Daisypath - Vacation

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dear Gabriel - 17 months

Oh man. I'm so behind with my updates on the boys. So I shall start with Gabriel first!

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Dear Gabriel!

You little cheeky-cute-LOUD-crazy-stubborn little bugger. You light up our lives! We love you to bits!

You have started shaking your head at us. Whenever we ask you for a kiss, you would either oblige or proceed to shake your head vigorously from side to side and play hard to get. It's really funny and kinna sweet in a way that makes us treasure your kisses even more, since you don't always lavish them on us!

You're understanding so much more these days. You've started responding to simple commands like "sit", "stand", "lift up your hands"or "stop". Whenever we pray at mealtimes or after reading the Bible, you would clasp your hands together.

Other than the words "Papa" and "Mama", which you say randomly with no particular reference to Daddy or I, you don't really enunciate anything understandable yet. But you seem to enjoy engaging us in a conversation ALL the time! With your own words. You would string together syllabuses that actually sounds like a proper language on its own.

Last month saw you having a real bad case of stomach flu. Your big brother apparently caught it from his preschool and passed it to you. But unlike your brother who got away with a mild case of diarrhea, you my baby, had the whole shebang (as what your Daddy would say).

You woke up one morning by puking. All over my bed, your clothes and my clothes. Mummy had to wash you, change you and change the bedsheets. And just when I was done, you puked all over again. And that cycle repeated itself at least 4 times in a span of 2 hours!

When the puking was over after one day, the diarrhea started. It was SO bad.

Daddy caught the bug a few days later and Mummy unfortunately too. But the good thing is that unlike in your case, which took you 4 days to recover, Daddy and Mummy recovered after 2 days.

You are so very cuddly and huggy. That's one thing we really love and cherish about you. While you don't take easily to strangers, for people whom you are familiar with, you would just walk up to them and give them the biggest, fattest, bear hugs of all!

Everybody's who's been on the receiving end of your bear hugs is so blown away by your affectionate nature!

You're still a Mummy's boy! For places that you're unfamiliar with, you would take Mummy's hand and pull me in the direction where you'd want to walk

This is such a cool thing for me because your big brother never did that! He would just run wherever he wanted whether or not Mummy was behind him. I'm so thankful that you would keep an eye out for Mummy! Yay! 

Your appetite continues to be great! The one amusing thing about your eating patterns is that you have a tendency to stuff huge chunks of food into your mouth. Instead of biting off smaller, more manageable chunks of food, you would rather use your hands to stuff food into your mouth!

You continue to co-sleep with Mummy and Daddy and usually sleep through the night. There are times when you wake up crying but you would usually be able to put yourself back to bed. We're still trying to figure out how and when we should transit you to share a room with your big brother since you wake up much later than your big brother does for his preschool.

You've adjusted well to not having your big brother home in the mornings. It was a bit sad the first few mornings when your constant playmate was gone. But now mornings are spent bonding just you and me.

Time with your brother is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, you absolutely adore your older brother and having a constant playmate as evidenced from how well you both play together. On the other side, you and your brother do get on each other's nerves, such that the house is a whole lot less peaceful once your brother comes back from preschool.

The good times more than overweigh the bad though. I still think that boys' fights are better than girls' fights - speaking from experience.

You would simply follow me around the house running errands. Usually we don't have much time to do anything special until we have to pick your brother up around noon, but we've managed to go to town, the gym and playgroups on Mondays whenever we get out of the house early enough. It's actually fun going to town with a kiddo who's still happy sitting in his stroller for long stretches of time.

We can't believe that we'll be bringing you on your maiden flight to Singapore in less than one month's time! Mummy can't wait to introduce you to my family in Singapore and everybody can't wait to see and carry you in real life!

Most of the time, when Mummy looks at you, I just feel like I'm looking at myself in the mirror. You're very much a carbon copy of Mummy, right down to my stubborn nature. We pray that the Lord will use your strong personality for His glory. You're one truly determined soul who knows who he wants. May you always be able to differentiate right from wrong and make wise decisions even at an early age.

We love you little one!
Mummy & Daddy

Maxing out the cute factor with your winter cap
The only photo I can capture of Gabriel in his snow suit

Loving the colors of autumn!
Best brothers forever. This pix essentially captures the essence of having both boys in my life

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Katsudon (Meat cutlets with egg and onions)


Oops I did it again!

Feel so proud of myself!

Don't mind my egocentrism. This is my blog afterall. Let me engage in some *pat pat* because it's not everyday that I have the time nor energy to experiment in the kitchen.

But a couple of weeks ago, I finally got down to trying this recipe!!!

And it was a huge success!!!! Tasted EXACTLY like in the restaurant! And it wasn't as hard as I had feared to cook!!! Ok, it was a bit tedious and our kitchen looked like a bomb exploded after that but it was sooo worth it!

My boys loved it and I even ate two portions! - Over two days of course!

This is a very typical Japanese homecooked meal and one can find it in most Japanese restaurants. It's similar to German schnitzels but instead of using regular breadcrumbs, most recipes call for "Panko" - Japanese breadcrumbs. The crumbs are larger and more crispy when one deep-fries it. I have not tried baking the cutlets in the oven although I have heard that this method works well too. 

The main tedious thing about this dish is the deep-frying of the cutlets as well as the fact that you'd have to assemble each portion individually. Other than that, it's quite manageable.

I wouldn't attempt to do it on weekdays though, due to the fact that I usually cook dinner with 2 kids running around me. But it's definitely a great meal for the weekend.

Do try it and let me know how you find it!

Ingredients (A) (about 6 servings):-

- 1 kg Turkey fillet  / Chicken fillet / Pork loins  (Schweinhals) (sliced thinly)
- Some onions (sliced thinly)
- 2 Eggs  (beaten for cutlet)
- 1 Egg (beaten for sauce)
- Panko crumbs
- Seaweed for garnishing

Sauce for 2 portions (B):

- 3 tsp Mirin
- 4 tsp Soya Sauce 
- 1 tsp Sake (optional)
- 3 tsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Dashi (soup stock powder)

1. Prepare the cutlets but slicing them thinly and seasoning with salt and pepper on both sides.

2. Coat them in flour, followed by some egg and some panko. Set aside.

2. Heat up some oil over high heat. Test the oil by dropping one piece of panko into the oil. It sound sizzle and float to the surface quickly.

3. Turn down the heat to medium-high and place the cutlets in the oil for about 2-3 minutes on each side until cooked thoroughly and golden brown.

4. Remove the cutlets and slice the cutlets such that the pieces are still connected a bit on one side. This is to ensure that the cutlets are more manageable for the next step.

5. Prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients (B) together in a bowl.

6. Boil 350 grams of water in a pot. Once water is boiling, add ingredients (B) and stir in onion.

7. Cover for about 2 minutes while the mixture boils.

8. Add cutlet into the mixture. 

9. Drizzle beaten egg over mixture and cover for 30seconds to 1 minute depending on how well you want your eggs done.

10. Serve some steamed rice in a bowl topped with the cutlets and garnished with some chopped seaweed.

Cook's notes: 

- If this is the first time you're doing this, I would advise you to take a look at a video first. This would give you a gauge of what to expect. Katsudon recipe on video

- My children preferred the chicken meat because it's more tender and easier to chew compared to pork. Turkey works well too. 

- Remember to cook your rice in advance because this dish requires the rice to be done by the time the cutlet is done. You wouldn't want your cutlet to be sitting too long in the sauce either because you want your meat crispy but not soggy.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

To BE THERE

I know every Mom has her own reasons for staying at home with her kids or going back to work.

For me, my main and actually only reason for staying at home is just so that I can BE THERE. 

Be there to be the one to wake up with my kids and give them breakfast.

Be there to pick Sammy up from Kindergarten

Be there to give them their lunch and clean up after their mess.

Be there to put them down for their naps.

Be there to bring them out when the weather is nice.

Be there to witness every.single.milestone.FIRST-HAND.

Not through some word of mouth testimony of a nanny, or a grandmother, or a caregiver.

But to actually be able to see, laugh and cry over every single moment.

Having Sammy in preschool now, I realized that my time with Gabriel is limited! Sure, I'll be able to pick him up after preschool but that's like half the day gone! I won't have him around me 24/7. Makes me sad to even think about it now!

Before I had kids, I could never really relate to these little creatures. I always knew I wanted to have kids, but for other peoples' kids, I was always a bit petrified to carry a baby, let alone babysit one. I always thought, "Oh man, if something happens to this kid while in my care, there is no way I could 'replace' this kid!".

But then I become a Mom and things changed.

Oh how they have changed!

I won't say something cheesy like "The old has gone and the new has come".

But on some days, I do feel that!

I do so enjoy being a Mom. SO MUCH.

I don't actually think I found a job that I enjoyed more than being a Mom.

Perhaps that's why the decision to be a SAHM always came easily for me.

You know how they say to find something that you're passionate about and just do it?

I found the thing that I'm passionate about.

And during this season of my life, I do find myself wishing that time will freeze.

And you know how when you found a job that you love, and you know that you're good at, you just don't want things to change?

That's where I am right now.

I love being a Mom to a 16 month old and a 3 year old. 

So cherish the moment is what I shall do.

I'll cherish each day that my little one still allows me to kiss him without turning his cheek away. I'll cherish each day Sammy runs to me at the door when he sees me pick him up at preschool.

Live the present. Enjoy it for what it is.

A gift.




This video my friends, is living proof of why I need no other reason to show me that I won't regret being a SAHM to my children.

(Disclaimer: This entry was written for my own personal documentation of my life right now. In no way do I intend this post to be used to guilt-trap any Mom who has decided to rejoin the workforce for whatever reason she has. The war of SAHM-vs-working Mom has been waged for far too long. Every Mom does what she deems best for her kids.

If you have gone back to work, be the best working Mom you can be. You will know and figure out the best way for your kids. Go to work if that fulfills you and you know that you make a difference in what you do. But don't go to work because you think an institution / another person can take better care of your kid than you. God has given your kid to YOU, He will equip you with everything you need for this season of your life.

If you're a SAHM, be the best SAHM for your kids and don't feel guilty about not providing income for the family. You are investing in the lives of your kids full-time. Time with your kids is something that no amount of money can buy. That's service that the Lord sees and He will reward one day.

Guilt, at the end of the day, does not come from the Lord.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Holiday in 2 more months! - Singapore & Bali!

Pardon me for my long silence again.

I think blogging is like exercise. It gets easier once one has a certain routine. But once I stop, it's soo hard to get my engine restarted! Argh!

So much has happened since my last update ....but the most important thing is that ....

We're going to Singapore!

This is going to be the first time that we will travel long-haul as a family of 4. It would also be Gabriel's maiden flight, so we're pretty nervous excited about how he will fare!

Sammy is usually a great traveller but this time he will also have his own seat and entertainment system. He hardly gets to watch TV at home and doesn't own any electronic gadget so I'm pretty sure that guy will knock himself out with all his multimedia options!

Have I mentioned how much I love flying my beloved Singapore airlines? Call me weird, but one of the things I super look forward to flying SQ is to get hold of a copy of the Straits Times! I love love love reading the national newspaper and getting hold of it on the plane is akin to being in Singapore! Oh and I'm going to hear so much Singlish on the plane oredi! And of course since the air-stewards and stewardesses are probably going to be Singaporeans, I'm going to enter the aircraft and think "I'M HOME!"

Ok, you can tell how deprived I am! Ya right I am! It's been almost 2 years since I last set foot on my beloved country! Feel like a Filipino maid who can't wait to get back to her homeland. (Having a filipina maid is typical for many Singaporeans too. I grew up with a Filipino maid in my household and she would always sing songs about her homeland Philippines whenever she missed her home).

Our main reason for this trip is because my dad is getting married! 

We are very happy for him to have found another partner, since my Mom passed in 2006. Sammy is gonna be the ring bearer and I'm sooo hoping that it would be more of a success than his previous attempt.

I know he looks too young to be my Dad!


We're also going to spend 5 days in Bali too since hubby managed to get 4 weeks(!!!) off work. I realized that by adding a "multi-city destination" on Singapore Airlines, we could add in a Bali holiday for just another 400€! That's even cheaper than any budget airlines from Singapore that flies at unearthly hours! The last time we were in Bali was in 2009 before we had kids. It was such a memorable trip and we've been trying to go back there since then.

Pre-kids 4 years ago in Bali! 
Can't wait to see the stunning sunsets in Bali!

We're well aware that with 2 toddlers in tow, this Bali trip would be anything but romantic. But that's also why we decided to pick a hotel with a kid's club that's located in Seminyak - where all the famous restaurants, pubs, massage parlors are . We could head out of the hotel and head back anytime we wanted, without be constrained by distance or time.

You won't believe how much time I spent on the internet trying to find the "perfect" family getaway! We finally decided to Courtyard by Marriott because of all the great reviews and the relatively reasonable prices (Seminyak is probably the most expensive part of Bali).

I'M SO EXCITED! And I just can't hide it! I know I know I know.....

I must say that our impending trip is also the reason why I don't dread winter so much this year. Ok, I'm pretty sure a big part of it is due to the fact that we actually have a warm apartment after living in Germany for 8 years (me)! Our place is brand-new, fitted with floor heating and is so very well-insulated. You can't believe how amazing this is for me! Our bathroom floors are warm enough to go barefoot!

We still wear socks in general though, because I wouldn't want to heat up our place like a sauna. Already my German hubby says that he wakes up perspiring some nights because our room is too warm! Lol.

If you have an Instagram account, do follow me on "prissteph". You can click on the link on the right of my blog.

One of the last shots of Gabriel in his "old man" hairstyle

In his funkier crew cut which hub cut for him!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake)

I've been venturing into Japanese food lately.

It's no secret that hubby and I love all things Japanese. We would eat sushi every week if it only weren't so expensive here!

I have a Japanese friend in Stuttgart from whom I picked up some tips for Japanese cooking, but she's more of a cooking-by-feeling person. Without any recipes, I've been too lazy to research for recipes to experiment.

Until now that is! 

I've been getting bored with my daily cooking, so I knew that I needed a breath of fresh air in my kitchen.

Hence, when I saw that the Asian store where I usually go to started to stock up on Japanese condiments, I knew that this was my sign to venture into unknown territory!

I've  been wanting to try out Okonomiyaki for the longest time. It's simply savoury Japanese pancake that one can top with anything one wants.

The basic ingredients for the toppings would be cabbage and pork slices.

The best part about this meal is that you can put a hot plate on the table and do the cooking while talking to your guests. You can make one pancake after the next, without actually leaving your table. That would ensure that your pancakes are always eaten warm and quickly.

I did some research online and came up with my own version of Okonomiyaki. As a disclaimer, I ain't Japanese and neither am I a connoisseur of Japanese food, so feel free to modify the recipe according to your taste!

I still need to work on the aesthetics of my pancake and my pancake flipping skills but other than that, hubby and I loved it so much that we did the same dish again one week later! My boys are still (unfortunately) not too impressed with it, probably because they are not used to the taste of Japanese food... yet.

Having said that, Sammy loves salmon nigiri, but he doesn't like the taste of seaweed whereas Gabriel seems to enjoy salmon maki, together with the seaweed! I'm sure that it is only a question of time before my boys become mini converts too!



(Serving size: About 4 huge pancakes. Enough for a family of 4 with 2 guests)

Ingredients for the pancake mix: -

- 250 grams flour
- 2 eggs
- 300 grams Water
- 2 tsp Dashi powder

Toppings:-

- 1/2 a large Cabbage (chopped)  (I used Spitzkohl) 
- 500 grams Pork Fillet (thinly-sliced)
- 12 Shrimps (cut into small pieces)

- A bunch of Spring Onions (chopped)
- Katsuobushi (Fish flakes)
- Anori (Seaweed either sliced or in powdered form)
- Okonomiyaki Sauce
- Japanese Mayonaise (I used normal Mayo)

1. Make the pancake mix in a large bowl.

2. Add cabbage and shrimps to the pancake mix. Combine well. The final mixture should be viscous but still flow easily. This is to ensure that the pancake sticks

3. Heat some oil in a pan over medium heat. Pour the pancake mixture from step 2.

3. Place some slices of pork fillet on top of the pancake mix. Cover and cook until the pancake layer is done.

4. Flip the pancake carefully. I used a huge flat spoon. Let it cook uncovered for another 5 minutes or until done.

5. Serve on plate with toppings facing upwards. Spread Okonomiyaki sauce and Mayonaise generously on top. Sprinkle some Katsuobushi and Anori.

Enjoy!

Adapted from recipe here

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dear Sammy - 3 years update


Dear Sammy

You've turned 3 already! I haven't done an update in ages so here goes!

Your biggest milestone is that you've started preschool! You're currently in your 2nd week of preschool and you took to it like a fish to water.

Daddy sends you to preschool around 7.30-8am, while Mummy picks you up around 12.15 - 12.30pm. This routine works very well for us since that means that Gabriel and I can have a leisurely morning together. 

Each time I ask you what you did today at kindergarten, you would give me the same reply, "Fußball" (football). And I would try to engage you in a little conversation about whether you've made any new friends, or whether you like your new teachers and you would only give me monosyllabic answers of "yes" or "no". You're such a typical boy!!!

However, when we are hanging out together in the afternoon with Gabriel, you would chatter with me incessantly. You have a penchant for excavators (or "bagger" as you would say in German) and planes. You would spot a plane immediately in the huge skies and whenever you hear an excavator making a loud noise, you would ask me "hear that?"

Your list of vocabulary and words now is such a far cry compared to when you were two. Back then, Mummy was going crazy that you refused to talk, no matter how much we encouraged or "bribed" you to!

While Mummy is happy that you've officially begun your life as a preschooler, it was hard letting you go! Afterall, you've been my full-time baby for the past 3 years! Mummy has absolutely no regrets waiting out 3 years before enrolling you in school because those 3 years would never come back again!

Having you 24/7, spending every.single.morning.afternoon.and.evening with you. Planning things to do together, lazing on the bed in the mornings, letting you and Gabriel roam in the house with absolutely no agenda, but just enjoying our time together. These are memories that money can never buy. And I would do it again in an instant.

Mummy is quite thankful that Gabriel is only 15 months so that means I still have him at home with me for a good 1.5years more! *phew* 

You're completely toilet-trained in the day time. I can't remember when that happened, but it should have been around your 2.5 year mark. We're so proud of you that you hardly have any accidents and you don't need any help going to the toilet anymore! You still use diapers at night but that's all perfectly normal.

Oh you love buttons. You would always race me and Gabriel (in the stroller) to the lift while yelling "Sammy push Sammy push". Poor Gabriel is no match for your speed, but that day will most definitely come when you two "fight" to be the first to get to the buttons!

Whenever you hurt yourself, the first thing you'd want me or Daddy to do is to blow at your finger and pray that God will heal it. I don't even know how you realized that prayer helps to alleviate the pain, but once I forgot to pray for your finger and was about to leave when you reminded me to pray for you!

Our hope and wish for you is that you will know that God is always by your side and He's as close as a prayer away.

We see the hand of God's protection on you. Recently we went to the Oktoberfest in Stuttgart with some friends. Out of the blue, an ambulance drove through the crowd at high speed because of an emergency. I was trying to pay attention to you and your friend when both of you decided to run in separate directions. I couldn't see where your friend was going anymore, so I turned to look for him and in that very second, you disappeared from sight too.

In that spilt second, I realized you actually disappeared in the direction of the siren of the ambulance! My heart almost died before I saw you running back in my direction again. Only God knows how close you actually got to the ambulance but I know for sure that God's hand protected you from harm! And of course I was angry that the ambulance would rush through a crowd full of children to get to an emergency!

You're a true-blue independent soul. You're so confident playing on your own at the playground that you don't even need to be around your friends / me. On one hand, it drives me crazy because that means that you don't care about being lost in a crowd since you never bother to look for your parents but on the other hand, that also means that you're not afraid to be different. To stand alone.

We pray that God will be your rock and you will know that when you stand on God's side, nothing can stand against you. Rest in confidence that God loves you so much and He will always be fighting for you.

You have become such a great eater! 

Gone are the days when I had to crack my brains for recipes to conceal vegetables while trying to make the meal taste non-vegetably! These days, you would ask to eat our salad - complete with fresh leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and even raw carrots. You snack on huge chunky pieces of raw carrots! YAY!

What a huge relief this has been to us! My boy has developed his taste buds for healthy vegetables! As much as you eat much more now, you don't overeat. You would say "Mummy, enough. I'm full." when I try to persuade you to eat more.

Your tactile abilities and motor skills still continue to astound us.

After riding your balancing bike for about a month, you started asking Mummy for a real bike. And judging from how you are able to ride your bike without putting your feet on the ground, Mummy knows that you're all-too-ready for the big boy's bike.




Your favourite phrase these days is "Mummy, I love you!" You say that ALL the time! You would be in the middle of a tantrum and Mummy would be trying everything to get you back on your balancing bike so we can make our way home. You would be all frustrated and sitting on the ground, but instead of engaging in some verbal fight, you would just say "Mummy, I love you!"

And I would say, "Yes, I love you too. But please get back on your bike." And you would cycle for a few more metres before the whole saga started ALL.OVER.AGAIN.

It's hard to be really angry at a kid who keeps telling you he loves you over and over again, isn't it? But trust me, it is possible!

One more thing before I end.

Before we started Kindy, we asked you why are you looking forward to Kindergarten.

You answered, "To read the Bible". 

And there and then, you totally melted our hearts.

You somehow realized that Sunday school is where you go to read the Bible and learn about Jesus. So you figured that Kindergarten is going to be similar to Sunday School - which it is, since this is a Catholic Kindergarten and they do tell you stories about Jesus too.

But your answer totally melted our hearts because we always thought that you enjoyed Sunday School for reasons such that you get to see your friends, or play with the toys etc.

But oh man, you actually enjoy Sunday School to read the Bible.

Such a humbling lesson for me. May the Lord continue to use you to teach me truths about Himself. Simple, enlightening, heart-warming truths.

It's all about God.

We love you son. So so much. Thank you for enriching our lives in ways we never thought was possible before we had you.

Mummy & Daddy

At cuddly and squishy at birth

All cheeky (and still chubby) at his first birthday

Getting his first bike at 2
Looking all grown up at almost 3 years

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sammy's and Gabriel's combined Birthday Party

Sammy turned 3 on the 5th of September! Can't believe that 3 years ago, I was in labour and held my baby in my arms for the very first time! And now my not-so-little boy is going to start preschool in about a week's time! *sob*

Since we didn't have time to have a proper first birthday celebration for Gabriel, we decided to have a combined birthday party at our new place! Their birthdays are about 2 months apart.

It was such a lovely celebration. We only invited very close friends, such that Sammy knew the names of everybody there by heart. I didn't want a massive party because when kids are involved, the noise barometer goes through the roof. Even then, with about 11 kids and their parents, it was no walk in the park either. But it was fun madness though!

Hubby took the week off since we didn't have any major holiday this year and he still has quite a bit of outstanding leave. And since he was off, we managed to hold the party on Sammy's actual birthday itself (a Friday).

And hear this.

Hubby baked ALL the cakes that day! Seriously. He singlehandedly baked the chocolate fudge birthday cake as well as the lemon cupcakes with icing.

All I had to do was to give him the recipes (which I had previously tried and tested of course) and leave him to it! He followed the instructions down to the T and everything was perfect!

I must say that he did inherit his father's baking genes. My father-in-law was a trained confectioner before he enlisted into the navy in his younger days.

This party was also the first children's party which we had a craft activity. We had a "Safari" animal theme with decorations that we ordered online.

I debated about doing a craft but I think one year of going to an International English playgroup with weekly crafting has somewhat shifted my idea of what a children's party is supposed to be like. I used to be adverse to the idea of making something that most probably would end up in the trash anyways. BUT I realized that being a SAHM, it's nice to have some keepsakes to remember the days by.

My weekly routine is just that. Routine. A routine I like and enjoy though, don't get me wrong. But the one thing that separates one Monday from the next is the craft that I do together with my son and they get hung on the wall as a remembrance.

So that's how I came up with the idea of doing a lion mask with the kids. It was quite a hit with the kids, albeit a bit chaotic when all the kids tried to get their hands on the same glue / paper / scissors.... you get the idea.

Oh, we had GORGEOUS weather too! Our guests could sit on our balcony and we did craft on the balcony table. My mom-in-law mentioned that every year without fail, we would have lovely weather on Sammy's birthday. And it's true!

We had very rainy and gloomy weather the whole week (no kidding) and I did pray for good weather for the birthday but to be honest, I prayed with pessimisstic optimistism. So when the sun came out nice and strong AND warm on that Friday, I couldn't believe that God really answered my prayer! Amen!

Happy birthday my little man! We are so proud of you! May you continue to grow in love, wisdom and sweetness of spirit. We love you so much. 

(Reminder to self: to do a Dear Sammy update soon!)



 The sign that greeted our visitors. That's the mask that I did on my own.

Icing the "expanded" cupcakes

Our living / dining room


Our safari-theme decoration with mini confetti shaped as trees. Gabe was trying to eat those trees!

Sushi (Maki) that took me about 2 hours to make on the day itself. Everyone loved it! So it was worth the effort.

Got this idea from a friend. Lemon-infused water.

Hanging animal deco


More hanging animals. You can tell our dining table lamp is not there yet.

Goodie bags which we unfortunately forgot to give most of our guests!

Very simple and quick ham-and-cheese-pastry

Finally managed to use our balcony furniture again!

Our successful lemon cupcakes with lemon frosting

Our re-invented cupcakes that overflowed because yours truly filled too much batter into the cupcake tins!

Food glorious food!

Some of Sammy's closest friends - Missing you Coralie, Lucas and Ryan!



 Some of our lovely guests!

Love the faraway look in his eyes

A sign of days to come??? LOL!

Argh girls! Why can't they just leave me alone?

CRAFT time! Even Gabe wanted in on the action!

Helping Sam with his craft

Deep in concentration


Everyone hard at work

Sammy sticking the lion's mane

Typical moment in my life. Trying to help Sammy while carrying Gabriel.

Typical moment of a mom's life: Helping to finish her kid's craft


Trying to look cool for the camera. Repeat: "Trying"
The (only) chilled people at the party. Why? One has no kids yet and the others have an infant
The happy birthday boy


Can you believe Daddy baked this cake? It reads "SAM" and "GABE".

Best family portrait we could get before the cake was cut



 Unpacking their presents


That's Sammy's present from us - a balancing bike. He's sooo good at it (and I'm not bragging here), he got the hang of it on the day itself and after 3 days, Stephan and I wonder if we should have gotten him a proper bike instead!

We are the lions.....

....now hear us ROAR!!!!

The masks turned out not too bad right?
Sammy demostrating how to pump a water pump

Lovely friends made from our English playgroup, missing you Cassie and Allison!

What are we gonna do Mum, now that the party is over?

Aftermath of a party. It was sooo fun though!

Thanks so much all of you who came (and didn't manage to come) and showered us with such thoughtful gifts! We love and appreciate every single one of you! We had such a memorable party. It felt soooo good creating new memories in our new place! Here's to many more to come!

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