Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dates with papa

We make an effort to bring the girls out on solo "dates". They need the one-to-one time and time away from each other. Two weeks ago, Ellie was sick and had to stay home, so Papa brought Caitlin out to the symphony (Babies Proms) and then lunch and ice-cream afterward. Later that afternoon at home, KM and Ellie are chatting.  Somehow the conversation is about Caitlin's special date with Papa.

Ellie, (You didn't bring me out )"Is it because you didn't like me?"
and the next morning, "When are we going for ice-cream and cake?"

I didn't know a three year old could be so sensitive.

Caitlin. Two years old

Caitlin turned two on December 20th and I didn't even mark the day with a special post. Sigh. We had a little family party for her; something small which she thoroughly enjoyed. A real "strawberry shortcake" cake decorated with actual strawberry shortcake figurines from the toystore. Being able to keep the toys on the cake is better than cutting up strawberry shortcake (the character) and eating it, I thought.
So Caitlin is two. And boy, what a chatty, active two year old! So different from the quiet-easy-to-look-after baby we brought back two years ago, that hardly cried and fell asleep without so much as a whimper. At two she's acquired an amazing vocabulary (all this in the last month or so), suprising us with so many funny things.

"Meimei big girl, not Ah Mei" (when KM calls her Ah Mei from across the table"
"It's a scary monster!"
"Papa, bad guy" (Km threw away Caitlin's squished jelly today, and he thinks Caitlin was sore about it even at bedtime)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 8-9. Oct 15-16. Friday to Saturday

I can't believe I am still writing about our trip. Here goes, my last entry about our Aussie Drive Trip.

We drive 6 hours back from Albany to Perth, making 3 stops-the first at a supermarket just 2 minutes from our apartment in Albany to stock up on treats, a midday lunch break at Kooljanup and another at some random bush area. It is hot. It almost feels like Singapore. We have left the cool weather behind. We arrive at the Peninsula Serviced Apartments by 4 in the afternoon. The apartment is basic. Too basic. Our standards are now much higher after the luxurious Rembrant at Foreshore Apartments. We unload and make our way to KM's cousins place. I didn't realise we had so much family in Perth. The kids have a great time playing and making new friends and we catch up with cousins KM has not seen in years.

Here are Ellie and Caitlin feeling very at home with their new friends. Caitlin is busy as usual on the phone.

This is our last night in Australia what we thought was a long trip wasn't that long after all. The girls got better at travelling and the long car rides. "Can we just stay in one hotel the next time we come to Australia?" Ellie remarks. Yes maybe.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Whininess and clothes

Caitlin has begun asserting her will. From a whiny no! to on-the-floor wailing. Tantrums, they call them. Though never as bad as the ones Ellie used to put us through. And over the last 4 days, the whininess and non-cooperation made worse by a stomach flu. 

The issue lately has been centred around clothes. Caitlin has tons of clothes but she will only wear the ones with pictures on them. Almost always it is the "monkey t-shirt", and if that is not available the "lion t-shirt". "No I don't want this", followed by "How about this mama". And if we are going out and insist she cannot wear the scruffy monkey or lion bodysuits it has to be the butterfly t-shirt. And not just any butterfly t-shirt.

With Ellie it is skirts and dresses. Old skirts so short they have become mini-skirts.  
So we have a wardrobe stuffed with a whole lot of clothes but 2 girls who only want to wear the same few things everyday.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Simple and beautiful

Everynight we read one english book, one chinese book and one bible story before we put Ellie and Cait to bed. Caitlin always insists on Jonah and the big fish. "Jonah Big Shish", she asks.  She has a fascination with fish and loves the story and the pictures. So that is always the second bible story we read.

We've been doing this for more than a year now and Ellie's become really interested in Jesus. "Can I see Jesus?" "Can he come to our house?"" I love Jesus". Then on saturday Dec 5th she announced. "I want to follow Jesus". It came so naturally and unexpectedly. I asked if she wanted to prayer to Jesus and then we said a little prayer asking Jesus to forgive her for all the bad things she did and asked him to come into her heart. Just like that. Simple. Childlike. Easy enough for a three and a half year old. I always thought I would have to wait till Ellie was a lot older before I could explain what this whole thing about following Jesus was all about. But she made it so simple,  and yes,  so beautiful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 7. 15 Oct 2009 . Thursday

Still updating the travelblog one month later. Sigh. Been spending time after the girls sleep preparing for my "little architecture" class which I teach twice a week to a bunch of high energy 5-6 year olds.

We drive back towards Denmark to Fonti Farm. Picturesque "farm" setting, actually a large petting zoo for kids. Ellie and Cait absolutely love the animals. Ellie's favourite animals are the kangaroos. "I want to take one home". Caitlin loves her "Babbits" (rabbits). I love the Alpacas- so furry and adorable and as soft as a soft toy. The animals are all slobbery eaters and we get animal spit all over our hands.

Next, lunch at Bucketts Hill Wines/Denmark Farmhouse Cheese overlooking hilly vineyards. We have crackers, bread and cheese for lunch. Ellie and Caitlin's favourites. We never make this sort of lunch at home and they gobble it down. The award-winning cheese is amazingly fragrant, woody, rich and creamy. Ellie and Cait make new friends after lunch and play "What is the time Mr Wolf".
Here is Caitlin with pampering herself with sunscreen.

Then a long detour to Green's Pool. We didn't know that it was only 5mins from the Fonti Farm turn off, and drive 20mins down to the tourist bureau in Denmark Town to get directions only to have to drive back down again. So much for (not) planning. Green's Pool is as beautiful as the tourist guide makes it out to be. Although the water is crystal clear and icy cold (to me at least) there are people (children included) swimming in the lagoon.  This is where we should have spent the longer part of the holiday. In the vicinity of Albany-Denmark-Walpole.

And this is us. Chilling out in one our last night in our new little "home". KM got the camera linked up to the TV. The girls are thrilled to see themselves live on TV.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Breakthroughs. Several. The first-The Ellie and Caitlin Relationship.  Ellie has mellowed a lot- she's a lot more sensible about having her little sister share her parents and they play together quite independently until of course one someone decides to play it her own way. And now, quite often, it is Caitlin who puts up a fight and wants to do it her way. The breakthrough is that Ellie has lately become more conciliatory and is "giving way" to her little sister. A big step for some one so fiesty and strong-headed.

Just the other day after the bath we had Caitlin insisted on using a purple towel Ellie was using and was kicking up a big fuss. I asked Ellie to share her towel with Meimei and she did. She dried herself and then passed it to her little sister. Big step.

The second, our daily piano practice. Its been half a year since Ellie and I started going to her MYC (Music for Young Children Music Class). Have I blogged about this before? It is accompanied and very rigorous. Ok the class it pretty fun for the child but the stress is on the parent to cultivate (not impose) daily practice and homework routine. Now which three year old will willingly sit at the piano a hammer out the 2 or 3 pieces he/she is supposed to play. And on top of that revise the dynamics, piano and rhythm patterns learnt in the class. And then hope the child will participate and get the right answers during each weekly class. Maybe its me the perfectionist.  It took four months for Ellie to sit at the piano and at least play something without having her hands go all limp on the keys or making some excuse or other not to play. (those first four months were dark piano playing days-don't know how I got through those. well, sticker rewards did help and definately God's grace) And now six months into the class,

Me: Ellie, piano time!
Ellie: Ok mummy. (and she climbs up the seat to play)

(I pray that this will be something that will happen day after day from this point on)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Day 6. 14 Oct 2009 . Wednesday

We head to the Tourist Bureau first thing in the morning. I ask the lady at the counter what we should see if we have only 2 days in Albany. She marks the scenic routes and spots we should head to in a green highlighter and we head off. Before that, a trip to a shoe shop for a pair of walking shoes to replace my addidas whose soles are peeling off. We drive to Mount Clarence (for a view across Albany), Princess Royal Fort (an old fort-we missed the views if there were any because it was just too much trouble getting the girls in and out of the car again) then head down to Emu Point, where we stopped for a yummy fish and chip lunch at the (another)beach. Although we find ourselves visiting beaches everyday, we never tire of them- the spectacular views, crashing waves, chilly winds, white powder fine sand.

After lunch and more shell picking we head for the Albany Wind Farm. Didn't think I would be interested in looking at man-made wind turbines,  but these giant pinwheel-looking structures are awe-inspiring up close, and the views across the bay pretty amazing. The girls are fast asleep by the time we get there so KM and I take turns with the camera to get pictures from the look out points.

We drive back to our little apartment for dinner. Two days in this apartment and it already feels like home.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two weeks after the trip and I am still not done with the travel-blog. I looked at my pictures from Albany and realised I had almost forgotten the name of the places we visited. Good thing I saved the tourist maps. KM thinks I am a hoarder, but hey you never know when you need things.

And to those (few) who do pop by to read this blog. Thanks for your emails and online messages. But, do leave your comments on the blog too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 6. 13 Oct 2009 . Tuesday

 We feed the animals in our Margaret River farmstay for the last time before heading down south. Wasn't such a good idea to stay at a place with animals in the end. I thought the girls would love the animals and would be kept busy. Well they were; but a one and three year old just don't understand that you need to leave shoes with the animal and peacock (frequent visitors) poo all crusted underneath outside the cottage, not inside. And you just don't eat off the same floor you step all over in. Maybe we are more particular than others about keeping the floor clean enough to lie on (which Ellie and Cait do all the time). But the dirt management was driving us crazy.

We stock up on treats (you absolutely need these for long drive trips with kids) before we head south. The landscape changes as we make our way through the forests. We realise that Western Australia is more beautiful beyond Margaret River which is touristy and overpriced compared to the other regions. We drive through Kari forests and stop at the Hidden River Estate near Pemberton for lunch. Again the highlight of the stop for Ellie and Cait is the playground and flowers. It is becomining a ritual, this flower picking.

We reach Albany after a four hour drive.  Our service apartment, The Rembrant at Foreshore Apartments is pure luxury. It is one of two apartments owned by a couple for short term stay. We feel like we are guests in a tasteful and well-appointed home. Ellie jumps onto what she calls "the princess bed" and sinks into pillows. The kitchen has everything a cook needs- olive oil, a selection of spices, gourmet coffee, and gloves for the dishes (hooray-by now my hands are rough and cracked from all the washing). 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 5. 12 Oct 2009 . Monday

By now a daily routine takes shape. We plan an activity in the morning, then lunch, and then a drive, by which time Ellie and Caitlin are asleep and we get a chance to enjoy a quiet drive somewhere. 

We are less ambitious today. Half way into the trip and KM and I are already tired. The girls are still snotty and coughing but well otherwise. We drive to the Berry Farm for lunch. Not berry season but a beautiful place for lunch, brunch or tea. Ellie and Caitlin pick flowers, play at the playground while we take turns keeping an eye on them both and have hot beef pie, sausage rolls, carrot cake and homemade scones for lunch.

It is spring and the flowers are in full bloom. For the first time KM understands the fascination of birdwatching. There are just so many pretty little birds around he can't help test out his macro lens. I had to include KM's picture of the bird on our bottle. It was only later in the night that KM told me that he forgot to mention that a bird had perched on our bottle, and by the way, did you (I) drink water out of it?  To which I replied, Why didn't you tell me earlier!

Day 4. 11 Oct 2009 . Sunday

I can't believe I am blogging about something that happened more than a week a ago. Just need to get this whole trip into this blog. I am looking through the photos and already am forgetting where exactly we went. Now which beach was that again?

Spend the morning visiting Margaret River Chocolate Factory (expensive chocolates but ooh so lovely; the kids get handfuls of chocolate pearls for brunch), Fonti Farm Cheese Factory (we buy a block of cheddar and later discover it is 30% cheaper in the supermarket, sigh).  Then lunch at the The Colonial Brewery. It is called Colonial but looks like it was just set up a month ago. We choose the Brewery not because we drink (we don't) but because there is a children's playground on the premise. 

Then, after lunch, a drive up north to Dunsborough where we spend about an hour picking shells and playing in the powder-fine sand. The beaches here are gorgeous. Clean. Picture perfect. The air crisp and the sea breeze chilly. We take a scenic drive back and stop by Yallingup (more pictures). The vineyards north of Magaret River Town are by far the most scenic in this area.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Day 3. 10 Oct 2009 . Saturday

After a very cold night in our cottage, we spend the morning feeding animals on the farm. The rain is intermittent and the weather blustery.  But it is our first time feeding any of these animals so we "weather" the cold weather. If only we had known that Ellie and Caitlin would develop full blown colds. Then off to the farmer's market in Margaret River town.

This is a lot smaller and queiter than I expected. Maybe it is too cold for most of the produce to be in season. Or is the town always this quiet? We have lunch in a little pizza restaurant in town. Woodfired pizza's (yum) on a cold day. We are the only people in the restaurant. Where is everybody else? Caitlin loves the crust. The only children's food on the menu in most places is nuggets and chips or fish and chips or ham and cheese sandwiches. I have to let convenience override and let the children have chips and nuggets and ham for more than a few lunches in a row. At least I know we will have homemade dinners.

After lunch we drive to Gracetown; a little town along the coast. And spend the afternoon hunting for seashells and hiding behind the rocks to get some reprieve from the cold wind. It is supposed to be spring but feels wintry.

We head back to our cottage for a onion chicken soup dinner by our gourmet chef KM.

Day 2. 9 Oct 2009 . Friday

We have breakfast on the balcony, check out of our apartment and spend the rest of the morning in King's Park which is just at the end of Mount Street. The parks in Singapore are tiny in comparison. King's park stretches for acres and acres. Ellie and Cait love the open space. And the flowers. Everyone stops to smell the flowers, and we have lunch a little cafe in the park before we head off for our 3 hour trip down south.

We arrive at Margaret River Hideaway in Margaret River. This is "farmstay" type accomodation. Not a working farm but with enough animals to keep the young guests busy. Our cottage is the smallest. A studio with just one bedroom and an area that doubles up as a living and dining area. KM makes a Carbonara and drizzles some olive oil on steamed asparaus for a restaurant-worthy dinner.

Day 1. 8 Oct 2009. Thursday

We arrive in Perth after a long flight. (it always seems longer with the kids) Ellie has definitely grown up since our lost trip. Our little three year old traveller spends half the flight watching the in-flight TV shows, headphones and all, and the other half playing with the Qantas kids pack. (Lots of stuff in those). The girls only start to fret during the descent when their ears hurt.

We pick up our rental car then lose our way trying to find our way to our service apartment. Riverview on Mount Street. Because Mount Street has been sawn in half by a freeway. We circle the book many times before finding the other half.

Riverview on Mount Street is a block of converted "Bachelor Apartments" (I guess they were old inner city tenements for immigrants) in a gentrified neighbourhood. The new apartments along Mount Street are all very posh. Ours is probably the most modest. Simple, modern; with touches of the original building in place. Fully equipped and at a last minute price of A$89. What a steal! hotels in Perth are so expensive we were so happy to find this one.

We meet old friends WK and P for dinner. The girls are exhausted by then. Caitlin won't sit down at the table and keeps sitting on the floor; taking of her socks and shoes. Both girls decided to poo at dinnertime. HC and R come by for dessert with their 3 year old and the 3 girls start doing their colouring at the table giving us adults some time to catch up on conversation.

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We are back. 1500 kilometres and 1332 pictures later

We made it to Western Australia and back. With the two girls in tow on what turned out to be a much longer (in terms of distance) trip than we expected but shorter (10 days didn't feel that long in the end) than we thought it would be. The first few days were tough with both girls and us getting colds in cold and windy Margaret River. But by the end of the trip everyone was well with the four us simply basking in fantastic weather and scenery down south. No time for a travelog this time round. Was pooped at the end of each day. Only managed to write once (on the first day) this time round. So here is everything as far as I remember.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

No thank you papa

By the way, Caitlin is starting to put her words together into little sentences.
"No thank you, papa"... when we offer her milk (why doesn't she drink more milk!)
"Mama please help me"
"Meimei hit head"... when she bumps her head

Planning ahead for the first time

Dear, dear I am down to one post a month. Been up late planning the longest and furthest family holiday to date. A four hour flight to Perth for a 9 day driving trip. With the kids in tow you just don't want to spend more time in the plane then you have to. Looking forward to the good weather. I can't believe how much time I have been on the internet looking for places to stay, trying to get interesting places with a touch of panache and maybe class without blowing our budget. Not easy. The nice places always come expensive. This is the first time we are booking ahead for a driving trip. We usually just leave the country with an airticket, the first nights accomodation and a guide book, but with Ellie and Cait we just didn't want to end up driving in circles in darkness, with 2 whiney kids looking for somewhere to stay. Will write more soon. Probably when I am back from my trip.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just for the record

Many milestones today, after a one week break from school. 
  1. Ellie goes to school without Waffles. Poor Waffles. I bet he was lonely in the car. Ellie decided to leave Waffles (her 2 year old teddy) and her "mamascarf" (a silk scarf blankie) in the car when at school. Waffles and the scarf go everywhere EVERYWHERE with her.
  2. Ellie goes to school without her sippy cup and milk. 
  3. Ellie sits at the piano and decides to play her one octave C major exercise by herself. I haven't written about this but it is a challenge and test of patience (mine) to get Ellie to practice. Its been 4 months since we started and the class requires us (I say us because it is the two of us) to practice at least 5 times a week. No star if you do less than that. The beginning was painful. But things could only get better. And now at least I don't have to get everyone in the house (helper and Caitlin) participate in the music session each morning for it to count as practice. 
Ellie's reading has really taken off in the last few months. She's reading. For real.
And Caitlin...dear Caitlin. She's beginning to put words together in little phrases. "Self, self".  When she insists on putting on her shoes, climbing into her carseat all by her self. "Hit frog, hit Kitty". When she gets angry and knows that she shouldn't be hitting anything else. "Mama sit"... "Two friends".

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Growing up

Ellie and Catilin are playing so much on their own now that I actually hae time to blog in the day. There're best friends for most of the day and the snatching episodes are a lot more minor. I hope this will last. Hoorary!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Felted hearts and stars

Cookie cutters with colourful roving in the background
Wet roving pressed into the cookie cutter- use a disposable chopstick if you do not have a felting needle
My first shapes drying out
I decided to do something homemade for Ellie's first Teacher's Day. Been doing a bit of reading on felting for my design class (I've started teaching preschoolers one afternoon a week) and after seeing some of these on a craft blog, I decided to try these out at home. What you do is get a whole lot of roving (raw wool) and then stuff them into the cookie cutters, then soak them in water until they felt. Nothing a three year old can't manage. Ellie helped me make two shapes before leaving me to finish the other six. Two days later (today) when the wool is all dry I realise that I didn't soak many of them long enough. The wool has dried and exploded into a bouncy mass. Good thing I had the sense to make a lot more and had enough for the teachers!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Snatching and other domestic disturbances

Ellie and Caitlin are playing together a lot more these days but the snatching is driving me crazy! I really think it is a sister thing. I don't ever remember snatching my brother's toys. My conclusion is that sisters like the same things and want to play with the same things at the same time. I would have never thought of wrestling that transformer toy out of my brother's hands.

And Caitlin gets her hands in everything.

Saturday 15 Aug. We were having lunch and had our eyes of the table for a couple of seconds. In those few seconds, Caitlin was up on Ellie's highchair with my pink brush in her hand stirring the water in the fish bowl. She then lifted the brush up in the air flinging and shaking the water all over the table. We had to throw half the lunch away. Just couldn't stomach the thought of having fish-water in my salad, especially after fishing a couple of dead fish out of the bowl that morning.

Last Sunday 16 Aug. I was feeding Ellie. Always a challenge although I must say she is eating 3 times what she used to but it still takes forever. KM and I had planned to take her out for ice-cream for her one-on-one with her parents. The last few mouths take the longest but I was pretty determined that she should finish her meal before the outing. I had my plate in one hand and a spoon in another. Caitlin came by my side with a toy hammer, and I thought I heard "hit, hit". She was aiming for her toy on the floor but didn't get that far. It only takes 2 seconds to create a mess that takes 10 minutes to clean up. Ellie was pretty pleased that she didn't have to finish her meal.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Back, and finally a restaurant list (been wanting to do that for a while)

I am back to writing 2 blog entries a month. Too tired at the end of the day to write. The kids take so much out of me especially when KM is away for work. Don't get my break at the end of the day. Trying not too sleep after twelve because the day starts the night before. (I knew that long ago but it takes a lot of discipline to set that in motion) I need to get up before the kids do and get enough sleep or I will be an angry grouchy mommy. Try telling me that when I am trying to get some sleep in the morning after getting up 4 times in the night to sort the 2 kids out. Hence the long absence.

What I really want to do is start a list of child friendly places. So I don't run out of ideas when we are trying to look for something fun to do, or a find decent place to eat. Caitlin doesn't like being in a high chair for long and for some reason never seems to eat well in a restaurant so any place we go to has to have a high tolerance for kids and mess. It doesn't have to be a Macdonalds or Swensens. What I am looking for are grown-up looking places with decent food. I am trying to record the more memorable meals- meals when our fussy-eater children actually sat down and ate and enjoyed the food. HAving a high chair in the restaurant does not make it a child-friendly place

With Caitlin and Ellie, Chinese or Japanese usually work best. Restaurants with stall seating to sandwich and active kid is great and Japanese floor seating in a private room is even better.

Kids get toys. Chawanmushi, udon and tofu always works. We had the private room. Caitlin and her friend Isabel kept themselves busy with the cushions while the adults ate.

Empire cafe
Stall seating. Yummy local food. Kids cutlery. Kids get warm water served in disposable plastic cups with covers. You know that the restaurant has given some thought to the child-diner when children get served water in these cups without even asking for it. Most places have the ubiquitous ikea high chair but the high chair in this place is padded and compfy. Caitlin sat in their for almost the entire meal. Chee cheong fan for the children.

Canopy at Bishan Park
Shady outdoor dining with space walk about. Toy basket with some good quality but dirty-looking toys. Cheaper than having a meal in town and so near home.

Brussel sprouts
Couring pages for kids. Ellie loved the creamy mushroom sauce the mussels came in.

Crystal Jade
Anything noodly and soupy usually works well with Ellie and Cait.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Good friends

The modern mommies call them playdates. I bet that in the days when everyone had 5 kids or more, everyday was a playdate. No big deal. These days we email, text, call and then email and text again to get everyone together, and then sit down for a cup of tea when the kids play.

These are 2 of Ellie's good friends from her old chinese class. We try to meet up every school holiday, so that's 4 times a year at least. This time we squeezed in a playdate at the end of June. The three girls are all born within 6 months of each other a play really well together. Poor little Caitlin was asleep when these pictures where taken. At one point I think Caitlin was jealous of her big sister's friends and started pinching Ellie's friend O.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A minor pee episode

I am going to try to go to bed early tonight. By eleven. That is early by my standards.

It is so difficult to stick to a schedule when you have kids. Today, my mom babysat Caitlin while Ellie was in school so that I could go for my weekly pilates class and get my groceries done. The plan was to drop Ellie off at my mom's after school so that I could get some time to myself to clear stuff at home. Just pack the study room for starters. Half way during the ride home from school, (Ellie's school is 5minutes away but I take a circuitous 20min scenic drive to get her to nap in the car) she says "Mama I sheesheed in the carseat." Why didn't she pee at school before I picked her up??? There went my plan to have some home-time to my self. I drove home, sorted Ellie out, and spent the next half and hour or so figuring out how to get the carseat cover off, and cleaning the peed-in seat. By which time there was only just enough time to make it to my mom's to pick everyone up and bring them back for dinner.

One good thing came out of this though. Ellie missed her afternoon nap and went to bed early. So at least I get a bit more of the night to myself.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

All in a days work

We survived our first Church Camp. Boy was it tiring; with Caitlin sick and Ellie wanting us to accompany her to the children's programme. KM and I took turns to babysit and between as managed to go to most of the talks. I am glad we did it. Both girls were really good in the car- even on the five and a half hour (Phew!!) trip back from Malacca. Ellie also performed on stage for the first time. She almost didn't make it up that stage-clinging onto me and holding KM's hand until the very last minute.

Ellie, as we were heading back to Singapore along the causeway "We have this toy bridge."

Oh yes, and this is funny too. I was trying the other day to explain to Ellie why her colouring printouts were not coming out, "The printer is 'not responding'- which is what happens when I call you, Ellie and I do not get an answer." Just the other night KM fell asleep on the couch only to wake to hear Ellie say "Papa, you are like a statue, you are not responding. "

Colouring milestone

Is there such a thing as a colouring milestone? I really wish Ellie would draw more but lately all she wants to do is colour colour colour. At one stage everything was pink, then it was all multicoloured. Now she is putting real colours together. And colouring within the lines. I know that is not a big deal and the creative types all colour out of the line, but I just had to blog about this.
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Butterfly puppets

The best toys are those that don't cost anything to make, and can be made over and over again. I remember making a bunch of butterflies for Ellie when she was about one. Almost two years later, butterflies are still one of Ellie's favourite things. I drew the butterflies and Ellie coloured and cut them out, (she coloured some for Caitlin too) then we stuck them on ice-cream sticks.
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Another skirt

I finally finished another skirt. The same pattern as the fairy skirt only this time with this lovely cotton polka dot material and satin ribbon (which I paid too much for). This is an easy design and my target was to finish 2 skirts in one night. I would have if only I discovered why my sewing machine was making more noise than usual. (The three layers of cloth were a bit too thick for the needle). One more skirt to go (for Caitlin) before I move on to something a bit more challenging.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Patience (Need more of it)

There are good days and there are bad. Sometimes in the middle of another Ellie episode I feel like throwing in the blanket and sending them both off to childcare and then regain my sanity at work. Almost everytime some one cries it is sharing-related (or rather not sharing), or attention-related.

More often than not it always begins like this. 1. Caitlin gets hold of something or other that belongs to Ellie. 2. Ellie notices it. 3. Ellie reaches over to snatch it back. 4. I intervene either by sepearating them, getting someone another toy or removing the toy or a combination of the above. An impossible situation 5. By this time Caitlin has either pinched Ellie or pulled her hair and Ellie has probably tried to hit back. 6. Both are bawling.

Of course I can't really "throw in the blanket". This is one job where quitting isn't an option. I remember a question my friend S once asked during lunch with a bunch of my old school friends. What is the one thing that you never expect when you become a parent. B (a full time mom with 4! kids) replied, "The need for patience". My answer was "lack of sleep". I've since thought it over. My answer (like B's) is patience and added to that, sacrifice.

Oh by the way, Ellie has moved out of our room. This is her third night in her own room.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

By the way I am in the process of migrating my blog over from Wordpress. Blogger is a lot more user friendly and so much faster. At least on my computer. And the link to Piccasa makes it so easy to post images. Now I know why I was blogging so little and had so few photos. I think it is going to take a while for everything to come over.

It bags

We made handbags today. Ellie wore a little skirt to school with pictures of handbags and shoes and asked if we could draw pictures of handbags so I decided to cut out our Quaker Oatmeal Square box and draw a handbag each. Ellie coloured hers and later coloured Caitlin's as well. Caitlin didn't quite get the idea of holding this sort of bag she kept trying to put it up her arm and of course got really annoyed in the process.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Caitlin at class

I brought Caitlin for a trial music class at Kindermusik today. Her second class of any sort. The first was a trial at Gymboree. That first trial did not go well at all. She cried most of the time, was afraid of the crowd (not much of a crowd-about 12 adults and babies) and didn't like the Gymboree mascot. I had signed up for the trial with the good intentions of any mother wanting the best for her baby. Caitlin quite obviously didn't think it was such a great idea.

Well, Caitlin fared so much better the second time round. Even though she was sound asleep when we arrived and woke up in a completely new environment, she was up and about after 10 minutes of warm-up time, participating and being very cooperative. I couldn't say the same for Ellie when she went for these same classes almost 1 and a half years ago. Ellie took weeks to warm up to the class. Of course, she ended up enjoying herself and taking all those songs home, but there were weeks, I recall, where she would just lie on the carpet and suck her thumb, or tire after half the class. I went with my friend E and her 15month old daughter Isabel, so I had some mummy time too, and Caitlin a new friend.

Mandarin Time

Ellie got her first report card on Monday. It suddenly hit me. She’s only but she’s all grown up in a proper school with grades at mid-term. I had a chat with her principal and then her chinese lao shi. She’s doing pretty well in math (ok, not really math, just counting) and reads well for her age but talking to her chinese teacher brought back all these memories of my own experience with a language I never quite mastered.

She doesn’t respond much in chinese class; so her lao shi does not quite know what she knows or what she doesn’t. She doesn’t speak any chinese in school. “So what about the other children her age?” I asked. Well, they at least can name the objects at say little phrases, her lao shi replied. That got me a little bit worried. I didn’t think I was doing that badly with my chinese at home. We speak it maybe about 5% of the time, mainly to point out things to Ellie and Cait now and then and also to talk about the kids in front of them (we try to switch to our chinese dialect for that). And we sing a lot of chinese songs and read chinese books. All this was not enough; at least according to what I was hearing about Ellie’s progress in mandarin class from lao shi.

That very evening, we started our Mandarin time. At 7 in the evening, every speaks mandarin. Right now the mandarin conversations are between KM and I. Ellie speaks English and her version of made-up-Mandarin, and Caitlin her single English words. It isn’t perfect, but this is the best we can do. Today, three days into our new speak Mandarin programme and we forgot about Mandarin time. Will have to start all over again.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Photo Weekend

KM has been absolutely shutter crazy with his new Olympus SLR. We still have our trusty Nikon but this new Olympus takes photo taking to new heights. We’ve been bringing it almost everywhere with us. There has always been a bit of competition between us both when it comes to photos. But this time KM with his new toy had his field day. Needless to say, I too had a go with the camera.

Friday May Day. Animal Resort and Summer Koi Farm

Saturday 2 May. Exploring our neighbourhood Fire Station

We discover that Fire Stations are on of Singapore’s best kept attractions. It doesn’t cost anything to enter them, you get a personalised guided tour and a chance to try out various fire fighting equipment, and go home with gifts for the children. Unfortunately, Ellie was not too keen on firemen and fire engines- she really would have rather spent a morning visiting princesses or fairies.

Sunday 3 May. A morning at the Park

We go to the Park instead of church because both Ellie and Cait have coughs and colds. We seem to always end up at parks or anywhere with a bit of sand to dig around in. At least it keeps them both in one spot and lets us have some sit down time.

..And lots and lots of playground time downstairs

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sweet heart Tee

I have been bitten by the sewing bug. Was already sleepy at 11:30 last night but was intchy to get my hands on the sewing machine again. Started on Caitlin’s fairy skirt, stopped when it needed pressing (to lazy to take out the iron) then dug out and old shirt of Elllie’s decided to added little cut out hearts to it over the food and ink stains. She now has a new shirt for school. Would have gone on but I was just too sleepy. This is really addictive!

Looking like a mermaid and other Ellie thoughts

We passed a picture of a mermaid outside a seafood restaurant when we were are the beach a couple of weeks ago. This was a tacky digitally altered photo of a real lady with a fish tail (ok mermaid tail) and fish scales stamped over where her bra should have been. Ellie, who has only seen Disney mermaids was rather intrigued. I supposed she was slightly puzzled about mermaids not wearing a shirt and wearing their underwear out. A few weeks later, when I was getting dressed, Ellie wisely remarked “when I wear only trousers and a bra, then I will look like a mermaid, right?”
Well, Ellie is potty trained but she still does her poo in her diaper. She will ask to have one on just for the occasion. We always encourage her to use the big loo. The other night I asked when she was going to use the big loo for her poo. “10 years old” she replied. Then the conversation moved on to sleeping on her own in her own room. “And so how old will you be to sleep on your own?” I asked Ellie. “14 years old” she replied. Do we really have to wait this long?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fairy Skirt

I finally set up my (I mean my mother’s) sewing machine, and just finished making (literally, minutes ago) my first skirt in almost 20 years. Doesn’t that sound like I am really old? Or maybe I made my first skirt when I was really little. I made that last skirt in school for my home economics class a long time ago, and well, the dress I made last week for Waffles doesn’t quite count.

Ellie is really into skirts these days. We have so many clothes for her but all she wants to wear are her skirts. There is this blue flowery skirt that she wants to wear almost every other day, even when it is in the laundry pile. So I decided to make her some skirts to wear to school. I found this great pattern online and made Ellie a fairy skirt out of pink organza with tiny sparkly dots. This I hope will be the first in a series of skirts for school. The fairy skirt is meant as a dress-up skirt but I suspect she will want to wear it to school. Caitlin will get a matching skirt too but that will have to come a little later. Can’t wait to take a picture of them both in fairy skirts!

Going write all these details down so that I know how much cloth to get the next time I make a skirt.

Cloth Width: 60″. Bought 750cm for 2 skirts. The width of the skirt is the width from selvedge to selbedge Ribbon length is the same as cloth width.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I will read the big words

Ellie started putting sounds together around this date. Feb 27 2009. And now she’s reading most of the three letter words and some four letter ones and other more common larger words. I am amazed at how it has all come together. Just to make sure she wasn’t memorising the stories (also something I’m pretty amazed by) I’ve been reading brand new books with Ellie, leaving out words. The journey to literacy has been a bit of everything. The home made word cards, Ants on the Apple (the Malaysian published phonics book with the catchy song and simple illustrations), the Starfall website, My Baby Can Read videos, story books, rhymes and then, this year, more formal teaching at school. I was not very consistent with any method and worried that we were not getting anywhere, especially when Caitlin came along and I found my self busy managing two girls with different personalities needs and learning styles, but it HAS all come together.

When we read I now leave out the small words for Ellie. Just the other day Ellie said, “Next time you read the small words and I will read the big words.”

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ellie at work

Ellie is really into cutting, pasting, colouring, drawing and any combination of the above. She sits for about 45 mins straight doing her “work”. Of course she then has an obsession with all her cut outs. This drives us all crazy. There are a thousand and one things she cuts out. We try to organise them in boxes, but inevitably (how not too) the cut-outs get lost. And so every now and then we weather yet another Ellie episode. “Where is my pink heart?” “Where is the rabbit?” Followed by lots of crying, trying to reason with Ellie, persuading her to communicate with words rather than vocals.

The blue piece is her piano with cut out keys and buttons (ours is a digital piano). *

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sun and sand

We haven’t brought our camera out in a while. Despite trying to travel light, we always have our hands full and end up leaving our camera at home. And after putting this all together it suddenly struck me that Caitlin hardly has any pictures taken outdoors.

KM was on leave and we spent the morning at the beach at East Coast Park. Usually the sand keeps the Ellie busy so we get sometime just to chill out. The weather was great and the beach was relatively quiet. But with Caitlin all grown up she kept us busy by continually stuffing sand and shells into her mouth. The beach could also have been cleaner. Why don’t people pick up after themselves. I just hope she doesn’t come down with something nasty.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ellie turns 3

Ellie’s third birthday was marked by a series of parties across and entire week. I’ve never had so many cakes and candles in that short a time. And to think I’d wanted something small and cosy.

Feb 28- We have a family birthday lunch before KM heads off to US

March 03- WK and P are in town and so we have the my bunch of good ol’ architecture friends over and have a mini reunion of sorts + joint birthday celebration for our kids (3 of them) who are born either on 4th or 5th March.

March 05- This is Ellie’s real birth date so we have a mini-candle blowing session which turns out larger than expected with more family joining in the fun

March 06- KM flies back in time to celebrate Ellie’s birthday in school

March 08- The last and final birthday cake (Phew!) in sunday school.

These pictures were taken on the morning of Ellie’s actual birthday March the 5th.*

Thursday, February 26, 2009


26 feb 09

I used to do so much with Ellie. I feel guilty that Caitlin gets much less time. So Caitlin finally gets her mummy-drawing time on huge A1 paper.*

Button Hairclips

Ellie now likes to accessorise. She used to hate having anything in her hair. We were browsing through Craft magazine and came across some homemade hairclips, so we decided to make these. Ellie chose the buttons and I sewed them on.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Where the good shopping is

When I do my weekly grocery shopping in my neighbourhood mall, I hurry past the shops and go straight to the task. With the remaining time I have in between dropping Ellie off and picking her up again I dart through a few shops in the mall usually picking up (again) things we need. Books for the kids, craft stuff, vitamins; things which really don’t count as shopping.

Well, since last sunday the neighbourhood mall as become my latest shopping haunt. When I say shopping I mean clothes shopping. I never would have imagined getting anything from the shops I’d whizzed past and barely glanced at in a hurry to get my errands done. After all, this was the neighbourhood mall- not Orchard Road.

My eyes were opened last Sunday, when our family met for dinner at this same mall. My cousin, rarely in these parts and arriving early for dinner, decided to do some window shopping. When we met for dinner she had bought two designer dresses at great bargains from a boutique I’d never even noticed before.

So today, when we arrive at the mall with Ellie fast asleep, and my mom in tow to manage Caitlin, I make a beeline for the tiny hole-in-the-wall boutique with a stock of designer labels with labels either snipped off or missing. One hour later, after lots of trying on I immerge with a pair of Paul Smith Jeans (which I had to buy because they made my legs look so skinny) and a little black dress (which Audrey Hepburn could have worn). I head to another little shop across the aisle, and my mom with Caitlin in one arm, is holding up a Diane Von Furstenburg jersey dress. Of course I couldn’t resist.

Friday, February 20, 2009

More about Potty

Ellie is officially potty trained. She’s gone to school without diapers and did not have any accidents. Hooray! I think she is one of the last of her friends to be potty trained. We have been encouraging it for so long-star charts, an expensive potty which became some sort of boat for Ellie’s collection of toys much to KM’s annoyance, a selection of underwear. KM’s prized potty has finally been put to good use. Caitlin too is trying to be part of this whole shee shee business by checking the potty and dipping her hands into it (urgghh!).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Look who's baking

I said something in an earlier post about cooking and sewing and getting all domesticated once women leave their jobs. I never had a fondness for cooking but now I find myself baking and cooking and planning the family meals. Pictures to prove it. KM and I made his birthday cake together. From scratch. It is hard to believe that all that went into the cake was a bit of flour, sugar, eggs and pure vanilla. Banana cream filling and chocolate ganache icing. Lots of love and hard work.*

Friday, February 13, 2009

Falling asleep and going potty

Ellie has been sleeping earlier now that I put both girls to bed together. Both are usually in bed by about 9:45pm. In theory, I now have a little bit more time at night to do my own thing. In reality I find myself falling asleep with them only to awake at around 11:30pm with little left of the night.

It has been a tiring one week. KM has been ill and been in isolated from the rest of the family; confined to the study and its just been non-stop looking after the girls with the helper. So at the end of the day I am simply exahausted. Yesterday KM had his first meal with the family after one week of gourmet tray-meals. (Did I mention that I have discovered a new found love for cooking? Surprise surprise.) Am really looking forward to having him back in the fold.My theory is that if you stay at home long enough, you will likely end up doing all these 1950s domestic things- cooking, baking, sewing. Don’t really know if that is a good or bad thing. Now that I have finally resigned from my architecture job (yes, I finally) am have to start figuring what I really want to do with the rest of my life.

And updates. Ellie is almost potty trained. She’s moved on from insisting on wearing diapers and having accidents sans diapers. Now it is “private” potty time. “I need some private time.” We are not allowed to look when she runs down the corridor to the potty. And today for the record it was four times with no accidents.

Everyone loves a box

The best toy a child could possibly have is a box. There are just so many possibilities. Turn the box over and it becomes a boat. Cut some holes out of the box, open the flaps and it becomes a house with a post box and windows. Turn it the other way round and it becomes a trampoline. I am always on a look out for a good box to turn into something or just have the girls do what ever they want with it. I’ve got part of the neighbours fridge box in the study and our new plasma TV box in the corrridor. Along with a couple of new IKEA boxes (which I’ve turned into a house and a kitchen). Ellie loved her house so much she even fell asleep in it. *

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Peek a boo!

Sometimes, Ellie and Caitlin decide to be best friends. These are moments you live for.*

11 feb peek a boo