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Archive for the ‘christmas’ Category

It almost went by without us singing him a birthday song!

There were grand plans. Ellery had been asking to go to the zoo for a long time, but for various reasons we didn’t get to go. There was Legoland, which we were supposed to bring the boys to as a combined treat, but that did not materialise after our move as we got so tied up with house things (rectifications and all that).

In the end, everything was kept simple.

On Christmas day itself we had a special breakfast of pancakes cooked at the table, just like at Slappy Cakes. The boys had loved it when we ate there and my aunt had so generously bought us a crepe maker last Christmas so that we could do that same thing at home. In the end we only used it for pancakes one year later! We had became addicted to crepes and often had those for breakfast instead :)

Home style slappy cakes!

Home style slappy cakes!

Christmas pancakes!

Christmas pancakes!

After breakfast we made logcakes for our neighbours as a way to say hello. The boys had fun delivering them, and we discovered a couple of neighbours celebrate Christmas in a big way. Some others we discovered were vegetarian and couldn’t accept our cake because we used eggs. Need to look for eggless cake recipes!

Sprinkling on the snow

Sprinkling on the snow

As always we were double booked for Christmas lunch, so we did house-hopping and lots of eating! Usually people at these two homes would greet Ellery a happy birthday, and at the first home we’d sing a birthday song. But somehow this year all that didn’t happen. Thankfully Ellery was patient and didn’t demand or expect anything.

Being cheeky in the car and not wanting to stay still for a picture :)

Being cheeky in the car and not wanting to stay still for a picture :)

Lounging in our friend's house

Lounging in our friend’s house

We left the second house in the late evening and went to Toys R Us so that the boys could choose their own presents. But Ellery fell asleep in the car! We thought he’d wake up in the noise of Toys R Us but he didn’t. We headed for dinner and tried to wake him but he was just too tired. We were joking about how we were celebrating a birthday without the birthday boy! But just as we were finishing our meal he woke up! Just in time to eat something and enjoy some dessert :)

Birthday boy sound asleep

Birthday boy sound asleep

Finally up!

Finally up and being squished

It was back to Toys R Us again, and Ellery chose a bow and arrow set because he had played with a set in one of the houses earlier in the day and loved it!

Home, bathed, bedtime story, in bed. Then Ellery said he wanted to have a birthday song and cake cutting. Throughout the day I had wanted to do it, but there just wasn’t the opportunity. So although it was already 10pm, we pulled out a logcake that we had saved for Ellery, decorated it and sang him a song.

He loved it! Especially when we found that one of the candles was a trick candle that kept lighting up again. The boys had such a good time trying to blow it out :) I think in the end the cake was quite covered in saliva…hmm…

I was really happy to see Ellery beaming :) A simple birthday song and cake at home can be so special :)

An over decorated cake haha!

An over decorated cake haha!

Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday!!

Blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candles

Finally blew out the trick candle!

Finally blew out the trick candle!

Cut cut cut

Cut cut cut

Brothers :)

Playful brothers

Loving brothers :)

Loving brothers

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My dear Ellery, you have certainly grown. You have leaned out and are starting to lose your baby fat. Many people say you look thinner.

You still say the funniest things, and I have a long list of quotes from you that are just hilarious :) I laugh out loud everytime I re-read them! I must save them for you so that you can read what you said as a little boy.

You continue to be independent minded and like doing things in your own way, which is a good thing, but that same quality also makes you rather stubborn and difficult to discipline. Oh, what fights we have had this year. I have had a tough time reminding myself to model kindness and gentleness for you this year. But you can also be extremely charming and loving. You spout sweet nothings at random moments, and that always warms my heart. Whenever you say, “Mummy, I love you soooo much!” I can’t help but squeeze you tight, kiss your head, and all irritations of the day are dissolved.

It’s been a tough year for you too. On the one hand, you’ve become a very sweet and loving older brother to Alyssa. You were so happy when Alyssa was born you ran through school yelling, “I’m a Kor Kor now!!!” You play with her, hug and kiss her (even with dirty hands and oily mouth). On the other hand, I think you unconsciously feel the reduction in attention given to you and have been very whiny since your sister arrived. I have heard that middle children either become very independent, or very whiny. I think you’ve gone the whiny route. I’m hoping it’s a phase, and I’m hoping it ends soon. I try to pull out special moments with you, but it’s tough. I hope you know Mummy is trying her very best.

A new challenge has appeared this year too. One that I was anxious would come, and it did. You were an early reader and many people said to you or within hearing how “clever” they thought you were, and they praised you a lot. Too much. At that time I was thinking to myself that they really should hold back on excessive praise because it might negatively affect Asher, and more so, it might negatively affect you. Now it appears that you are only keen to try things that are easy. Anything that you think you’ll not be good at you immediately say, before even trying, that you can’t do it. I really pray that this is also a phase that will pass quickly. I pray that we’ll be able to build up your confidence to try things that at first seem difficult, and that you’ll realise you actually can do many things if you put your mind to it. Also, that we don’t expect you to be super at everything, but that you at least give things your best effort.

Mummy hasn’t had much time and attention for you this year, unfortunately. Mummy has been very stretched, but I hope you know how much I love you, how special you are to me! You are so unique, and I love you deeply!

 

 

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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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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.

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Replay

We had a playdate with the Sngs, Cais, Esther and Roy three days after Ellery’s birthday.  This bunch of friends hadn’t been able to make it for Ellery’s birthday celebration a few days earlier since most of them were overseas, so it was a good chance to catch up with one another.

To keep prep to a minimum we just got tons of breakfast hawker fare from our trusty Redhill Market.  Everything from waffles, to pao, to chai tau kueh, to prata.  It was a bit of a deja vu feeling when the house got completely messed up with toys and filled with the chatter and laughter of children.  But I like it :)  Our cardboard mansion was much better utilised at this playdate too.  Ironically, the roof collapsed not because of the kids though, but because of an adult haha :)  The children brought in toys, more crayons and colouring sheets, and had a blast hiding in there.

The 3-roomer was well utilised too, to the point the doorways were starting to cave in.  Good.  That was the point of it all.  Build, use, throw.  The garang guni man was more than happy to take our stuff the next day.

A huge milestone took place that day too.  Ellery started walking!  He suddenly got up and did 5 steps at one go.  This was witnessed by all the Uncles and Aunties, and the little kids, so he got lots of applause for his efforts :)  But more on his walking in another post.

It was good fun to see the kids gettings along and playing well with one another.  We’re planning a trip out to Bandung to visit Joce and family in June.  Hopefully the holiday plans all work out!

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Ellery spent his first birthday shuttling from place to place.  First church, then Aunty Evelyn’s house, then to Orchard to pick up a pink logcake that JC had requested for, and then off to Woodlands for a Christmas party.

Lots of playing and lots of attention.  You can’t go wrong with that combination on your birthday :)

Birthday hug

New shoes from Por Por & Kung Kung that they didn't realise made squeaking sounds until Ellery wore them :) Ellery was very amused and happily stomped his feet all the more.

Playing at the kids room in church

Asher happy with his balloon he got in church. Actually the balloon man had finished his shift, so I just asked for a long balloon and twisted it into a 'fish' myself. That's about the only thing I could think of making that might pass off as the actual animal!

At Aunty Evelyn's house. Getting some balloons of his own :)

Loving Jo Claire's ball pit tent

Like really loving it. Ellery couldn't stop crawling in and out of it. "Boh! Boh!"

JC and Asher learning how to pop champagne from Joe

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This is SUCH an overdue post!

Yes, I’m backdating it to the actual day as is my usual practice (I’m a bit OCD that way, I like knowing exactly which day things happened).  But this is one month overdue!!!

Gosh.

But moving on…

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On top of celebrating Ellery’s birthday we thought it’d be a great opportunity catch up with friends and relatives, so many of which we hardly get a chance to meet with on a day-to-day basis. Afterall, Christmas is a time for such things isn’t it?  So the party ended up being quite big, and our house was filled to capacity.  Every space was occupied, and I think it got a little cramp at one point because the caterer arrived more than an hour late so our guests were lumped together!  We had organised it such that the kids party was in the morning and the relatives would arrive in the afternoon.  But as lunch came late, the morning and afternoon crowd were crowded together for a good hour or more!  Everyone was very polite and kind though.

Homemade Christmas mobile

Thankfully the food was good – we catered from Samy’s Curry – although a little too salty and spicy for some.  Maybe next year we’ll cater Northern Indian since that tends to be less spicy.  It was a toss-up between Samy’s and Curry Garden, and this year Samy’s fish cutlet edged out :)

Indian food for Christmas

The kids seemed happy enough and didn’t seem to mind the crowd.  I had prepared several play areas to entertain the little ones.  In the living room the kids could help themselves to Asher and Ellery’s toys.  I had also made two cardboard playhouses for the kids.  The first was a 3-room playhouse which I put in the boy’s bedroom.  I had intended for their room to be the role-playing area (dress up clothes, masak-masak, pretend food were left there).

The 3-room cardboard house

Kids playing in the house

The other was like a cardboard mansion, complete with chimney, flowerbox and shingles, which I placed in the common area outside our house.  I had planned for the kids to decorate the house as they pleased, but here I discovered an interesting thing.  When the house was just unadorned cardboard, children are happy to draw all over it (as Asher and my neighbours kids showed), but once I pasted white paper all over (the intention was for their scribblings to be more obvious), not a single kid drew on the house!  That was something totally unexpected.  I guess they are all too well trained – no drawing on walls!  The white paper made the house have white walls, and made the house look too ‘made-up’ to draw on.  Inside though they were happy to draw on the walls since no paper was pasted there!  That phenomenon was so interesting to me.

Ellery was quite happy to play alongside the other kids, and I think he knew something special was going on because that night before he went to sleep he kept sitting up and clapping with a HUGE smile on his face :)  I don’t know whether he was remembering people singing his birthday song, or he was just happy.  I’d like to think he felt it was a special day :)

"Ball" was his word of the day

He really liked the rocking horse we rented from the Toy Rental Club

To mark the uniqueness of his birthday, we got log cakes instead of regular cakes as his birthday cake.  One for the morning kid’s session, and one for the relatives.  We thought it’d be fun for the kids to eat log cake too :)

Chocolate log cake for the kid's party

Hazelnut log for the adults

Thinking back on Ellery’s birthday, though, there are several things I would have done differently.  First, I would have given more thought to what he was wearing!  It was only on the day itself that I picked out something, and it was fairly random at that.  For some reason I thought he should wear something new that day, something not handed down, and had on hand just 2 t-shirt choices.  I let him pick, and he chose the t-shirt with colourful pictures of ice-cream.  I think I should have dressed him better since he was the birthday boy, something with a collar :)  Now everytime I put something on him that I like I keep thinking, shucks, I should have let him wear that on his birthday.  Not that I didn’t like his t-shirt, but it wasn’t dressed up enough I think :)  I guess with him I don’t dress him up as much as I did Asher.  Partly cos he’s usually doing casual things with me so hand-me-downs and casual t-shirts are more comfortable.  I don’t know, for some reason I really didn’t give it much thought.  I think I was more preoccupied with preparing the cardboard houses, doing up the handmade decor, etc.

I would also have asked someone to help take photos!  My camera, the Nikon Coolpix S9100 is really horrid.  Half the pictures are blurry.  We had bought it on the spur of the moment cos our previous camera was spoilt.  But I think I should have looked harder.  Beside the quality of pictures, I also simply didn’t have the capacity to take nice pics.  I was quite busy entertaining guests, checking on the arrival of food, getting other food prepared in the meantime for the kids, playing with the kids, etc.  But I’ve no regrets on that too since I was enjoying the moment.  I really liked catching up with friends, and watching the kids play.  I guess photos are really secondary, when it comes down to it.  That said, anyone with nice pics from that day please send to me! :O)

The last thing, though unlikely to change, is to have a bigger house haha!  I liked having the house be so bustling with people but it really would be more comfortable with more space!

All in all, I think it went well though :)

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Ellery, my dear boy, Mummy loves you no end!  I think there hasn’t been a day since you were born that I don’t say, “You are so cute!!  I cannot take it!!”  Of course, parents are intrinsically biased.  I love looking into your big eyes, I love when you give your megawatt smile that looks like it’s going to burst from your face, I love how chubby you are, how you like to pat people on the shoulder when they carry you as if you are saying “good job!”.  You are so nice to carry cos you’re filled out :)  But you are mighty heavy!  From quite early on I could not bring you out without using the Ergo.  When you choose to be wiggly you can be quite hard to hang on to because you are so strong.  You may be chubby but it’s not flabby at all!  You’re one tough little boy.

The two words I hear the most when people talk about you is “cheerful” and “big” :)  You have really turned out to be a cheerful boy, living up to your name!  You do have a temper though, which you showed towards the end of your first year.  If your toy gets snatched or you don’t get your way you can really cry.  Yes, you are macho and you have big lungs.

You are fearless, which can be quite alarming for me.  But it’s also refreshing since your brother can be quite cautious.  I hope the two of you will influence each other positively :)

Besides our house, the other place you see all the time is Asher’s school.  All the teachers and his classmates know you.  When we arrive in the morning it’s, “Hello Asher!  Hello Ellery!”.  You have a big fan club in his class, and your biggest fans are the girls.  Oh, how they pat you and kiss you and hug you!  Sometimes you trigger funny questions from his classmates like, “Aunty, how come Ellery doesn’t want to talk to me?” :)))  Now, you are so comfortable with them you’re as good as part of his class.  Asher’s teacher, Ms F, also adores you since you and her son are just 3 days apart.  You like her very much and often ask her to carry you.

You’ve been saying quite a few words like “ball”, “bir” (bird), “mama”, “deh” (daddy), “tar” (star), among others.  You moo when you hear the word cow or see a cow, you go baa when you see a sheep or hear the word sheep, and you say woof to the dog as well :)  It’s very cute :)

As for toys, you really like cars.  You’ll take cars and zoom around the living room making a ‘vroom’ sound.  Actually any toy with wheels you’ll do that.  And you’ve taken to dinosaurs too.  Yes, that’s one of the first words you said, “di!” for dinosaur, now progressing to “di-nor-nor”.  You “rah!!” like Asher, complete with the pretend claws.  Will I end up with two dino maniacs?

In the playground your absolute favorite part is the slide.  You’d go up and down all day long if I didn’t drag you away.  The other thing you enjoy is the steering wheel.

Contrary to everyone’s expectation you didn’t walk by your first birthday.  But I suspect you were trying to prove you independence and prove everyone wrong huh? :)

You and Asher play really well together and I’m so happy I have you two boys.  The instant you see Asher in the morning you light up and give the hugest grin, which Asher immediately reciprocates :)  What a nice way to wake up :)

You may be my second boy, and a lot of people ask me if I wish I had a girl (and there was even someone who said it would be nice if you had been a girl), or ask if I will be trying for a girl, but Ellery, always know that Mummy loves you so very much.  You are special, you are unique, you are irreplaceable.  Mummy and Daddy love you lots, but more than that, God loves you!  *muak*

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