Friday, September 30, 2011

Cavalia in Minneapolis

Exploring the relationship between man and horse under the big white tent through North America and Europe since 2003, combining acrobatics and equestrian disciplines, the show was spectacular.  We had 5 children under the age of 5 and the show started at 8pm. 

Needless to say, we were a little skeptical as to how the night would turn out, but they were mesmerized.  The action of the horses, riders and acrobats kept them interested and wondering what was going on.  I can only imagine what was going through their little minds.

At one point, the trainer was herding and guiding 5 horses.  Finally, after about 10 minutes, my nephew sitting next to me says, “when is she going to catch one?”  Well…I don’t think she actually trying to catch the horses…

The show was more of a cirque du soleil acrobatic show. So, the kids would often be staring at the ceiling, spotting moving people getting ready to fall from the sky.

Thanks for bringing us all gamma and Papa!

Wedding Blitz

We finally made it to Minnesota for a fun, but long weekend full of weddings, family gatherings and catching up.  The nice thing about having 2 weddings in the first couple days back is the fact that we were able to see a lot of people at once.  The downside, my voice was trash by the time I woke-up Saturday morning and still had a very long weekend ahead.

Both the weddings we attending were so different, unique and beautiful.  Congrats to the newly weds!

The kids have really been hanging in there, too!  The first couple nights were rough for them, but with all the activity, people and having their cousins around to run after, their attitudes have been fantastic.  Spending tons of time outside in the sunlight has helped adjusting to the 13-hour time change and letting them sleep when necessary, but not forcing them to has helped as well.

We are excited to be back in the midwest! The fresh, crisp weather ~ FABULOUS. No humidity! but the sun is still warm.  Looking forward to our adventures around the mid-west for the next month!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Joys of Travel

We were all so excited last night for our holiday back to Minnesota, as we finished packing and getting everything put together.  Our three wake-up calls started happening at 3am, just 4 hours after we were able to get Little Miss M to sleep.  She woke up with a smile this morning when she realized where we were headed though! 

Luggage was picked up at 3:45am promptly and our Maxicab was waiting outside the lobby.  It was a nice drive going past the Flyer and Marina Bay Sands, seeing the streets lit up for the Grand Prix Race that starts today. 

Get to the airport, unload and notice how incredibly long the line is.  Oh well, at least we are Business, so we can go in the short line...or not.  It isn't moving at all, finally glance up at the board and notice the big yellow notice box: 

Flight Cancelled

WHAT!? You have to be kidding!  Typhoon in Tokyo, airport is closed and all flights have been cancelled.  We get on the phone and try finding another route ~ there is one, but it will cost an additional $2100 each. Looks like tomorrow it is! 

Home again, home again and the sun is still not up.  Looks like we will try again tomorrow bright and early.  We were so looking forward to having a couple days, before our busy weekend filled with weddings.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mid Autumn Festival 2011

We attended a few different celebrations for the Chinese Mooncake Festival / Mid Autumn Festival / Lantern Festival that marks a celebration of unity around Singapore.  This celebration follows the Hungry Ghost Festival, which is similar to Halloween, but goes on for about a month and the deceased are offered gifts.

Every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the Chinese celebrate the Mooncake Festival.  Mooncake shops are set up all over the city for sale in intricate boxes in a variety of flavors.

Mooncakes are traditionally eaten during the Mid Autumn Festival.  It is regarded as an indispensable delicacy on this occasion and are offered between friends and family, while gathered to celebrate.  The festival is also celebrated at night with lantern displays and dragon dances.  Lantern riddles are written on the lanterns.

Lantern Festival at the Chinese Gardens

The Chinese Gardens had oversized lanterns glowing throughout the park.  It was brilliant with the pagodas in the backdrop and the reflections off the still lakes.  There were also plenty of children's activities from rides, games and bouncy castles, to sparklers and light up wands and balloons.

Wishing Tree:

Chinatown Mid Autumn Festival

Festival at kid's school

Related Posts:  Chinese Mooncake

Friday, September 16, 2011

Riley's 1st Haircut @ Curly & Spike

LOVE this place!  They are fun, friendly, entertaining and the kids feel like they are the stars of the show from the moment you walk in the door!

I think Riley is a little traumatized from starting pre-school this week and getting left for the sharks, he wouldn't let go of me.  He sat on my lap, both wearing the cape, while Mickey Mouse played on the screen in front of us and he nearly fell asleep.  Drooling down the purple cape, our stylist kept handing me tissues to catch the puddles.

When he completed his new style, he proceeded to work the runway several times.  He really needs to work on his entrance up those stairs, but if they would just built a ramp for him to enter on, in place of those darn stairs, he would have it down!
Next up, the little princess.  She was feeling a little left out, so she was determined she was also going to get a little trim.  She does love the attention!

Just like daddy:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Disney Live @ Marina Bay

On our terrace before we left for dinner and the show.

We went to see Disney Live at the impressive Marina Bay Theatre over the weekend.  The facility offered complimentary booster seats for the kids and we took full advantage of them.  Even though, Riley preferred Kevin's lap.  It was a rainy day outside, but we still managed to get out to eat at the Pizza Bar in Marina Bay area before the show at 6:45pm.  Great pizza, beer and view.

Our first mistake was thinking 6:45pm show start wasn't too late for the kids.  Our plan was to make sure they took a good nap that afternoon.  At the time, we thought dinner before the show was a great idea ~ what were we thinking!?  

They were completely fascinated with the show once it started, but Makayla was asleep before intermission and the show was only a 90-minute show!  Riley rallied, but crashed as soon as we walked in the door.  Needless to say, it was easier to find a taxi leaving half way through the show, rather than with the crowd at the end, especially with the rain.  However, 4 tickets at $70 each plus GST...we will remember not to book an evening show again in the future!
Of course she woke up as soon as we arrived home and wanted to know where Pluto and Pete were.  The only two Disney characters from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that didn't make an appearance, before we left.

Marina Bay Sands.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sentosa Butterfly Park

Little Miss M has had a dream that one day, she will get a butterfly to land on her finger.  She is on lookout every outing she has in the outdoors for a beautiful butterfly fluttering around and when she spots one, she slowly approaches, finger drawn, quiet...quiet...shhhhh! and off it always goes.  She tries chasing it for a few feet, then puts her head down, "I will never catch a butterfly on my finger." Lip out and all.

So, this morning, was the dream she has been waiting for.  We heard about the butterfly park only yesterday and thought today, the perfect Friday to make her dream come true!  She was out of bed and dressed this morning, before I even knew she was awake, "c'mon mummy! We have to get Riley dressed, get to breakfast, then to see the butterflies!!"  Wow! Is that all it takes??  Butterflies to get her out the door in the morning.  She is typically, worse than me.  Not a morning person to say it politely.

"How are we going to get there mummy?" 
"I am going to drive."
"Oh, but how will we get there?"
"In the car, on the road..."
"But, how will you drive the car mummy?"  Ohhhh, our typical conversations upon any adventure.  People have always said the terrible two's.  I loved the 2's and think it is definitely the 3's that are trying!

The butterfly park is located on the island of Sentosa, which is the theme park island.  Universal Studios, resorts, cable cars, zipline, tons of attractions.  Crossing over the bridge, there is some kind of resort, might be part of Universal that has towers resembling a castle, "I KNEW you would find me another castle mommy! I just knew it! Look at the flags, can we go in?"

Ha! Well, of course I found that castle on purpose, but we are going to see the butterflies. And, butterflies we did see.  Tons of butterflies fluttering around from flower to flower. Some small, some huge, some super colorful and some dark and still beautiful.  Little Miss M ran around with her finger drawn, huge smile on her face chasing them all. 
Butterflies around the world.

She especially like the small to medium sized butterflies.  When a large one would get too close, she would run the other way.  I was so caught up watching how happy she was, I kind of neglected the little man for a moment.  A couple minutes went by and when I finally snapped to, I caught a glimpse of his black fingers holding onto a huge black and bright blue butterfly wing...OOooohhhh Riley! What have you done?!

The poor butterfly clung to a flower with only one wing left. I quickly tried to clean off his hand and hide the evidence, but felt bad for the poor insect more than anything.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Melaka, Malaysia

We couldn't have chosen a busier time to be in this historic Malaysian community.  It was the weekend after Ramadan had ended, the Hari Raya Puasa, the equivalent to my Christmas holiday in the Muslim world.  It was their new year, the start of the Chinese mid-Autumn Festival and the Malaysian Independence Day all in the week leading up to our weekend away.  Making this, the busiest weekend in Malaysia.  Wow! I am really getting to know these worldly religious holidays quickly.

Kevin has been on the road for business more than he has been home. Good news is that he was on the lookout for any Western food in the area, so we were typically the only ones in the given restaurant and had no wait for food.  Bad news, I didn't get to try any of the local food I had in mind....Next time!  On the menu: Pasta, pizza, steak, McDonalds, and the hotel complimentary breakfast :-(  I was so disappointed when we walked into McDonalds for lunch, that I skipped lunch that day, but all 3 kids were happy.

I did manage to find salay celup (bubbling soup with rice) and laksa at the chosen Western restaurants, "so I can't technically say that I didn't try some local food," says the Western food eater himself.

I still managed to find the fresh coconut to drink though! My favorite, in which Riley typically drinks most of.

The city itself was safe and walkable.  It was HOT, but walkable.  There are also many well decorated trishaws available throughout the area for hire to take you almost wherever you want to go.  The kids loved watching and listening to these bikes decorated in faux flowers, blasting 80's music (Micheal Jackson) on their 15 inch subs attached to the back.

Melaka, dating back to the 1400's, was once one of the top trading ports in southeast Asia.  Today, Singapore has taken over and left this village lost in time.  The city is now a World Heritage sight, so the look and feel of this little city should never change. 

Some of the highlights were Jonker Street night market, the River Boat ride at night, riding the trishaws, St. Paul's Fort (Originally built in 1591 and regularly visited by St Francis Xavier, who's body was temporarily held here until the final resting place in Goa), A'Famosa (built in 1511), St Francis Xavier Church that Little Miss M was convinced a castle that the princess lived in, Chinatown, the Palace, and just walking the streets taking it all in. 
I had heard many great reviews on the Maritime Museum, so we made sure to make it onto this ship.  The part nobody mentioned ~ you have to remove your shoes to go into this museum and the smell was unbearable.  We went through the ship for the kids to climb around on, but skipped the actual museum in the building. 

It may have just been our timing, the busiest weekend around, but we couldn't handle the thought of all those sweaty, stinky, bare-feet walking around with a pandemic of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease in the area.  Call me a mom, call me paranoid ~ I don't care! There is no treatment and I don't want to deal with it!

Had I known, we would've brought socks to wear through some of the museums that don't allow shoes!

Then, there was this guy in the red shirt:
Here I am, standing here, trying to take a picture of my family and he comes from behind me, obviously seeing me try take the picture. Walks right by me, in front of MY family and starts snapping away.  Did I mention he was snapping pictures of my family, before I got a shot..."Excuse me sir, can you wait until I get the shot of MY family?" 
"Just a second..."  "ummmm, excuse me sir!? can you move?"
"yes, just a second," as he snaps away.  Meanwhile, the kids are starting to move and get restless.
Now, tapping him on the shoulder, "My family. You are in the way and I did not get our picture. Stop taking their picture! and move."
"Oh, you want me to take your picture?"
"NO! We are done."  Are you kidding me!!!

Kevin and I have come to an agreement, we should start handing out cards with my email address on it, so we can actually get some family pictures.  We might get some really good ones from all over Asia, thanks to curious little people everywhere we go.

Riley draws another crowd on the street:

This city was great! Definitely worth another trip when it isn't so busy.  We were only there for 2 nights and saw a lot of interesting history, but there is much more to take in.  The drive is so easy and quick, yet we really felt like we were world's away from city-life in Singapore.

View of the Straights of Melaka from our room at the Renaissance Hotel.

Related Posts: Drive to Melaca

Drive to Melaka, Malaysia

It's been awhile, since we've left Singapore as a family.  There are a several easy weekend escapes from the Little Red Dot, but few by car.  As far as I know, Malaysia is the only option for leaving the island by car.  So, we headed out for Melaka (Malacca), Malaysia.

It was an easy drive through the Tuas Checkpoint.  The checkpoint itself added about 45 minutes to the drive time, but from there it was a quick 2 hours.  I hadn't been able to identify where to pick-up the Immigration applications before arriving at the checkpoint by car, so I had Kevin get a few extras from his recent business trip by air.  The airline was willing to give him as many as he wanted.  I have been informed that you can pick the Immigration cards up at the drive-through checkpoint, but you hold up traffic and have to walk through the traffic to retrieve them ~ no thanks!

Singapore's law requires that every Singaporean-registered vehicle leaving Singapore must have at least a three-quarter-full petrol tank, due to the fact that the Singapore Government wanted to discourage Singaporeans from going over to Johor simply to buy cheaper gas. Foreign-registered cars are exempted from this requirement.  Prepared for this law, we had a full tank of gas and plenty of money on our Singapore Toll Card.

We also knew that we needed to top-up our Malaysia toll-card, but didn't come prepared with Malaysian Ringgits.  The tolls on the Malaysian side accepts Singapore dollars, but they don't convert the 3:1 difference.  We owed $10 Ringgits, they took S$10, but we received no change. Next time, we will have some Ringgits in the car.

The drive was beautiful.  As soon as we crossed the bridge it felt like we were in a new place.  The roads winding through the small mountains of Palm trees were so fun to see the entire drive.  The country is apparently, full of Palm Oil farms that make the country side so lush.

The speed limit is posted at 110 km, but cars were speeding past us at 130 km.  We saw a few accidents along the way that proved the carelessness and every vehicle involved was completely wrecked.  Wrapped around barriers, highway signs and trees.  People do not move for emergency vehicles, so I can't imagine the arrival time of the emergency help vehicles was very efficient.

Related posts:  Melaka, Malaysia

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fidgets at Turf City

"Have you been to Fidgets yet? It's a wonderful indoor play gym with an attached Cafe for mum and monitors on the wall, so you can catch a peek at the kiddos playing, while you drink your tea! Brilliant!"

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this over the past 6 months! Still, getting over my phobia of the indoor play gym, we made plans to meet a friend there.  I have heard about so many different activities available at Turf City shopping center, I had a vision that it was just like every other shopping mall around Singapore, more specifically, Orchard.  Pulling up to Turf City was not at all what I had pictured!

This is an old structure that could use a lot of TLC!  Since it is the reformed Turf Club stables/Grand stand, I will say that they have done a fabulous job recreating this structure.  It must be better on the inside from all the hype I've heard of this place?

I find a parking space near the sign that says Entrance shopping this way walking us through the outside hawkers center and continue in, to a flea market looking space, surrounded by small stores.  I see nothing that tells me anything about Fidgets, the go-to play gym after Go-Go Bambini in Dempsey.  Start asking and nobody knows, or they don't understand me.  Finally, I interrupt 2 people working intensely on their computers at the door of a travel agent and the man points and says, "Other side".

Hmmmm....other side? There are no signs, half the stores are boarded up and the flea market is just getting going.  We walk, back and forth, back and forth, find the Giant superstore/grocery and ask again.  Nobody knows.  Finally, see some stairs that lead up to a door that goes out the back of the shopping center.  Proceed out and there is a canopy walk guiding us down to another area.  Plenty of cars in the park and a blond Caucasian child walking in with his helper. 

"Do you know where Fidgets is?"
"Yes, inside and go up escalator."

FINALLY! Wouldn't be a start to a new adventure if I didn't show up all sweaty and flustered!  Next time, we will drive all the way around the building to the backside, park and only have a few stairs to climb in the heat!

The gym itself was great! The kids loved it, it wasn't too busy, Makayla met several new friends to play with, we had lunch and a few hours later called it a playdate!

Now, to find the car again!


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