Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas Tales

We specially love the Christmas atmosphere here. Other than waking up to freezing mornings, like a single digit degree Celsius weather, we've been constantly soaked with Christmas songs, stories, gifts, beautiful home decorations and activities. We filled our almost everyday with fun. We've watched 2 musicals, Elves and the shoemaker and the Little match girl. We've wrapped and gifted pressies to little ones in our neighbourhood. Thank you uncles and aunties for pressies too! We've put up our tree and deco outside the house. We're all set, but we are gonna be away for Christmas. For sure, Christ-mas is in our heart, wherever we are.

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Blue Christmas
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Therapeutic to sight such deco in our neighbourhood
There's so much we can do, before 25th arrives. Yesterday, as Js ended their last school day, we went on the train to Christmas town. We boarded and went through a magical ride. We listened to a story on board, met its characters and of course, the most important person of all, Santa! It was a delightful and happy train ride, we enjoyed it as much as the kids. We had hot chocolate and cookies served by elves, sang Christmas carols and little ones received gifts from Santa.

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Pre-boarding excitment
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Went off board into the very cold air
It was quite an extraordinary ride to nowhere. And interestingly, that day, Jazz had been telling me lots of Christmas stories about reindeer and Santa! Coincidentally, Mummy Hy told me about these stories too, which her 9 year old is still believing. Stories which in our country, don't practice these traditions. Simply, they're  beautiful white lies to convince little children that Reindeer, elves and Santa exist! I grinned and flowed along as Jazz told me about saving carrots for Santa's reindeer, making cookies and milk for Santa! 

I've once told her that Santa doesn't exist in real, but her peers have overtaken me. I couldn't believe my eyes when Js picked up their courage to tell Santa their wishlist after the train ride! Jazz loitered around Santa for a while, before she boldly stepped forward to tell him, "Santa, I want a toy for Christmas!" "What toy would you like?" said Santa, with those kind eyes. "I want a princess!" Santa looked up to her daddy, nodded his head and said, "I'll see what I can do." Jare did likewise, he told Santa that he wanted a dusty plane toy. I smiled at their faith and innocence, I couldn't bring myself to burst their bubble of fantasy.I just couldn't.

These imaginary and pretends can be really distressing. That's a lot of work parents need to follow up on. Putting the carrots out for reindeer, making cookies for Santa and ensuring that good evidence is left after the visit. I know it's ridiculously crazy! But somehow, it warms my heart to see that little faith in them. Their innocence, that genuine thought and that interesting childhood that's so different from mine. I am so going to play along! I know Christmas isn't all about these, it's about truth, love and celebrating the reason for the season. I've carefully done my part in reading the true Christ-mas story for Js and reminding them that it's the birth of Christ that we're celebrating for. 

This morning, with much beliefs in Jazz, she told me,"You know what, Mummy? I believe in Santa!" And guessed what went on? She wrote a letter to Santa!!! Next, I guess I'll have to mail it to the North pole. Someone give me Santa's address, please?!

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Letter to Santa
It says, "Dear Santa, we are saving some carrots for your reindeer."

I just wonder how long will this magical story of reindeer and Santa stay in our household. It's a totally different environment when we get back. At least, it's a fun story we made this year. I love jotting this part of memory. On second thought, maybe Christmas is also interestingly, what being a parent is all about. I've gotten carrots, cookies, milk and their wishlist all set! 

Parents, would you move along the imaginary story of Santa or would you knock fantasy out of their little minds? I'm so keen to know the different sides of truths and stories.

I'm lengthy because it's soon vacation time, time to be away from home and routines. There's just so much to share, but most importantly, Papa, mama and Js want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New year! Take a sabbatical break from blogging, job and routines to bond with our loved ones. Wrap the year well, and stay bless with many good returns ahead!


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Last school day

Tendered Js resignation from school. Yesterday marked their last day with the preschool they've been attending quite faithfully for the past 10 months. It's always the most difficult part to say goodbye. And it seemed not too long ago, that they settled into the routine of school, teachers and friends. I saw how my little boy grew from those crying and leg tugging days to walking independently for lessons and play. Some days, walking to his seat excitedly without giving me my needed hugs and kisses.

It's been a great learning journey. They've made many new friends, learned much about the social, culture and traditions. I like it that they brought some Spanish language into the house. 

It was a tough decision, but we knew it was a matter of time. Only 4 more months and we'll be back to where we call home. Farewell is in the time to come. Js requested to pack some goodbye gifts for their teachers and friends. I couldn't agree more.

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The season made it easy to get gifts
As we countdown our precious days, I'm also all ready to receive Js full time at home. I had been on a long vacation while they went to school. I had a very good amount of time to stay sane by doing the things I love. I brought in my occasional routine of Zumba and jogs, did some painting classes, Bible studies, played on the keyboard, watched some dramas, read and found my long lost love, in ballet. It had been an awesome journey, as a part day, SAHM. And of course, this made my evenings, much more precious than before, spending quality time with them.

On their last school day, teachers helped Js to prepare these greetings for us:

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Jazz to us!
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Jare to us!
Awesome works! Thank you Ryan Ranch for the inspirations, knowledge shared and journey explored! Where through your doors, pass the most incredible children in the World.

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The doors we 'in and out' for months
  24/7 mum in the making, breathing in and out....

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Ornament exchange

It's a Christmas tradition that I recently participated with my group of Bible study ladies, ornament exchange. I was caught for a little while. I knew what a gift exchange was, but never thought much about an ornament exchange. I wasn't too sure if I read the game right, I goggled and affirmed my doubt. It plays like a gift exchange, except that we exchange ornaments. Now I see light in the many interesting ornaments that are sold individually in stores.

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Ornaments prettily wrapped
The interesting part is, if you don't like the ornament you got, you can 'steal.' someone's else. Depending on the game master on how many times you can steal. Fun huh! I wasn't a stealer, I kept what I got. Gotten a set of ornaments in exchange for an ornament.

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An ornament for ornaments
Consider doing an ornament exchange, it's fun! You'll realised how much more pretty ornaments out there. Each piece seemed good on your tree, even if there wasn't a theme.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Little Gingerbread house

We did our little Gingerbread house, our first! Ok, we did it the cheat way. Bought a ready made set off the supermarket shelf. It was all so simple and fun. Great enjoyment we had! I did the really tough part, spread the icing, and Js decorated it their way.

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Decorating Fun
As much as the kids, I enjoyed getting my hands embarked on this tiny project. Like a childhood dream fulfilled. I got questioned many times, while working on the project, "Can we eat the candies, please?" I firmly said 'No.' I fear we wouldn't stop eating, like how a buffet does to us. They all looked so candylicious. Now that I re-think about it, popping some candies is part of the fun. Perhaps, next year.

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Yums!
And here are two Js brought home from school. Made with graham crackers. Simply wonderful!

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Looking good
All 'houses' will sit prettily till the year crosses. In Singapore's environment, the 'houses' would probably be eaten up by ants or not able to withstand the humidity. Again, I say, we love the weather here! Next round, I promise, I'll try making one from zero.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Riot in Little India

Riot in Little India! I received text messages on my phone. Not thinking too much about it, I thought it was nothing alarming. As we caught up with our day, we caught up with news. I was totally appalled at the damages and destruction done from this rebellious act. Boldness and multitude of anger must have triggered those gravely acts. It's been 44 years since the last racial riot, is this for real?!!

I live in Little India. At least, for the past 4 years, before our big move. I've served some short term as a member of the Residents committee and I know how situation is like on a typical Sunday. We have made every good effort to ensure that the residents and foreigners are comfortable and soundly safe. Upon reading the news, I knew it happened on a Sunday, when foreign workers gather faithfully every week to meet and catch up with friends at any spots along the road, pavement or fields. As residents, we would drive our Sundays home with the horn intermittently pressed. From drivers perspective, that's our frustration. But, I have lived with it, since I chose to buy a home in the heart of Little India. It's truly a place where you can almost experience the road crossing culture from Bombay. They seize every road crossing opportunities, whether safe or unsafe. Drivers have to be extremely cautious with those lives on the road. And once, a friend of mine came by our house, drove and honked, got his boot kicked by a one of the crosser. Which also explained why I don't receive friends on Sundays. After much absorption of news, I began to have this morbid thought, if I were the driver who killed the pedestrian that day, I would have been killed to death by the rioters!

There were many buses around that time, on that day because, that's where their transport come by to send them back to their dormitories. I've been once or twice a pedestrian on a Sunday night, when making my way home. There were rowdy crowds and individuals, and as a lady, I do get stares, but I still feel safe. Looking at how the crowd wouldn't strictly walk on pavements, It's amazing at how this area can be accident free for so long. In crowded situations like this, it's quite a human's responsibility to look out for their safety.

Now that it happened, power driven by numbers, it definitely is a good root reason to retaliate. I gathered reports, the people were angered because they were being pushed by the police from getting near the accident site and that it took long for paramedics to arrive. I know auxiliary police patrol the area very frequently on Sunday nights for crowd control. It makes sense to manage crowd, making the scene ready for rescue work. I wouldn't think gently asking everyone to back off works. I know how Sunday nights are like in there.

I'm in a foreign land myself now, and I've been the ears and eyes of a citizen in my own land. I know how discriminating these workers have felt in their hardworking days, and we know how unjustified lives can be for them. Let me cite an incident. Some years ago, while I was walking home from the MRT after a long work day, I was appalled by this young mum who raised her voice at a seemingly foreign worker to me. She was with her, perhaps 3 or 4 year old daughter. They walked by each other and the man patted the little girl's head. This got the mum's nerves agitated, she stopped and sternly reprimanded him, "I told my daughter that no strangers should touch her. Can you please apologize to her, for touching her!" I was so taken aback, I thought I should step in to 'rescue' the plight of this man. But I knew, it was no business of mine, I continued my walk. It's no wonder the new generation do not learn peace. I know it can be offending when strangers touch our child, but it's public, it's open, it's not like she's been molested. Does he deserved to be raised at? The man apologized anyway. I thought things might be different if someone else of a different profile patted the girl.

With much comments and blames everywhere, online and offline. I know our country is still a place of stability, with a strict law abiding. It's true that we should not tolerate such senseless acts, but with mature minds, we should move on to recover and trust. I wasn't even birthed since our last riot, we have new blood in every industry and for such readiness test, it was a very good job done. I'm proud of  our law enforcers! 

This a space where I blog my parenting journey, I borrowed some space to tribute salute to the heroes who risked their lives for peace. It's history making and it will get marked in their textbooks. To survive as a united country, we must learn to solve conflicts assertively and nonviolently.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Thanksgiving week

Thanksgiving is a Big thing to the Americans here. Seemingly, like our Chinese New Year, schools are on half day on the eve, followed by a 2 days holiday. We had an extremely long weekend. And thanks to Ja, we were invited to a thanksgiving lunch and dinner. That was also when I realised, thanksgiving isn't about sale and shopping, but reunion, family, friendship and food! I meant I know that, but was quite oblivion about its true existence, till now.

Same time last year, I was busy shopping through the wee hours with crowds, joining queues after queues for deals. This year, it was a whole lot of new experience. We had a pot luck lunch at Lou's neighbourhood. He kindly extended the invite to our family. I brought curry chicken, as I find it the easiest to present, as a Singapore dish. When the food line was opened after a blessed prayer, I was wow-ed by the spread and I am very inspired to try more American recipes. We had our tummies covered from appetizers to dessert. Deliciously awesome beyond words! We left the place with an extremely heavy tummy! We couldn't even walk well.

In the evening, with still much food digesting in our body, we drove up to Pastor Lo's ranch for another round of feast. It was a day of overwhelming food blessing. We were not only awed by the food, but also by the animals he kept in his ranch. There were 24 chickens, 5 cats, 1 goat and 1 dog! Hope I didn't miss the counts. The kids had a great time of pet therapy. And the adults engaged in a wonderful time of conversations. I've learned so much from Pastor, he's such an inspiration, and a man who brings great blessings to people around him. I've never met a family with such great hearts and minds, their home is so filled with love and kindness. They are blessed with 5 children of their own and still, they are trying to adopt children from the World. It's mind blowing!

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Thanks Maria for the spread!
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Jazz love the cats!
It was a great week! Truly! Nice meeting some locals and knowing more about their tradition. Extremely thankful for the people God placed in our lives. The ones who blessed and loved us, the ones who inspired us, the ones who moulded our characters from the amount of patience and tolerance we went through with them, the ones whom we learned a whole new set of experience and knowledge from. Thank you!

And shopping! Of course I did my good part in helping boost the local's economy. I did some slight shopping after dinner, at our nearest outlet stores. It was only my full force shopping on Black Friday, I unleashed my long stored power for a shopping marathon. It's a pity that my favourite stores were tagged with long queues, I had to sorely give it a miss. And friends who sent their good buys to my home, don't forget my kindness. Haha. Just kidding, it was easy.

In midst of these busy days - feasting, shopping and home shopping (online), I've to confess that I've been quite an indecent mum and wife. We had packed meals, late meals and the kids were left playing aimlessly everyday. They have been such good shopping companions when we shopped the whole day out, they napped, snacked and had some time on the ipad. For now, shopping's over, it will be a long long time before I madly spree again. Thankful for my loots!


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Thankful Jar

We just ended a week of Thanksgiving. To advocate the spirit of thankfulness, I've been conversing with Js about the things that we are thankful for. I know thankfulness should be within our soul, heart and mind, all the time. But it was in the atmosphere that led us into this subject of conversation.

We did a Thankful Jar. A jar where we put our thankfulness within. Js told me about the many things they were thankful for, I wrote it and they dropped it into the jar individually. As we went along, we realized there are just so many happy things around us, be it little or big. They were even thankful for the Christmas tree set up in our house. We may not have all the goodness and richness of this World, but we were never in lack. For myself, I'm eternally thankful for the past 1 year plus, where we had this opportunity to shift home to a much much bigger country, with so much explorations and treasures. My time with the man and kids had been so memorable. So little time here, so much to bring home. Yes, we are packing up soon!

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Thankful for his Toy cars!
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Our thankfulness within
Above the things they possessed, they drifted to thanking for the flowers and leaves that recently blossomed in our backyard. And for the things that are yet to be possessed or seen, Jare claimed them. He's thankful for a turkey! That convicted me to bake one for him, and I did it with Mummy D! My inaugural turkey, with stuffing made from scratch. It certainly helped with 2 pair of hands and minds. Our turkey tasted awesomely good! Thankful for the great turkey making experiment and simple pre-thanksgiving dinner we had with mummies, daddies and kiddies!

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Our 11 pounds turkey
Now, I think I'm hooked on baking a turkey! Will definitely bake one back in SG. Hopefully the birds there aren't too exuberant.