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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

April & May Update

Beautiful spring continues.

C has been enjoying art so much. He asks for it 3-4 times a day. 'Do-ing Arrrttttt! Mama! Doo-ning Artttttt!' 'Mama, Sit down!' Doo-ning Artttttt!'. He has learned how to draw lines 'top-to-bottom' and 'dot, dot, dot' thanks to brilliant Ngen Ngen. He has since learned how to draw 'left-to-right' and 'waves'. We use art time to recap the activities and whatever we learned in the day too. 

C had a splendid time with Ye Ye and Ngen Ngen. He misses them so and remembers them fondly. He loves Ye Ye's cooking and they taught him the ingredients in his food- he says them in his dreams too: 'Hong lo-bok, chicken meat, pork meat, fish meat, spinach etc'. His favourite food is 'hong lo bok'. 

They brought him on fun trips to St James' Park where he chased pigeons with glee. He enjoyed the train rides too.

C always associates activities with the person who introduced them to him.  Ye Ye taught C how to play 'Yea, Yea, Pom Pom, Yes Sir, No Sir, 1...2... Tali...Som!' This is one of his favourite things to do with Ye Ye.

Ngen Ngen taught him beautiful songs with actions from the New Catechism for Kids by Kathy Keller. He has learned so many words along with good snippets of the gospel. Eg: 'What is our only hope in life and death? That we are not our own but belong to God.' Ngen Ngen also did Bible time with C and 'bookmark' memory verses. Ye Ye and Ngen Ngen are so creative when it comes to inventing new games for C too. They have taught C how to 'aim at bottles' and even how to enjoy the game when he misses the target! 

His other top favourite of the month is the sticker book of construction machines from Ye Ye and Ngen Ngen. C doesn't really enjoy new things when we introduce them but once we find a hook with the activity, he can't stop doing it. The hook for the sticker book was a machine called the 'telescopic BOOM!'. Ever since I bounced him high off my lap and made a boom noise, he was hooked onto the book. He has learned about 'dump trucks, excavators, backhoes, trailers and more', and so has mama! He is a very sweet helper which always grabs the second mop when I mop the floor. He also has taken to bringing us our shoes (correctly each time based on which shoe we wear last) when we are preparing to go out. Excited little boy.

We started taking C to swim again after the long winter filled with colds and coughs has passed. His first time back in the pool was as expected. A little reluctant and trepidated. Now, he asks for it all the time. He brings the swimming pool slippers to us and says 'Mi-mming pooooo'.....'kick kick kick!'. He is slowly getting more and more confident so he can now jump in from the side and walk up and down the stairs in the toddler pool.

We joined our friends to celebrate another trip around the sun. C enjoys eating tau-foo-fah- that's the taufoofah face on the bottom-right. Just like his papa, he also loves coconut water. Can't wait to bring him to Malaysia and have him drink it straight out of a coconut.

He played tug of war for a few seconds here and there. He also loves only calling the ladies' names: Auntie May, Che Che Abigail, Asa, Layla, Sabine... but no guys names. Sorry lads..... the only male name he has ever uttered is Ying Khai. :) Such a Boy with a capital B.

He has also learned how to stack the precarious numbers tower. The hook to get him to love this game was a play on the word 'wobble' which he enjoyed doing to little wooden rings with Ngen Ngen. When we came back from our trip, he was going on and on with 'wobble' so we built on that and called this 'topple'! The hook to get him to love his numbers was a 1,2,3 Mr Men book. Since then, he absolutely loves counting and of late, has managed to count to 20 albeit still green on his pronounciation. :)

 C has been very wonderful at doctor visits. The nurses and health workers are besotted with his antics. He listens well and smiles a lot. He also says 'Good morning' and 'Thank You' to the doctor. He is so much fun to have around these days. 

We have been taking advantage of the sunshine and going out lots to new parks and having picnics. C always says 'kick a ball in the park!' The other night, he said it in his dreams along with 'chicken meat'. :D 
 The amazing view from the Royal Observatory. C enjoyed counting the cranes.

It's wonderful to see C grow. He learned about pinecones back in Christmas when he helped me decorate the tree. He would play with them every evening and say 'Puh-K-' for pinecone. The other day at the park, he suddenly said 'A pine-cone' and since then has been bringing some to us whenever we are having a picnic. He is starting to speak more and more. 

The story of the simple red windmill from Ye Ye and Ngen Ngen that started C's huge love of windmills which led to the whole family's obsession with windmills. We brought C to see his first old-fashioned windmill. We also explored a fellow church member's backyard where C got to watch in amazement as his windmill spun ever so fast. He also learned the word 'waterfall' there and saw his first fox up close.

More parks- Holland Park was next. The Japanese garden had a gorgeous waterfall which C went bananas over. He also got to see his first peacock mating dance and feed squirrels with some peanuts provided by a kind stranger. Because of mummy's 'good' grammar, he ended up throwing a peanut 'at' a squirrel hitting it on its head. It was quickly remedied and he learned to throw them 'to' the squirrel instead. :P

More exciting summer days lie ahead!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Vancouver Part 2

After my husband's work engagement was complete, we visited Brandywine Falls near Whistler. The view was breathtaking. There was even a rainbow across the waterfall at a certain point.

More of the views from the Sea to Sky Highway.

It was a wonderful day to visit Stanley Park. We thoroughly miss the ability to drive out to picturesque natural viewpoints within minutes.

We arrived in the airport to a delayed Westjet flight of 3 hours which turned into 6 hours and then a cancellation at midnight. We had to go through customs again and line up for an hour and a half to get booked into a hotel. After that, we were told to catch a shuttle at 1.30am. Thankfully, we had the mind to call up the hotel to check up on the shuttle that never came and were told that such a shuttle did not exist. We went back into the airport to request for taxi vouchers and were told by the agents to notify 'whomever else' that was queueing out in the cold that there was no shuttle. We then had to queue up for a taxi for 15 minutes and finally arrived in the hotel at 2.30am, exhausted and frustrated as we were told to call a number after 3am to find out about our rescheduled flight. We gave up and just went to bed.

 We were compensated for the delay and were told by the receptionist at the hotel that 15 other passengers at our same hotel had requested for a late checkout and the latest they could do was up to 12pm. My husband managed to secure us two nights at the hotel and an extra allowance to spend for the day from Westjet. We tried to share the extra information with a fellow passenger but he was too arrogant to listen and brushed us off. We later saw him and his elderly father sitting in the lobby waiting to leave to the airport at 1130am. Later that evening, we boarded the same plane as said passenger. Sad that he wouldn't stop to listen. We managed to nap until 430pm and headed to the airport well in time for the flight.

We spent the entire day celebrating my husband's birthday belatedly. The hotel was right in the Richmond district, so we had very yummy dimsum for breakfast and went on the hunt for bubble tea. 

The yummiest pei dan chuk with dried oysters.

Exactly what we needed on a hot and sunny day. It's been ages since we had good bubble tea.

We then purchased a small child's weight in candy and headed to the airport to spend the remainder of our vouchers. All in all, a nice turn of events giving my husband and I an unexpected treat at the end of our stay.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Vancouver Part 1

Early next morning, we took an Uber to the train station to take the Amtrak Cascades Train to Vancouver. Thankfully, we had the sense to return the rental car the evening before as we didn't realise that we would have to queue up and check-in. The train was spacious and very comfortable. Most of the foreign passengers got on the train and immediately put beauty masks/ eye patches on and went straight to sleep. We headed to the Cafe Car where there were more viewing panels. (One of the officers on the train pictured below looks so much like Gale Bertram from the Mentalist, no?)

The ride was very enjoyable with funny punchlines and dry anecdotes from the driver. We got patches of sun here and there as well. The driver pointed out a bald eagle to us which sat perched atop a tree branch. We also saw heron and storks.

We finally arrived in Vancouver but were delayed an hour right outside the train station due to an extremely long cargo train which was moving at snail pace ahead of us. After which, a long queue formed for the taxis outside the train station. The rental car place, similar to the one in San Francisco, also decided to stick us with an even more honking huge car than the GMC- a Toyota 7 seater despite the fact that we had booked a smaller car. What is it with car rentals on this side of the world? After two runs up and down the parking lot, we finally got a Toyota Camry which was fitted with snowtyres. This was supposed to be recalled after the winter but was the only car left which was smaller than all the 7 seaters so we took it.

I have mixed feelings about Vancouver. The views and nature are magnificent. The drivers were the first difference that we noticed. American drivers are fantastic (at least in the few days that we experienced). The drivers in Vancouver were quite erratic and inconsistent, both in speed and manoeuvres, making them difficult to anticipate. They would slow down quite suddenly and not keep up with the distance between cars leaving swathes of empty space at times. Blame it on the distracting gorgeous views? My husband nearly ran a young chap over, who had earphones on, strolling across the main road at a leisurely pace despite the light being red on his end. Parts of the city felt dilapidated and left behind in a bygone era which also felt quite odd.

The drive on the Sea to Sky Highway was insanely breathtaking. Snowcapped mountains and pine mountains were always in view. It reminded us of the fjords in Norway.

We visited Shannon Falls near Squamish.

This was the fantastic view from the highway.

My husband made an inspired lunch of chicken, salad and potatoes for earlier in the day in our very well-equipped Airbnb which provided every spice you'd dream of and basic ingredients to cook with. 

After his hard day at work (he always ends up working on his birthday), we ended the day with a celebration birthday dinner for my husband - takeaway from a sushi place which was fully booked. We enjoyed our yummy dinner while watching Netflix. It seemed that almost every Airbnb we stayed in had Netflix, Amazon TV, Hulu and Apple Tv. Another perk we're not used to having. :)