26 Nov
Camp 3: 1-3 Dec
Camp 4: 8-10 Dec
Camp 5: 15-17 Dec
All camps from 10am-230pm

Master Inventors Lego Robotics  School Holiday Children Camp Nov - Dec 2014

Camp 1: 20-21 Nov (over)
Camp 2: 27-28 Nov
Camp 3: 4-5 Dec
Camp 4: 11-12 Dec
Camp 5: 18-19 Dec
All camps from 10am-230pm

Wonderswork also offers a by appointment one-time drop off class that’s held on weekends. This is great for parents who want to meaningfully engage their kids while they take a much needed coffee break :) You can find out more about the regular classes and other programs here. If you are interested to sign up, they are currently running a promotion on the program fees.

Junior Robotics Engineer (for 5yrs and above) – $380 (Usual $500)
Young Robotics Engineer (for 8yrs and above) – $460 (Usual $550)
Young Inventors Level 1 (for 5yrs and above) – $380 (Usual $500)

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Kids at a Robotics workshop (Photo courtesy of Wonderswork)

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The kids who attended the last space camp (Photo courtesy of Wonderswork)

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Testing their space inventions (Photos courtesy of Wonderswork)

I’ve signed Asher up for the Space Inventors camp and he’s extremely excited! I’m excited to see what he’ll get to do too! Ellery is unfortunately too young to attend, but I might bring him back for some of the other workshops instead.

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Wonderswork offered a complimentary trial class for the boys. All opinions are my own.
You can call Wonderswork at 6333 4088 to arrange for a trial class if your kids are interested.

Junior Claus

Christmas started early for us this year. We attended the opening show for Junior Claus and were treated to a charming story about the young Junior Claus who is Santa’s son. He tries to save Christmas from being ruined forever by Grumpo the greedy elf who took control of Santa’s workshop after Santa fell into a deep sleep due to the Belief-o-Meter falling to dangerously low levels.

Junior Claus_MAIN VISUAL

It felt good listening to the Christmas songs piped into the theatre before the show started, and I thought it was especially important for our particular show since it was (and still is) a long way from Christmas. Perhaps that was why the Christmas buzz wasn’t quite filling the theatre as much as it could have. But I really believe it’ll get more and more ‘buzz-y’ as Christmas draws nearer. Kudos to the cast for giving their best to invoke the Spirit of Christmas at the start of November!

Dwayne Tan (who reminded me of the earnest Woody from Toy Story), put in a good effort at portraying Junior’s eagerness to make improvements to Santa’s workshop and his lack of belief in the Christmas magic. Junior tried to find practical and logical ways to do things instead of believing in the Christmas magic. It did feel abrupt when he suddenly did believe, but I suppose that has to do with the flow of the story. It was at the end when Junior spoke about what Christmas was really all about that I felt his conviction. That part was quite moving and I felt something stir inside me. I hope the kids felt it too.

Chipper the elf (Seong Hui Xuan) and Junior (Dwayne Tan) flying off to Singapore with Dasher (Benjamin Chow)

Chipper the elf (Seong Hui Xuan) and Junior (Dwayne Tan) flying off to Singapore with Dasher (Benjamin Chow)

I loved Timothy Wan as Grumpo! He made Grumpo evil but endearing, and one of my favourite characters from the show. Grumpo’s plan to corner the toy market and force parents to pay ultra exhorbitant prices for gifts was just wicked and wonderfully innovative, and hopefully that never happens, ha!

But my favourite character has to be Pengy the penguin. Cheryl Tan again put in a fantastic performance. I remembered her from Rapunzel and she further impressed this time around by playing two characters with panache. The boys and I loved the talkative and ever-positive Pengy. Like really loved him. Like really really loved him (watch and you’ll know what I mean). The minute Pengy appeared, the entire show was lifted as Cheryl filled the stage with her presence. It was wonderful how she spoke and sang with different accents for the characters and threw herself into making them believable.

Junior (Dwayne Tan) and Pengy (Cheryl Tan)

Junior and Pengy (Cheryl Tan)

One thing that would make the show even better, I thought, was if the music could be turned down a little, or the volume of the feed from the cast could be increased. It sometimes felt like the music was drowning out the voices of the cast members, particularly those who had voices that weren’t so strong. As a result, I thought it was sometimes difficult for the kids to catch the words of the songs.

The cast of Junior Claus

The cast of Junior Claus

Overall, this is a fun-filled show to bring your kids to this holiday season, and will be a real treat as Christmas gets closer! Although the recommended age is 5 years and above, Ellery, who turns 4 on Christmas day, was able to follow the story and still remembers what was said in the show. I was so surprised to hear him say, two weeks on, that “you don’t have to understand, you just need to believe”. What an appropriate takeaway for Christmas.

Junior Claus is showing at the DBS Arts Centre until 14 Dec 2014. Tickets are available via the SISTIC website and hotline (63485555).

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We received complementary tickets for the show. All opinions are my own.

Growing Steadily

It’s been a good long while since I blogged, in a large part because Alyssa is now much more alert than before. And she’s taken after her eldest sibling in one thing for sure – she hardly naps! There are days she naps for a total of 45 mins! Asher was exactly like that. But thankfully Alyssa cries much less than he did.

So anyway, she’s now 6 months old. I realise I forgot to do an update when she was 5 months, and there’s been a lot of changes since then.

As mentioned in a previous post, she’s able to sit steadily on her own now. She’ll still topple backwards if she gets excited and starts to wave her arms about a lot, but otherwise she can sit and play quite well.

Sitting and playing with the tambourine I got when I was five :)

Sitting and playing with the tambourine I got when I was five :)

She’s been rolling both to the left and right. And I think she’s gonna be a tummy sleeper like me. We put her to bed on her back but she often flips onto her belly to sleep. According to the experts I don’t really need to worry about her since she’s able to flip anyway.

She’s also started eating, and seems to enjoy her food so far. She’s not got a large appetite, but she accepts most of the food I feed her. So far she’s tried most the usual first foods – brown rice cereal, sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach, carrots, broccoli, etc. She loves carrots and can eat a lot more of that compared with the other vegetables.

Spinach day. She was quite fidgety that day, plus I hadn't yet refreshed my skills at feeding a baby. If you can believe it, more spinach ended up in her belly than on her face :)

I love how messy this is! Spinach day. She was quite fidgety that day, plus I hadn’t yet refreshed my skills at feeding a baby. If you can believe it, more spinach ended up in her belly than on her face :)

When she first started eating rice cereal, Ellery was so excited he kept telling anyone who would listen (including strangers) that his sister could eat rice cereal! Then both he and Asher wanted very much to feed her, so I let them. That was how she started having dinners, instead of just lunches.

Ellery was so happy to finally get to feed Alyssa

Ellery was so happy to finally get to feed Alyssa

Dinner with all three kids in my messy house

Dinner with all three kids in my messy house

And as if it’s the trend for my kids, she’s also not really taken to the bottle, but instead has taken to the cup. She’s now able to drink proficiently from the cup without spilling much, if at all. And she drinks fast! She can gulp down her milk in no time at all from a cup. Weaning her has made her a lot easier for others to take care of her if needed. Like on Saturday, we left her home when we went for Asher’s primary school orientation and she was apparently quite easy to handle. I’m so grateful!

Glug glug glug

Glug glug glug

She’s still her happy self, and actually I think even happier. She seldom cries in the car now. Someone suggested putting a mirror in the car for her to look at herself. I was willing to try anything to stop her screaming in the car. I bought a child safe mirror and found that looking at herself did not help, but looking outside did! I angled the mirror such that she could see the outside world even though she’s in the rear facing seat. It’s been much much more peaceful in car rides now. If she does cry it is for a clear reason like she’s tired, or has a poopy diaper. Even then, nowadays when she’s tired she’ll just quietly nod off to sleep. Again, I’m grateful!

She’s certainly been living up to her name and bringing great happiness to those around her. We love her, the boys love her, and it seems she brings a smile to almost every person we walk past. She simply loves when people stop to talk to her and will flash a big big smile at them, causing them to smile, and then she’ll smile even more. A positive cycle. She even smiles at posters! There’s a poster in our building’s lift that shows a lady looking shocked because she got scammed, and Alyssa laughs every time she sees the lady’s shocked look. She must think the lady is playing with her!

Well, I’m curious to see how she continues to grow and develop. I was struck tonight by how small she is compared to her brothers, and compared to us adults. Babies are so small and so cute! I need to treasure her period of babyhood. She’s the last kid, and there ain’t gonna be no more babies until I become a grandma!

Taller, with bigger thighs :)

11 Nov 2014: Taller, with bigger thighs :)

Finding something very funny

Finding something very funny

She was particularly happy that day

She was particularly happy that day

No space for her outstretched legs anymore

No space for her outstretched legs anymore

Playing with her favourite two bears. She especially loves that dark brown bear we got in Hong Kong

Playing with her favourite two bears. She especially loves that dark brown bear we got in Hong Kong

Playing with her brothers

Playing with her brothers

At the playground

At the playground

Photo my cousin took :)

Photo my cousin took :)

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