Archive for July, 2011

We were supposed to join my parents and aunts at the Ritz to watch the preview.  They had booked a room for the event and it had an excellent view of the stage.  But we managed to get hold of some preview tickets so went for the preview at the floating platform itself instead!  Ellery stayed upstairs with my parents though, cos we thought the sound of the jets and everything else might be too much for his still delicate ears.  And it’d also be more comfortable for him upstairs since he can be quite a sweaty boy :)

Asher, needless to say, was very excited.  He still remembers the parachutes, helicopters, aeroplanes and fireworks from last year’s preview which he watched from the Fairmont hotel while we were in Phuket.

All smiles before the parade

Terrorising Jon with his sword

Checking out the armoured vehicles

Patriotic shot!

One of Asher’s favourite bits – the Red Lions!

Swooping in for landing

Fighter jets in formation

I *heart* SG

This year’s NDP is done in the style of a musical, but it still incoporates all the usual elements of the march past, armoured display, and performances by various groups.  I think my favourite costumes were from the first performance.  Sorry to be a show spoiler, but it’s just too cute!  Ketupats dancing with satay sticks, milk and Oreos, and Asher’s favourite were the paus bobbing in the baskets :)  Multiracialism presented through food!

Ketupats & Satay


Milk and cookies

It was nice to be in the thick of things.  To have the bubbles flying around you, be engulfed by confetti, and see fireworks at close range…things you won’t experience at home.  But I think I also like listening to the commentary about the different performances at home.  I guess going for the preview you get the best of both worlds!

Confetti galore!

The grand finale

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Family Day

It was Family Day in Asher’s school and the kids and parents turned up in yellow.  We could help them with their art activity that day which was decorating a butterfly cut out.  Then Asher and his friend wanted to stick the butterfly on their backs like wings.  That led to the entire class becoming butterflies :)  Then laoshi  launched into a butterfly song.  The butterfly mania was an unplanned, impromptu thing, and I loved that the parents and teachers were game enough to follow the children’s lead.

In the end the kids were butterflies throughout the outdoor games portion too.  It was adorable to spy first this one, then that flapping their wings like butterflies every now and then :)

Butterfly Asher

Asher declared that he was hu die lao shi

A kaleidoscope of butterflies


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Jane had extra free tickets and generously shared them with us :)  It was my first time on the Flyer and I was surprised by how smooth the ride was.  So smooth that the boys kept asking us why the capsule wasn’t moving!  We had to point out that the view was changing so that they realised it was moving, just verrrrrryyy slowly.

It does afford very good views of the bay area.  But I think the experience could have been enhanced if there was some music piped in so that it’s like a soundtrack of the city.  Something like how Ku De Ta in Bali (not sure about the one in Singapore, never been) plays a soundtrack when the sun sets.

The boys were also treated to sightings of fighter jets zooming by, probably in preparation for NDP.  It was only then that I realised how insulated the capsule was because we could hardly hear the jets going by.

Playing the ‘digital torches’.  You could shine the ‘torches’ onto scenes of Singapore.

Spotting duck tours

Skyline and a capsule

View from the top

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Heard that there was going to be an interesting science show by Jim Lenz at the Science Festival held at Suntec City.  The fair was supposed to have activities for young children, so thought I’d just try and see if Asher enjoyed it.


I think the show was more targeted at primary school students and above (understandably) who have some rudimentary knowledge of science.  But nonetheless, there were demonstrations with visual impact which Asher liked.  There was one where he showed how hot air rises using a balloon, and the one that Asher really liked was when he used potato bits as bullets to shoot at a target with a loud pop!

Boys paying rapt attention

Filling the balloon with hot air

And away it goes!

There were other activities that Asher could take part in, though of course he doesn’t understand the scientific concepts behind it.  For him it was just games.  But it was interesting for me to learn a few new things.

Asher playing ‘fishing’.  Those things are actually representations H1N1 viruses and some of their mutations.

Asher trying to manoeuvre some ball bearings into the brain of the rat.  This game was meant to illustrate how a dose of antibiotics through the tail of the rat delivers many good molecules of medicine, but only a few make it to the brain, which is the intended destination. 

We ended our outing at Crystal Jade.  He likes the fried rice and white bait there, so he ate well :)  Ellery was napping in the carrier so I could devote my attention to Asher.  And I really enjoyed myself chatting about all kinds of nonsense and playing games.  I was especially glad that he was coorperative throughout!


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Irritation & Frustration

Terrible twos can be terrible indeed.

With that terrible behaviour peaking over the last week, I’ve pretty much had it.  So frustrated was I last night, I literally broke down and cried.

I’m just going to ramble.

Asher was incredibly contrary from the end of last week.  First thing in the morning I’d hear “I don’t want <fill in the blank with whatever you asked him to do>”.  I realise that sometimes, and especially over this last week, I’m actually on edge, with a constant worry that he’s going to melt at something small and blow it all out of proportion in the usual toddler way (but of course, I’ve never actually seen other toddlers behave this way.  They tend to put on good shows in front of others.  That, and I think a lot of mothers  don’t like to admit their kids have these terrible toddler moments too).

Among the various ‘nos’ and ‘I don’t wants’, one of the things that frustrates me is when he insists we park at the top floor.  Sometimes when I’m not in a hurry I indulge him.  But other times I just want to park lower.  Sometimes he doesn’t make a fuss.  But when he chooses to it can be terrible.  From not wanting to get out of the car seat, to saying “I want you to park upstairs” all the way home and refusing to eat dinner.  But I can’t always let him get his way.  That’d be wrong.  But at the same time, I’m so conflicted cos it’s just about parking upstairs…I can just drive up then it won’t affect his dinner, especially since I’m also concerned about his food intake.  But the easier way isn’t always the better way.  He has to learn where we park is not up to him.  He cannot always get what he wants.  And if he doesn’t get what he wants he cannot react that way.  It frustrates me.  It really does.  Especially when the clock is ticking…dinner time, bath time, bedtime…It’s hard to describe but I think if you were faced with it, you’d be frustrated too.

Then yesterday night.  The straw that broke the camel’s back.  He has this thing sometimes about not wanting to cut his food…if it’s cut you must “put it back together” which, obviously, cannot be done.  Yesterday it was about food being bent…when it wasn’t!!!  Argh.

Theres’s this orange fishcake in a fish shape that he likes.  Through a miscommunication with my helper, she had cut the fish in half, so it looked like the bottom piece.  Asher didn’t say anything about it.  He was trying to eat it with his spoon, but it kept falling off cos it was bigger than his spoon.  So I took a fork and poked it for him, telling him it will be easier with a fork.  That’s when all hell broke loose.

“I don’t want you to poke it!!!!”

“Oh, ok, I’m sorry” (take fork out)

“It’s bent!!!!!”


“Asher, I just poked it, I didn’t bend it.  See I’ve taken the fork out.”

“You bent it.  I don’t want it bent.  I want you to make it straight” (crying and yelling by now, and my irritation building)

Tried in vain to make him see that it was simply the tail of the fish, not that I bent it!!  For goodness sake, I DID NOT BEND IT!!  The unreasonable phase has kicked in.  When this part of the tantrum kicks in there is no reasoning.  It’s just irrational and unreasonable.  Then…

“Ok, throw it away if you don’t want to eat it!  I’ll throw it away!”


“Then eat the others!”

“I want you to make it straight!!”

…more of the same…until he finally is starting to calm down a bit

“Asher, do you still want it even though it is bent?”



“There’s a hole!!!!”

O. M. G.

Cos he was fiddling with it while he was flaring up, the tail bit was starting to tear off.  Obviously he won’t believe me if I told him he did it right?  Argh.  More irritation and frustration.  Anger actually.  I could feel the rage starting to build inside me.  I was thinking, “Why must he be like that?  Why must he spoil a good day? (we had had a nice walk just before dinner).  Why is he being so contrary?  Everything is contrary!!!”  This is on the back of a battle the evening before in the carpark, and another in the morning before leaving for school.  So this was the third battle in less than 24 hours.

“Do you still want it even though there’s a hole”


In the end he asked for a whole fish, which thankfully we still had 2 more.  And he ate all the half pieces.  And he ate well overall…eating up the noodles and veg, etc.  I don’t get why the other half-pieces were not considered ‘bent’, while the one I poked was “bent”.  It’ll forever be a mystery I’m sure.  There is no logic.

But I was so shaken up, so upset, I couldn’t help but cry at the table while I sat with both boys and fed Ellery his dinner.  The poor brother had sat there not knowing what was going on.  I was really so upset during the argument that I had to step away into the kitchen for a breather.  It was just plain ridiculous.

Then as I’m tearing…in his innocent way Asher says ,”I forgive you, Mummy”.  There is a bit of humour in that, I guess, but I was in no mood to laugh.  I suppose from his point of view I bent the fish and he’s forgiving me.

He still remembers and thinks I bent the fish.  He mentioned it tonight over dinner.


Today.  Asher was an angel (yay!).  But Ellery just simply refused to sleep.  And I got frustrated.  I was hoping to put the boys to sleep early.  I had them both bathed by 7pm.  I was aiming for 830pm…that’d still be a good 1.5hrs of quality time, and I can watch News on Channel 5.  But 840pm we switched off the light.  Still acceptable.  Then Asher needed to go toilet…in the end he’s in bed at 850pm.  My irritation is starting to build up.  At no one in particular….just at the situation.  I have a psychological threshold of 9pm.  I really don’t like it when the kids sleep past 9pm.  So as the time creeps nearer to that witching hour, I feel the irritation creep up on me too.

It’s not as if I didn’t spend time with the boys.  1h 40m, is a long time….But then Ellery didn’t want to sleep even though he was tired.  Fussed and fussed…in the end 940pm he slept.  I was beyond irritated.  2h 40m to get both boys to bed (to Asher’s credit he fell asleep on his own by abt 9pm).  That is just way too much time!  I had tried to put Ellery to sleep before 840pm, but he didn’t want to sleep too.


I suppose it’s a bit selfish of me to be thinking of how it’s eating into my me-time.  But at the same time, I think, surely I deserve some me-time…however little?  Usually I’ll only get down time, not me-time, cos after the kids sleep I spend the time chatting with Jon to stay in touch with what he’s going through.  But he’s overseas on a work trip at the moment, so I was going to have some me-time!


Maybe this could just be a bad week.  Hopefully the boys will be better in the coming days *crossing fingers*

The thing is, I don’t think it’s having 2 kids that’s difficult.  It’s dealing with their stage of development.  Terrible twos and a baby who doesn’t yet sleep through the night.  Having two kids is not that big a change, I feel.  My life hasn’t changed much as a mother of 1 versus a mother of 2.  Maybe 3 kids will really change my life again though.  But 3 is purely a hypothetical at the moment.  Honest.

Anyway I’m thinking of this cos lately many of Asher’s classmates are becoming older siblings, and I can see the difference in how some of this classmate’s parents talk about the second kid affecting their lives.  There’s one who always gives me the impression that life is topsy turvy.

But you know what?  Maybe it is.  Because every kid is different, every household is different, every situation is different.  So if I would like any understanding of my situation, I guess I should just keep quiet :)

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It seems almost every mother of toddlers I know brought their kids for The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favourites, presented by the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia.  And with good reason, the kids really like Eric Carle’s stories.  Asher has been in love with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Mixed-Up Chameleon for a long time.  I know he had read Little Cloud in his previous school too. 

We went with the Moks, who came with their family.  It was my first time at the Fusionopolis theatre, and I thought it was a very interesting venue.  I had always wondered what the pod in the middle of the building was.  Now I know!

The show was faithful to the stories, and even to the images in the story.  With the use of black light they managed to make the puppeteers practically invisible, placing the focus on the characters.  I was reminded of Fighting Gravity which used black light to very cool effect.  Ok, a bit off point.

The set

Anyway, Asher was delighted to see the chameleon and caterpillar in action.  He was intrigued by how the caterpillar ‘ate’ the fruit, and was tickled by the way the caterpillar kicked the half-eaten fruit away.  But his favourtie character was the chameleon.  He was so excited when they brought out the puppets for the children to touch and dragged me down the stairs to the front.

Can you spot Asher at the end patting the tail of the chameleon?

Good show.  Happy kid.  Money well spent.

Asher squeezing through the gap between the pillar and the glass.  The kids thought that was very fun and squeezed through several more gaps…thankfully no stuck kids.

“I can do it too!” 

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Went to check out Medzs at Orchard Central with Jon on one of our date nights (with our little ‘lamp post’ in tow).  I love Mediterranean food so was looking forward to this meal.

The place is run using a dining card system similar to Marche and Shodoku.  The offerings cover French, Greek, Spanish, Moroccan, Italian, and Turkish cuisine.  The first thing that struck me was that it’s much more reasonably priced than Marche.  Here most items are priced under $10.  In fact, the most expensive item on our bill was roasted lamb that was $15.

Some of the stalls

Trying to give the place a Mediterranean ambiance

The range was not incredibly impressive, but part of the reason is that you can find similar food elsewhere.  For example, grilled seafood and kebabs.  But perhaps the quality of (some) food is better?  Also, I suspect they chose cuisines based on whether the country touches the Mediterranean sea…I don’t think I ordinarily would have thought of French food as Mediterranean (duck confit Mediterranean??)  And there was a rosti stall in a corner…think that was to cater to Marche fans who can’t imagine such a concept without rosti.

We ordered a mixed salad platter from the Turkish stall which included grilled eggplants, humus and mixed vegetables.  This was a little bit of a let down.  While the humus was alright and the eggplants were tasty, they were not spectacular.  Also, the eggplants actually looked a little bit unappetising.  I think baba ganoush would have been a much better pairing with humus.  The mixed vegetables turned out to just be shreded iceberg lettuce with some token capsicums thrown in.  Overall it could have been much better. 

We also ordered a lamb tagine (Moroccan), which at $10, is incredibly good value.  There was lots of meat on the bone, the flavours were hearty.  Although I must say  it’s not the best I’ve tried.  But my palate has been spoiled by the real deal in Morocco.  Ah, if only I could fly back there again…

The highlights of the night were the rosemary and olive roasted lamb (French) and the grilled octopus (Spain, apparently, though I’d associate it more with Greece).  The lamb was very good.  I would go back to eat it again.  The meat was done to a perfect medium, the texture of the lamb beautiful, and the flavours were excellent.  The octopus was heavenly!  Perfectly grilled, moist and juicy on the inside, a little charred on the outside.  The flavours burst in your mouth and linger after.  It was so good we had to order another plate!

Digging in

Nearly didn’t take a pic of the octopus.  We were just so happy eating.  This was the last piece from our second plate.

Our total bill was under $50 for 5 dishes and 2 drinks, after a 25% discount with DBS credit cards.  With the discount it is super good value.  But even without it, the prices of their dishes are not exorbitant.  If I were to go back, I’d head straight for the octopus and the roasted lamb.

We ended with dessert upstairs at Cold Stone – a giant bowl of ice cream with the perfect combination, in my opinion.  Dark chocolate ice cream, pecans, almonds, brownie, and caramel.  Mmmm…crunchy yummy goodness in every bite.

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Saw this event in the papers and was very keen to go.  I love books, inside and outside.  So I was eager to check out An Ode to Penguin held at the Arts House, which is an exhibition of more then 1000 Penguin books that the owners of BooksActually collected over more than ten years.  Even though that sounds like a lot of books, the exhibition is actually quite small. 

I’ve always been a sucker for covers, appreciating both the classic covers and the more elaborate ones.  I wish I had all the shelves (and money) in the world to acquire a beautiful library of books.  Alas…

The collection includes a book from the first 20 titles ever printed under the Penguin series (it’s the blue book in the picture above inside the ‘shield’ in the centre).  The exhibition showcases how thecover  design shifted from horizontal orange blocks, to vertical blocks; from a simple block design to include motifs, photographs, paintings, and even a gimicky design-it-yourself cover. 

Orange block covers

Lovely cloth covers.  Had seen these at a bookstore previously and was so tempted to get them cos they’re so pretty, but they were cheap, considering the price of a regular paperback.

The guide there was very knowledgeable and helpful, and I was impressed with his genuine interest in the design history of the Penguin covers.  He could trace the history from the birth of Penguin under The Bodley Head, to it’s breakaway, then the establishment of Puffin books just as World War II broke out, and then the founding of the Pelican series of non-fiction books.

I liked this.  The various versions of the Penguin logo before the final one (extreme left, middle penguin in black) was settled on.

An old copy of Mr Popper’s Penguins.  Apparently the Penguin logo took some inspiration from the illustrations in this book.

I remembered I had few old Penguin books of my own that I picked up from secondhand bookshops which were of titles they didn’t have.  Will look at them differently when I pull them out again.

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[pictures to come]

As a follow-up activity to our train ride, and mainly because I wanted to do it, we went walking along the train tracks twice at different stretches. 

On the Tuesday after the last train left Tanjong Pagar, the boys and I hit the Rail Mall section with my parents to walk across the steel bridge.  Walked just a short distance from Rail Mall to the Hillview crossing.  Even then we took an hour to make the round trip since we were walking quite slowly.  Asher did well walking on the stones, and had a good walk with Gong Gong. 

My Mum was tickled by how they looked like two people running away along the train tracks, although ‘running’ wouldn’t be quite how I’d describe it.  But Asher found that amusing and kept saying he was running away with Gong Gong after that :)

Then on Saturday we went with Jon’s Dad to the stretch between Queenway shopping centre and Portdown Flyover to walk under the flyover for a different experience. 

Compared to the Bukit Timah stretch, which was very lush (giant yam leaves, long hanging vines, large over-grown creepers, etc), this had a much more open feel.  It didn’t really feel like we were in Singapore especially when we walked past some abandoned ramshakle kampong huts. 

Being a weekend it was more crowded though.  There were even cyclists on the track…something I don’t think I want to do.  It looked extremely bumpy a ride.  I’d much rather walk. 

Anyway, if there’s a chance I wanna head for the other steel bridge near King Albert Park to relive that delinquent moment I mentioned previously.  Pity that the Bukit Timah Station is already cordorned off.  I didn’t know they’d be sectioning off that area before 17 July, which is when the tracks are still supposed to be open until.  The stretch between King Albert Park and Rail Mall will still be open until the end of July though.

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Rotating Houses

It was our turn to host another playdate for the boys.  As usual, almost all the toys were pulled out and they were running about before and after dinner. 

During dinner I think there was healthy peer pressure for them all to eat something.  Titus was the most guai, needing no prompting whatsoever to eat up.  But these boys are really fruit monsters, needing no prompting to eat their dessert of strawberries, peaches and apples.  Wonder how the meals will go when Ellery starts eating dinner too.  How chaotic will that be?  2 adults and 4 boys at the table :)

It makes me happy to see that Asher and Kaizer don’t just play alongside each other, but with each other.  They can now share an imaginary world and contribute funny ideas to the game.  Asher happily remembered Kaizer’s comment that they were sailing to “No island” – with a capital N.  It’s the name of the island.  The both of them found that really funny and were laughing away, and for Asher, laughing intermitently at the recollection of it up till bedtime!

The two older ones were lost in their world, so Titus busied himself with the other toys, and was happy to try on some of Asher’s hats, and looked very, very cute indeed.

I think Kaizer is repairing the broken telescope with a hammer?  They were in a ship on the way to No island (hee hee ha a ho ho)

Looking through their ‘binoculars’ to find…who knows??

Titus in the hat




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