Friday, December 31, 2010

Hello goodbye - New Year greetings!

Another New Year's eve, another time for reflection.

2010 was an eventful year for us and although I say this every year, time really flew by like a speeding bullet this time. Even my kids agree that 2010 was a blur.

I suspect it was this (and maybe the fact that I turned 40 in 2010) that caused me to have a mini mid-life crisis earlier this year. Suddenly, I was confronted with the fact that I had a 13-year-old who was living a busy secondary school life independently and with relish. I couldn't remember when Andre last hankered to go to the playground or when we last ordered a kid's meal. In fact, Lesley-Anne now qualifies as an adult for most entry tickets. The truth hit me like a ton of bricks - my babies are growing up and it was not something I was ready to face.

It was an emotion that had no rational basis. Most people who look back with regret are those who didn't spend enough time with their kids and wished they could turn back the clock. I, on the other hand, had enjoyed my kids to the fullest. I was home for the bulk of their lives and I was there to share in every milestone, every scraped knee, every celebration.

So what brought on this strange deluge of emotion? I think ironically, it's because I've enjoyed my time with my kids too much, so much so that I want to cling to it to make it last forever. It's akin to having a melting ice-cream cone. You try to enjoy it while it lasts but you can do nothing to prolong the pleasure. Soon it will be gone and there will just be the memory of the enjoyment.

The difference here is that you can't buy extra time with your kids, the way you can buy another ice-cream cone. It was a battle against time and as each month flew by, I could almost feel a sense of panic. From talking to other mums, I found that this was a common feeling among mothers especially when their youngest child grows up. I felt a pang when I realised that soon, we wouldn't pay child air fares for Andre or visit the children's department at stores. At times, I felt like I was giving myself an ulcer just willing the time to halt.

In one of my broody moments, I hugged Andre and told him, "Don't grow up so quickly, ok?" He looked at me anxiously and replied, "But I can't help it!' I know it's crazy to experience the empty nest syndrome when the kids haven't left yet, blame it on my obsessive over-thinking.

I have since calmed down, thanks to a supportive hubby, caring friends and possibly the daily dose of Vitamin B.

If a human life span was divided into seasons with each season spanning two decades, I would be entering Autumn. I now realise that in my constant looking back and yearning for Summer, I might just miss the beauty of the golden foliage and falling leaves. Winter will be on me before I know it. Will I then spend Winter wishing it was Autumn? Wouldn't that be a joke!

I'm writing this on New Year's eve and not New Year's Day because I think we're allowed a little reminiscing and sentimentality on the last day of the year. But once the fresh year begins, we should focus on looking forward and not looking back. If we're intent on driving in reverse, we'll miss all the scenery ahead (plus never get anywhere).

My New Year's wish for all of you is to savour these precious times with your loved ones with purpose. Life is too short to be lived on auto-pilot. May you be blessed with many, many delectable moments with your family, and have the presence of mind to enjoy every one of them.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Venturing to the Land of Smiles

The week before Christmas, we were in Bangkok at the invitation of my good friend, Lilian. It was an unexpected treat and a bonus holiday for us.

Needless to say, we had a fantastic time. The first post is up on my travel blog so do check it out! Will continue to post on our daily adventure there the next few days.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas at home

A picture speaks a thousand words so here are several thousand words' worth of a quiet but priceless Christmas spent at home.

Blessed Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Exploring Sentosa

We arrived at Resorts World early so we could enjoy the day at Sentosa. First, we headed out to the luge - this is something we've been meaning to try for a while but never had the chance. It's conveniently close to Resorts World, within walking distance.

We paid $49 for a family package of two rides per person.

The luge ride itself is great fun. You go down a winding path of about 1.2km and can go as fast or as slow as you like. There are two different tracks so going twice is ideal, to experience both. (We all agreed the Dragon Trail is better).

Having, said that, I'll never go on the luge again. This is because the only way back up to the top is via the chairlift. The funny thing is, I'm the only one in this family who doesn't suffer from motion sickness and I'm not afraid of heights. But for some reason, the chairlift terrified me (and only me) to bits. It felt so precarious dangling from the rail and the whole journey went on forever. Plus we had to do it twice. The second time, I closed my eyes the whole way which was worse because every time I opened my eyes to take a peek and saw the vastness of the landscape, I would feel my stomach lurch. Never again!

We sauntered around Siloso Beach for a while, it was breezy and very picturesque - enough to get you in the holiday mood.

We walked back to Resorts World to meet Kenneth's mum and cousin for lunch at Din Tai Fung. Xiao long bao, beef noodles, pork chop fried rice, etc. I don't fancy the noodles, they're too greasy for my taste.

The whole of Resorts World was dressed up for the Christmas season and it was very festive. There were stiltwalking drummer boys and Christmas trees galore.

Below was the decor outside Candylicious, a mega candy store.

Then, we headed to Hard Rock Hotel to check into our room. The room was pretty much the same as the last time so I'm not going to describe it. We even had the same pictures of Jimi Hendrix over our bed, prompting Andre to yell, "Arrrrrghhhh, the creepy guy followed us here!"

We were fortunate enough to get the top floor, pool view, like the last time.

Fun in the sun!

Night view from our balcony.

Dinner on Tuesday night was at Hard Rock Cafe. Eating here always makes us happy. Their Twisted Macaroni and Cheese is to die for, by the way.

As part of the package deal, we had buffet breakfast at the hotel's Starz Restaurant on the last day.

Andre decided before the trip that he wanted to start writing a journal, ala Diary of a Wimpy Kid, complete with pictures. Hey, anything that involves Andre writing is fine with me! Here he is at the breakfast table, possibly noting down what he had consumed?

After breakfast, it was just chillin' by the pool until checkout time.

As mentioned in my previous post, we had expected this staycation to be our only trip during these school hols but at the last minute, we managed to book a short overseas holiday so this became a bonus.

We'll be leaving for our 2nd holiday soon so I'm taking a blogging break till Christmas. Blessed Christmas to all of you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Breaking records at Universal Studios

From Monday to Wednesday, we were at a staycation at Resorts World. We had such a great time in June that when we saw an available package deal, we didn't hesitate. (We thought it would serve as the vacation for these school hols, not knowing we would later book ourselves on another trip, but that's another story!)

On Tuesday, we spent the day at Universal Studios. Since it's a small park and we were just there in June, you would've thought we'd run out of stuff to do very quickly right? Wrong! We still spent the entire day there, from opening time to closing. When it comes to theme parks, my kids have endless stamina. Can't say the same for us parents!

Started out with a few rides on the Canopy Flyer as this is the ride that has snaky queues throughout the day. When you start out on this ride, there's virtually no one there, so the attendant even let us have a couple of rounds without having to get off and re-queue.

The trick to beating the queues at Universal Studios is to be ahead of the crowds. Do the popular rides as much as possible in the first hour, then when it gets crowded, do the kiddy ones or go for shows. Have an early lunch and when the crowd fills up for lunch, go back to the rides.

More importantly, for this visit to Universal Studios, Andre was like a man on a mission - he had ridden on the Enchanted Airways (an outdoor roller coaster) 9 times previously and he was out to break his record. I didn't have to accompany him this time as Lesley-Anne was his willing accomplice.

Throughout the day, we kept returning to the ride to check on the queue. As long as it was 15 mins or less, the kids would squeeze a few in. I don't think anyone would believe the final count if I told them. Drumroll... 20! That's right, my crazy kids sat on that contraption 20 times.

I think by then, they were so familiar with the ride they could have fallen asleep (like Mr Bean in his roller coaster clip). As they were queuing for the last time, a man in front of them turned around and asked, "Are you scared?" Mildly amused, my kids said no. When asked, "How many times have you sat on this?" Andre replied, "This is our 20th time." The man must have thought they were stark, raving mad.

The rest of the rides were rather anti-climatic. Accelerator (which is basically teacups) and Dino-sauring. Ok as a time-filler but not much thrill there.

They also took a ride on the carousel just to give Lesley-Anne the opportunity of riding on Melman, the giraffe from Madagascar, since the giraffe is her favourite animal.

Towards the afternoon, I started playing Devil's advocate. Revenge of the Mummy was the only ride the kids have yet to experience - it's an indoor coaster in the dark and is the scariest ride in the park (since Battlestar Galactica is closed). I told them they should leave the park on a high, as in go on Revenge of the Mummy - that would really be something to remember! Call me mean but I kept goading Andre, "Are you a man or a mouse??"

At first, both of them were adamant about not going on it. Then to my surprise, Lesley-Anne slowly warmed up to the idea. She really has come out of her shell over the past year. Andre was pretty terrified but once she started to work her persuasive magic on him, I knew it was just a matter of time before he gave in.

And so they went. As Kenneth and I were waiting for them to finish the ride, we saw a boy about Andre's age emerging in tears and his mum apologising to him profusely. We looked at each other and thought, "uh oh, what have we done?"

But... they survived! Barely too, based on this picture, haha! According to Lesley-Anne, a Mummy would declare spookily, "Your souls will be MIIIIIIINNNNE!!!!!!" followed by a stomach-churning plunge and turns. Repeat four times.

But I know they're glad they took up the challenge. After the ride, Andre told me, "Now I feel like a MAN!" LOL!

Clowning around.

We saw many more characters in costume during this visit. Always nice and adds to the "happy" factor.

It really is a great place to spend the day and we were blessed with perfect weather. We'll definitely be back when they add some new rides.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Our annual Christmas party is an event our whole family looks forward to - a time to meet up with old friends and enjoy a fabulous evening together.

This year, we had four families over - the usual three plus my good friends Isabelle, Joon and their two cuties.

One of the highlights of the party is, without doubt, the spread. Last year, we had just enough food, not having quite realised that most of the kids had become teenagers overnight and that their appetites had ballooned accordingly. So this year, we had generous portions and of course, ended up with lots of leftovers. Murphy's Law! Well, better too much than too little, I say.

Delectable cheese and pate platter from Hooi Ming.

That fantastic oversized bird was contributed by Isabelle and Joon. Doesn't it just put you in the Christmas spirit? Homemade oriental salad (with secret sauce!) by Lim Nah.

Sweet endings - a log cake from Molly.

The best part though, is still coming together with friends. These are individuals I've had the privilege of knowing for at least a decade and call me a sentimental fool but as I get older, I realise that there really are few things in life as precious as friends like these.

Isabelle and Joon's duo received lots of attention. It's been a long time since we've had babies and toddlers in this house. Suddenly, all the "aunties" re-discovered their cuddle instincts!

The kids, on their part, got along famously. It's interesting to me that they only see each other once a year, yet can bond almost immediately. They had a blast and were making a total racket in the rooms. I couldn't take photos as adults were banned... of course. You can see how they've grown in just the course of one year, comparing with pictures from last year's party.

I made blueberry muffins for each family to take home. The boxes were decorated by Lesley-Anne.

Maybe it's my imagination but we seem to enjoy this evening more and more every year. The kids had such a great time that they didn't want to leave.

Christmas is in the air, folks - may you be as fortunate as I am, to share this season with great family and friends!

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather is one of those things that give value to survival." - C. S. Lewis
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