Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Doll House

Soft toys are invading the kids' bed! Whenever I do night checks, they are near the edge of the bed, while their soft toys are comfortably surrounded to a side. After days of thoughts, I've decided that their soft toys need a separate home, and I made a rarely passable home for their 'friends.'

I don't have specific directions, I flowed as I 'build.' Mainly, cover the raw boxes with papers, coloured or plain are good. I happened to have some pictured papers, so I decorated it to look quite like a house. Jazz attempted to make this a joint project, but I completed most of it. It was rather challenging for the little hands.

What you need:
  • Coloured/Plain papers
  • Pictured papers (if any)
  • Scissors 
  • Glue
I used hot glue gun, which allowed me to work faster. 

Directions:
1. Cut the longer flaps of the boxes. Keeping only the shorter flaps as 'doors.'
2. Glue the boxes, one above the other, the 2 larger sides together.
3. Cover the raw exposed sides (in and out) with papers. Alternatively, you can get a large wrapping paper to cover. I worked within my resources.
4. Find suitable pictures or coloured papers for the walls and doors

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Papers and 2 identical sized boxes
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If you've time and creativity, make up the furniture!

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Stuffed toys neatly housed, safe and sound between the kids

It wasn't a very intensive project. I visualized a thought, made it happened and got the toys sheltered. Not too bad of an effort, from the usually uncreative me. 

What else matters when the people whom I'm trying to please love it? Yes, Jazz loves it, she has the most contributions (she owns bulk of the toys) to the new made home. I'm just glad their beds look more spacious now.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Interesting conversations

After a series of classic conversations collecting, it's time to document them again.

Conversation 1
Jazz: Mummy, why is the moon sometimes round and sometimes crescent?
Mum: Why don't you ask Daddy?
Dad: Because the monster ate the moon!
Jazz: No! Because the sun cast shadow on the moon.
I'm impressed, but I felt like, I fell into her trick.

Conversation 2:
Mum: Jazzelle, see, fire engine is rushing. Like firefighter Fred.
Jazz: Where is the fire engine going to?
Mum: It's going to...
Dad: They are rushing to save a cat from the tree.
It could be true, but definitely not good knowledge to share about firefighters.

Conversation 3:
Dad: Jazzelle, let's not bring lolli (her soft, toy dog). Put him in the car so he can watch the car and bark when strangers come.
Jazz: Do you think lolli will bark? I don't think so, he's a soft toy
Sometimes, you keep thinking you're still talking to a 2 year old when she's 4!

Conversation 4:
Mum: Jareth, what did you learn in school today? What number did you write?
Jare: Forty-Nine
Mum: And who is George Washington?
Jare: He's my friend!
I've no idea where his concentration wandered to in school. Got a set of wrong replies.

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Worksheets done in school, so mum knows what went on
Conversation 5:
Jazz: Mummy, you know why is goofy so clever? Because he's so tall.
Mum: I think because he eats well
Jazz: Then Donald and Daisy Duck are not clever because they are short
Dad: Because they got birds' brain
Gosh! My girl is disneyfied and my man is crazy!

Conversations like these keep me smiling and laughing just by reading and re-reading. I love the laughter  they plant in my life. I love my family!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Final summer trip - Las Vegas

From Vancouver, we flew in to Nevada, Las Vegas. The city known for gambling, fine dining, shows, shopping and nightlife. Simply, not quite a place to visit with kids. And being restrained by them, there wasn't much we accomplished, except eating and shopping. My parents were around, and I thought if we had more days, we would have caught the Celine Dion's concert, since we have child care 'service' readily available.

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Seeing cities within city

Vegas is a very exciting place, a city that never sleeps, with hot babes everywhere. What made everything hotter was the weather, it was 44 deg Celsius during our stay there! Yes, you read me right. The moment we stepped out of the air-conditioned airport, we were hotly welcomed into a heat furnace. It was crazy! As I wheeled the kids through the taxi line, in their stroller, I can hear murmurs of conversation, "It's so hot! How is this bearable for the kids." Well, we didn't know when heatwave will strike. Although, July is one of the hottest months in Vegas, 44 deg Celius is unusual.

Our stay was provoked by the weather, I had the burning desire to return home. What made worse, was spending independence day in LV, with mega huge crowd everywhere, from hotels to the strip. Everyone wanted to catch sight of fireworks, we too! I will never forget how closely packed we were on an overhead bridge that brought us across the road, almost skin to skin with strangers. A stampede and we could all end our breath. After that adventure, I totally sympathize sardines.

Amazingly, nothing subdued my love for shopping. Regardless the heat, we shopped a whole day at the Las Vegas premium outlets - North. We had another reason to walk into any shop for cool air, and perhaps stay longer. I shopped, my parents shopped and the kids cooperated with a long nap. Maybe, this was the true highlight of our trip. Other than that, Vegas was planned all for my Dad. "For your gambling experience, Dad!" We would have taken longer stroll down the strip, if weather was favourable with less crowd. It was my second time there, all I can remember it for, is seemingly like, Orchard road. Varitey of shops within walks, tiring and endless.

It was a good desert expedition though, less the camels and cactus. We went around on foot for 2 days and rented a car for our outlet visit, and dine at my long desired restaurant, Lawry's, on the third day. The place with ever highly pleasing steak! And cheaper than Singapore.   

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Always a taste to last
We stayed in Venetian, which was very much like Marina Bay Sands, as both are owned by sands. More grand, and larger rooms in Venetian though. But MBS is more profitable. Monopoly vs Competition.
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Little Venice within the hotel
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Huge luxurious hotel room
Our stay wasn't too bad after all. Even though hot, humidity was low, we were slow to perspire. On our final day, we were excited to take flight home until the airline officer informed us of the plane crash at SFO airport. It got our flight cancelled. We were stranded for awhile, but didn't take us long to decide driving 10 hours home. My dad took half the journey, while my man took the other.

Being home safe and back to comfort is our ultimate reward. For weeks, I got tired of travelling and vacation. And now, gradually picking the mood for our next short vacation!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Trip to Vancouver, Canada And Seattle, USA

Our cruise departed from Vancouver, and brought us back after the end of our magical journey. That was how we landed in the acclaimed green city for about 4 days (a day in Seattle), before and after the cruise. Although I wasn't much impressed with the scenic sights, I was astounded by the diverse Chinese food delicacies. They were superb! The taste and impression lingers on, even till now. It was comforting to find great food in a foreign land, which wasn't even its expertise to begin with. I wish we were nearer. The city has a large Chinese population, which probably explains the excellent delicacies. Moreover, with my parents around, all we could do was to feast. My dad is an extreme food critic, if he loves it, it means outstanding!

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The long missed, beancurd in ginger syrup
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Alaska King Crab and Geoduck!
We visited:
1. Granville Island Public Market: Place where you can find interesting homemade products and gastronomic delights. We also visited the kids market, where you can find many shops selling toys and costumes. I love buying toys for kids, but realised travelling by air has kept me constrained. Instead, to satisfy the jiggling bodies of little Js, they played an hour in the indoor playground. Which was quiet moment for the adults.

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More of the edibles than non-edibles

2. Stanley Park: The locals love and pride, their first and largest beloved park. We were there coincidentally on National day, where they did a 21-gun salute by firing cannons in the park, honoring the day. It's a great place for outdoor activities. We took a land tour for this, stopped only a few stations for pictures.   

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Cannon shots
3. Vancouver lookout: We traveled about 170m off ground, on a glass elevator to the observation deck, for a panoramic view of the city. Briefly walked and ended the excursion quick, as I didn't find it very much interesting or impressive. $15.75 (CAD) for adults and free for kids below 5. Personally felt it wasn't quite worth the price and visit. It was included in our group land tour.

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A very urbanized city
4. Dr Sun Yat-Sen Park: Free entry. You'll have to pay an entrance if you decide to visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, which is also around the corner. The free park was good enough for us. We enjoyed some tranquil moments in the enchanting garden. Popped in because it was interesting to spot a Chinese Dynasty garden out of China. Found out that Dr Sun stayed in Vancouver on various occasions in the past, that's why the park's existence.

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Nice park
5. Chinatown: We strolled along Chinatown, visited the night market on a drizzly night. Lots of food choices and non-food items for sale. 

6. Capilano Suspension Bridge: This was also the most thrilling moment of our trip. The bridge is suspended about 70m above the Capilano river. And you think nothing about fear, until you walk through this trembling suspended bridge. The kids were fearless on it, but not me. Fear multiplied as I walked towards the center. Putting up our brave fronts, we did it to and fro. We did other suspending cliffwalk and treetops adventures too. It was crazy paying some big money to challenge height and fear. Tickets for adults are priced at $35 (CAD). Kids below 6, free.

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Long stretch of suspended bridge
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Another fearful obstacle
The highlight of Vancouver, to me, is food! Yes, I enjoy great food. Those that are truly worth the calories. Most days, I remember Vancouver as a rainy city. The city is clean and green, considers very much about recycling and the environment. Transportation is easy, on our first 2 days, we went round on bus and train. People are extremely helpful and friendly, it's not difficult to get a passerby for directions. But, there are always exceptions, some Chinese restaurants we visited were rather unfriendly, with below mediocre service. If we had a choice, I rather not give gratuity.

And I thought I've always been a true blue, hardcore Singaporean. After looking at the happy immigrants in there, I thought it wasn't too bad becoming a Vancouverite. Okay, Just a careless thought.

Thanks to cousin and friends, we found great food places that are worth the calories:

1. Ho Yuen Kee 何源記   
6236 Fraser Street
Vancouver, BC V5W 3A1
Neighborhood: Sunset

3888 Main Street, Vancovuer
B.C. V5V 3N9





3. Red Star Seafood Restaurant 鴻星海鮮酒家
8298 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC
V6P 4Z4

If you've room for desserts, beancurd here is worth a try:
4. Excellent Tofu and Snacks

Central Richmond
160-4231 Hazelbridge Way
Richmond, BC V6X3L7



Seattle, USA
Within our days in Vancouver, we crossed the border, drove about 2 hours to Seattle for a day trip. I wished we had more time there though. In our day trip, we visited:

1. Pike Place Market Where they sell food, from fruits to fishes and poultry. Opposite the market is also where we found the first Starbucks that existed on Earth. There was a long queue, as if they were giving free coffees.

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Long line to get coffee
2. Chihuly Garden and Glass: We love this visit very much. An exhibition of glass - The different forms of art and beauty that came from pushing the boundaries of glass. They were awesomely beautiful, my jaws dropped each time we stepped into a different exhibition room. If I were a millionaire, I would buy up the works and fill my home with it. They are extremely therapeutic and soothing to admire.

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Boat like glass exhibit

Each city has its own unique beauty and character, I love Vancouver for its food and Seattle for the places of visit. It was a great opportunity to explore them.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Disney Cruise - Alaska

I got tired, I got weary, I lost inspirations and I am tempted to neglect writing about my parenting journey and our adventures... Nonetheless, am still back here, continuing what I've started...

It's been a long while, and yes, we went on a summer vacation, on a Disney cruise to Alaska. Spent some days in Vancouver, Seattle and Las Vegas - Toiled 3 weeks traveling out of home, it somehow felt like we covered the globe! Not easy on Mums even on vacation.

Spending 7 nights on board Disney Cruise were the best, we were well fed and magically entertained. It was a great time of 3 generations fun for us. The cruise departed from Vancouver, sailed through scenic nature views of ice blue glaciers, snow capped mountains and waterfalls, to our first port of call, Skagway, followed by Juneau, then Ketchikan.

Skagway - A very small town with population less than 1000 all year round, summer gives it a higher population count and tourism is the town's main economy. No visitors, no income.

We strolled the small city of Skagway, went a little further to Liarsville for salmon baked lunch, shows and gold panning. Gold panning is a traditional method of 'surfacing' gold from gravel. All we needed to do, was, add some water into the pan, give some good shakes, pour out the low specific gravity materials and spot the gold among the denser materials. We were thrilled when we spotted gold! It took me a long while to even spot one, and while I was about to give up, my sweetie encouraged me to stay patient and shake on. I took on her advice and found some gold! I got hooked and became the last few to board the bus to port.

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Gold panned in the drizzly rain
Juneau - Remembered this town well because we were welcomed by the good sunshine. It had been drizzly and rainy for the rest of our land tours. It was also the most exciting day of our adventure, where we rode on helicopter to snow capped glaciers and got on dog sleds. It was life experiencing and a rare opportunity for all of us. Helicopter, setting foot on glaciers and riding on sled were my first! I discovered the beauty of glaciers, donned in pure white and blue, they are beyond what words can describe. I'm sold to such impressive nature. And when many glaciers and sun meet, you need good shades to admire them.

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Towed by the Alaskan Huskies

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Shy! Was asked to do this...

Ketchikan - A town with very strong local culture and flavour. Encompassed by the many types of salmon, its economy is based mainly on fishing. We caught a traditional native performance at Saxman native village, place where you wouldn't miss walking past a totem pole. We also caught the lumberjack show - two teams of lumberjacks compete in chops, sawing, climbling and roping of logs. After which, we feasted on the Alaska king crab. A food gem that tastes all so good!

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Posing with a totem pole
Life on board seemed short-lived, but memorable. The endless access to great food, dessert, sodas, coffees and teas pampered us totally. Free room service filled our tummies to the brim each night - Supper! And you guessed it, we've all added some inches to that waist. The aftermath of gluttony is a tough battle. I'm on an intensive weight loss schedule now.

Disney cruise is absolutely commendable. Fun and friendly crews giving great services, after dinner shows are entirely impressive and great activities were planned on board for the young to old. The tag doesn't come cheap, it was a painful amount spent for the whole family, but seems worth it. Only dissatisfaction I have is, kids, as young as Jare, are paying the same amount as an adult. Ouch!

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That's how crazy we got with fun
And what made me sailed back contented is, finally, some decent family portraits. One that I've been longing for, it was days of persuasion to convince my man to pay and shoot with clean background, and bright studio lights. The power of persuasion, lies in every women. Haha! What's best, we didn't have to pay the usual expensive make up artist or photographer for great pictures. A little price for simple shots are good enough for keepsake.

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Loving picture like this

Magical journey doesn't just begin on land, but on sea too! Given an opportunity, boldly include Disney Alaskan cruise into your must-do list.

Updating soon on days in Vancouver, Seattle and Las Vegas....