Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Sending mama n yeye off



My in laws left last weekend. We went up to Auckland to send them off and spent a night there.


It's been such a blessing having them around. They cooked for us every day, every meal for 6 whole weeks. It was such a luxury. My father in law was also the one who drove us to the hospital when Levi was about to be born. My mum in law helped to soothe Levi in the evenings so that I could have dinner in peace. Most of all, they were Sophie's main companions when James had to return to work and I was spending most of my time with Levi.


Sophie was inconsolable when they left. She cried and cried. Poor thing. She's grown so attached to them over the past 6 weeks. But it was good that she could grief like that. As grown ups, we always overlook the grieving process when people leave because we get so hardened. Looking at her grieve made James and I wished we had that kind of heart again. Once she stopped crying she was absolutely fine.


1. Auckland is so fun! I love being in the city once in a while. James and I went on a date (Levi was our chaperon) on Sat night to watch the latest movie The Last AirBender. The show was so so but it was my first date with James since we returned to NZ in July and my first 3D movie. I know, very suaku but so shiok. Levi slept thru the movie and woke up in the last 30 mins to feed. Nice.


2. I drove back from Auckland. Woah! 2 hrs straight. I'm really starting to enjoy driving long distances.



Lemme just say it again, NZ is BEAUTIFUL.


We just spent the weekend with my in laws in Rotorua. It's only about an hour and a half away from Matamata. However, the landscape is totally different. It's filled with lush green trees even though spring only just started, many geothermal areas and smells of sulphur.


We went one day at Wai-O-Tapu to see the mud pools, craters, lakes and geysers. You need to pay to get in there but it's nicely built up for tourists and easy to push a stroller. Very safe too. Unfortunately it was pouring so we had to brave through the rain to do the walk. Thank God we brought the Mountain Buggy. Sophie was quite happy to sit in there completely protected by the raincover and even fell asleep towards the end of the walk. James carried Levi in the sling and wore a poncho.


Left: Lady Knox Geyser shoots up to 20m high!

Right: Devil's Cave, a sulphur hot pool


The next day we went to Redwood Forest to do the shortest walk. It was supposed to be a half hour walk, turned out to be an hour for us. Sophie started to whine halfway and had to take breaks along the way but still she made it to the end. It was also drizzling and the heavy rains before made the ground really muddy. I think it'll be great to try the walk again on a sunny day. The trees were so beautiful. It's a very doable walk for kids too.



This was Levi's first trip away from home. We stayed at a hotel. They didn't have a cot so James folded up the duvet covers and made a little "mattress" on the floor for him. It's pretty easy traveling with a newborn since they still sleep most of the time. I think he only had a melt down once prob because he had enough stimulation and was tired of being in the car seat.




We are back from a short weekend trip to Rotorua! Updates soon, meanwhile photos on flickr.

Family TIme


We live in NZ. My dad works in Brazil. My sis goes to Uni in Brissy. My bro just moved his family back to Singapore from Brissy last year. So, to get everyone in the same country at the same time is almost a miracle in itself!


We almost made it this time. Only person missing is Rachel, my sis.


To make full use of the occasion, my mom booked all of us in for 3 days in Bintan Lagoon Resort. Bintan, Indonesia is only an hour's ferry ride from Singapore. Very doable for short holidays for those with young children.


We had fun, even though it rained everyday! Sophie had fun at the pool and hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa and little Janice. Sophie hasn't seen Grandpa for a year and a half so she was really thrilled to hang out with him.


We even bumped into our distant relatives. They too were having a big family gathering – 2 grandparents, 2 kids and their other halves plus 6 grandchildren! They invited us to their villa for BBQ. I haven't seen them in ages although we are about the same age and grew up together. It was really good to catch up.


I love family holidays!



Then over to Brisbane for a week….


It was a nice and relaxing holiday. We’ve been coming to Brisbane once a year since Sophie was a baby. Her first trip to Brissy was at 7 months old when my bro, Kelvin, got married. She’s now 3 and a half and each trip we find ourselves doing different things as she got older. This time we just did the free stuff like the playground and museum. We also did a lot of shopping coz this little one LOVES shopping.


This trip was really just catching up with Rach, my sis (Soph calls her Yi yi) and Mel, one of my Serve youths from 2003 batch. We also got to know a new friend – Liwen who so kindly went with us to the Coast for shopping at HarbourTown.


Some highlights: –


Spending time with Yi yi


Cooked for Yi yi coz she babysat for us


Rach babysat Sophie while we went to watch Ironman 2 at South Bank! Woo hoo, our first out of the house Marriage Time since donno when!


Fish & Chips at Gold Coast


Hanging out with Mel


Baking with Yi yi


Wanna really thank Rach, Mel, Liwen and Pastor Wenan and Lillian and lil Elise for hosting us while we were in Brissy. And of course Joy and Han for kindly letting us stay at their apartment while they were away. Such blessings!!!

Celebrating the Lunar New Year

From Left: James, Esther, Eli, Gin, Evan and Sophie. The table was full of food!


Last year, Chinese New Year just passed us by! This year I was DETERMINED with a capital "D" to do something about it! And when I’m determined, I’m determined! :) Hiak!



Two weeks before, I started planning the menu and hyping it up with friends (Asian friends that is. I tried telling a non-asian friend about it and he was like huh?. :)) I got down with Sophie and made her make some semblance of firecrackers, lanterns and Chinese fans with me… ok we tried. Then I went to the library and borrow a kids’ book on Chinese festivals and menus and I looked at it every night to drool… :) Finally, it wouldn’t have been complete if James didn’t make a trip to Auckland to buy all the foodstuff.


Left: We made these firecrackers with toilet rolls and crepe paper. Sophie made them on her own, very simple. I just showed her a couple samples.

Right: CNY is not CNY if the kitchen is not FILLED with food. :) Just looking at it made me so happy. Felt like home…



So on Chinese New Year eve, here was what we had:- steamboat dinner with chicken stock I made, hot pot mix, waxed duck, roast duck, stir-fry veg with chinese mushrooms, prawn mix chicken wings and dumplings! We even had durian after dinner! We ate till we had to roll out of our seats! It’s not a CNY meal if we didn’t eat till we dropped and have leftovers.



Hope everyone had a wonderful lunar New Year celebration with friends and family. We missed everyone back home and it’s really not the same without you guys.

NZ 09 Dec Christchurch


We’re in Christchurch for a short holiday over Christmas and New Year’s.


Our first stop??? A Korean restaurant! Oooo so shiok the kimchi and other appetizers…..

Enjoying our holidays


We are really enjoying our break.


So, what have we been doing?


1. Cooking – The base kitchen is closed between schools, which is GREAT! We get to cook all we like to eat. I’ve been cooking and baking everyday and totally enjoying it. Lamb is so cheap here and we’ve been eating all we can. Also, we are all attempting to put on the weight which we lost the past months. Esp for Sophie and I! Actually Sophie put on weight but she is so tall, it really doesn’t show at all! She’s now 95 cm and 12.2kg. 95cm! That’s definitely not from me!


Cabbage in Oyster Sauce + Herbal Chicken Soup (Heaven!)


2. Playing – Sophie is totally enjoying her books and toys again. Slowing down has been great coz that means that Sophie gets to play with us everyday! She really really enjoys that.


3. Shopping! – Gin and I have been going shopping almost everyday. Ya we’ve been to Tauranga, Hamilton (2x!) and of course to our local supermarkets and good ole Warehouse. It’s funny how there’s not much to buy but just so nice to look around! The kids are getting better at shopping with us so it’s been great. In fact we just spent today at the local weekend market and drove to Hamilton for some retail therapy. Of course we only end up buying stuff for the kids. Bad habit! :)


4. Base stuff – The base still needs ongoing maintenance even when we are in between schools. If not we’ll get overgrown by weeds! Yep so we’ve been spending some mornings in the garden just weeding and cleaning up.


Weeding in the garden. Check out the blue summer sky!


5. Fishing – This only refers to James. :) He’s been going fishing everyday! In fact he’s gone deep sea fishing today with some of the people from the base. God blessed them with a free boat – a friend lent it to them. He’s very very happy about that. :)


6. Getting ready for Christmas – Sophie and I have been making cards and wrapping and posting presents. This is the first time we’re away from home during Christmas! We are so missing all our friends back home.


7. Planning for our short trip to Christchurch – Woo hoo! We’re going to meet up with some friends in Christchurch and that includes Vicky and Jasper who are getting married TODAY. I’ve been researching and going to start to book the flights and lodging. Can’t wait!


8. Finally, we’re enjoying summer. It’s so nice to see my legs and feet again. So happy to bring out the summer clothes!



We’re now in Brisbane to visit my bro and sis with my mum, dad is working in Brazil.


Totally enjoying the time spent with my family. So happy.


We’re all heading to the Gold Coast tomorrow for 3 days! So glad that we made the decision to make a detour to Brissy before heading to NZ.


Sophie’s been such a che che. She’s always watching out for Janice. She was playing with Janice yesterday morning on the floor. When I took her away to eat her breakfast on the high chair, Janice started crying. And Sophie said, "I think she needs to see me." Hahahah… It’s true, whenever Janice sees Sophie, she’s happy.


Daddy we miss you!

Dinner with Friends


Pa (James’ dad) has many friends in China so we’ve been having meals after meals. Yesterday night we had two dinners! :) One of which was a wonderful home cooked meal. It was typical Chinese style entertaining – check out the number of dishes! 10!


This is the home of the son of an old family friend of my father in law. Now we have three generations of friendship. Sophie had so much fun playing with the two kids that she cried when we had to leave. I’m really glad that relationships are very important to her.


I feel a bit sad that in China, since the late 70s, each couple is only allowed to have one child. Must be so tough for some and yet most have gotten used to that and enjoy having only one precious child. On Sunday, I could see the fathers happily carrying their kids and holding hands with them, no matter girl or boy, and enjoying the time they had together. Very precious.


Too Much Chinese Opera



We’re back in Kunming.


Right after church on Sunday, while waiting for my in laws, Sophie decided to perform on the streets. She started singing Hallelujah Praise Ye the Lord. Watching too much Chinese opera on TV in the hotel… :)

Eliminating church parking problems


Right outside the church we attended on Sunday