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Archive for the ‘playmates’ Category

How overdue can this get?? :)
Finallt got down to finishing the post on Alyssa’s party held in May!

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What a packed day it was to be! There was another party on the same day as Alyssa’s. That would be in the morning, while hers would be in the afternoon. Jon brought the boys, so I was left to prep the room while taking care of Alyssa at the same time.

Before that though, we started the morning playing and cuddling on our bed. It was a nice time of family bonding before the hectic day began :)

Sibling love

Sibling love

Squeezing together for a family shot :)

Squeezing together for a family shot :)

All the Logistics

This was the first time I had an empty function room as a blank slate for a party. All our previous parties for the boys were either held in our home or somewhere with a play area. So there was always the home decor, or the decor of whichever venue we were at, and all I needed to do was embellish a little. A blank slate was a different proposition altogether. How do I make the place look cheerful and provide the kids some entertainment while on a budget? The room had plain white walls and nothing besides tables and chairs.

An empty room - my blank slate

An empty room – my blank slate

In the end I decided to go for paper decorations as I thought it’d be easier to prepare. I saw on pinterest some instructions for making pompoms that seemed pretty manageable, and bunting didn’t seem like too difficult a task.

What colour scheme then? For lack of a better option, we went with colours that would match the Alyssa’s dress. Sounds funny right? Yes, I thought so too haha. It was a hand-me-down dress that I didn’t think much of while it was on the hanger, but one day when we put it on her, she looked so sweet and lovely I knew I wanted her to wear it for her birthday. Jon and I have never been the kind to give too much attention to what the kids wear, but we both agreed in this instance that the dress was perfect for the occasion.

The dress and matching papers for the decorations

The dress and matching papers for the decorations

Pom poms and bunting - I liked these so much they are now hanging in Alyssa's bedroom :)

Pom poms and bunting – I liked these so much they are now hanging in Alyssa’s bedroom :)

It's not much, but I think the décor makes the place seem more festive

It’s not much, but I think the décor makes the place seem more festive

What entertainment? With so many kids on the list, we agreed there had to be a baby/toddler area and an area for the bigger kids. We decided to go with the ever popular bouncy castle for the older kids, and a ball pit for the young ones. I never expected the price difference between different companies for bouncy castle rentals to be so great. For one of the models I was looking at, one of the better known companies quoted me upwards of $400 excluding delivery and extra charges for each flight of stairs (there were two). I found the same model for rental at a different company for about half that price, including delivery! The big company had a price-match policy, but when I told them about the price I found, they told me to go rent from that company instead! So much for a price match!

In the end we rented the castle from Kiddom as they had the best price. The one thing I wished Kiddom would have done was to put some foam mats around the castle for added safety. Maybe they could consider including those as part of the rental. Party Mojo also had good prices, but the castles I was interested in were all already booked up.

Some of the kids in the bouncy castle

Some of the kids in the bouncy castle

Boing boing boing!

Boing boing boing!

Down the slide

Down the slide

The bouncy castle. I’m not sure that’s something I would get again for a party. I’m still undecided. On the one hand, the kids really enjoy it. On the other hand, it can well…get out of hand! We had a few scuffles among the more active boys. Thankfully none of the kids got injured from the bouncy castle though. Asher, however, did get his arm hurt in a fall (running on flat ground, somehow tripping and landing badly). He was so out of it after that, he just huddled in one corner for the rest of the evening. To be fair, he said it was very painful (and that’s another story how we went to A&E).

The little ones all loved the ball pit that we hired from The Toy Rental Shop. It was large enough for 8 to 10 little kiddos to be in at the same time. And because the kids haven’t really started walking, they all had sufficient space, and more than enough colourful balls to play with. I loved how The Toy Rental Shop’s ball pit came with a little slide. Alyssa was in love with that slide! She kept wanting to go on it over and over. I think that’s really where her love affair with slides began.

The big ball pit

The big ball pit

Alyssa so excited to see Asher outside!

Alyssa so excited to see Asher outside! The ball pit was indoors, while the bouncy castle was outdoors (to keep the noise out!)

Here Mummy!

Here Mummy!

Little Dean enjoying the ball pit

Little Dean enjoying the ball pit

Alyssa fascinated by aunty Leah's ponytail

Alyssa fascinated by aunty Leah’s ponytail

The bus with the slide at the back

The bus with the slide at the back

Trying to get a shot of all the cousins (but Asher was still huddled in the corner and didn't want to join in)

Trying to get a shot of all the cousins (but Asher still nursing his injury and didn’t want to join in)

The Toy Rental Shop even gave us complimentary goodie bags to give out to the children, so the kids had 2 goodie bags each when they left!

What was in our own goodie bag? I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t really like goodie bags that leave me with a lot of useless things. And I also personally feel that packing it in fancy bags is such a waste because the kids just want what’s inside and throw the packaging away very quickly. So we went with simple brown paper bags (though another friend used them too, and she had a wonderful idea of washi taping them! I think that’s a great idea to prettify the bag a little!), with the contents differing depending on the age of the child. For the younger ones they got baby snacks, a simple Chinese book, and a small puzzle. For the older kids, they got a book and some snacks too, but older kid snacks. I made sure that I got different titles for all the books so that it didn’t matter which bag the kids picked up, they wouldn’t get the same titles as their siblings.

Younger kid's pack

Younger kid’s pack

Older kid's pack

Older kid’s pack

 

For food, Jon and I have always wanted to cater from a prata place and have a live prata station. Having the space of a function room and the wide verandah adjacent to it gave us the opportunity. We went with Casuarina Curry. They were prompt and the food was excellent. Besides prata, we catered nasi biryani and a variety of curries. I was very happy to see everyone ordering prata and enjoying the food. Prata is the best. Add teh tarik, and you are in comfort food heaven. So of course there was teh tarik too!

The friendly chef

The friendly chef

Tucking into the food

Tucking into the food

Prata and briyani, mmm

Prata and biryani, mmm

Chocolate prata was very popular among the kids

Chocolate prata was very popular among the kids

P.A.R.T.Y!

Jon and I aren’t really party people. We like gatherings, but not big parties. But somehow, we always feel that the first birthday needs to be more inclusive, with all the uncles, aunties, grandies, cousins, friends, etc. So the first birthdays tend to be big. I’m really happy to see everyone, but there is so little time to spend with each person. And it’s tricky juggling the different groups of people. Actually, I think everyone is quite happy to make themselves at home, feed and entertain themselves, but as the host, I just feel like I should be doing more for them. When I’m the guest at such parties I’m quite happy to be doing my own thing, talking to people around me, chomping down yummy food, and running after my kids. But when the roles are reversed I worry about the people getting bored, people not enjoying themselves, etc. And then I’m taking care of Alyssa too.

friends

friends

more friends!

more friends!

family

strange family

strange family (in particular the one on the le… ;O) )

little friends

little friends – Jo Jo loved hugging Alyssa that day. Very sweet!

Alyssa with cousin David

Alyssa with cousin David

I had a friend who was so kind to offer to babysit Alyssa for a bit while I had some dinner and spoke to some of the guests. Her own two kids are bigger now, but my no mean all grown up, so I was extremely touched by her gesture. Alyssa seemed to sense that this lady was loving and kind, and thought Alyssa was getting very sticky to me, she didn’t cry when I left her with my friend.

Eat, play, sing a birthday song, blow the candles, cut the birthday cake, and before you knew it, the party came to an end.

Singing the song

Birthday cake time

Standard stunned look by 1-year-olds staring at a crowd of people around them

Standard stunned look by 1-year-olds staring at a crowd of people around them

Cutting the cake

Cutting the cake

Alyssa and her kitty cake

Alyssa and her kitty cake

It’s always a bit anti-climactic at the end of a big party. All the prep, all the effort, and whoosh, it’s over. This party in particular, had so much prep to think about. Less themed stuff than I did for the boys, but a lot more thinking for every other aspect. I was very happy that Alyssa had fun at her own party. The ball pit was a huge winner. Can I say again, I’m so glad we got it! She was happy, we met with family and friends; good food, good company – it was a good party. I really should worry less! :)

And anyway, that’s the last 1st year party we will be doing. Ever! (Or that’s the plan at least…)

Playing with the pom poms the day after in her brand new cat romper that she got as a present

Playing with the pom poms the day after in her brand new cat romper that she got as a present

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My dear little cupcake, oh how you bring us all so much joy and laughter. You are a funny little girl, and we all – your gor gors, mummy and daddy – all love you immensely. You have really lived up to your name which means “great happiness”. You don’t cry much, and when you do there’s usually a good reason. When you were born, you didn’t cry! You just gave a dainty little, “eh!”. As a little baby, you were so quiet your uncle Terrence called you a soft toy. Though after calling you that you decided you hated car rides and would scream through them. Thankfully you outgrew that phase.

You are a little charmer. Everywhere we go people stop to say hello to you. And if they don’t, you wave at them and then they can’t help but stop to talk to you. There were times where I think I needed you more than you needed me. I had a few meetings with people that I was a little anxious about, but your presence always acted as a buffer and an ice-breaker, to the point now I’m comfortable even if you were not there. But I don’t think I would have had the courage without you and your happy presence.

Compared to your brothers, you are so much easier to care for. SOOOO much easier. I start to understand now why people couldn’t comprehend just how difficult your brothers were as babies (well, in particular your eldest brother) because maybe they were more like you, more calm and just easier to manage. I’m so grateful. So, so grateful.

But, like your brothers you don’t like sleeping through the night – why oh why? I look forward to that day. Very much.

Again comparing to your brothers, you’ve had a lot less attention than they did when they were your age. You are basically carted around with me when we fetch them for their activities, and when you follow me to run errands. Though I inevitably have to slow down to nurse you, I find that I’m not with you in the moment as much as I was with them. I’m sorry about that. I guess I’m really just stretched and that nursing time, I can just be still and think about my own things.

But you are so loving nonetheless.

I do love cuddling you so. Your smiles and cheerful presence are so precious. I find myself saying over and over “you are so cute!” though I guess as you get older I should cut back on that because it’s not just about being cute. It’s about having the right kind of values and convictions. I hope that as you grow up we’ll be able to impart to you the right values. And most of all, that you’ll grow up knowing and loving God.

I thank God for you! I love you so much, but God loves you more!

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On the actual day of Alyssa’s birthday things went pretty much the same as usual except we indulged in some flower shopping in advance for Mother’s Day. The cold rooms were…cold, and I hurried in and out a few times with Alyssa to get what I wanted. I gave her a little stalk of her own, and she was so so happy with it :) I suppose girls and flowers really could be an innate thing, huh?

So happy with her flower :)

So happy with her flower :)

My little girl is one!

My little girl is one!

We hurried home so that I could get started on baking her birthday cake. My mum came over to play with her and chipped in to help me cut the triangles for the bunting. My Mummy is the best! How apt that Mothers’ Day was just around the corner. Her actions showed me motherhood really never ends. Your kids can be all grown up, but you’ll still love them and want to help them as much as you can.

I decided on a whim to make a marble cake, and with some leftover batter made a little cupcake for us to cut after dinner as Alyssa’s birthday cake. It was moist, appropriately dense, rich and chocolaty, and just perfect, I thought! I was really pleased and had high hopes for the cake. Alas, the actual cake somehow turned out really really dense. Too dense. I don’t know if it’s because the batter wasn’t very thick in the pans, there was too much mixing, the refrigeration, the pressing down the fondant on the cake, or…I have no idea! At the party the next day, it was so dense it was difficult to cut through the cake! How embarrassing! There were a few guests who claimed they really liked the cake, but I did wonder if those guest were just being nice :)

Happy Birthday Alyssa!

Happy Birthday Alyssa!

blowing out the candle

blowing out the candle

Cutting her little cupcake

Cutting her little cupcake

I also have a new found respect for cake makers who use fondant. It is so difficult to use! Honestly, my cake was so shabby! There were cracks in the fondant, some parts weren’t covered properly. Gosh. Just getting the fondant off the table was a nightmare because I kept breaking it. It was so nightmarish it was funny! I was laughing to myself at just how ridiculous the cake looked :) I think I made the fondant too thin. The instructions were to make it as thin as possible, but that makes it near impossible to lift up without breaking. I also realised too late that I shouldn’t have put the cake in the fridge because when it’s taken out there’d be condensation on it. It also got sticky when I was working with it, and it was only later on at the party that someone told me I had to work in an air-conditioned room. So….I tried my best. Tried to cover up the cracks with little fondant cats since Alyssa likes cats (though Jon said they looked like pigs :) ). It was a simple looking case, but I really put in a lot of effort so was quite pleased anyway. If Alyssa ever asks why I made her such a simple looking cake, I’ll just ask her to make a fondant cake herself so she knows how difficult it is to work it! I’ll stick to using icing and chocolate ganache. If I’m feeling brave I’ll try fondant again.

Cracking fondant!!!

Cracking fondant!!!

Creases and cracks. Ahhh!!

Creases and cracks. Ahhh!!

Cats lounging on the cake

Cats lounging on the cake

Whoops! Little kitty falling off the cake!

Whoops! Little kitty falling off the cake!

Snuggling cats

Snuggling cats

The end result! Kitty cat cake for Alyssa :)

The end result! Kitty cat cake for Alyssa :)

More on the party in another post!

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No Reason BBQ

We had a barbeque at our place with the Sngs and Cais for no reason other than that one of our friends wanted to eat barbequed food. Actually the barbeque was supposed to take place at East Coast park, but it seems everyone else was also craving barbequed food and all the pits were taken up.

It turned out that even though we were away from the sea, having it at our place was really fun for the kids because they could run around the estate and play at the various playgrounds. They all came to our house to chill out after the BBQ too, and the kids had a blast playing together. If messes are an indication of the amount of fun they had, they had a tremendous time!

Maebe, the Sng’s dog, came for the party too. She was so at home in our house that I really wished we had a dog of our own! Hubby, if you are reading this you know what to do.

Starting up the fire

Starting up the fire

Playing soccer while waiting for the food to cook

Playing soccer while waiting for the food to cook

Maebe!

Maebe!

Kids catching up with one another

Kids catching up with one another

Having fun at the playground

Having fun at the playground!

Toasting marshmallows, and seeing who had the most patience to wait for the marshmallows to develop a nice crust

Toasting marshmallows, and seeing who had the most patience to wait for the marshmallows to develop a nice crust

Mmm yummm

Mmm yummm

Happy messes are always welcome :)

Happy messes :)

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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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Even though our house is messy, my friends and I decided to have the yearly gathering at our place. It was a happy little crowd of adults and children bonding over pizza and presents. Nice :)

It has taken us this long to have a bunch of kids born in the same year! It’s also the first time we’ve attempted a group shot with all of us. Even then we were missing one cos Alex went off earlier.

The youngest set

The youngest set

Alex the baby whisperer

Alex the baby whisperer

All except Alex!

All except Alex!

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Asher didn’t have school on Friday because the K2 kids were going to have a sleepover in school (how fun right?) Since Asher had been asking to go ice-skating again I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to bring him. With Ellery in school I could focus my attention on Asher and help him become more confident on the ice.

So off we went to JCube. After a warming lunch of katsu curry (he said he wanted his body to warm up so he wouldn’t feel cold on the ice), we went ice-skating, just him and me. Alyssa was with Eni.

It was really special for Asher and I. I seldom ever get the chance to be with just him, even when there were just 2 kids. With 3 it’s even tougher. This was our first time, and he was so happy.

We were pleasantly surprised to bump into his two classmates there. They had been wanting to go back after the Frozen party too. It was great! He became a lot steadier on the ice and could move a little more smoothly, though still far from what I’d call skating. Still more like walking, or shuffling. But he was not afraid. And he was happy :)

I didn’t realise that the Rink had fixed timeslots for skating and we missed about 30mins of the 2 hour slot, but I made a promise to him, so I kept it. And it was so worth it.

With his classmates on the ice

With his classmates on the ice

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The boys attended a Frozen themed birthday party that was held at the Rink at J Cube – the perfect location for a Frozen party. So perfect we saw several Elsa’s that day, but Asher’s friend’s dress was the prettiest by far. Hers was the authentic Elsa dress. Very nice!

Lovely decor - if you wanna do a Frozen party, this is how you do it

Lovely decor – if you wanna throw a Frozen party, this is how you do it

The birthday girl in a beautiful dress

The birthday girl in her beautiful Elsa dress

There was also a beautiful Frozen themed cake that was a real pity to cut, but a delight to eat.

Frozen cake

Frozen cake

For the boys, the best part was going ice skating. It was their first time on the ice and they enjoyed themselves tremendously. I had thought it would be difficult for them to walk on the thin blades even on normal ground, but they were able to. I guess it’s not that difficult. But they did surprise me by being able to walk on the ice without instantly falling to the ground. I had expected them to be sliding all over the place. Maybe I have very low expectations of them? But it’s nice to be surprised by what they are able to do.

Ellery very much needed the penguin support in order to move around, and even then slipped quite often, though again, less often that I expected. Asher was pretty much able to move about on his own, albeit a tiny step at a time, and more like walking rather than skating. He did fall, of course, but took it well. I had primed the boys beforehand that “falling is normal”, and they’d repeat that line whenever they fell :) For  a first time I thought they both did very well! And they enjoyed themselves so much they have been asking to go back again ever since.

Yay! Ice skating is something I’ve always enjoyed. I had wanted to bring them to try it sooner but became pregnant with Alyssa. But seems it’s worth the wait. Asher is becoming braver and more willing to try new things as he gets older, so I guess it’s better he’s exposed to this now rather than earlier where he might have developed a phobia prematurely.

I think we’ll be coming back!

They were so pleased with themselves that they could walk with the ice skates on

They were so pleased with themselves that they could walk with the ice skates on :)

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