June Holidays

22Jun17
June Holidays are coming to an end! Boys spent the first week of their holiday in Melbourne, second week at home, third week at Science Camp, fourth week at home. Nothing too spectacular. T had no school homework, so we made him do Chinese tuition homework and Kumon sums on weekdays. K had a lot of school homework, which he managed to complete by the third week. I was impressed by the checklist he made for himself.

Boys had a friend who came over to play on some weekday mornings. The three of the went for Science Camp together.

Boys also learnt a new travel route. Their Chinese tuition teacher moved house so instead of walking to her place in Ghim Moh, they now have to take a bus to Clementi to reach her.

Golden Mile

16Jun17
Dinner with grandparents at Golden Mile.  爷爷 is in between his chemo cycles now. I’ve lost track of which cycle and how many more to go. He’s losing a lot of weight, but was well enough to head out for dinner last weekend. I haven’t seen him in such good spirits for a while, so I can only hope that it means his health is making a turn for the better 🙂

Point Nepean National Park

Bushes. Bushes. More bushes.M33

We did an 8km walking trail at Point Nepean today, of which 7km was just walking through bushes. Gosh, so much bushes! Boys amused themselves with sticks (“wands”) on the first half of the bush walk …M34… and then endless rounds of scissors, paper, stone on second half.M35

Was the walk worth it? Definitely! The stunning views of Port Phillip Bay right smack at the middle of the walk made everything worth it!M36

And T is the champion of photo bombing. He’s always pottering in front of the camera whenever the rest of us are posing for photos. M37

The Park also has some other sights of interest. At one end of the Park was a quarantine settlement which was used in the early 1900s to isolate diseased patients. There were buildings to handle new arrivals, burn contaminated items, hospitals, etc … morbid to imagine what happened here in the past. M38

At the other end of the Park, there was a fort with tunnels and gun emplacements to explore. So there was plenty to see once we got out of the bushes.

M39

Boys coaxed KL to buy them ice cream even though the temperature was 10 degrees! And T was the grand winner of scissors, paper, stone today … he’s the first to win 100 rounds, lol!

1000 Steps Track

Dandenong Ranges National Park is huge! We had to drive from one part of the Park to the other. After we finished Rhododendron Garden, we went to the popular 1000 Steps Track.M29

The Track was very steep. There’s a bit of history with the trail, it commemorates the Australian soldiers who fought in Papua New Guinea in WWII. Boys were not in the history for obvious reasons. They were more concerned about how long they had to actually walk. M30

And they were chattering non-stop – asking us what’s the point (ie have to go 1000 steps up and then have to come down again), why can’t they just stay at the base and wait for us, how loooooong more to go, yadda yadda yaddda. It was irritating because my advice to them stop talking and conserve their energy just went unheeded. It was doubly irritating because they were acting tired but obviously were not very tired out by the walking. Tired folks can’t be chattering non-stop. And they were panting very little when we got to the top. In fact, the only person panting a lot was KL.M31

To further prove the point that the boys were not tired, they scuttled away from me like monkeys when they saw a playground at the very end of the track. They were playing hide-and-seek with so much gusto and energy!M32For today’s hike, we covered 7km on foot at Dandenong Ranges National Park. 4km at easy peasy Rhododendron Garden and 3km at the 1000 Steps Track. Good workout for everyone!

Rhododendron Garden

We picked up our rental car and were so much more mobile today.M25

We headed to the Dandenong Ranges National Park to hike. We started with an easy peasy walk around the Rhododendron Garden.M26

The foliage was nice even though in its Autumn-ish garb. And I can totally imagine how colourful and beautiful it would be in spring. KL found a large Christmasy tree and asked me to take a picture for him …M27

Families with young children will definitely enjoy this Garden. It is dotted with lots of ladybirds for children “to find”. Of course we competed to find the most ladybirds. T was the most enthusiastic. So he also got the most disappointed whenever any of us spotted a ladybird before him (which was like most of the time).M28

We only spotted ten ladybirds in our walk but apparently we were not even half as close!

 

ScienceWorks

We visited ScienceWorks today. It’s a small place with just two main galleries. We got in free with our Singapore Science Centre pass because this is a partner centre. We spent the most of our time at “Think Ahead”, an area that imagined the future. Boys designed jet powered sneakers, flying cars, and even superpowered themselves!M23

Flying cars anyone?M24

We also spent some time at “Sportsworks” to test our speed, strength, flexibility, balance, reaction in all sorts of sports! And then we were 90% done. The other main exhibition was an itty bitty world meant for 3 – 8 year olds. Only T found that fun. 2.5 hours was more than enough for us to finish trying everything at ScienceWorks.

After that we Uber-ed to Melbourne Central to eat and shop. There was even enough time to go to Chinatown to pick up bubble tea 🙂

Main Yarra Trail

Second day of cycling in Melbourne! This time round we went on a proper trail – Main Yarra Trail – that didn’t have too many attractions along the way. We actually spent more time cycling than stopping today. Distance covered was about 24 km.M17

T was on the tag along bike again. He didn’t even want to consider the other bike at all. And he says his role is important because he sometimes “cycles his father”, lol!M18

Snack break at Loy’s Paddock. Sunny morning, perfect for an outdoorsy day!M19

Lunch break at Victoria Gardens mall. Boys kept complaining about their frozen fingers from riding against the wind so we got cheap gloves (from Daiso!) from the mall for all of them!M20

It rained after lunch, so we turned back to the city. Snack break at a random bench along the trail. Lucky us, we caught a really nice rainbow! I was spewing rubbish to T about how rainbows came from unicorns. He was very serious about wanting to correct that idea of mine!M21

We still had a lot biscuits by the time we went back to the city centre. So we made a quite stop at the Royal Botanic Gardens to feed ducks before returning our bikes. Fun day!M22

Getting Around Melbourne

We didn’t drive on the first few days of the trip. When we’re not on our bikes, we pretty much relied on our legs to get around. Melbourne is explorable on foot because there are plenty of sights within walking distance. Although I must say that Perth does a better job in marking out its sights for tourists. M15

When it got too cold and too far to walk, we hopped onto Tram #35 that took us around the city centre!M16

Melbourne ACMI

Today was a Museum hopping day. After the Melbourne Museum, the boys (all three of them) asked to go back to the Australian Center for Moving Images (ACMI). We’ve been here on our first day when we had a few hours to spare, but the boys all felt that they could do more playing.M11

The Screen World at the basement is literally like a game wonderland. Visitors get to play all sorts of games from the 1980s to date. Boys played a few rounds of the iconic games like Pong and Mario, and it’s amazing how KL still remember which bricks contain the mushrooms after so many years, lol!M12

Once the boys got to the modern section, their butts were literally just glued to the seats! T was mostly playing MineCraft. K and KL did not even move away from the Star Wars consoles.
M13

I am a film and television history buff. So while they were all stuck at the games, I spent a few leisurely hours going through the Museum on my own. Awesome!M14

On our final day in Melbourne city, the boys (all three of them) asked to go to ACMI to play for the THIRD time! I bailed out on the third time and went shopping by myself instead.

Melbourne Museum

We visited the Melbourne Museum today. Plenty of things to see here. We headed to the Forest Gallery because I was really curious how a museum could fit a forest inside! Okay it wasn’t a huge forest but there were enough plants to showcase lots of facts about Australian water, earth movements, ecology and even bush fires! M8

Next, we went to see the dinosaurs. Right outside the dinosaurs’ room there was a mammoth blue whale skeleton. Boys sat next to the skeleton for their snack break and they must have watched at least 10 times the video showing how the museum put the blue whale skeleton together!M9

We skipped through three more galleries. The WWI Gallery was nicely put together and reminded us about how Australian families coped with a war that was fought so far away. The Body Gallery had some distorting mirrors that tickled the boys so much they asked to go back twice. The Mind Gallery had a dream machine that simulated archetypal dreams – boys were terrified by the one that fell off from a cliff!

M10

Cycling in Melbourne

We rented bikes to get around today. T tried a child-sized mountain bike and he didn’t like it because he had trouble controlling the bike. Luckily the shop had a children’s add-on bike that was just the right size for him! He enjoyed cycling “as a team” with KL v much. He said that he’s helping KL go faster than the rest of us because there’s two of them pedaling. And T liked it he didn’t need to worry about balancing the bike, braking, changing directions because KL would take care of all these. He just had to pedal, that’s all.M4

Our first stop was the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens. We encountered quite a bit of works at the Gardens and I never figured out where all the playgrounds are. We took a pit stop at the Shrine of Remembrance. Checked out the exhibits centering on Australia’s involvement in the World Wars, and walked up to the balcony for a good view of Melbourne city.M5

Our next stop was Albert Park. We went around half of the lake before heading for lunch at the Southern Melbourne Market. And when we got there, horrors, the Market was closed! It’s only open from Wednesday to Sunday. We ate at a nearby mall instead.M6

After lunch, we went around Albert Park Lake some more. T complained when I got everyone lost, because we were cycling around the Lake when we realised that we passed the same landmark twice, oops. Each round around the Lake is 4.7km.M7

We headed back to return the bikes at four plus. By then, the sky was already getting dark and boys were tired from riding. I think we only rode 10km today. I had fun anyway, and think that we might do this again on Wednesday if the boys are up to it.

Hello Melbourne!

School is out and we’re back in Australia because we enjoyed last year’s trip v much. This time round, we’re visiting Melbourne. It was a six hour plus night flight from Singapore and T puked THREE times. Boys managed to get two to three hours of sleep, which is evidently not enough, and K even fell asleep on an airport bench after we touched down.M1

We spent three hours walking around because we couldn’t check in yet. We checked out the ACMI (boys loved it so much there’s a separate post just about it) and snapped random photos to while the time away. Below is Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral, which was chiming bells non-stop on Sunday morning! M2

We finally managed to check in at 2pm. Our accommodation was a really cool serviced apartment at Melbourne CBD. It came with heated pools which the boys loved! We were on the 44th floor so that meant really excellent views of the city! We could literally see how the weather changes like crazy here … sunny one moment … dark cloud the next … sunny again. No wonder a cousin of mine said we should always be prepared with many layers in Melbourne. Weather hovers around 12 – 14 degrees in the daytime now. Chilly! M3

Bits and Pieces of May 2017

 

May17
Bangkok. Me and KL took a short trip to Bangkok this month because we always like to travel together on our birthday month. While we were there, we met with Lewis to celebrate his birthday!

Spinner. Fidget spinners are all the rage now. Boys forked out $15.90 from their own savings (that’s a lot of money!) to get a spinner each. It’s the first time T ever asked to buy anything using his savings.

Photos. We needed new passport photos to replace their ezlink cards. One lost his card, while the other sat on it (now it’s bent and can’t work). The replacement fees are expensive, but it beats using adult ezlink cards because I pay so much more for them on public transport.

Crab. Salted egg yolk crab for dinner on Mother’s Day. Between this and chilli crab, I prefer chilli crab for being wetter and tastier.

Happy 1st Birthday Issac!

20May17
Isaac turned 1 this week! Extended family gathered for a BBQ to celebrate his birthday. It was a noisy and sweaty celebration, and the cousins totally enjoyed themselves running around and accumulating sweat!

Since it was also my birthday and Kok Loon’s birthday over the weekend, the extended family celebrated for us too. Pamela – who is Isaac’s mum and ethnically Thai – made us a super delish plate of mango sticky rice. Yummy!

Mother’s Day 2017

14May17
Boys made cards for me this year. K’s card said that I do not need to do chores, but I still did laundry that night. T’s card depicted a D-Day scene because we’re reading a D-Day book together this month. I actually do not like violence and fighting, but T has not realized that yet.

May was a sickly month for us at home. K had down with high fever and cough for a week (during his mid-year exams), while I was down for two weeks after him. On Mother’s Day, I wasn’t totally recovered yet, and although we made it out of the house to meet friends for brunch and had a hearty dinner with my mum, all I wanted to do was to actually sleep the day away. Ah, hate to be sick!

Bits and Pieces of April 2017

30Apr17
Phones. Boys looking happy because it’s phone time! On weekends, they have a work-game-work-game routine. xx minutes of work, xx minutes of game. They have two games on their phones now – Growtopia and Pixels Survivor – both of which I have never played before.

Poems. We read a deliciously good book this month – Outside the Box: A Book of Poems – by Karma Wilson. Every single page was so good that I couldn’t even pick a favourite amongst them. Neither could they.

Comics. Boys are into comics now. They’re not fussy about their comics, so anything with pictures and speech bubbles get read. In English of course.

Cup. K made a cute thing out of a recycled styrofoam cup. I clear a lot of his creations when I need to keep the house tidy. But this one gets to stay on the dining table for a while more because it’s so light and frivolous!

Two Chefs

23Apr17
Sunday dinner at Two Chefs. Our go-to zi char place when KL wants to eat cold cockles. That dish is actually very icky, but it’s popular because it’s the 招牌菜. Really not my cup of tea. All the other dishes were yummy though!

Staycation at Capri

15Apr17
Impromptu decision to go on a staycation since KL did not have to work over the Good Friday weekend. We stayed at Capri by Fraser, and boys liked the fact that we could see planes land at Changi every 3 minutes or so. This is actually our second time staying at Capri but because they were so young then, they don’t remember the staycation four years ago.

Boys didn’t leave the hotel much. They swam, played xbox, played with their phones and watched movies in the room. Good break for everyone!

 

Birthday Lunch

9Apr17
Birthday boy wanted to meet his cousins, so I organized a family lunch for him with as many extended family members as can be gathered. One of his fav cousin couldn’t make it, and his 爷爷 was too sick to come. Otherwise, it was a happy enough gathering for him – seeing so many of his relatives and getting a big stack of ang pows. Before he went to bed, he said he enjoyed his birthday weekend very much 🙂

Happy 10th Birthday!

7Apr17bK turned TEN on Friday! KL got him some science toys and I made him some vouchers to be used in the next 365 days. K went to school as usual on Friday. Except that they counted him as a ten-year-old instead of nine-year-old for his Napfa test that afternoon.

7Apr17a
Dinner was at a Jap restaurant at Clementi Mall because birthday boy likes Jap food. Actually birthday boy also likes Mac, so we allowed him to munch on a Happy Meal while waiting for his udon.

T was generally upset the whole day, as he usually is on the day his brother celebrates his birthday. In the morning when T saw the vouchers, he was already visibly jealous. He declared that he didn’t want a single present on his birthday so we should just get him a lot of vouchers instead. In the evening when he heard that the terms of the vouchers didn’t include him (for example 1 hour of screen time doesn’t mean that he gets to play with his brother, it just means that his brother plays alone), that was devastating. At dinner, the boys were joking with T that he didn’t have arm muscles (which is true, he doesn’t have)… and you know what, he burst out crying, coughed a lot, and puked out all his cha soba dinner. He wasn’t allergic to the food, but he had a fever the day before and was feeling under the weather still. Anyway, the whole situation was really quite ridiculous!

Hmm…Papa?

6Apr17
K is one day shy of 10 years old! Me and T sang him a birthday song for fun with some biscuits and a tealight. K decided to make funny messages and they gamely posed for pics to send to their papa, who’s on call tonight.

Watching movies

2Apr17
K and T enjoy watching movie nowadays, but movie treats are rather expensive in Singapore if you add in a meal before/after the show, popcorn, drinks etc. So we head over to JB to watch movies instead. These are all the shows I can remember off the top of my head that they watched recently …

  • Sing
  • Doctor Strange
  • Trolls
  • Star Wars: Rogue One
  • xXx: Return of Zander Cage
  • Kong: Skull Island

 

When we are in JB, we like to stay over so that we don’t have to go through customs twice in a day. We get time to eat, shop, and sometimes even catch two movies. So far we’ve already tried 10 different hotels in JB! Last weekend’s hotel was only S$39++ per room per night on Agoda. We booked two rooms, but the boys decided to huddle together on the floor to sleep. So there was quite a lot of space for nothing. Oh well.

出前一丁

2Apr17.jpg
K learnt to cook instant noodles at an outdoor activity in school. He’s been wanting to cook again at home. So today, he cooked dinner for himself and his brother! They ate 出前一丁 sesame oil noodles with corn.

I gave him verbal instructions in the kitchen because I did not want him to handle the stove without adult supervision. T hovered around the kitchen as he wanted to be part of the action too. T helped to mix the seasoning into the soup, and he has grand plans to learn how to cook spaghetti on his own!

K did the dishes after dinner. Awesome!

Cherish the simple things

25Mar17
Life is good. No one is sick at home. Adults are gainfully employed. We can afford the time to spend the money that we earn. Children are coping well in school, and by that I really mean that T’s teachers have stopped calling me to complain. Hardest decision to make on a Saturday is where to have lunch.

Cherish the simple things.

Bits and Pieces of March 2017

30Mar17
KL is crazy about Japanese food now. When he’s off work, he’s always planning his day around the Japanese eateries he wants to try. We’ve been chugging along to eat udon and sushi with him for many weeks!

T discovered Mos Burger not too long ago. He likes their cheeseburgers and would eat TWO at one go. I like Mos myself. It’s the only fast food restaurant that I will happily eat at!

K won a medal for a team sport at his school’s sports day. My first time turning up for an event at this current primary school! See if you can spot him in the crowd …

How to survive anything?

25Mar17
T is very captivated with this particular book now – How to Survive Anything: Boys Only. He’s been pouring over the pages and looking at every scenario intently.

Ever since we’ve started reading to him about natural disasters a few years ago, he’s been worried that he’ll die in one (see here and here). Among his other worries are being caught in a plane crash, being struck by lightning, etc.

Before he went to bed last night, he passed the book to his father and told his father to read it on his own because to T, the information within is really very important to know. This morning when he was up, he started reading it again and he told me that although I am a girl, I can read the plane crash scenario because it could happen to me. He told me that I could skip the whiteout section because it’s not likely to happen to me, and of course I could skip the zombie section because zombies don’t exist.

Masking tape game

17Mar17

  1. Tear off stripes of masking tape.
  2. Stick one on your face and one on your brother’s face.
  3. At the count of three, grab your brother’s tape while protecting your own.
  4. First one to get eight stripes of tape wins.

* Game was ridiculously funny! Awesome that their childhood is filled with ridiculous things like that!