Sunday, 13 September 2020

Ikea, where the people are...

Our trip to Ikea finally happened. It was drizzling so we thought maybe it might not be too crowded. 

We were so wrong.

There was a long queue to get to the escalator, and then another long queue to get into Level 2. Thankfully, we were second in line for the restaurant. The food queue was long but we managed to get our dinner around 5.30 pm, our usual time!

Sito had chicken cutlet

Kai had 2.5 chicken wings and some fried

Yang finished his pasta before attacking two chicken wings

After asking me to remove the wing tip of his chicken wing, he tucked into meatball pasta and finished everything except a handful of pasta! And he gave up on the wing..

Hello from Clan Sito!

If anyone is interested, I had chicken wings and leftover pasta and fries hoho! Sito also fed me some cutlet pieces. This is called mama's meal :p

I left the four of them at the children's rooms and went in search of a shelf at Level 1. Then we went through Level 2 to check out another shelf. This trip around Level 2 took a long time thanks to the boys! So scary to see them climb and touch various fragile things! Gripped their hands super tight as we went through Level 1 - nothing to see, just walk through to the end...

Coz of their behaviour, no ice cream. But it seems like the ice cream machine was not in operation anyway. COVID - it explains many thing; many things except the crowd *.*

They had fun though!

It was almost 8 pm when we got back. But they dozed off just past 9 pm. Guess they were tired. 

Now they're playing with money - real and fake coins - on their own, and talking about being good boys, extra good boys and too good boys... Yes, please up your game!

Update 18 Sep 2020

Fixed the shelf on Monday! Now the rice cooker is more accessible. Our new stand mixer also arrived and managed to go into the bottom shelf - happy :)

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Let's read more!

I didn't have many books at home when I was very young. 

When Mother was pregnant with YQ, I found her Chinese pregnancy books and read them over and over again.

My English was kind of non-existent. When I was about five, I followed my grandma to her work place - think she was a cleaner at some office. The boss's daughter was there as well. I remember that incident - there were just two of us in a meeting two. She was dressed very nicely. We were about the same age but she was reading Wizard of Oz while I didn't know what "shoe" meant when Yan asked me on a separate occasion. (But my memory is obviously very good, haha!) 

I guess that somewhat spurred me to want to learn English. But by P1, my English still couldn't make it - I didn't understand the teacher but my classmates were starting to open their workbook *.*

Finally, when I was eight, I went to the library for the first time. I remember randomly picking a couple of books and I had difficulty with the protagonist's name of this English book. For the rest of my primary school years, we went to the library every three Saturdays, maxing out the borrowing limit on five cards, i.e. 20 books in total. I didn't like it when YQ borrowed this baby monkey book again and again *.*

Btw, back then, there were long queues to return and borrow books, with the librarian scanning each book with a pen and stamping the due dates. Back home, we used random pens or sticks to pretend to be librarians :p

So I started reading at eight. Mostly fiction. The only non-fiction I remember was about space and astronomy, and brain teasers. Borrowed fewer but thicker books of mystery, crime and romance as I entered secondary school, primarily coz no time. JC was full of Louis Cha. University was when I started on fantasy though second year was almost devoted to Dream of the Red Chamber.

My early working life was spent bawling my eyes out with 张小娴 and re-acquainting myself with authors I read in the previous 10 years. I forgot about books for quite a while coz I was busy with work. Except for Harry Potter whenever they came out. Then I started reading a mixed bag in Evanston. Then it was kiddy books. I found reading apps and read 琼瑶 for the first time while nursing Yu. There was lots of Overdrive around that time too. More recently, I have been reading online novels - just finished the very long 庆余年...

Now for the kids.

I bought kiddy books when I was pregnant with Kai. I was staying in the east when I first came back from Evanston and there was some book fair at Expo. I tried to start them reading early, from infanthood. 

Today, Yu is quite happy to read with me. Yang would pull the longest books for me to read. But since his toddler years, Kai has not shown much interest in books until a couple of weeks ago.

I think he was saying he wished he had Captain Underpants. He was so surprised and happy when I told him to find one at our bookshelf. We bought that a couple of years ago coz we thought he was interested - he mentioned that back in K1. 

He read bits of it here and there, and finished it this morning. I think he picked up momentum along the way. That is also the first book of such length that he has completed :)

So today, after his play date, we went to Popular to get him a new one. I think he was trying to avoid the thicker ones *.* But eventually, he decided on one.

Repeat this photo of him browsing for Captain Underpants

A few more weeks ago, I also started getting him to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for 10-15 min every evening. He went from resistant to just picking up from where he started. Didn't realise that just that short bit of time each day could be so effective. And when Captain Underpants came around, he didn't need the points as motivation. 

I really hope Captain Underpants can lead him into the wonderful world of reading!

Kai's happy day

I can't remember the last time I met friends. Today, however, Kai had a play date - good for him, hoho!

I decided to take leave today before the play date invitation. Then two things came along - the play date and a meeting. And the logistics weren't pretty. I didn't want A to send Kai coz (1) she would have to send and come back, and then I would make the same trip, i.e. lots of wasted time; and (2) what if they couldn't find the place, even on a cab?

So I decided to attend the meeting at Starbucks or Toast Box or something at Paya Lebar Quarter with Kai sitting next to me with the iPad, before sending him to the play date slightly late.

As luck would have it, I was informed yesterday afternoon that the meeting got postponed, woohoo!!

We sent Yang and Yu to B1 and headed to his favourite breakfast. Last time, I tried their swiss roll - not bad. This time, I tried their muffin - not nice :(

Kai looks so tiny here, though his hands feel bigger every time I hold them

He played chess on the iPad for a while while I did some shopping online - it's 9.9! The boys have been singing the PCK Shopee 9.9 song the past couple of weeks. Sito even recorded Kai singing it! Not posting here coz I was in PJ pants in the background :p

Give you the original - can learn Singlish too!!

When we got into the car, Kai asked, is this the lady's car? Then I realised that this was the first time that Kai took Grab car - tall enough not to be rejected! Not that we have tried before hoho!

And really, my reason (2) came true - driver followed GPS into a wrong road! And when she found the correct road based on intuition, that road led to a dead end due to construction! The next time, we finally found the place, and only coz I spotted the house number that was hidden away from the road *.*

Ok, bye, Kai! :p

My next stop was Daiso at Singpost Centre. Parkway Parade is nearer but I thought maybe there would be more things over at Paya Lebar...

I was very happy at Daiso :) But it is quite small so I didn't get all that I wanted. It's ok, I should get going!

This reminded me of Taipei somehow :)

I went to a number of shops and bought a pretty blouse for myself and a pair of plain pants for Kai, with the latter more ex, hoho!

I was getting really tired but it was not time for pick-up yet! I told both Kai and his friend's mum that I would be there between 1 pm and 1.30 pm. I dong-ed until 12.45 pm and hopped into a cab!

When I picked Kai up, he wished I could have fetched him later. Hey, who wanted me to pick him up at 1 pm?? I think he was at first worried about whether I could find him - probably coz the last time, he was at a condo common area which was quite large but that time, A stayed with him; Pre-COVID :p

Well, can't blame him. From the photos, the small group of boys really had a lot of fun! They went to the pool, had fried rice, had ice cream and were playing Nintendo/laptop when I got there.

We took the cab to BPP. Just as we got out of the cab, I realised that he had worn his shirt inside out! My silly boy!

I think this photo taken at Popular deserves its own post!

Kai happily went to play Nintendo when we got back, while I unpacked my Daiso stash. Bought a big die coz it's big, haha!

Bought a balance game too!

Then Kai convinced me to play Mega Man.... Gosh, that was hard!! First, my son is not the best teacher! Second, my hands cannot la... How to jump and shoot at the same time! And I don't quite remember which button is for what action *.* I'm now very impressed with how fast Kai does it!

Better to take wefie while he plays

Came out of the shower to find them playing the new toy

I was surprised Yu could manage the little knobs very well and didn't knock over everything!

Kai did not jump around much at bedtime today. Think he must be tired out from his play date. Just as well!

Monday, 7 September 2020

Making bread

Saturday, 22 Aug 2020, marks the day I made my first yeast bread! 

Oh wait, I made hot cross buns back in July hoho! But that didn't go down well with everyone coz it's nothing like in the song...?!

Forgive me for the missing crosses! Mixture too watery!

Also forgive the ugliness; I'm new to this! The recipe is good and the buns were yummy! I kept some in the freezer and microwaved them when I wanted one or two - still great!

I still had some leftover bread flour from July so that Saturday morning, I pulled out this dinner roll recipe. I had an accident and spilled some milk and yeast mixture so I did a random top-up *.* I was afraid the dough wouldn't happen but it did!

I didn't divide or roll them very well :p

Dinner rolls with mostly bread flour - had to top up with plain flour to make three cups :p

Kai and Yu like it :) Yu was ill but still ate it!

The following Saturday, I made one with plain flour. Somehow the dough was stickier. I couldn't tell the difference in taste though.

And last Saturday, I converted the recipe to a tangzhong 汤种 - this page gives a good explanation of how to do that. Again, I couldn't tell the difference in taste. It was supposed to stay fresh longer but I always microwaved the buns as I like the warm anyway. So I guess I'll stick to the easier recipe!

But I'm hoping to get a stand mixer to make the process easier. The kneading doesn't take too long but (1) I get sweaty, (2) I still may not get a good texture after 15 sweaty minutes.

Then I can bake more! :p

Why does child care have more homework than primary school?!

For some weeks now, Yang comes home with two sets of homework every Friday, one for English and one for Chinese. So we spend Saturday mornings doing homework. And his lazy boy doesn't want to complete Chinese writing - instead of tracing 10 我 and writing five, he only wants to trace two and write one *.* Fine, I let him be as long as he does it well. In any case, he can recognise quite a number of Chinese words when we read.

The worst type of homework is, however, handicraft! They are couched as parent-child activity but seriously, I cannot la...

Recently, both Yang and Yu had some activities *.* Very cute to see them do but very tiring to help them with it coz really, I cannot la, handicraft!

Drawing face of Merlion

Water from the Merlion's mouth

Yang and his Merlion!

"I want to put the wheel on..."

Yu and his Yakult car!

So now, I spend more time doing homework with Yang and/or Yu than with Kai! Kai usually doesn't have homework. If he does, it's not a lot, and it's certainly not handicraft! I only need to sit with him to guide him on the instructions, especially for Chinese homework. 

Or I can give Kai homework that I like - comprehension! :p I like to see how he understands the passage and explains the answer when marking. I also like to draw with him - just draw, no handicraft. We follow Art for Kids Hub so it's easy and fun - he has even learnt that the most important thing in the process is to have fun, woohoo!

I also like to do a lot of Chinese with him coz really no choice. Recently, I found that his Chinese reading seems to have improved a little. I was quite pleased and quit trying to sign him up for Chinese tuition. That may yet come next year... We shall see..

Who doesn't enjoy bedtime?!

In the last week of August, I finally decided to refresh Yang's room.

Original wall decal has lost its colours and parts have peeled off

New wall decal!

Two things remain - the bit of wall where the paint dropped off with a plastic sticker to dampen the key to the window grilles (oops :p) and a cute picture of Yang from school!

Made it nice and cozy so that the boys can enjoy bedtime :)

But they don't *.*

All love to watch funny videos or phone videos a bit longer. To do that, they would read to get enough points. Yang and Yu are ok with reading though Yang sometimes gets lazy and decides to play and give up his funny video instead. The term funny video came about coz Kai and I used to watch his videos which were quite funny! But we went on to YouTube at some point; the name remains the same.

Kai needs to be pushed to read. While his brothers read books of two to four points each, Kai reads 15 min of one book to get seven points. We started him with 10 min for five points so he quibbled quite a bit about the 15 min - his maths is good enough, haha! But now he just picks up the book and gets me to set a timer. 

Recently, he discovered Captain Underpants and realised we have a copy so sometimes in the afternoon, he may even read it on his own accord. Small step to something more, I hope... I remember I started going to the library at primary two and never looked back!

Kai reads to Yu sometimes, which frees me to read to Yang

Anyway, back to bedtime...

These days, I don't get to lie in with Yu anymore. Coz I need to be fair and they want me to be fair - 10 mins 陪陪时间 for each boy before tucking them in and leaving the room. But they will come out n times to say goodnight, drink water, pee pee.

When they finally stop coming out, Yang and Yu are up chatting or rolling around for a while. Chatting isn't a bad thing but gosh, they need to sleep! When Kai is around, they get pretty rowdy when I'm with them but after that, Kai tends to doze off first.

And Yu has been wanting to drop his nap for some time now. Kai napped the most, dropping his nap in or after K2, followed by Yang who dropped his nap around five. Yu may drop upon turning four - he couldn't wait to turn four!

But we also have a deal that he has to stop coming to me at night at four years old, heh :p

Coz I love my bedtime, and I love it most when I have enough space and blanket!

Ok, I'll miss him too, sighs...

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Endearing Yu

Yu still comes into our room every night. It's a matter of what time he comes in.

Most times, he snuggles up to me, nestling his head against my neck. It's a bliss to feel his hair on my skin and smell his sweet little round head :)

Sometimes, he snuggles up to Sito. Actually, Sito's back coz he has adopted a protective stance against Yu's 夺命剪刀脚 :p

But in the morning, if I'm still in bed when he wakes, he hugs me around my neck or torso. Often, he'll shower me with wet baby kisses. He is such a dear :)

Managed to take a photo two Saturdays ago when I wasn't too groggy - I think he was trying to close his eyes purposely but ended up squeezing his eyes shut :p

That monkey is our usual 第三者

Yu also likes to act baby. Instead of using words, he uses sounds with cute little actions. He tilts his head to the side and gave me a cute blank look. He pouts. 

All of them pout - I melt!

The other day, he came home with the heart gesture - curved arms over the head. All three did that during bedtime and there was a lot of hugging and I-love-you's.

At bedtime, he says he's Lula and I'm Mima and Papa is Bubu - names of the aliens in the Shaun the Sheep movie we watched over LNY this year. 

I don't know if I got it all but the point is, Yu brings a lot of cuteness with his actions and words.

And then there's this...

So yesterday, we had a debrief after his bout of defiant running. I explained to him why it was dangerous for him to run like that - towards the road and there were bicycles on the walkway. I explained why he had to hold my hand when crossing the road. I explained why I had to suspend his funny video that day. 

He nodded to show understanding. I asked if he was sorry. He nodded again. I asked him to say sorry for hitting me, and he gave a quiet "sorry, Mama". Ok, time for a hug. And in my arms, he started to cry silent tears.......

Yes, unlike his brothers who wail, Yu cries silently. (Yang did once too.) I still remember the first time - we were at a restaurant and he wanted the ice in Sito's iced water. But by the time he finished his food, the ice had all melted. We showed him the cup and his tears dropped silently. Sito decided to ask for another cup of iced water even though we were getting ready to leave the restaurant already. I think that was when we were in Malaysia with the extended family but that would mean he was only one!


Achievements unlocked!

Took leave on Teachers' Day since the kids would all be home. I think we went to Mother's place in the past few years but this year, I forgot :p

After nap/quiet time, three boys and two balls started bouncing off the walls. Nightmare *.* So I hauled them out of the house. Sito and I were thinking of ordering pizza for dinner but since I was bringing them out, I thought I might as well bring them out for dinner. I was also inspired by JY who brought her three boys out on her own - granted, her eldest is older than Kai, so I'm not too adventurous, staying only in the neighbourhood :)

Yu wanted to play scooter

While his brothers had fun with soccer

The last time we went downstairs to play scooter, Yu fell and had a huge baluku on the left side of his head. This time, I made him wear a helmet.

Later, he wanted me to "practise" ball with him

His brothers went up to get their scooters too. Soccer was very hard work! They drank so much water! This time, they scooted a lot instead of playing at the playground. Maybe coz there were quite a number of kids at the playground and my kids were anti-social haha!

My awesome boys getting ready for their last race of the day

Went up to put the stuff away and peed and topped up water before heading out. Gave them a prep talk at the lobby before we left for BPP.

Our first stop is BATA - need to get shoes for Yang. But Yu wanted new shoes too. Oh well, his shoes are mostly just nice now, so I got a slightly bigger pair. They were so happy! Kai's shoes still fit so he just went around pointing out girly shoes to trick his brothers into trying *.*

Then we headed to get some melamine sponges. For some reason, I thought I could get them at the value shop. It's a dangerous shops with lots of traps! So I allowed them to choose one snack each, subject to my approval. I ended up getting snacks and toothpaste - no sponges. 

It was only when we exited that I saw Japan Home - sponges! But that's also a dangerous shops for a different reason - gotta pass by glassware... I made them promise to stick close and not touch anything before we went in. Success!

By then, I was ready to sit down. I had a sling purse, a backpack, a bag of shoes and a bag of snacks and household goods. The kids were also hungry, after all that kicking of balls and scooters. On our way to the foodcourt, the older boys played some Candy Crush or something on the laptops at Harvey Norman. Yu would have done the same except that he's too short!! I waited outside the foodcourt while Yu ran back to fetch his brothers.

Kai and I read a short story about 食阁 a couple of days ago. So I showed the boys around the foodcourt, and pointed out the mixed vege stall specifically. Yu saw the fried chicken and wanted that hoho! But when we sat down, he decided to stick to his first choice - fishball noodles. His brothers took up my suggestion of fried rice.

He claimed it was the yummiest fried rice in his life, hmm...

Poser Yang, hoho! He had all the egg coz Kai didn't want it

Yu had maybe 70% of the fishball noodles, yeah! (The rest was my dinner)

I couldn't bring them to Macs coz I couldn't wipe ice cream off Yu with my hands full. So after dinner, we opened up Yu's chosen snack - ferrero rocher! - and they were happy :)

Were we done? No! We had to get food for Papa and Kakak too! So we went down, and bought food at three adjacent eateries - Papa wanted to 加料 heh :p And on our way out, I can't remember which pair of sharp eyes spotted Old Chang Kee. Since they had been good, I let them choose a snack. Kai, Yu and I shared a stick of cheesy chicken balls while Yang had a stick of fried fishballs minus one for me. 

It was quite a breeze going home :) So they were given a mini Cornetto at home :) And when all were showered, we sat down for three short Chinese stories. I had them sit in front of me while I read - I was Teacher Mama! They were super cute and played along.

Ok, take your phones now, boys. Time for my cave haha! So tired after three hours outside with them!

It was that day that I truly appreciate my Triple P Online! All the prep prep and more prep works! Giving rewards and stating consequences of not behaving as expected gives them both motivation and deterrence. I was rather pleased :) First achievement this weekend!

Then yesterday, when Sito was with me, I forgot about prep towards the end haha! It was wet so we didn't go downstairs to play. Kai played chess with Papa while Yang and Yu made a mess of the dining area with their painting. That really got us out of the house so that A could clean properly.

Paint on hand is fine but they started splattering paint!

Tired from sharpening a colour pencil while waiting for food, hoho!

There was no place to go to after dinner - everything was still wet. I suggested hanging out at the kiddy ride area but Yang wanted to go outdoors. Then an idea struck me - the pond!

Looking at turtles - also saw a huge fish for the first time!

They kept running ahead of us at the second half of the route around the pond

Thanks to Yang for wanting to go outdoors, we managed to take a nice little stroll after dinner. We took the bridge to the CC and went down to the pond. For the first half, they talked a lot - I said we were disturbing the peace of the area hoho! But second half, Sito and I enjoyed our walk while eyeing the kids in front of us :) Sito said four is a magical age haha! Second achievement!

Then Yu started running on the walkway outside the CC and refused to stop. See? This is what happened when I forgot to prep talk them.

Managed to catch up just before the zebra crossing. I don't think he would cross the road on his own but better safe than sorry - grabbed him the whole way to the other side of the road. He was angry and kept trying to break free, hitting in the process. Suspended him from funny video and did a debrief back home - I think the debrief deserves a separate post...

Today, we're likely to stay home as Sito had requested for pasta dinner :)

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Goodnight, cable car!

We haven't ventured out much since we moved to BP. That was over two years ago! Used to head out to Vivo, Orchard or just Star Vista. I guess that's why none of us had any problem staying home all the time during the circuit breaker...

But that's over now! The kids should get more experiences than BP. So I suggested cable car. They were so excited! We were raring to go two Saturdays ago but it started raining heavily during nap time. So our trip was delayed for a week. Even though it was drizzling lightly yesterday, we went anyway.

The bus took 50 min. Kai rested with his eyes close towards the end of the trip. Yang dozed off. Yu started complaining that it was "so long" but otherwise remained seated and cheery. 

The last time we were there, we started at Mount Faber. This time, we started at Harbourfront. We went towards Sentosa and came back to Harbourfront. As it was close to dinner time, we decided to continue our trip after dinner.

We bought tickets on the spot - online :p So much cheaper! And there was no crowd. Love it.

The rain made this look like an old photo!

Taken by Yang :)

The cable cars are all black now. Last year when we were there, there were still colourful cable cars. Yang liked the colourful ones. But he was scared of glass-bottom ones - like the one he took in Taiwan.

Let them have their colouring while waiting for food

Can you guess where?

Morganfield's where kids eat free! Oops, Sito's eyes were closed :p

The younger ones had hotdog rolls plus some steak and ribs

Yang posed for me when he saw me with my camera

Kai had a big burger!

Then we went back to the cable car. This time, more cable cars were occupied and a number had diners - Sito and I had a dinner date there once long time ago :) So we waited a while for our turn, this time going towards Mount Faber and then to Sentosa and back.

Managed to catch the sunset, somewhat...

Thought they had torn down the Merlion but it was still there, with black head...!

That's the Sentosa Line cable car

The boys were quieter now...

Final shot as we left the ticket lobby

Just before we left the cable car, I told them it was time to say goodnight to the cable car! And Yang and Yu began a whole slew of goodnights to: cable car, moon, boat, fart ("coz I farted") etc...

We came home quite late. It was 8.40 pm when we climbed into bed. But they dozed off quite soon after I left. Must have been tired...

Sito and I were also tired!! Gosh! 

We thought that Yang likes the cable car ride more than the other two. Especially Kai who kept thinking about having no time for iPad and funny video *.* I think they are either too reliant on digital food or just too 宅 *.*

Hope to bring them out somewhere fun every week! But Sito has to OT alternate Saturdays so just nice - save more major trips like this for alternate weeks :p
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