Megan’s 1st year birthday dinner!

October 2016

And so our youngest turned one on the 12th of October. We had a birthday dinner celebration on the weekend before her birthday as Kimberly was in London. No better place than to have our dinner at Duck & Waffle! Duck & Waffle restaurant is located on the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate in the city of London. The views of bustling London City from where we sat were just stunning!

dsc06609

dsc06623

I have heard so much about the restaurant but I did not expect the food to be so exceptional. The signature-Duck and Waffle was absolutely delish but everything else was comparably good! There was definitely nothing left on the plates! The service was nothing short of excellent!

dsc06657
(Rosemary and Garlic bread)

dsc06658
(Lamb Keema, Hara Bhara Sauce bread)

dsc06659
(The famous Duck and Waffle! We had two of this!)

dsc06664
(Angus Bone-in Rib-eye)

dsc06665

dsc06679
(Whole Roasted Chicken)

Here are some photos that we took while waiting for our food to come! Not too many photos of our girls- Gillian and Megan slept through almost the end of dinner and only woke up just before the cake came out from the kitchen.It was a lovely evening, watching the sun set while dining. As the younger ones were asleep, we managed dinner without much fuss.

dsc06636

dsc06638

dsc06642

dsc06651

dsc06673

 Our one year old Megan woke up for a taste of the chicken drumstick. According to old Chinese tradition, having a chicken drumstick on their first birthday symbolises good fortune of never worrying about food thereafter.

dsc06690

A strawberry cheese birthday cake to complete the celebration!

dsc06731

dsc06695

dsc06702

dsc06703

dsc06707

dsc06733

dsc06755

dsc06778

dsc06779

It was a fabulous evening and we are thankful to have the loving company of Mama, Gong Gong and Yiyi(who is now the children’s Godma). The past year has been nothing but beautiful- I feel blessed that I have been given this opportunity to care for Baby Megan since birth.

12 months whizzed past so quickly. Megan is becoming a young toddler- she has taken her first steps at 10 months, she is able to say a number of words, ‘Mama’, ‘Milk’, ‘Dada’, ‘Yiyi’, ‘Jie Jie’, ‘Gege’, ‘More’, she is able to understand a few of our instructions. She loves her siblings, music and dancing. I feel grateful for every moment that I am able to spend with her and thankful of how her hugs always make my worries melt away.🙂

Happy first year, Megan. May you grow up safely, healthily and always want to seek for Christ.

*****

Click on these links to read more about the first birthdays of Megan’s siblings.

Ryan

Gillian

****

Harrods Christmas Grotto

November 2016

1lsk7dzzr8b91rsg55zrvk0e07vh3l5yetmxqutzuo7kfzgm0e

I have heard so much about the Christmas Grotto at Harrods that I thought we should give it a visit. At a small fee of £10 per child(babies can enter for free), they get to see Father Christmas and get a small present. The booking fee is refunded into our Harrods Rewards card on the day of our visit. We only managed to book for the Pre-Schooler Visit(weekdays, only in November) as the Classic Visits were sold out as quickly as they were released. So, it was a pity that Ryan had to miss it as he had to be in school.

That morning, we were slightly late for our appointment but were fortunate that they allowed us through the Christmas Grotto. Once we entered, we were sort of transported into this magical Ice Kingdom with friendly elves all around to cheer our little ones up.

Meeting up with Father Christmas was quite cool- he was able to call them by their names, share with them a few achievements they had in 2016(prior to the day, parents had to fill up these information online so as to make the experience more personal and special) and they even received some nice little gifts from Father Christmas. Father Christmas was so pleasant and friendly. Initially, Gillian was a tad overwhelmed by everything and refused to even meet Father Christmas. After so much encouragement from the affable elves, she went into the frozen grotto only to leave reluctantly, asking to return the year after again!

dsc07402

dsc07406

Making their wishes with Daddy!

dsc07420

dsc07426

dsc07429

Sometimes I wonder if the children remember such things that we do for them or even places that we bring them to. However, what really makes it worth it for me is to see their happiness, their anticipation, their excitement for that moment.  #makeeverymomentcount

After the Christmas Grotto experience, we went shopping at Harrods. Harrods on a Monday morning is just fabulous! No crazy crowds, lots of space for the children to run without us missing them. Gillian definitely got some VIP treatment- curling her hair, getting her hand tattoos done and all!

dsc07445

dsc07454

dsc07469

dsc07475

Someone’s loving the lift in Harrods!

dsc07482

dsc07465

We had lunch at Kanada-Ya Ramen Bar and Gillian was slurping up ever single strand of noodle and soup! Yums! Got to say I really liked the effect of the curls on her head but Gillian did not like it at all. Boohoo! There’s goes my chance of convincing her to curl her hair. Ha!

dsc07489

****

PYO Pumpkin!

October 2016

Visiting farms with the children is one of our favourite seasonal activities to do. The farms always allows a vast space for children to run around, the trip is usually educational as we could show where our food/fruits come from and the best thing of all, entrance is free! So far, we have gone for strawberry picking at Hewitts Farm(Post 1, Post 2) and Stanhill Farm, picked potatoes at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park as well as visited the lavender farms and went apple picking at The Hop Shop.

It was our last week with Gong Gong and Mama before they returned to Singapore. Thankfully, it coincided with the half-term and this meant that we were able to spend more family time. WE spent some time checking out the pumpkin patches at Foxes Farm Produce. It was about an hour drive from our place and the kids had a good time running around the glorious field full of orange gourds, jumping on haystacks and getting lost in the maize maze.

It was a lovely day out and definitely gonna be one of those things to do again the next year!

1

2

3

4

6

7

10

11

12

13

14

*****

Potato Picking at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park!

September 2016

When we returned on London, we were sort of expecting poor weather but it turned out that everything has been still holding up. Two weekends ago, we headed off to for potato picking at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park and the kids had a fabulous time!

dsc05955

Look at the cheeky smiles of the little ones.

dsc05960

dsc05965

One of the first pit stops that we went to was at the Bouncy Pillows. In all honesty, the children spent an inordinate amount of time bouncing and sliding with their fabulous Daddy. There are two bouncy pillows in that area- one for those above 5 and one of the the younger ones. So parents, we can be more assured that the younger ones get their share of play on these wonderful bouncing platforms. While they were having all the mad fun, I was taking pictures and chilling on the lovely seats provided in that area.

E and I always believe in bringing the children for as much outdoor play as possible because we see that these are the times when we can be more focused on them. Usually, when we are home, there is always the tendency to ‘let them play alone’, ‘turn on the television’ while we just go about doing ‘our things’ like surfing the net, replying to our Whatsapp chats or in my case, baking.

dsc05968

dsc05975

dsc05981

dsc05977

dsc05969

We decided to have an early lunch and grab some drinks at the Play Barn and Restaurant. You can click here to check out what they serve at the Play Barn Restaurant. We were supposed to be having a picnic but of course, I woke up late and nothing was prepared. However, the family was pleased with the choices we had at the restaurant!

Personally, I love how they have two play areas(again one for the older kids and one for the younger ones) within the eating premises. While waiting for our orders, the children were properly entertained playing with the slides, tunnels, ball pit and more! Oh yes, just a note of reminder! Please remember to bring along/wear your sock in the soft play area!

dsc05992

dsc05988

dsc05989

dsc06004

dsc06007

dsc06002

dsc06043

dsc06045

dsc06046

This is the Toddler Area for the younger children. So our little Megan also did go about exploring the grounds, much to her delight!

dsc06013

dsc06020

Our food came! Yay! Look at Megan’s excited face! She must be hungry after all that crawling around.

dsc06047

dsc06051

Our faithful Mustela Physiobebe for all our oudoor trips- an easier way to get the kids hands cleaned before their meals.

dsc06052

After lunch, we explored more of the grounds at Marsh Farm Animal Adventures. It would be such a lovely treat for the children who loves their animals. Gillian got an up-close adventure in combing the hair of the pony! Super!

dsc06066

Ryan and Gillian had a brilliant time at Tractor Town, where they went about pretending to be tractor drivers, washing their tractors, re-fueling their vehicles and going on pretend trips.

dsc06078

dsc06081

dsc06084

dsc06070

dsc06071

dsc06073

There was this well-built and fun playground near the tractor area. We played there for a bit and both Ryan and Gillian enjoyed many aspects of it.

dsc06091

dsc06094

dsc06098

dsc06101

dsc06107

The thing about Marsh Farm Animal Adventure is that they have endless of things to do throughout the day. We went for an amusing Magic and Mayhem Show at the Barn Theatre. I believe both adults and children found the in-house magician to be incredible entertaining and funny.

dsc06115

We also went on the Tractor and Trailer Ride! The kids have never gone for such an experience before and they were thrilled to be on this bumpy ride! The day at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park gave us quite a number of cool experiences to be on the farm.

dsc06122

dsc06123

Because we went to the farm during their Potato Picking Party season, we also had our maiden potato picking encounter. And so ta-dah, Ryan! Potato grows underground! 

The staff at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park was also very considerate in helping to bag our potatoes and showing how to go about picking those vegetables.

dsc06127

dsc06130

dsc06133

Maize Maze! Woohoo! First time for the family again! Initially, we were worried about entering the three acre maize maze with the children. The facilitator assuaged our worries by telling us that there would be helpers to save us should we get lost. All we needed to do was to raise our flags!

We did eventually got ourselves out safely within 30 minutes and we rewarded with bags of pop corns!

dsc06138

dsc06139

dsc06141

dsc06146

dsc06157

dsc06161

dsc06168

By the time we finished the maze, it was half past four and the little ones wanted to go on the bouncy castle before heading home. Off they went to bounce(again) while I got myself a slice of cake from the Play Barn Restaurant.

dsc06172

dsc06176

dsc06177

dsc06181

dsc06182

The last stop for us before home was the craft room, where the kids did some art work to wind down. They were so knackered by the end of the day. They slept so well that night! Hahaha!

dsc06207

dsc06202

******

What I liked about Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park?

  • The entire adventure park is full of places for the little ones to run about, to have fun and explore. In fact, Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park keep everything fresh by having events over the year such as Potato Picking Party, Easter Eggstravganza and the upcoming Wizards and Witches for Halloween.
  • The staff were friendly and considerate. Our encounters with them at Maize Maze, Potato Picking Party and the Tractor Ride were good- they showed good knowledge of the activities that they were in charge of, safety protocols and were so smiley all the time.
  • Having an indoor playground, with two separate play areas for different age groups in the restaurant is ideal for wet weather.What I thought could be better?

There were Spotter Guides that could be picked up on various locations around the farms but we did not managed to find any. Children were suppose to collect stamps in the these booklets. However, I thought the locations where they were to get the stamps were inconspicuous.

******

Remember to bring along your socks when visiting Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park. The softplay in the indoor playground required socks to be worn when playing.

To purchase tickets to visit Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park, please click on this link and it is much cheaper to purchase your tickets online! So why hesitate!

****

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park Opinions are of my own and I have given honest feedback and review of our experience.

*****

Playground Politics

October 2016

In light of my what my favourite blogger(Limpeft) have shared on bullying, I thought I want to share my experience of bullying in playground. They don’t just happen to children, but parents.

(I may delete or make private this post anytime but thought I will share it for now.)

****

September 2015

Just over a year ago, Ryan started formal school. As parents, we were excited and happy that our eldest have reached a new milestone. Since Ryan is our first child, most of our experiences with him are as new and foreign as it gets.

For the first few weeks, Ryan came home, happy with everything in school but he did have this constant complaint of a particular child, who shall therefore be known as X. According to what I heard from my 4.5 year old, X was always pushing him(and other children). X was hitting him(and other children). Initially, I did not want to make a fuss about it since they are still young, school was a new environment to all of these kids and X’s mother was sort of an acquaintance. However, the day went Ryan came home and complained again about X spitting on him, I thought I should email the teacher and ask if there is anything I should know of and what I could do to help. Then, I was almost due to give birth to Baby Megan anytime and I wanted to settle this nagging issue as soon as possible.

The teacher requested for a meeting after school and he assured me that he knew of the situation. Ryan was neither a culprit nor a victim. The same for X. The same for a bunch of boys in school. After his explanation, I was assured of his words and understanding of the situation. Before I left school, I saw that X’s mother was a distance away(like maybe 100 meters away) but feeling annoyed at the situation, I just quickly went off to my car with Ryan.

*****

October 2015

The day when I was due to give birth to Megan-like I was literally experiencing contractions, E sent Ryan off to school instead. E came home, telling me tat X’s father approached him outside of school, asking him to get me to apologise to X’s mother for Ryan’s behavior. E, being non-confrontational(and the fact the X’s father was sort of an acquaintance as well), just told X’s father that the women should just ‘settle their problems’.

My waterbag broke.

I was really upset. I felt indignant.

I don’t exactly think I can explain the the entire torrent of emotions that I felt. I was angry at the audacity of the request. I was upset because I thought E should have stood up for me and questioned more. I felt so annoyed and confused on how I had to be the one apologising? Why me? In any case, why not E? I mean, according to the teacher, no kid was the victim or culprit, so why was there even a need for apology? And who in the world would ask her husband to ask my husband to ask me for an apology? Are we in like some episode of Mean Girls? 

****

November 2015

One entire month passed with no more news of X or X’s parents as I was doing my confinement month at home. The first day after I finished my confinement month, I went on my school run with Ryan in the morning. After dropping him off at school, I started walking towards my car, only to have X’s parent shouting my name behind me.

They stopped me and insisted for me to apologise to them. At first, I was reluctant, offering to meet the next morning instead with E to talk things through. They refused to let me go. By then, E called and needed me to go home and find his passport. That day happened to be his first day at his new job. Being pressed for time and under such duress, I apologised, only to have X’s mother, telling me that my apology was ‘insincere’. (E was on the phone throughout, and even he could hear her shouting at me.)

I repeated my apology and yet, she went on shouting at me, using her mother tongue and with her husband calmly translating it for me in English. The situation may sound absurd to some of you but it did happened. I know many of you wonder why did I not want to just walk off, but X’s parents are sort of acquaintance and we see them quite often locally. Honestly, I wanted to settle this as amicably as possible.

On hindsight, I should have known it was not possible as X’s mother sounded more and more infuriated and she went on telling me that Ryan ‘hit her son’s leg 5 times'(this was questionable as both kids were only 4.5 years old then, and I usually take everything with a pinch of salt). Towards the end of the drama, X’s father has to pull his wife to cross the road so as to stop all the shouting and translation. But she ended by screaming at me, ‘You are a bad mother. You are so young but you are a bad mother.’

What she said then really broke me to some extent because sometimes, I do think I am a bad mother(unfinished household chores, not enough vegetables in meals, inattentive parenting….) but I am trying the best that I can to not suck so much at my job. They left. E told me that he found his passport and I did not need to rush back home. Then, I headed off to do my grocery shopping, with her last words of me being a bad mother ringing in my head. While shopping, I saw one of my local Mummy friends and I told her what happened in tears, in a supermarket. She did offer, wanting to mediate but I thought it was just going to be harder, unnecessary and perhaps even more traumatising.

***

In the evening, E came home and we drafted an email to check with Ryan’s teacher to tell him what happened in the morning and asked if there was any crucial point that we may have missed out during the earlier conversation. E’s teacher forwarded the email to the headteacher and he settled it with X’s parents swiftly in the next evening. The headteacher did give me 3 choices of- settling the matter with X’s parents on our own, or with him as a mediator or just avoid X’s parents for the next 6 years. Being me, I chose the last option.

In my opinion, the fact that X’s parents(or mother) could openly confront me in such an aggressive manner meant that she did not care much for any sort of relationship or acquaintanceship?

Since that day,  I always went to school runs in fear. Then, E and my sister took turns to accompany me on the morning school runs. I was worried that X’s parents would ‘chase after me’ again. I mean no one could know what’s in the minds of another. Can they? The fact that they could openly shout at me in public possibly meant that they might hit me as well? Fortunately, they merely look past me during school runs, and pretend that I am entirely invisible.

It was hurtful in the beginning and given my personality, I constantly asked myself if I could have handled the ‘situation’ in a better way. Inside of me, I was frustrated at the situation and I foolishly projected my anger at E and sometimes Ryan(it’s ridiculous). Having just given birth and gone through such an ugly drama, I felt depressed then. If anyone recalled, my blog posts then was quite foretelling and dark.

****

May 2016

Over time, with family and friends support, I managed to get this bad episode out of my system. (Earlier this year, I heard from a fellow parent that X’s mother is going around, telling other parents how I am a bad mother? To hear this just made me even more sian. *sigh* ) I shared this with my pastor and she helped me so much by praying for me and and with me. I don’t exactly know why sometimes things like that happens, but because of such agonising circumstances, I grew and I learnt to know who are the ones who were there for these dark times. I went through cycles of despair, anxiety, anger and I am thankful that God gave me such encouraging people to tide through this.

Recently, I did get some news about X’s parents and how they have been doing the same to some parents as well? This time round, apparently, the school made a stand of just handling children’ issues and not the parents’. One mother went to the police and reported X’s mother for her confrontational and aggressive behavior. Apparently, this sort of actions are known as ASB(Anti-Social Behavior). For the record, X is not being bullied. He is physically stronger and sometimes, can be hurtful to milder ones? In words, X can be insensitive as well. X’s mother is annoyingly nonchalant(and non apologetic) when it comes to her son’s forceful behavior but she gets upset when her son complains of being hurt by someone else.

*****

As parents, we love our little ones so much that we would unflinchingly give our lives up for. But, I feel that it is just not right to go around, insisting that your child is the best and most worthy and while everyone else’s are lesser?

No?

Maybe as parents, it would be good to model positive social behavior to our children-like to share, to not fight, to know that they are not ‘better’ than any other of their mates?

No?

Given the same situation, would I have reacted differently then?

I would have just walked off and not subject myself to their verbal abuse. Yes. I would do that.

*****

Question to ponder through, if a parent is a bully, would the child turn out to be one as well?

I am not sure how any of my children will turn out to be in the future. But for now, I would continue my best, to try to be a better parent, for them. Okay, off the computer for starters! Out!

****

Unicorn Theatre- The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark.

September 2016

This week appears to be an interesting week for me. On Thursday, I went to catch the musical, Wicked with Kimberly. On Saturday, I also attended a bloggers event at Unicorn Theatre and we caught one of the early shows of The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark. It is a play, adapted from a popular children’s book by Jill Tomlinson.

Ever since we came to London 2-ish years ago, I have only watched like maybe 4 West End productions and one musical at the National Theatre. In fact, last Saturday was the first time I brought the children to watch a play. Since we are living in London, the global cultural hub, I think I should be exposing the children more to this aspect of life and learning as well.

As a overly-anxious parent, I tend to be worried about how Ryan and Gillian would behave should they attend such events. I worry if they make too much noise, if they get bored(and start moaning) or just cause any undue distress to fellow patrons. However, after attending our first play together, I realised that my concerns could be managed and the children did have a good time watching the play.

dsc06366-1

****

The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark

Unicorn Theatre is a good introduction place for young audience. Being children-friendly, productions are made with the audience in mind. We watched the production- The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark and the experience was both engaging and relaxing. (You can see more photos of the production on the Facebook.) The audience were able to sit near the performance on chairs or comfortable cushions. While watching the play, children were able to interact actively with the actors . I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who intends to watch the show but, Ryan and Gillian enjoyed many aspects of the show. The duration of the show at 50 minutes was just right for children as well. While watching the show, there were no, ‘I am bored…’ and no,’I want to sleep…’ moments. To me, it means the children were positively intrigued.

dsc06348-1

dsc06341-1

dsc06351-1

After the play, some of the children went to had a swing on the structures used during the play. Ryan even managed to get a picture with Lawrence Walker, who played Plop, the barn owl. I think there are many take-aways from the play- the simpler ones would be what are some animals that come out in the night, what are constellations and the more abstract ones would be what are some of our fears and how can we overcome them.

The Owl who is Afraid of the Dark is starring from 13 September to 21 November 2016 and you can check out for more timings here before purchasing tickets.

****

Family Blogger Event/ Unicorn Theatre

dsc06353-1

Post show, the bloggers went for a discussion with the team at Unicorn Theatre and from what they shared, you can tell that they are passionate about the arts and how they would like to share this magical experience and vision with the young ones. The director behind the play came and explained his thought-processes as he embarked on adapting the play. Personally, I feel that the team(actors, back-stage, business) at Unicorn Theatre, they truly want to make this experience of going for plays/musicals as enriching as possible for the children and family.

dsc06361-1

On Saturdays, there are also free drop-in activities for children from 12 noon to 2pm. Some of the art activities are themed around the shows happening at Unicorn Theatrr so that children can build on their schema on what they have watched or are going to watch.

One of the things that I like about Unicorn Theatre would be their location, which is very near London Bridge Station. In that area, there is always plenty to do. In our case, we could easily make a day out with the children. Just within walking distance away, there is Jamie’s Italian, the Bourough Market which I love, Giraffe and a number of eateries. After which, there are still many family-friendly areas to explore such as Tate Modern, Design Museum, HMD Belfast… This is what E and I usually aim to do for our Saturdays- to travel, discover and live London as much as possible!

Unicorn Theatre also tries to make sure that their ticket prices are as competitively priced as possible. West End tickets can be pricey, at £80ish to £120 per pop and sometimes it is hard to justify these prices for a family day out. With Unicorn Theatre, families are allowed more affordable options but still watching great productions at the same time. In this age of increasing obsession with science, technology, engineering and math, the arts still has its place for the children’s growth and learning. In fact, like what I have mentioned earlier in my blog post, maybe it is time for me to intentionally make time for the children’s exposure in this area as well. We will definitely be looking forward to our next trip to the Unicorn Theatre!

****

Disclaimer: We were given tickets to watch The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark at the Unicorn Theatre. Opinions are of my own and I have given honest feedback and review of our experience.

****

Num Noms

September 2016

Hello guys! I am back to blogging again. For the past two weeks or so in London, I have been busy getting the kids back into the routine- school, learning, and heading to the park to enjoy the last bits of sunshine before the cold comes. On top of that, I have been dedicating parts of my relaxation time to writing and research for my writing. Like for real! I am hoping that I will keep up with the momentum.

dsc06209-1

When Ryan went off to school, I had some time with Gillian and Megan for a week or so before our eldest went off to her 3 hour nursery as well. I was quite happy that a package from Num Noms came for Gillian came in handy to entertain her.

****

dsc06208-1

What are Num Noms?
Basically, they are cute, scented, collectible characters. The Nums are squishy toppers that sit on top of a Nom, which are either motorized, a lip balm pot, a mini-stampers (called Stamp-Its), or erasers. There are now 5000+ mix and match combos that you can make! These adorable characters definitely appealed more to Gillian than Ryan.

dsc06219-1

What we have received?
We received the Diner Series 2 deluxe package, which consisted of 6 Nums, 2 motorised Noms and fast food tray and an adorable spatula. We got Hammy Burger, Lemony Cola, PBNJ, Haley Hotdog, Frenchie Fries and Strawberry Cream.

dsc06224-1

dsc06228-1

How can you play with it? How did Gillian play with it?
You can stack the characters on top of each other, play-pretend with it or just stop one of your Nums on the Noms and watch it run around.

dsc06246-1

What part of the Num Nom experience did Gillian like the most?
Gillian, bring only 3.5 year old, needed more assistance when we were unboxing the package. I took time to explain to her the item, to get her to smell the scent and guess what it was. Also, I facilitate the pretend-play scenario before she continued on her own.

I think she really liked the lip balm that she got in the blind bag. In fact, it is now placed in her favourite box.

Will I recommend Num Noms to someone?
Yes, especially if they are getting it for a child/someone who loves collectibles. There is a list that you can print from the Num Nom website to check off the characters that you have in your collection. I would imagine that will be very useful for the collector.

Where can Num Noms can be purchased?
Num Noms can be purchased from most to retailers like Smyths, Argos, Toy R Us or Amazon.

******

Disclaimer: We were given the Num Noms Diner Series 2. Opinions are of my own and I have given honest feedback and review of our experience with the product.

****