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Archive for December, 2014

We happened to be meeting my parents for dinner, and as the rain had stopped we decided to go and check out the Gardens by the Bay Christmas Wonderland event. I had heard that there was a Christmas market and was very keen to go. I loved all the Christmas markets in Europe when we were staying in London, and hoped to relive some of that at Gardens by the Bay. And I suppose it’s as close as it gets. Because of the rain, the air was very cool, almost cold. And with all the beautiful light sculptures and market stalls, it did feel like we could be in a cold country somewhere.

Beautiful light sculptures

Beautiful light sculptures

Family photo (and my kids have laser eyes)

Family photo (and my kids have laser eyes)

2014-12-19 20.28.39 The light sculptures made it seem like there were ornate buildings completely decorated with lights. I wished there was mulled wine, because that was one of the things I completely loved when we were in Europe during Christmas time. The drink somehow makes everything feel much more Christmassy. But there were only regular wine stalls, no mulled wine. I have tried making mulled wine in Singapore before, but it’s best drunk in cool weather.

Boys were so happy to go on a train ride

Boys were so happy to go on a train ride

It was as close to ‘magical’ as you can get when there was fake snow drifting through the air at the Spalliera, a lighted sculpture that formed a ring around a grassy patch (or what was once a grassy patch – hope the grass grows back!). I loved it. The cool weather, the ‘snow’, seeing the kids so happy, Jon, my parents. What more could you wish for? (well, except maybe a glass of mulled wine!)

So happy to see the 'snow'

So happy to see the ‘snow’

Trying to reach for the 'snow'

Trying to reach for the ‘snow’

Inside the snowy ring

Inside the snowy ring

Christmas Wonderland goes on until 1st Jan 2015, but the Christmas markets have ended their run. Gardens by the Bay people, if you are reading this, next year please get someone to sell mulled wine please!!

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The house still has boxes, though we’ve piled them up in three locations. But the rest of it still isn’t the way it’s meant to be yet. Part of the reason is the boxes are where some pieces of furniture are meant to be placed at, part of the reason is we brought over all our furniture even though we hadn’t planned on doing that. We decided that since we hadn’t bought any new furniture to match our new home yet, we’d just use what we have and see how it goes. It’s more cost effective this way too.

Despite the boxes, we managed to clear a space for the Christmas tree that my Mum passed to us :) We’ve set up a Christmas tree since Asher was one year old. At that time we used materials we found around the house to fashion a tree. What a change! Not that a real tree is better or anything, it’s just different. The boys had a fun time setting it up with me, and singing “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” as we went round and round when stringing the lights.

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Glowing tree

Asher also asked to string some lights at the balcony since we had an extra strand. He wrapped the lights on the railing and was so pleased with the result. Early the next morning he woke up early just to stare at the tree :)

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Christmas lights and ships in the background

It’s also my sweetheart Ellery’s birthday today! We’ve been so busy with the move we hadn’t given any thought to his birthday. And as his school said they preferred if he didn’t celebrate his birthday during the school Christmas party like he did last year, he didn’t even have a school celebration. I’m just thankful that he’s so cheerful. He’s been so happy this past couple of weeks, saying things like, “The whole world is celebrating my birthday!”

Of course we then remind him that it’s really Jesus’ birthday they are celebrating. Then he’d say the whole world is celebrating two boy’s birthdays :)

The tricky thing about his birthday being on Christmas is not so much that his birthday gets overlooked, it’s that Jesus gets overlooked. Intellectually he knows what Christmas is really about. But he’s most excited about his birthday. And I can see why, given then all the other kids are really excited about their birthdays too.

Anyway, here’s hoping the day will go well tomorrow. That Christmas will be meaningful and will touch something inside our souls, and that Ellery will have a fun-filled birthday too.

Here’s wishing you a blessed Christmas too!

Leaving school yesterday with the Christmas hat he made

Leaving school yesterday with the Christmas hat he made

And totally unrelated to Ellery, this picture is just too cute (in my opinion) to not share!

And totally unrelated to Ellery, this picture is just too cute (in my opinion) to not share!

 

 

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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!

 

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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.

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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

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