Friday, July 11, 2014

Learning to embrace change

We'll be moving in a week's time.

And I completely underestimated how stressful it is to move.

With TWO kids. 

It's not just the physical packing up of boxes. Or the kids running amok while you're trying to create some sort of order in the chaos. Or the finding of new owners of belongings that you've held dear for the past 8 years.

It's actually saying goodbye in my heart to little things that I didn't even know that I had an attachment to.

To share an example. I'm having a hard time saying bye to the baby swing in the playground near our house.

It's the baby swing where Sammy figured out how to sit upright while I pushed him. Where he finally progressed to the regular swing so that I could put Gabriel in the baby swing.

The swing where Gabriel would break out into a wide grin when he sees me walking toward it. Where he would laugh out loud and giggle with such gee when I push him higher and higher.

It's the slide where Sammy figured out how to climb up the ladder so that he can slide down with ease.

It's the playground where memories were made, friendships were forged and many long afternoons (and mornings) were spent.

I knew that I would regret not using our garden more often. We have a garden just outside our house. But it belongs to our landlady's parents and they made it very clear that we could see the garden but not use it.

Until Sammy started walking and running that is. That boy loves balls and he would kick a ball all by himself at any opportunity.

We haven't used the garden very often because we felt that we were trespassing on private property. But during the rare occasions when we did allow Sammy to kick a ball or two, it was superb!

We won't be having a garden with our new apartment where we'll be moving to. That was another series of misfortunate events too. To cut the long story short, we had no idea that it was possible to buy an apartment with a garden - which it obviously was.

It's not too bad cos there's a huge playground just next to our block. But there is no baby swing there and I haven't seen any baby swing within walking distance from our place.

But that's also why I'm getting all sentimental about the baby swing at our place!

I'm just not the pack-up-and-leave kinna gal. I'm the say-bye-to-everything-and-leave type of person but once I've packed my bags and left, I'm much better. And I dare say that I adapt quite fast too. I did afterall leave Singapore 8 years ago and 23 years of memories to make new memories in a country halfway across the world with people who speak a different language.

I'm REALLY looking forward to:

- Having a place to call our own... finally!

- Having supermarkets within walking distance and on level ground! No more walking uphill with a ton of groceries in the stroller or having to bribe a toddler during a meltdown cos he refuses to walk uphill anymore.

Having more space! We're gonna have 3 bedrooms instead of 2! Yay! 

- Having the subway within just 3 minutes walking distance from our door compared to 20 minutes in our current place.

- Having the hubby home earlier.... hopefully! His travelling time to work should reduce by a-third, so we're hoping to be able to do dinners earlier.

- Having a new open kitchen, new sofa and a new dining table and chairs. (Our current ones were second-hand).

Having a proper television. Yup, we've lived without a TV for the past 8 years in Germany and I've gone without one since my university days.

- Oh oh oh! The best for last. We're gonna have floor heating and much MUCH better insulation. Adios to cold feet and floors and an apartment that doesn't get warm enough no matter how much we heat it!

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19 

"Help me Lord to embrace change well. Teach me to trust you more. Help me not to look backwards but forwards. Thank you for Korntal, the place where we've called home for the past 8 years and also my first home in Germany. We pray you'll expand our hearts to embrace new friendships and neighbours. I pray that we will grow new roots in our new home and neighbourhood quickly and help me to remember that no matter where we are geographically, as long as we remain rooted in you, we will continue to bear fruit. We love you Lord with all our hearts. Amen"

Role-playing a businessman making an important phone call in a box

And YEAH! Deal closed! Nice working with you!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Dear Gabriel - 1 year update (includes his first birthday photos)

Dear Gabriel

I can't believe that you have turned one already! And that means you're no longer a baby anymore! *sob!* Well, who cares? I'll keep calling you "my baby" as long as you live! heehe

We decided to have a small celebration for you because we'll be moving into our new apartment in 2 weeks' time (gasp!). Since your birthday fell on a Wednesday, Mummy baked a rich and very yummy chocolate cake for you to share with your friends at your Wednesday playgroup.

It was so good seeing familiar faces after almost a month of not meeting up with them! Yay! You somehow knew that it was a special day because everybody was showering you with presents and extra attention! Since you had just woken up from your afternoon nap, you took a while to adjust to the people frenzy. But once you did, you had a lovely birthday celebration.

At home, we had another mini birthday celebration with your Godparents and Sammy's Godparents. It was a very cozy and short gathering because you started getting cranky before 8pm. We simply ordered pizza and Gabriel's Godmother baked him a cake.

Overall, Gabriel's first birthday was the most fuss-free, stress-free and intimate birthday party I've ever organised. Of course we had the "excuse" that we're going to do a combined birthday celebration with Sammy after we move house. But I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this birthday. It was sooo good to be able to have a kid's birthday party without the stress of all the preparation work.

You fell asleep at the drop of a hat when we put you to bed at 8.30. However, you got jolted out of dreamland when your older brother made a huge ruckus because he refused to sleep. Thereafter, everything went downhill and no matter how hard we tried to settle you, you were stuck in a zombie-cum-super-hyper state.

You were probably overly-stimulated from the day's activities and all that sugar rush from having a couple of bites of your chocolate birthday cake. Well, you finally slept again at close to midnight!!!*phew*

The past two months saw you making huge leaps in your development.

You're very confident standing up while holding on to things these days. When Mummy peeks into the playroom, I would very often see you standing while swaying to music.

You have starting retaliating when your older brother tries to snatch a toy away from you. Well done my little one! While Mummy isn't looking forward to playing referee between you and your brother, I'm glad to see that you're not a pushover.

You're a really cautious little baby toddler. You seem to understand the concept of gravity and that if you free fall, it would be somewhat painful. We have seen you holding on to objects / putting your hand to cushion on your head when you started to lose your balance.It's really incredible that the past 12 months has seen you without any major accidents. We thank God for His protection upon you and for sending guardian angels to surround you.

You're still very vocal even if you're not blabbering anything understandable yet. Your favourite sounds these days are "dang" or "deng", "papa" and "nana".

You have a very healthy appetite and would usually devour whatever we give to you. Over lunch today, you ate almost as much as your 2.5 -year old big brother! That said, you're still one very lean baby. A friend mentioned that your thighs are like "lean chicken breast" and I thought that very apt to describe you!

It's very cool seeing how you and your Gor Gor are playing very well these days. Usually I can leave you two to play on your own while Mummy tackles the household. After the red wine episode, you still seem to have an innate interest in those bottles in the storeroom - which are fortunately in a box now. That doesn't stop you from touching them and you would turn around to look at me, as if you remembered what a HUGE mess you caused the last time!

You love chasing things around the house. You would scoot around on one hand, while roll / push something with the other. It could be a ball, a toy or simply anything that can roll. Oh an empty water bottle is one of your faves. I should take a video of you doing that! 

We love you so much little cutie. You're such an amazing addition to our family and we can't imagine life without you anymore. May you make a difference in your generation and know that God has wonderful plans for your life.

All our love
Mummy & Daddy

 We arrived at playgroup and started opening presents immediately! Gabriel cried tears of joy at receiving his first gift! LOL.

 Can you tell someone was tired?

All the kids were clamouring to open Gabriel's present

My little masterpiece

Of course Sammy blew the cake on behalf of his brother

The insides of the cake. YUM!

Sammy and his craze over the trainer bike

And of course he'd want Germany to win the World Cup!

See that trace of chocolate cake on his face?

Aiyoh that innocent face

What should I do now?

That "WHY are you taking my photo" growl

He's completely thrilled by it even though his feet can't touch the ground yet!

His loving Godparents and their rocking elephant as a present!

Another self-baked birthday cake by Gabriel's Godma

Cool starry effect eh? Playing around with my Lumix

Family shot one - All candid with a boogie shot of Sammy!

Now this should go into the family photo album!

We're so blessed with Gabriel's Godparents
And Sammy's Godparents too

He even had an advance bday cake! Thanks J & O!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Berlin - Tropical Island

A panoramic view of the beach area

One of the best things we did this time in Berlin was to go to this man-made tourist attraction called the "Tropical Islands".

It's basically a huge dome that houses a man-made beach with play area for little kids, huge water slides, an indoor playground, beach volleyball, mini golf course, restaurants and even accomodation for people who want to stay overnight. There's even a hot air balloon for people who want to explore the dome in the air!

I know it does sound a bit cheesy, but I'm all for cheesy if that means that I get a taste of a tropical beach vacation without having to fly my kids halfway across the world and pay a bomb at that! 

And the best part about this place is that one can have a tropical holiday any time of the year. It was even great in summer because since the internal temperature is regulated, we had a very comfortable time without melting in the intense heat outside.

We didn't have to slather sunblock like crazy on the kids either and guess what? They still got a suntan! I guess its partially due to their 50% Asian genes (yay!) as well as the fact that the dome can partially open to allow natural sunlight in, so one is not completed shut off from the outdoors.

VERY nice concept if I may say. I need to add a disclaimer though. On the website, the tropical island looks humongous but in reality it ain't as big as it looks. That's not to say that it's tiny, but it's definitely not as huge as the dome in the film "The Truman show" by Jim Carrey .

Another plus point of this place is its cashless system. Obviously one can't be carrying a wallet when one is on water slides or lazing on a beach. Hence, instead of getting a key for your locker, you get this "watch" which also doubles up as a cashcard, so you can order food and drinks and make miscellaneous expenses during your stay. 

Tropical Islands is about an hour's drive from Berlin so it makes for an easy day trip. We made it there around lunchtime but in order to make your money more worthwhile, (it cost about 30€ per head, children under 6 go in for free), it make sense to go there in the morning.

There was even a salsa dance group from Cuba whose intermittent entertainment (singing and dancing) gave the place a very holiday feel. My boys love music, so needles to say, they were enthralled by the performances.

I'm not sure how old this place is, but I really liked the fact that the changing and bathing facilties were very clean and well-kept. I hate public bathing areas that feel dirty. You know, those that you would rather not take a shower there but go home in your dirty clothes just so you can shower in the comfort of your own home. Everything here felt new and very clean.

We spent about 6 hours there in total and the kids were completely exhausted! They slept so well on the way back to Berlin AND continued sleeping when we placed them on their beds. Sammy had a whale of a time on the giant slides and Gabriel couldn't get enough of the baby's pool.

Gabriel was so tired that he even fell asleep while I was breastfeeding him in the kids' pool area!

This place has totally got my thumbs-up! Would highly recommend it for families with young kids, teenagers and anybody who just wants to relax on a beach without going for a full-blown beach holiday.

Hey world! I can't wait to start on my water adventure!

That's the "hotel" inside the dome

Entrance to the water-theme park

All ready for the water!


Island ballooning - A hot-air balloon steered by a guy walking the balloon around the dome. Talk about innovative!

One of the restaurants

Everybody was walking around in their swimwear

The indoor mini golf course (with additional charges)

Beach volleyball!

Babies' play area, where we spent most of our time
Gabriel couldn't get enough of this slide on the left

And Sammy couldn't get enough of his watering can

.... which he used to water Gabriel so he would grow! Lol!

Like father like son

A lame attempt at photoshopping away my post-pregnancy fats figure

Ohh, the water was SOOO warm!!! Best!

Love how candid this photo is

Frolicking with my baby

And taking shameless amount of photos!

...before he grows too old!

Like the artistic feel of this pix

The little water kiddo who was blowing bubbles in the water

The water "curtain" in the background look kinna cool!

Can't believe I caught the flowing water with my camera!

He LOVED going down on the adult slides! (Possible with an accompanying adult)

Sammy could go down this slide by himself!

An entire indoor playground inside the dome!

 Where the kids went crazy of course!

To give you an idea of how big the dome was in comparison to the size of the vehicles

I would say operation tire-kids-out-so-they-sleep was a HUGE success, don't you think? :)


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