Thursday, December 11, 2014

Swimming Update

I woke up with a start at 3.05 am this morning asking myself "What the heck have I done?"

"RM560 a month for my 2 kids swimming lessons! I must be out of my mind!"

And then I did a mental summation of how much I need to spend a month on both my kids activities. And you can guess that I never fell back asleep after that.

So, how is it that I came to this point and will I turn back the clock if I could?

It all started with the fact that Swimcube was to close down. With Uncle Ivan whom Christopher loved to learn with and at RM150 a month, I was pretty devastated.

So anyways, I went again on my search for swimming lessons and boiled it down to either Advanced Aquatics in the Bukit Utama club or Swimin12.

I called Advanced Aquatics and at a member rate, we would need to pay about RM 154 a month a kid. I hear weekend classes are pretty full and you have to be a member before you can enter the club on the weekends. But the weekday classes were from 6-7 pm which to me felt a little late.

So, I tried Swimin12 as well. The first time I messaged EJ, he had already added me as a friend in FB, which kind of makes rejection a little bit harder. But I was also impressed with the character and motivation behind Swimin 12. So, I decided to bring the kiddos for a trial class on the fateful day 11th Dec.

When we arrived there, I was bombarded with a parking fee of RM5 since it was drizzling and we parked at the club parking lot. OK....not good. Then when we arrived at PJ Palm Sports, I saw no sign of EJ and had to search for him. When we made contact and he went out to meet the coaches, they were sleeping and resting. OK....hmmm....

Then I was surprised when one by one all the coaches got ready and jumped into the pool. We are talking 1 main coach and 4 sub coaches. All of them stretched up and jumped into the pool. I was cautious if they could manage my 2 kiddos since none of them had as yet made contact with my 2 kids. But I was pleasantly surprised.

So Coach Ram, hubby told me he from Philippines later, called the kids over and had them repeat their names again. And then they were led to wear flippers and sit by the pool.

In that one hour, I loved what I saw.
There were time when my daughter cried when they asked her to do something she was afraid to do. But they  managed to help her conquer her fear and she stopped crying instantly. And I could see her listening to their instructions carefully and following what they told her to do.
I was so glad I could have cried.
For a girl who 6 months ago cried the entire 45 minutes in her first trial lesson.
And then adamantly refused swimming lessons for the next 5 months after that.
But who then after 2 times in the pool - Avani and YWCA - now knows she better learn if she wants to keep up with kor kor.
This same girl doggie paddled 1 m all on her own from the coach to the wall.
My heart was doing cheers for her all the while I was sitting down trying to keep my composure.

As for Christopher, he has already conquered his fear of water but I saw him jump into the deep end of the pool, also following their instructions. They were teaching him to dive in the water on the 1st lesson itself. And I reckon they will be able to help him slow down in his strokes and take the lap more leisurely.

The kids were made to do laps and laps of the pool and I could hear Christopher complaining. But he can't stand in this pool and thus had no choice but to push on. He did it in the end!!! I was so proud of him.

So, all this led up to the fact that 1 hour later, I was signing on the dotted line committing myself to RM560 a month.

It will be worth every ringgit in the end. I am sure of it.
I shall put aside every negative thought or comment.
They will have a happy learning experience.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Gardens by the Bay Singapore and Bugis Street

Day 3 of our trip to Singapore, I chose to visit the Gardens by the Bay. It was between this or the zoo. But given that we already had one day of sun, I preferred this as it was indoors.

Breakfast on Day 3 was in some street my bro in law lead us to. I was paying no attention so I have no idea where it was. Only that it was somewhere near Orchard Road, walking distance from YWCA.

Deciding to go to Gardens by the Bay, we could take our time since it was indoors and we need not really bother about reaching there in the morning to avoid too much afternoon sun. Or if there would be enough time to cover everything. The expected time required, minus lunch will be about 2 hours. We spent about 5 hours there, taking 1 hour for lunch to rest our feet.

Several words come to mind when I think of the Cloud Forest - COLD. High.

Cold.

By the time we entered the Observatory, it was about 11 so it was quite humid outside. As soon as we entered, a wave of COLD air hit us. It didn't help that our first sight was this 30 m (I think) waterfall too. It was quite spectacular. Then it was flowers and plants and a steady walk up to the top - HIGH - of the mountain. And then down again on the other side. Thinking about it now, it was very well planned so much so you walked around without feeling lost or that you were walking in circles. There was never a moment where you were not surprised with the sight before you. There was no lack of beauty at every turn. Even the kids were enthralled by their surroundings. Seriously not bad at all since we are only talking plants and flowers here - and a 4 and 7 year old kid who knows nuts about plants. There was never a time they complained they wanted to go back to the hotel or that they were bored being in that place.

Finishing the first observatory, we broke for lunch only to return to the 2nd observatory after lunch.

Flower Dome was Magical. Calm. Beautiful.

It was snap snap snap as soon as we entered. Almost every flower was perfect without blemish. There were areas which were covered in green, you felt like an elf in a forest. There were benches strategically located everywhere which really all you wanted to do was sit and just be one with nature. I half wanted to keep shushing my 4 and 7 year old who were laughing and singing away. There was an oldies song playing which was very calming and 2 out of tune voices singing Let it Go was really quite a nuisance. My mum kept walking away the minute the kids came towards her. I don't blame her at all. The few moments they ran off to walk with their aunty and uncle and I got to sit alone under a tree, I felt so much calm. I was seriously contented and happy to sit there the whole day.

We reached the hotel around 4 and the kids were screaming for pool time. Darn their energy level! But I obliged although they were willing to get out after 40 min since YWCA does not have a kid's pool. The adult pool shallow end was 1.2m, just above the boy's head, so he still jumped in and was brave enough when he got tired to stand and then kick himself up again. I was impressed with his guts given he did nearly drown in Langkawi just a few months back. He has progressed much since, in at least he is no longer afraid to jump into a deep pool. The girl had guts too attempting to jump but making sure I was standing arms length away from her.

We had dinner in Orchard road - one of the malls, one of the food court. And then did some grocery shopping before calling it a day.

The last day in Singapore was my real shopping day. We went to Bugis Street and I bought a couple of totally girly stuff there - all pinky in that way girly I mean. Bought a Little Twin Star passport holder for only SGD 5.98 which I had no qualms handing over to the immigration officer. He must be expecting it to be my little girl's passport only to discover that it is mine. Also bought a Miss Piggy Disney shirt which was orange in color and cost SGD 10. Oh! I am such a child at heart still. Pink and purple cute stuff still gives me the thrill!

Seriously, have you seen Little Twin Star or Strawberry Shortcakes? They are but the loveliest, cutest print on any merchandise!

Universal Studio Singapore

So, we woke up bright and early on Thursday morning, 27th November 2014.

Today was the highlight of our trip. The thing we have been looking forward to since inception of the idea. I had already pre-booked the USS tickets using the Mastercard USS promotion, thus costing the adults SGD63 per ticket.

We went to Vivo.
Had our breakfast off half-boiled eggs, bread and coffee.
Kids bought orange juice.

Then we made our way to Level 3 of Vivo City to buy the tickets for the monorail.
First stop into Sentosa Island, we alighted and followed the signs to USS.

MY OH MY!!! The rotating globe that greeted us at the turn of the corner was such a welcoming sight. I could feel my excitement heightening. And given Christmas was coming, there were some Christmas deco around as well. What a treat !!!

Then we saw the line...
Not the line for the tickets mind you.
The line....no line(S) to GO IN TO USS.
Good thing we only had to wait a few minutes before the gates to FUN opened up.
Then map in hand, we zoomed towards New York! New York!

Reading several posts before hand, I knew we had to get to the Transformer ride ASAP! So, that was where I and the kids ran to. But not before we got side tracked by the Sesame Street Spaghetti Chaser. My daughter held my hand so tight through out the ride but she was beaming from ear to ear. I was so pleased to see her barely containing her excitement.

After that we made a bee line for Transformer. Oh my my!!! That was the highlight of USS, I tell you. It was soooo fun! Like soooo fun. I was having so much fun I forgot to check on my daughter until after the ride. She looked half thrilled, half shocked. My son who was on my right was within my line of vision and he had a blast of a time. Well, Transformer is really his thing after all.

After Transformer, my sis and bro in law lagged behind. I then remembered my sis has motion sickness so the Transformer ride was not too good for her. We split up after that and they went on their own to do their own rides.

I had also read that for the Lost World rides, you will need to wear a raincoat. I brought mine and also for the kids. But my mum who wanted to go on the ride as well didn't. You will get wet on this ride especially your pants. But it was so much fun. Partly coz it's not in a black space, you can see what you will be going through but that doesn't make the fall any less scary.

There were a few rides we didn't get to go on since by 3+ it was getting cloudy and most of the outdoor rides were closed. So, by 4.30 we decided to make it back to the hotel. Just in case it really rained.

USS does indeed cater to all the needs of a tourist. Even while lining up, there were water coolers and large fans to circulate the air. Queue time was not hard to bear, the most being 40 minutes. They had several food courts serving decent food. Cost for the food was not exorbitant - without conversion. Not like Genting where even McD is more expensive.

We managed to also catch the Waterworld movie which was really quite spectacular. Not a low cost budget, not worth your while scene. But something I can go Wow! to.

USS is actually not very big. We could actually cover the whole USS and would have managed all the rides if not for the cloudy weather. But in a way the clouds made the whole experience easier to bear since there was no hot sun.

There are many merchandise to buy depending on which gift shop you patronize in USS. LIke the one near Madagascar will have Madagascar USS related items. I bought a T for SGD 24 but poor hubby couldn't find any T that was reasonable enough to buy. Kids didn't whine at all for any gift. Caylee had simple fun playing bubbles by Sesame Street.

At the end of USS, all I can say was the boy had cramps, the girl was dead tired she could actually sleep while standing. Boy and I had dinner in the hotel that night due to his leg cramps. Girl and family went to Lau Pat Sat. Strange that I didn't mind at all the fact that I had dinner in the hotel. I cherished the time I could sit with my son alone to talk and eat. And after that we went up to the room and we sat in bed together and watched TV.

My lesson before I went to Singapore to be content in every moment seems not so hard to do at all. And learning to be content in the moment really makes the moment utter bliss. Life gets so much easier when you clear the expectations, dismiss the disappointments and be just OK with where you are and what you are doing now.

I loved USS and the memories I built with my kids there. From holding their hands and running the streets towards Transformer. From jumping high and catching bubbles with Caylee. From sitting down and massaging their feet. Even from the selfies we took of backgrounds that thrill us! Such is what I look for, to create holiday memories that the kids will be able to remember and then smile.

Singapore 2014 - Day 1

This will be a bitter sweet memory for me.

The holiday part being sweet, the loss of the boss of the holiday the bitter.
Maybe the reason why I never researched so much into this trip.
Every time I thought about it, it brought me back to the day.
The evening I sat with my dad and planned the itinerary and the cost.
The last evening I sat with him and chatted and joked.
He passed on the next morning.

So, even while I was holidaying in Singapore, I had daddy at the back of my mind.
How it would have been different if he was there.

Well, if he was there, my bro in law and sister might not have been.
And then I would have been the one to lead the holiday.
As it is, since my bro in law and sister came along, I took a back seat.

Like all holidays, I normally want to make the best of every minute I am there.
So, when it was planned that the first day we were to arrive would be spent catching up with relatives, I was a bit disappointed. I wanted very much to go to Orchard Street and spend my first evening shopping.

But alas, God did make it easier for me to stay put in the hotel.
It rained.

My uncles from Singapore picked the 7 of us up in 2 cars and we made our way to YWCA. We paid about SGD 200+ for a family room consisting of a king bed and a single bed. The room was spacious with wooden flooring, and the bathroom was just alright.

It was close to 4 by the time we checked in. And given we only had a heavy breakfast, we went to the YWCA cafeteria for a meal. Costing an average of SGD12 per plate, the food was good. Reminding me of YMCA Penang, in a sense people actually go there for regular meals. It continued to rain till way pass 6 pm. So, we didn't get to do much on the first evening. At night it was hubby's side of the family to have a reunion. Met up with Uncle Thomas and Aunty Helen for dinner. By this time, you can imagine all expectations of Day 1 I had already pushed aside. So, I was able to enjoy the moments of catching up with family. And given Uncle Thomas and Aunty Helen were so comfortable with my kids, it made the dinner time and after that very relaxing. We had Japanese in Vivo City for dinner and we went around Vivo checking out the ticketing counter for Sentosa and also the breakfast place for tomorrow.

Aunty Helen took us for a drive along Orchard road after dinner and then I was dying to go back to the hotel by 10. I was in desperate need for a warm bath and sleep. It was going to be an exciting day tomorrow.

My kids surprised me by acting very well with all the relatives. And Caylee even thanked Aunty Helen for driving us around without any prompting from me. I was one happy mummy at the end of Day 1. These kids....they do have their moments.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The road trip that never was became....

A long, long time ago, in the heydays of my youth, I heard of this place in a God forsaken area. To get there was an adventure in itself, and then the food was said to be out of this world! Caution was given to those who went before that it is best to arrive before the sun sets or else.....

My life begs for mysteries around the bend of the road.  Literally. I am always curious where a certain road leads to. The revelation at the end can be the greatest surprise or can be the start of a new discovery. So, I was greatly intrigued.

Then life took its toll.

marriage
kids

bring up kids

Fast forward to 1 Nov 2014. What a way to start a new month!

Road trip and foody buddies Simon and WY decided to go to Pulau Ketam. However, due to Christopher's swimming class (which he had already skipped for 2 weeks and I seriously didn't want to pay RM150 just for 1 lesson that month), Pulau Ketam was not to be.

So, Mr and Mrs decided to go to Fish Farm Thai Restaurant. Note that the signboard indicating the turnoff to the restaurant includes Veg(e) in the front. Reason being this place grows and supplies vege as well.

Waze is a marvelous app, I tell you! Not only does it get you to places as vague as KM4 Jalan Ampang, it also gives you shortcuts through back alleys behind the real world! So, our journey to the restaurant was a blur to me as Mr drove through village roads where steel and wooden bungalows are common!

And then lleeaaannnning left and right up the hill, we came to the point of turnoff into a dirt road! Waze goes "in 200 metres, turn left" and we were like "here? here? here?" After all it was bushes, bushes, bushes....ahhh....road, road, turn now! I am exaggerating!

Down the twisty slope, we are welcomed by the sight of rows and rows of vege and tucked at the far end, a fairly large pond surrounded by a single-storey wooden structure. It was a breath of fresh air!
"Don't park near the gas tanks...right at the end next to the Myvi would be good". We have arrived.

I have to say this now. Coming down was a relieve, keeping in mind we went through a maze and the sight that beheld us was calm. After dinner going back up the slope was another story. Keeping in mind we were full and heavier, Mr kept the air con off and even allowed another car to go before us to 'light' the way! Waze went "Turn left" and we were like left where?  It was hilarious but this segment of the journey made the dinner into a road trip. This and Look out Point/Path.

We toured the place before obediently following the waiter to our table. Keeping in mind we are sitting by the pond, I had trouble enough keeping my 2 monkeys from bending over too far into the pond. There were several heart attack moments and I was just dealing with 2 monkeys! There were not many mosquitoes actually which was kinda great. Service was fast. Food was good and given what we had, it was not expensive. It has been a long time since I had oyster with lemon and tabasco.
The restaurant is Thai. So how can you do Thai without desert!

We finished dinner at 7+. On the way down, we stopped by Lookout Point, more like standing beside the road, but the view was great. It has been a long time since I had a view of the city lights. In some remote area someone was releasing fireworks and there is something different about watching it from above. Imagine my view of just one city, what more God's view of the earth and everything in it. As insignificant as anyone below me was, in God's eyes, we are far from insignificant.

The night was young. We decided to stop for ice cream @ Inside Scoop, Damansara Jaya. I got to say the waffles were pretty good. And I love the laid back concept of the shop where the kids got to play on swings and there were bean bags to hang out. I agree that is the way eating ice cream should be - FUN!

Due to my sudden intestinal pain, we had to cut the 'roadtrip' short after 4 and a half hours later.

Pulau Ketam never was, but Hulu Langat turned out to be quite a roadtrip too!

Let go and Let God!

For the pass month or more, my heart has been on a roller coaster ride. Partly due to an uprising of earnestness to study the word of God. It started from a simple email. On hindsight, how great a master planner our Lord is.

One simple email talking about prayer.
One simple Whatsapp message talking about Israel.

Both messages I have received multiple times in different context from the 2 same persons. But on that fateful day, I decided to You Tube search both speakers. If one tornado can cause serious devastation, think of what 2 tornadoes combined can do!

So, thanks to Jim Cymbala and Jay Smith (also Jack Hibbs and Amir Tsarfati (Behold Israel)), I once again feel the relevance of God's word. Oh, how jaded my life has been before!

I see His miracles happening every day, right to this very minute. I know my prayers matters.

Sometimes things in theory needs to be sparked up again to become alive. I want to live a life of living faith.

Let go and Let God!

When that happens, oh what a joyful life we can lead!

Oh Lord, may my life always shine bright for You through my living faith!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Big girl already (2) !

In Nov last year, Caylee did start going diaper-less at night. She succeeded for perhaps a week or two and then there were many accidents. So, to be kind to myself, I put her back on diapers.

She doesn't really like to wear her diaper. She is very particular about her kind of underwear, so you can imagine how uncomfortable a diaper is for her.

At any rate, late last year and early this year, given the move to the new house and a new mattress for her, I didn't want to take any chances that she will stain the new bed. So, She was put back on diaper. I kept telling myself that it is time to train her. But I was too tired and too lazy. Also the kids were to sleep in their own room so I could not be around her to train her in the middle of the night.

Fast forward to Sept 2014. She has been whining so much about her diaper that the daddy made an agreement with her. If for 3 days you don't pee in your diaper, then I will allow you to go to bed diaper-less. Previous nights, she would take it out herself in the middle of the night and we had occasional accidents to deal with.

On the 4th morning, she woke up very early, checked her diaper and came to announce to all of us that it was dry. It was a Saturday morning mind you and we were not too thrilled to be woken up at 7+ am. That night when the daddy started to bring out the diaper, she threw a fit! So, between daddy and daughter, the promise had to be kept.

It was to be that for the next 2 nights, she had to sleep with me since the daddy had a function to attend. And she actually did wake up in the middle of the night and request for me to bring her to the toilet.

To date she is going to toilet on her own and then going back to bed on her own...without the need for a night light even. And to date, about 1 and a half weeks now, she has managed a dry bed.

So, I reckon, we can give away the last 2 pack of diapers!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Different lives in one same day

Dawn had not yet broken through. It was the time when darkness still prevailed. I was driving to work. Traffic was not light. I remember feeling harassed by some drivers urging me to move faster.
Traffic on my left lane was heavy. There were many heavy vehicles.

Then all of a sudden I noticed on my left lane in front of me, between a car and a large lorry was this motorbike. The rider and the pillion were both wearing helmets. The pillion was carrying a large school bag, almost the entire length of his torso. He was clad in dark blue pants. So, I knew he was a primary school student.

The rider looked like a woman, I am presuming to be his mum since the boy clutched her waist with one hand. She quickly gauged the distance my car was and I would see she was trying to overtake the large lorry.

Despite the strong and nearing lights behind me, I slowed down. I gave the rider more than enough space and time to maneuver round the lorry and back into the left lane further in front.

Then I sped by.

In such moments, I wish I could do more for so many people who may be struggling to put their kids through school and earn an honest living.

Here I was in my empty car and there they were. What kind of life did they lead? Although I know the world is full of dimwits finding an easy way out, I believe there are still good people doing their best, leading ordinary honest lives. It is sad though when thoughts seldom result in action. And when good is mocked as naive.

Perhaps all I can do today, in my different life is to thank God and just do, say and be what is right.

Lord, oh Lord! I pray I will never be indifferent!