Elmo Show!

I have been meaning to post this for ages but it’s really that silly time of year where so much is going on!

Every once in a while, I go on a bit of a “competition” frenzy and enter a whole lot of competitions. I don’t even remember when I entered this competition, but on my birthday, I got an email saying I had won some tickets to an Elmo concert!

Even a year ago, it was difficult to get Jacob to sit still for an extended period of time. He never really sat and watched things til he was about two years old, and even so, he prefers to get up and fidget about. But now that he’s three, he certainly has matured quite a bit and my winning comment was actually along the lines of “I’d love to win this because my son is finally old enough to sit still for a concert like this!”

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So anyway, off to the concert we went – just me and the kids! Hubby was supposed to join us but had some last minute commitments he couldn’t get out of. I was a bit nervous taking two of them on my own but I also was comforted in the fact that it’s a kids concert – so even if my kids were making noise, they’d certainly not be the only ones.

We parked a bit of a way away and had a trek along the Torrens to the Adelaide Festival Theatre, which I think contributed to our success as Jacob could get a bit of the running around out of his system. Before the concert, it was a bit chaotic as I let the two of them loose (to run/crawl around in the foyer) and Jared kept attacking the posters to a point that he knocked some pull-up banners over as I was trying to tell Jacob to stop playing with some retractable barriers. Oops.

But fortunately for me, the kids were great in the show itself. Jacob was a bit too light for the seat (it was one that flips back up) so I had to hold it down with my leg or it folded up on him! And I kept Jared in my Tula for a lot of the time – babywearing has been my new obsession – and he fell fast asleep.

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Jacob was genuinely intrigued when Elmo and his crew came out. He isn’t hugely into Sesame Street but he does know some of the main characters – his favourite is Cookie Monster, of course! Jacob likes to sing “C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me”.

But we really enjoyed this show – relatable characters and good moral theme to become a superhero by being kind to others. I look forward to seeing more concerts with the kids – maybe the Wiggles or Playschool or even Mister Maker. What concerts do you recommend for preschoolers?

Anyway, I hope to post a bit more over the school holidays and share little snippets of our lives. Enjoy the weekend!

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Lego & Trains

I’ve been too busy enjoying myself to actually remember that I write a blog, oops! Dan has been on school holidays so we’ve been up to mischief – no, we haven’t just been playing Pokemon Go (though we’re already at Level 20) but just enjoying things with our boys. We’ve had outing days and also stay at home days – we’ve seen exhibitions and also watched heaps of movies. Jacob has finally watched “The Land Before Time” though I think he’ll have to watch it a few more times before he truly gets attached.

But anyway, I just wanted to share a couple of highlights. We went to a Lego exhibition called Brick Barossa last weekend – we actually went with family but had tickets for an earlier session, so we viewed it separately then caught up for lunch. Jacob enjoyed looking at the exhibits but just wanted to touch them all and play with them, so we let him go to the hands on area to play with Lego. He actually made a pretty impressive car with actual Lego (like the normal bricks, not Duplo) but eventually gravitated to the Duplo table and had a blast too!

I let him buy a Lucky Dip and he got a Lego shark (pictured above when put together properly). Obviously, being Jacob, he dropped it a number of times and broke it to pieces. But he said “It’s ok, mum, I’ll fix it.” Here is his fixed shark – Dan and I are naming it Ermahgerd Shark.

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We also managed to ride on some trains! The Railway Museum was having an Open Day so we decided to check it out. I was pretty astounded by the size of some of those train, and it’s fascinating to see how technology has changed over the years. We also got to ride on a couple of the trains, which I think everyone enjoyed:

One thing I struggle at is trying to take photos of everyone – here we are in a moving diesel train and this was the best I could do! Clearly Jacob is a bit unimpressed.

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End of the school holidays, sigh. But here’s to many more memories in the days to come!

Snow Play!

It’s well and truly winter here in Adelaide, which puts me in the mood for snow! Sadly, it doesn’t snow here (though funnily enough, last night a bit of snow fell on Mt Lofty). But at the local ice skating rink, they ran a snow play day for kids – count us in!

It took us ages to get ready for it as I was trying to work out how to dress the kids. While it’s an indoor rink, it’s really cold in there so I just wanted to make sure they were rugged up enough. I just put them in a number of different layers and rummaged the shed, and actually found winter stuff that could fit. What do you think?

I wouldn’t say that Jacob really loved the snow. He did attempt to build things with it at first, but then he was daunted by how cold it was. I was thankful that I’d bought two pairs of gloves for Jacob as it was good to change it over halfway so his fingers didn’t get too cold.

Then he got into a tube and I pulled him around, which he loved and kept yelling “Faster!” but there was only so much I could do with Jared in a baby carrier (he was fast asleep). I watched some dads there catapulting their kids around at top speed – maybe I should have asked one of them if they were willing to do that for Jacob! We also tried the toboggans and sleds but tubes were easiest to handle for me at least.

Jared then woke up and I squeezed him into a snowsuit (it was for 3-6 month olds but he is just a bit too chunky). The picture of him on the tube is particularly hilarious because he wasn’t actually able to move his arms cos the suit was so tight. I only left him in it for a little while because he started getting a bit grumpy about his limited mobility – he was in about 5 layers underneath that so he wasn’t really that cold.

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Overall a fantastic day – an icy cold playtime and complimentary hot drinks to warm us up. Also, a lovely lady asked if I wanted a photo with the boys – so here it is! I admit I wasn’t rugged up as much as I could have been, but I kept warm cuddling Jared and chasing after Jacob.

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What are you up to this winter?

Almost-vegan mac and cheese

And I’m back after a lovely weekend! We went to church on Saturday and then had a bowling night with the church group – terrorizing the bowling alley with our kids (8 between the lot of us)! Aw nah, they were all pretty good.

And today we had a quiet day at home, which is exactly what I pictured for Mother’s Day. I just wanted to be able to catch up on some things at home – weed my veggie patch, get through my numerous loads of laundry and sort through the kids’ clothes because Jacob’s now into size 3 and Jared is into size 0, so lots of phasing out to do!

Anyway, today (or rather, tomorrow) I’m meant to post a favourite recipe, so I’ll share with you this “almost-vegan mac and cheese” recipe that seems to be a go to – it works well in the veggie-smuggling front and has been well-received by vegan and meat-eating friends alike!

I actually don’t like macaroni and cheese. I remember once when I was little, I had mac and cheese and it made me spew – it was just way too cheesy and rich for me! Thank goodness now I’ve found a recipe that’s not as rich but just really tasty (and actually a bit healthy too!)

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I decided to make this recipe today – partly because I needed pictures, and also because it’s yummy! Included in my prep above is my favourite hot chocolate from Aldi that is awesome on a rainy autumn night such as this! I wish I could show you a picture of Jacob savouring it but unfortunately he wasn’t in the mood tonight. Failed the toddler test tonight, sob!

I got the original recipe HERE and just made a few changes here and there. It probably is fine fully vegan as well, but I just like to sprinkle it with a bit of cheese before baking for a bit of a yummy kick to it!

Ingredients

1 500g packet of macaroni
2 potatoes peeled/diced
1 carrot peeled/diced
1/2 chopped onion
3/4 cup water (preferably from pot of boiled veggies)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder or garlic paste
1 pinch paprika
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese, to top it off (optional)
frozen peas and corn (optional)

Method

  1. Soak the cashews in warm water for 30 minutes before starting the sauce.
  2. Cook macaroni al dente, according to package instructions (usually requires boiling for 6-8 minutes in salted water), drain, and set aside.
  3. Bring some water to boil in a small pot. Place chopped potatoes, carrots, and onion in the boiling water, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soft enough to blend. Cooking time will vary slightly, based on how small you have chopped your veggies.
  4. When veggies are soft enough to blend, take them out of the water, and place them in your blender. Add ¾ cup of that cooking water to your blender, along with your remaining ingredients except for the cheese, peas and corn.
  5. Blend until smooth.
  6. Or, place macaroni and sauce in a baking dish and mix through with the frozen peas and corn, sprinkle with cheese, and bake at 180 degrees Celcius for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese browns on top.

If you’re a meat eater like me, you can also add things like chicken, tuna, beef mince, etc. but trust me, it’s awesome just as is!

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Anyway, I feel that I didn’t quite do the last challenge justice as I only posted one pic of the town (suburb) I live in. So here’s another shot:

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That isn’t my house – this is just opposite the reserve close to our home. This picture is pretty close to my heart as this is the day before Jacob was born – I had lost my mucous plug already (sorry if TMI) and was already having light contractions. I took my dog for a walk as I figured I wouldn’t be sure when I’d be next up to walking her. It was a lovely spring day – it had rained in the morning and now a beautiful rainbow stretched across the sky. I felt excited, scared, but a great sense of calm as well. 8am the next morning, my life would be changed forever.

Today, I celebrated Mother’s Day as a mother of two! We actually celebrated last weekend (breakfast in the Barossa) but I still had a luxurious breakfast – chocolate croissants, strawberries and a hot chocolate! Yummy! Did I mention I was on a diet? Oops.

To all the mums I know, and particularly to my mum and mum-in-law, I hope you have had a beautiful Mother’s Day! Thank you for all the ways you have been a blessing in my life! Sending love from my two lovely boys.

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What did you do for Mother’s Day?

15 Facts about Me…

Ever since I was young, I used to love personality quizzes. Remember those quizzes that people would send in chain letters via email or the ones you could post on Friendster? Those were the days!

Anyway, today’s topic in the blog challenge I’m doing is right up my alley – I have to tell you 15 facts about yours truly! I hope you find this list remotely interesting!

  1. I got married at 21, and had my first child Jacob at 23. Yes, it was all planned that way and I don’t regret it for the world! I certainly felt unprepared in a number of situations, but don’t we all?
  2. I am 1/8 Scottish, 1/8 Welsh, 1/8 Thai, 1/8 Malay and 1/2 Chinese. And I grew up in Malaysia. Long story, but that will be for another day!
  3. I used to idolize Avril Lavigne (and she was probably my style guru for a few years – argh!). I still love many elements of her music and we share a birthday – 27th Sept!
  4. I started learning how to play the piano at age 3. But unfortunately I’m no prodigy and can’t say I have Mozart-like talents. However, I am pretty good at playing things by ear so if someone gives me a song and wants it played, I can usually do it (unless it’s like Rachmaninoff).
  5. I used to do cheerleading. Okay, it was only a year of my life and I wasn’t one of the awesome pretty girls being airlifted. Rather, I was a “base” who had to be the tough one to toss the girls in the air. I also sustained a back injury from trying to catch a falling girl, which sometimes rears its head when I try to push my back too far.1kh8[1]
  6.  I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian – I didn’t grow up in the faith but started going to church after I finished high school, and got baptised in 2008. Now I go to a beautiful little “country” church in Birdwood and am particularly passionate about children’s ministry.
  7. I have a Bachelor of Business in Hotel Management and started out working in hotels. Since, I’ve moved from that to Real Estate to Education Sales and am in Education Marketing now. I would love to study more though, maybe when I have more time on my hands.
  8. I worked for 6 months in Port Douglas, a little town up in Far North Queensland. It was an amazing time of my life and I went on an eye-opening road trip with friends. I definitely want to go back there sometime.
  9. I grew up with a body image complex and have had anorexia and bulimia at certain points of my life. But now I am pretty much freed from the clutches of self-doubt and am now able to appreciate and love my body.
  10. I used to do Ninjutsu – I learned it intensely for 5 years, and I was getting pretty good! I don’t have the best coordination and motor skills, so mastering some of those skills was very rewarding to me. Also, I have a “nin” tattoo on my back.
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  11. I love action movies and series but ones with more of a storyline and have an element of comedy/romance in them. Superheroes and medieval elements are plus points. Some of the ones I’ve really enjoyed are Supergirl, Arrow, Flash, DC Legends, Daredevil, Sense 8, Heroes, Vikings, Once Upon a Time, and of course, Game of Thrones! I watch a lot of TV haha!
  12. I can speak English and Malay fluently, and a bit of Mandarin and Japanese as well. However, I’d love for my kids to learn European languages, German being a preference.
  13. I really want to write a novel, and also get my poetry published. I would also really love to write children’s books, though I need to find someone to illustrate them for me.
  14. Mulan is my favourite Disney movie – I have watched it over 50 times! I feel that I relate to Mulan in many ways. Also, while I don’t consider myself a feminist, it has irked me that Asian women are often sexualised in pop culture and are usually have something to do with sex and drugs.
  15. My husband is my rock. He is the best thing that has ever happened to me! And he spoils me to bits, picks up after me and indulges me in my silly Asian cravings such as roast duck, nasi lemak and bubble tea. And we make beautiful kids together hehe!

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I have a bit of a busy weekend to look forward to (and a bit of prep too) so I’ll just post what I was meant to post on the 7th as well – a photograph of the town I live in.

We live in suburban Adelaide – the city used to be thought of as a big country town but a lot of development has happened of late that has become a lot more modern and metropolitan. But anyway, I’m not posting a picture of that – here’s a picture of me and my dog in the reserve near our house! This was before we had kids and we could just go off on a whim and do whatever we liked with ourselves!

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Tanunda Day Out

I love the Barossa Valley but not so much for the fancy wine and diverse local produce. The Barossa does hold a special place in my heart as hubby and I spent our wedding night out at the Novotel Barossa. We cruised into the place in our bright orange car, with the windscreen smeared with lipstick messages written by some of our friends and relatives. I think we had in room dining for dinner, which wasn’t too impressive, but nevertheless it was awesome that we could just stay in and relax after a big day.

We also stayed out there for our Babymoon i.e. our little getaway just before Jacob was born. Here I am at 37 weeks, chilling out right after I finished up at my previous workplace. Yet again, we enjoyed the same beautiful views of the rolling hills and picturesque vineyards.

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We’ve also stayed up in Tanunda previously for Big Camp – it’s a church camp run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church Conference of South Australia, and it’s usually held on the grounds of a school up there. Two years ago, we camped there with Jacob – look how small he was then (and what a happy camper he was)

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Big Camp is running again right now but we opted not to camp as we weren’t sure it would be the best idea with an 8 week old baby (though Jared is such a calm baby that we probably would have survived). There is an option to watch some of the programs via Livestream, which is very handy for families like us who have kids who make too much noise to be in the main program -here is the Livestream link just for interest sake.

We made a couple of trips up there as I was helping with the music for the kids program. There are programs for kids of all ages, but I was particularly impressed by the Beginners program (which is what I was helping with, and is for kids from 0-5). The camp’s general theme is Going Home – the Beginners team took the approach of telling stories of people in the Bible who were displaced of their homes and then were given a promise of home.

To visit these people in the stories, they constructed a Time Machine. They made a big grandfather’s clock with a timeline where they turned the dial back to the time of the story, and then the kids stepped through the time machine, which was in the form of a Narnia-themed wardrobe. The wardrobe led through a dark tunnel with fairy lights that took them to a tent where the Bible character was waiting for them to tell them the story. I love the effort they put in for this and I know the kids really enjoyed the whole experience. I was going to take photos but it’s hard to get photos of things when you have two kids on your hands!

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However, I did get to take photos of food -we went for brunch at a cafe called Red Door Espresso. Initially I wasn’t too impressed as nobody seemed to pay us any attention at all (I literally was saying “Excuse me!” rather loudly to some staff behind the counter who was just staring off into space and munching on something?). But the girl at the cashier (who was busy at that time) was prompt to make up for that once she had finished with her customers, and set us up at a nice table outdoors.

It was a lovely day out but not too hot for a couple of hot drinks! Daniel ordered something called the Ultimate Hot Chocolate? Or something like that anyway, I forgot. I’m not cut out to be a food blogger, but the hot chocolate was sure awesome! He basically had to pour pure chocolate out of a bottle into his cup and then mix in cream to his liking. Beautiful and not too sweet! Here he is constructing it, as Jacob enjoys his babycino.

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And our food arrived – we ordered some all day breakfast options, because we are huge hot brekky fans! Yet again, I have forgotten the names of the dishes but on the left is something like crushed avocado and garlic mushrooms while mine was the duck and veal sausage with tomatoes, poached eggs, rocket, etc. Delicious!! We ordered hash browns for Jacob and just shared some bits and pieces with him – he’s more of a grazer anyway.

But another thing that made this place pretty awesome was the little corner that it had for the little people, and a whole bucket of chalk. No, Jacob didn’t draw all those things but he did have fun scribbling all over what was there. The only bad part was probably the parting – we had a bit of a screaming match when we tried to get him to leave.

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Anyway, if you’re ever up in the Barossa (and you’re not already lunching at Maggie Beer’s Farm, which is like the classic tourist destination), check out Red Door Espresso cafe. A nice touch in the heart of the little country town.

Auf Wiedersehen bis bald!

Before the year is up…

Talk about a long hiatus. Yes, sorry, I know I have been AWOL but the last few months have been so jam packed that I thought it best to take a break and do justice to certain areas in my life. And now, most of the things have settled down so I’m thinking of getting back into writing!!!

As of yesterday, my little boy is already 16 months old! Can you believe it? I have a fully-fledged toddler (and a hyper one at that)!!!

So, I thought I’d do a little monthly update to show how far we’ve come so far.

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Little Mr here has 14 teeth and counting!

Height: 81cm

Weight: Almost 10kg, yippie!

Eating:
We initially struggled with his eating – he used to be very finnicky and naughty, throwing most of his meal on the floor. His weight plateaued for a while but since he started walking, things have started picking up and he is a pro right now! You should have seen him wolf down his pizza tonight! He also eats a lot of fruit, which I am quite happy about – and he loves a good fruit smoothie which we have plenty of since it’s summertime.

Favourites: Blueberries, Watermelon, Grapes, Pear, Cheese, Spring Rolls, Chicken, Peas, Corn on Cob, Any sort of Rice, Pasta, Yoghurt.

Sleep: Yes, sleep is a little patchy, and we struggles especially when he first learned to walk. He just LOVES to be awake to do things but he needs to rest for his own good. He is moving to his own room soon (we have finally moved furniture around so his cot can fit in the room) so things should improve from there, I hope! But he still looks adorable when he sleeps, doesn’t he?

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Mobility:
Jacob started walking just shy of 15 months. He had been standing for a while and trying to do stepping movements, but never really got past two steps. Then one day, at church, I think something must have just clicked. He just got up and walked right across the room, and hasn’t looked back since.

In the last few weeks, he’s really picked up speed and is relatively difficult to manage. He runs away from me in the shopping mall and climbs things like chairs, tables, bookcases, etc. No drawers or doors are safe from him so we are slowly child-locking everything. He is relatively clever at working out how things works so he opens tubes and bottles etc. He is loveable but so darn high maintenance at times!

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Words words words:
This little boy is talkative!!! I think his first word was “car” and he said “dada” around the same time. Some of his early words were mama, nana (banana), wawa (flower), star, nanny (his grandmother) and dua (dog). He also has some interesting words, like “murr” for bird, “aah” for a drink and “mannum/my-num” for dummy. And now he talks about books and balls and shoes and the moon. We are SOOO proud of him but we get pretty tired hearing the same words all day long.

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Favourite pastimes:
– Dancing/singing to songs and rhymes we know. He’s great at “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (he sings the ‘star’ bit and does some actions) and also joins in with “Incy Wincy Spider”, “Pat a Cake”, “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” (he only gets as far as head as it’s a bit fast).
– Drawing – I think he’s going to be a budding artist. He goes through our stationery drawers to find pens and markers to use. And despite my giving him scrap paper to draw on, he always looks for important documents to draw on (failing which, he will draw on the wall or tiles).
– Playing with other kids especially his cousins. He recognises them and points them out in pictures – they usually have an awesome time playing together and it’s great that they’re all relatively close in age.

family photoWe took some awesome family photos the other day!
– Playing with water and swimming. He loves ANYTHING to do with water. When we’re outside, he goes straight to the dog bowl and puts his hands in it. Hence why I’m buying him a sand & water table for Christmas (shhh don’t tell him!)
– Playing with Skittles. He LOVES dogs and just goes right up to them and plays with them. Skittles has knocked him over a few times but I think they’re both getting more used to each other. My babies are so cute!!!

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Only a few more sleeps to Christmas, and I know the time is going to fly by. I am praying that Jacob doesn’t destroy more ornaments on our Christmas tree – he’s already broken a few baubles and often redecorates when I’m not looking.

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Just as a fond memory of mine, here’s Jacob being baby Jesus in last year’s nativity at Lobethal. How time flies! Merry Christmas everyone, and may you enjoy this time with friends and family!

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20141208_104050He doesn’t look too happy to see Santa. Oh well!