Project House Move #6

September 2015

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Hello everyone! I haven’t been actively blogging for the past two weeks as we were really kept busy with some family matters as well as….*drum rolls* our #6 house move! So, that makes 6 house moves in our 5 years of marriage. Moving can be one of life’s most stressful events and sometimes, it is unimaginable that E and I have done it so frequently. Well, so the truth is that all these done is not like a bed of roses. Honestly, there were nights of E and I being frustrated with each other and me ending up being in tears. What really held us together is the faith in God that everything will eventually work out.

If you ask me, no one can ever get used to packing and unpacking. While it is a good way to detox the house from unnecessary things, the effort required is excruciating painful. I suppose what made it even harder is that I am in my Week 38-39 of my pregnancy. It is not an ideal situation to be in when one experiences Braxton Hicks/false contractions while packing or carrying boxes. On the upside, we had the help of my parents and E’s mom for this move. I highly doubt we could have done it without any help. As for now, this new place in London is somewhere we can call home(sweet home) for the time being till maybe Singapore or somewhere else in the world beckons us. When that day comes, it would be Project House Move #7.

Que Sera Sera…

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Ryan’s 华话

June 2015

(FYI, Stickers were put over pictures of Ryan’s classmates as I do not know their parents and do not have their permission to put their pictures online.)

We attended Ryan’s Chinese school graduation ceremony on the last week of June. E and I went there thinking that it was going to be one boring Saturday, waiting for Ryan’s certificate to be given out. Surprisingly, Ryan apparently had a performance- performing 两只老虎 , a song he sort of rehearsed for the entire year… The reason I said this is because whenever we asked me what did he learnt during Chinese school, he would just tell us he sang 两只老虎. Okayyy…so now, I realised that maybe they were practising this particular song for the entire year.

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As you can see, Ryan is the lead singer. Heehee. We were quite impressed that he did not have any stage fright. In fact, he was belting out the song real loudly!

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Anyways, he did get his certificate from attending one year of Mandarin classes. However, this boy was a wee bit disappointed that he did not ‘win the prize’. There was a present given to the best student in class. So, Ryan was not too happy about missing out on the prize. We did explain to him later on why his friend won the award instead of him. He admitted not doing his work in class and not being too attentive as well. Let’s hope he will realise his learning attitude needs some changes for the coming year. BTW, did I mention that he got promoted to Year One for Mandarin as well?

I think for the coming Summer Holidays, I intend to spend more time developing his interest in Mandarin. In fact, I have started including some Chinese phrases in our daily lives. In fact, the plan is to invite one of Ryan’s nursery friends over weekly and I will conduct a 45 minute class for them(Ryan, Gillian and friend). Let’s hope this works through!

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Norfolk Cottage Weekend

May 2015

Day 1: The long 4 hour drive.

And so the big weekend for the cottage came. The initial plan for the cottage weekend was to be in March. Unfortunately, Baby Emily and Edward were consecutively down with chicken pox. We had to shift the dates then. Fortunately, we did so as the weather was much more suitable in May. Less cold and definitely more enjoyable for everyone then.

The cottage of seven rooms was to house four families- 7 children and 11 adults for 4 days, 3 nights. Erhm… Unlike E, I am not a fan of communal living. So, days before the big trip, I had my apprehensions and worries(because we had to cook for everyone for one of the two dinners). I was whining to E about the packing and anything that could be complained about. I supposed he took it in good stride or he is able to tune off very successfully these days. Anyways, it turned out to be quite okay and I am so happy to see the children- all seven of them enjoying themselves so much over the weekend. The thing about being a parent, one can no longer live for ourselves. Sometimes, happiness is about seeing someone’s smile.

Days prior to the big weekend, we told the children about our cottage plans and they were sure excited. Ryan, who is older and understandably more sensible started packing the toys that he thought he needed for the trip. Being the very lazy mother that I am, I only packed and bought everything the day before the trip. I am always surprised by how laid back I am these days. Gosh…

On the day of the trip, we set off at 2ish in the afternoon and only got to the cottage by 6pm, after taking one pit stop where we met Ken and Yiling’s family. So, it was almost a good 4 hours on the road. Thank God that Ryan and Gillian were quite cooperative throughout the road trip. Being the worrier that I am, I keep having possible horror scenes of either of them screaming/fighting/puking. Puking being the worst scenario because it is just gross, we have to clean it and it will smell for the entire trip!

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Ryan, Edward and Gillian chilling out at Starbucks during the pit stop.

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The Suffolk Cottage!

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Okay, this is the back of the cottage. I don’t think I took a picture of the front. According to the owner, this cottage is like 400ish years old. That is like super old. Even the locks for the toilets and doors were like ancient trickery. To me, at least. Hot water for the toilets on the second floor had to be heated using the fireplace on the first floor. No kidding. That is like something so unbelievable.

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This room was shared by Gillian and me!

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This room is shared between Ryan and E.

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This is the bathroom that is thankfully next to our room. Ryan and Gillian did some some time playing in the bath tub. They just love their bathtub time. Heehee.

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Dinner was just store bought pizzas by Ken and Yiling. Kids and pizzas pretty much go hand in hand!

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After the bath, dinner and some running about, it was almost bed time for all the younger ones. In fact, E and I turned in early as well. It was a crazy 4 hour drive from London, the longest that we have driven so far. Exhausting but so much to look forward to in the next few days!

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Day 2: Park/Playground. Lunch at Castle Carvery. More playtime at Castle Carvery.

The second morning was relatively lazy. Everyone woke up and the wives started preparing breakfast for their families. Erhm… everyone’s breakfast looked very fancy. Eggs, hams, sausages, toast. Between my family members, we shared one loaf of garlic bread. *sigh* Long story. No kidding.

Anyways, soon after breakfast, we brought the kids outside the cottage for some play! They definitely enjoyed the free play on the field! Those play stations in the backyard are actually meant for the cottage owner to train her dog. Well… the kids apparently had fun at the stations as well!

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With kids, parks and playgrounds are always on the itinerary.

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Lunch was at Castle Carvery. It was the typical English spread- roast, fish and chips and whatnots. The special thing about Castle Carvery was that it had an indoor and outdoor play area. So you can imagine that the place was very kids-friendly. After lunch, two families took off on their own while we stayed back with Peizhen’s family to just pass time at the play area. It was pretty much a lazy, catch-up-on-energy day.

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I have started putting pens and colour pencils in the kids’ backpacks. They are very useful to entertain them while waiting for the food to come. And if you are wondering, I do allow the kids to watch videos after they have eaten as well. And yes, if you are judging, I also think I am a bad and irresponsible parent. Totally trying to cut this aspect out. Hard. And we are trying to be better parents everyday. Hard.

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We returned to the cottage in the late afternoon because Yee Yin and I had to prepare dinner for everyone. The plan was to have two families each to prepare dinner for Day 2 and Day 3. I intended to cook chicken rice…and it was quite disastrous. Because my rice cooker was not working to put it simply. It was a tough evening but thankfully some of the ladies helped out and the rice eventually was cooked. I was really happy when everyone got their dinner in the end and when bed time arrived.

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Day 3- Indoor Adventure Centre Adventure Island Play Park. Lunch at The Thatch. Playtime by the seaside at Southwold Pier.

The day started off looking rather gloomy, followed by light rain. Initially, we intended to head to Africa Alive but the rain got heavier and we decided to go for an indoor play park instead. Adventure Island Play Park it was then! Ryan and Gillian had a ball at the play park.

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Here’s Daddy with his princess. Gillian woke up with a sore eye. It was quite nasty as it lasted for at least 3 days and went off after we seen a doctor in London for antibiotic eye drops.

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Ryan and his latest new friend, Charlotte. She is 5 and he is 4. A rather good age for them to understand each other.

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The kids had a wild time for an hour-ish before we went for lunch near Southwold Pier. Lunch was at The Thatch.

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I had salmon pasta, E had his steak while the children shared toad-in-hole.

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Here’s two pictures of my children looking very earnest in making their wishes. I love how they are always very serious about making wishes and praying to God(for requests!).

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Here’s a picture of me and the love of my life.

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The evening for Day 3 was much more relaxed since I did not have to cook. Just hung out with the kids in the living room. E took the kids out with Tawei and attempted to fly a kite. But they failed. Had a nice dinner prepared by the other two families and then I concussed with the kids. E even managed to stay up and play cards with the rest of the parents. Amazing!

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Day 4- Africa Alive and then back to London!

It was the last day of our trip and weather was fabulous! The four families decided to go to Africa Alive since we all know the kids would love looking at the animals. It was a good decision as it seemed that we all enjoyed our time there. However, some of us had to leave earlier as the dads/mums had to work the next day. Boohoo!

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Here’s Gillian on our double stroller that I bought second hand on a Facebook group! 80 quid!

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Poor sweetheart still with her sore eye.

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We checked out a few animal shows, went on a zoo train ride around the compounds, played in the playground, played mini golf, had our lunch and treat. Basically, we squeezed in whatever activity that we could in those 3-4 hours before returning to the cottage, did some mad packing and drove all the way back to London. No pit stop as the kids were whining too much in the car. This time round, we managed to get back home under 3 hours. That is a feat. Thank you, Mister E for keeping all of us safe while you were driving!

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This basically sums up our first cottage trip in London. There were not many pictures taken. Not as many as I would like anyways as I was feeling quite sick throughout the trip. In fact, whilst the kids had much fun at the cottage, I think everyone was glad to be in the comforts of home. Nothing really beats home. I spent the next few days doing the laundry, and trying to care for the two little ones as they fell sick after the trip. Boohoo but overall, we did enjoyed ourselves and would like to be much better prepared the next time!

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Ryan’s birthday celebration in school!

March 2015

As Ryan’s birthday falls during mid term, we decided to throw him an early birthday celebration in school. Thankfully Mama was around to help us with the preparation of the goodie bags before the party. We were semi going for a pirate theme as Ryan is very into the Swashbuckles on Cbeebies. He was dressed as a pirate on the day of the celebration. Heehee.

He and his friends were very excited on the week of the celebration! On that particular week, his friends kept asking me if it was Ryan’s birthday on every occasion they saw me in school. Not sure who let the cat out of the bag but all the little ones were very happy on the actual day of the party!

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This is a picture of Ryan’s cosy classroom.

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When his teachers and friends starting singing him the birthday song, Ryan looked so shy! It was such an adorable sight. In fact, we were allowed to join in the mini celebration. So, our little birthday girl, Gillian did managed to bask in some of the lime light as well. In fact, Gillian is no stranger to Ryan’s classmates as they see each other everyday. Before the party, she was running around with Ryan’s classmates in the garden. She loves the attention from the older children. Heehee.

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After the blowing of candles, Ryan ran towards me so shyly, hugged me, told me that he was so happy and thanked me. That was quite a cute moment as he looked as though he was going to burst with joy, a reaction that I did not expect from him. I always thought he was quite ambivalent about such celebrations- like, ‘Fine, there is a nice cake.’ I never thought he could vocalise his feelings. So, that was a nice surprise!

Yes, there you go. This is Ryan’s first class birthday celebration in London. There is always a first for everything and I am glad this is a a good one for everyone.

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Newham City Farm

March 2015

After meeting up with my Hai Sing Shijie, Roanne in the morning with her lovely boy, we had lunch in Yiban before heading to Newham City Farm. It was a lovely visit to the farm. We liked the play area for he young children. There were a few lovely animals at the farm as well. However, unlike Mudchute, we were not allowed to feed the animals at Newham City Farm. So, I suppose the little ones, especially Ryan was disappointed.

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Things got better when we went out of the farm into a nearby park. There was this fantastic playground and the children loved it! One of the many nice things about London is the space… like when we visit a farm/park, it can be crowded but it is no where as squeezy as it could be back home in Singapore Ryan and Gillian can run freely and I know they will not bump into anyone.

The highlight of the playground was this cool looking slight… things were awesome for everyone…until Gillian went down on her own(because E believed that she could!) and hurt herself. No kidding. She cut her lip and it was bleeding so much. Thankfully, it was a cut on the lip and she did not hurt her teeth. That would be disastrous!

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We went for a Mac Donald’s treat. It was unfortunate that our injured Gillian fell asleep and could not enjoy the ice cream that Ryan was gobbling up. Still, it was a great day for everyone and thankfully, the weather held up. Looking forward to more adventures when the weather gets better in London! Woots!

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*****

 

 

 

Why did we decide to take time off Singapore…

January 2015

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The big move to London was decided around the October of 2013. Prior to this big decision, E and I did toyed with the idea on taking time off Singapore, especially in hope that this chance would happen before our children attend Primary One in Singapore. We did short listed some countries that we were both agreeable to moving to. That being said and done. Nothing happened even after the birth of Baby Gillian. Even when E told me that we might be moving to London in late August, I did not want to give too much thought about it because the reality of it happening just feels too daunting.

In the end, we decided to make the big move to London for these few reasons. In the light of the new year, I decide to pen them down in case I flounder of our decision when I miss my Hillstreet Char Kway Teow.

1. An overseas experience

One of biggest gripe of my university days was missing the chance to do an exchange. *sigh* Let’s not get started on why did I not go for one. It is one endless rant. So, since this time round, an overseas stint was offered on a platter for me, it would be silly to reject it. As a born and bred Singaporean, I love my country(actually, it is just the fabulous people and the amazing food.) to bits but somehow, I feel I need to experience living in another country at least once in my lifetime. It could be Shanghai, New York, Hong Kong…anywhere that is city-like since I am someone who really likes the city life. When E told me that the move was to London, I think my inner self did three somersaults. Heehee.

2. A SAHM opportunity

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I always wanted to be a Stay at home mother. That was actually before I realised how hard it was to be one and I forgot how it came along with other job titles like being a cleaner, a cook, the laundry lady and so on. I mean I could manage taking care of the children on my own in Singapore but doing it all by myself in rainy London is a whole new level. There is no day that goes by without me being appreciative towards my own mother who also brought up me and my siblings all by herself without any domestic helper. After a year of hard labour imposed upon myself, I still have to say I would not change it for the world. I am bone tired everyday but everything is just made so much more meaningful when the little ones say,”I love you, Mummy.” or “You are the best!” I suppose there are opportunity costs in doing so but for now, we feel that it is all worth it.

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Interestingly, being a SAHM is a much more supported job in London than Singapore. There are so many playgroups for the little ones to go to on weekdays. In fact, when Ryan attends school, Gillian and I are also busy at one playgroup or another. For most playgroups, we just need to pay a token sum of  £0.50 to  £2 for a duration of at least 90 minutes. That includes a simple craft activity, a sing-along session, snacks for the little ones and the mothers. The children will usually have fruits and water while the carers have a choice of coffee or tea and biscuits.

3. Being able to travel a wee bit more than usual

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Living in Singapore is awesome. We are close to so many nice Southeast Asian cities. In fact, I have travelled a fair bit in around the region. The only one time that I went to Europe was on my babymoon to Paris and I was bowled over by how beautiful Europe was and how majestic some building looked. Travelling to Europe from Singapore carries a hefty price tag. Being based in London for now allows the family to travel more. So, click here to read more about our adventure in and around London with the adorable associates. This year, in 2015, we intend to travel more! So do look out for these updates!

4. Greener, more family life

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From the conversations that I have with the people I talk to, I realised that most of them are very protective about their after-office hours. So, they usually work very efficiently during office hours. Some even work during their lunch hours. However, come 6pm, many are ready to leave work in the office, head out for time with family and friends. In comparison to our old lives in Singapore, we are living much closer to E’s workplace. Hence, he gets to have more time with Ryan and Gillian.

We also like how there are so many parks peppered around the country. It is a pity that the weather is so cold, sometimes almost unbearably chilly. However, we do go to the parks very often during late Spring and Summer. Being a country with so much nature also means that children get a chance to enjoy and soak in the beauty outdoors. Interestingly, Ryan is a keen observer of the plants and the flowers in the parks. Very unlike E and me who are quite oblivious to nature. He is the one who was the first to tell me that the flowers looks beautiful or the leaves have turned yellow.

BUT…

Just like in all situations, there would be two sides of the story. Being in London meant that we would be missing out on the happenings in Singapore. After almost three decades of being in Singapore, it is hard to leave the family and friends that we have at home. It would be so easy to just hang out with the same ol’ people who have known you since forever. And education…yes, that is one thing that is bugging me since we got here. The style of learning is very different from the one that I am used to back home. It is very free spirited and children just learn through free play! By contrast, I know of many young kids of Ryan and Gillian’s age attending flash card lessons, brain training sessions, piano/violin classes and whatnots. I mean, how can I not feel anxious when I compare them to the growth of their peers? This year marks out second year, but I am always reminding myself to keep to the positives and just enjoy our journey together. It is hard to tell what the future brings!

xxxx

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October’s Party!

October 2014

Three days more before we return to Singapore. It has been almost year since I last saw my mother and the excitement is driving me crazy. I cannot really sleep well because my brain is going amok with all the things that Eugene and I intend to do back home. There will be three weddings, many gatherings involving good Singaporean food.

On a separate note, I realised that I haven’t been blogging. Blogging is so much more work these days with the kids and household chores. I am totally toying with the idea of just shifting all the updates to just Instagram. Anyways, I thought I should do some quick update in this space while E minds the kids. (E is extremely supportive on me in this aspect!) I will just blog whatever that randomly pops up in my head. Here it goes:

1. Autumn is here!

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The dreaded cold is back. Out goes the light jackets and in comes the thick woolly jumpers and coats. I am not a fan of winter in London. Not when I have to dress the children and the little ones detest having the additional layers.

2. International Day in school

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International Day is an annual event in Ryan’s school. Students are encouraged to wear traditional costumes and families are invited to join in the fun. Initially, we were not planning on attending as I did not have time to make the snacks(I intended to make ondeh ondeh.). However, we ended up there due to unforeseen circumstances. I am quite thankful as it turned out to be an amazing day for everyone and I got to meet many of Ryan’s friends.

3. Sunday lunches!

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We are getting used to the church followed by a nice lunch routine. Ryan and Gillian are still adjusting to Sunday school. Most Sundays, they seem to be absolutely fine. However, there are just some occasions when they get slightly whiney and tears will just flow uncontrollably. Thankfully, the teachers at Sunday school are really good in handling the little ones.

4. Steamboat at TW’s

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TW hosted a steamboat session at his place and oh man, I totally have forgotten how much I missed steamboat till that day. It was a huge spread of food, mainly from SeeWoo and scallops from Billingsgate! There was the usual Poker session. That day, I learnt how to play the game and I thought it was quite interesting. Still, not a fan of such card games. Give me Bananagrams or Monopoly anytime!

5. Playdate with Martha!

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Martha is Ryan’s good friend in school and he was so happy when she came over for dinner! Look at how chuffed he looked!

6. Ryan’s long day in school/Sg lunch

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Ryan’s long day in school is usually the day when I meet up with my Sg ladies friends. It is one of the days that I look forward to because I get to speak in Singlish, talk about Singapore stuff and random stuff. It just feels relaxing because I get to be in my comfort zone. As Ryan would be in school for longer hours, it also meant that I only need to handle Gillian. Easy peasy. Heehee.

7. Playdate at Helena/Miki’s

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Helena invited us over for lunch and playdate. It must be one of the most well planned playdate that I have been to. Lunch was really delicious and she even had a breadstick making session for the children, followed by tea provided by Claire. Ryan and Gillian definitely enjoyed themselves!

8. “Not a Halloween” party!

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We went for a “Not a Halloween” themed party at a church with Yiling and Edward. Instead of celebrating darkness, the good people at church were explaining how they wanted to celebrate the notion of light, something opposite of what Halloween is about. There were pretty neat activities planned for the children- like designing their lanterns, carving heart shapes into pumpkins and whatnots.

9. Halloween at Yiling’s.

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It was a very impromptu one actually. It was one of the Saturdays in October when I met Catherine for a thrift sale. E left Baby Gillian at Yiling because he had to pick Ryan up for Chinese class. We ended up staying at Yiling’s place for the entire day and we decided to throw a last minute Halloween party for the kids. It was unfortunate that only Gillian was in her Tinkle-bell costume. Ryan and Edward did not want to wear their pirate and Dracula costume respectively. Noah did not bring his bat boy costume. Not so nice for photo opportunity. But the children had fun with the balloons and the torch lights that we bought from Poundland. Hahahaha.

10. Dimsum at Saikei!

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It was our first time to Saikei and I must say that it was quite  a good one. They have a relatively good variety of dim sum. It was also on that day when we discovered that Gillian might be allergic to prawns. As usual, we put some noodles and a prawn on her bowl and she started eating all by herself. It was like 15 minutes laters when E noticed that she was scratching her neck and quite abit. It was only then we realised that she had rashes all over her chin and neck. After putting away her prawn and getting her to drink loads of water, the rashes did go away. Thank God!

11. Playdate with Annabel/Noah

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It was one of those days in October where the sun was out and the kids did not need their jackets. 秋老虎 is what we would call that day. Anyways, the little ones met Noah and Leo for a picnic and playdate at Greenwich Park. We got some stuff from M&S as I was too lazy to prepare the picnic items. Ryan and Gillian got their much needed run in the park and enjoyed a good night’s sleep that day!

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Okay, these basically sums up our October. I suppose more happened but I did not remember them as there were no photos taken. Note to self: To remember to take more photos! Amidst all these happenings, I also had to pack everything as we had to move on 1 November. Looking back, it was quite a busy month, I must say. Thankfully, despite all these activities, we managed to have a smooth move to our current place. Thank God!

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