Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Scrapblog LO No.3

This is fun. Off to bed now. Yes, I know it's 930am.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Scrapblog LO No.2

Easy digital scrapbooking

I tried my hand at digital scrapbooking last year(check my blog labels) but quickly lost steam cos it's just so much work. Didn't help that I was so rubbish at using photo-editing software. I was also clogging up my hard-disk with downloads of wallpaper, embellishments and the likes, 99% of which I never used but couldn't bring myself to delete.

But I've found something fantastic, scrapblogging. I first discovered it as a new feature on photobucket; the hardest bit (ie the layouts) has been done for you, all you gotta do is insert your photos, then play around with the layout.

The layout above is what I did with the merry-go-round pictures from the other day. Go check the site out and preserve your precious memories, could be addictive though.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Moscow's Mamak stall?

No mamak stalls in Moscow, so gotta make do with Mama stall at home. Made this for breakfast this morning. What better way to start Sunday morning than to be reminded of home. So out came the curry chicken, beef rendang, prata (Chinatown brand's the best) and a cup of coffee. Almost perfect. Perfect would require a cup of teh tarik.

Bunnies in the Bin

Bunny sweets, that is. Eddie came back from Singapore last week with 4 packs of rabbit sweets, which he has loved since forever. When we found out the sweets had been pulled from shelves in Singapore, he hid them in the cabinet, away from the clutches of the other bunny-sweet addict in the house, Sean. He finally binned the sweets this morning but is still keeping his huge packs of M&Ms (made in China) in the fridge. I'm just thankful oreo cookies aren't affected.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fearless in Gorky Park

Sean is a huge scaredy-cat, much more so than Brian ever was. When we first went to Disneyland, he was afraid of every ride, even the spinning teacup ride. Who is ever afraid of getting on those cute teacups? He's also never been keen about the carousel. When he finally mustered the courage to go on one, he'd only sit on the carriage, not the horse.

However, yesterday, with a 3.5 year old girl (Janelle, a friend's daughter) asking that Sean come along for the ride, he cautiously allowed me to hoist him on to a horse. While I was taking this picture (top left picture), and before the carousel started, his face started to change. He began to look really worried and in about a second, would have wanted to get off. I immediately stopped taking pictures, and went to him to assure him that I'll be holding on to him.

When the ride started, he realised there wasn't really anything to get scared about, and he began to relax and finally enjoyed the ride. One more fear conquered! Thanks to Janelle and our outing to Gorky Park.

You would probably have heard of Gorky Park; the title of a novel and boxoffice movie, some spy movie I think. It is located by Moscow River and has a big amusement park inside. We met up with the little girl Janelle, her mother Michelle and her 2-year old brother Zachary; newcomers from Singapore. Actually, this family is the only one from Singapore we know with kids.

Here are some pictures of Gorky Park; we didn't go into the amusement park which wasn't open till noon (the rides look really dated so I don't think we missed much). The carousel ride was located just outside Gorky Park, so we allowed the kids to go on it as consolation.

Entrance to Gorky Park.

See if you can spot Brian.

Flagging us in.

I have two annoying boys who won't pose for me! Brian keeps doing silly stunts while Sean keeps coming really, really close to my lens, making me stop to shout that if his nose touches my lens, I'll knock his big head so hard he'll faint (actually I used the word pengsan). They always laugh so loud at my threats...no respect!

You can see part of the ferris wheel right at the back behind the trees. There is also a huge German-made roller coaster from dunno which decade, no way was I going on that.

The boys with Janelle and Zachary who are a lot more well-wrapped up. On the right picture, sitting on the park bench, instead of Ronald McDonald, you have this strange plant-man creature...creepy.

Janelle insists not only on holding Sean's hands everywhere they went, but that I cannot hold his other free hand. Really funny to watch.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Learning through play...

...that's the mantra of Sean's school as shown in the handout here. Stop rolling your eyes and I'll stop rolling mine. I'm a born griper, and have been moaning to some very patient listeners about Sean learning zilch from school.

But I was wrong. Over the past year, he has learnt at least one thing, as I discovered yesterday when we went to the playground. The last time I was with them at the playground (granted it was before last winter), he couldn't play on this, what's this?...Merry-go-round thingy... I'll call it spinner.

Yesterday, I was so surprised and happy to see that he could push the spinner and then jump on to ride on it. He even spinned it while his 40kg brother was on it and still managed to jump on for the ride. You guys think it's child's play, but this is a big deal to me. Now I know he didn't learn it in our playground. So it has to be from school. FINALLY! One thing that he learnt from this school over the past year. Through playing...he learnt...to play...How amazing is this school!!

Off topic, more DSLR pictures.

Wrought iron theme.

Brian theme. My firstborn is growing rapidly right before my eyes. I can't bear it, I just can't!! *sniff :(

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Silly the Fish by Sean Leong

Yesterday morning, Sean got all whiney while putting on his PE shoes (which were too tight) for school. I got a bit crazylah (okay a lot crazy), and he started crying. Eddie quickly said "Okay, nevermind, Sean has runny nose, so he can stay home".

After Eddie and Brian left, I ignored Sean for about an hour. He later came by and asked what he should do. I was determined not to give him a free pass for skipping school. I've also been wanting him to practise some handwriting, something we haven't gotten round to doing. So I said, go write a story, any story.

He whined, "But I don't know what to write"....I said just write whatever. He said, "Fine, I'll just write words." So that's what he did for ten minutes.

Words also can lah...as long as he's writing something. TherMORmeter cos that's how we pronounce it in our house :)

Now that he's warmed up, I suggested again that he write a story, any story. In a good mood, he started on Chapeter 1, I mean Chapter 1.

Chapeter 1 Silly the fish

Once upon a time, there was a silly fish. The fish,s name was silly. on wednsdays, he would stay at home. even though fish school is on Thursdays. one day, as he was swimming home from school, he fainted. why? find out in the next chapter.

Yeah, that's a promising start, isn't it? So he doesn't know where to place his apostrophes...I wasn't about to correct him at this stage. The little fella has a mighty thin skin, if I point out any error or spelling mistakes or story inconsistencies, he would have stopped writing, immediately. No amount of cajoling would have helped.

He gets a 30 min break to read Calvin & Hobbes after completing each chapter. As he takes less than 10 min to write each page, I think it's a very good deal.

Chapter 2: The time machine

the fish was a 129 years old. the fish was so surprised that he fainted. soon everyone started to faint. what was causing this? whatever it was, someone had to stop it. a few hours Later, Silly woke up. But everyone continued to sleep. Even his mother. his brother and father were The only ones who got protected. They splashed water over Silly,s face, and that,s how he woke up.

I liked how he said a one hundred and twenty nine :) Seeing that he was getting in the groove of things, I told him the difference between apostrophe and comma. He wasn't happy, and went "Awwww..." so I said, nevermind, doesn't matter, go read your Calvin&Hobbes.

Chapter 3: the hidden mystery

Silly, his father, and his brother went off to see what was happening. They soon saw a coral, and on part of the coral said, Keep out anyone who finds this. But they didn't listen to that rule. Instead they made the daddy lift up the heavy square because only he had enough energy to lift it up. They saw a hole. They swam into the hole and cLosed the entrance.

Someone's been watching Finding Nemo once too often.

Chapter 4: The secret coral

Inside they saw boxes saying: This may Look Like food, but it's actually a tIme machine that only works inside body's. They Kept swimming. at the end of the corridor, they saw a gigantic blocK. They saw a button and Silly pushed it. The gigantic blocK broKe apart and they swam in. Inside they saw finished tIme machines and finished wooden boxes.

Someone has been reading too much Calvin&Hobbes (yeah, besides transmogifiers & duplicators, C&H has time machines too).

Chapter 5: How they maKe IT

They were making time machines and when the inside time machine was finished, the outside time machine was put on the inside time machine and the outside time machine was the thing that made the time machine look Like food. Very soon they began to see a door that said: room 100. control room. Keep out!

Confused? I don't get it either. It all makes sense to Sean though.

Chapter 6: who is controlling this?

they opened the door and they saw Silly's uncle. Uncle! said Silly. What are you doing here? his uncle explained, I've been making machines that maKe them faint so the queue in the shopping mall won't be so long. So that's why your,e always late. saId Silly. But won,t you be here? said Silly. Oh yeah, I forgot. said Silly,s uncle.

Sean wrote this after we took a long afternoon nap and Brian had returned from school, and I think he started losing interest in his story as he wanted to play with korkor. I'll try to make some sense of this; he's saying that Silly's uncle made machines that cause others to faint cos he was always late due to long queues at shopping malls! But Silly told his uncle he would faint too since he's there with everyone. As I said, all this made perfect sense to my 6-year old.

Chapter 7: It was all Just a dream

I,d never know that I forgot to make a copie of myself If you didn't tell me that. said Silly,s uncle. and Just before Silly could say oh, the whole thing went Poof! and he found himself in his bedroom. his mother said Silly! Iv,e made your breakfast! the end

OMG what a cop-out ending! It's all just a dream??! That's the laziest way to end a story...didn't Jack Neo use the same trick for Money No Enough?

Brian laughed when he read Sean's story and went, "What was the point of the time machine? And how can Silly's father splash water on him when they're all underwater?" Aiyah, give chance lah, this is just the first edit, when the full script is completed, it could well be the next Pixar box-office hit! :)


Suffer the children...

I love it that my friend Monica is blogging. Her posts are often thought-provoking and provide me with topics to blog about. Today, it is about GEP testing and her bone with parents who push their kids to get into the programme AND the enrichment centres that prey upon these parents' aspirations and fears.

I have no issue with these centres, it's a free market, and if there are suckers who want to fork out thousands of dollars to them, go ahead. This is cos I have confidence that MOE's GEP selection test is robust enough to sieve out the genuinely able for the programme. The kids who attend these centres and get through, I believe, would have gotten in on their own anyway.

My bone to pick today isn't about that, it's this. Someone (whose son is gifted) in a mummies' forum I frequent posted a topic about identifying giftedness and sure as the sun rises in the east, soon someone comes along and says, gifted? my child's not gifted but it doesn't matter, as long as he's happy. A couple of other mothers would echo this sentiment. Aiyoh, why does it always have to be like that? Just because a child is academically-able, that doesn't mean he can't be well-adjusted and happy right? So many parents cannot believe that some kids are just able to excel academically by themselves, automatically assuming some hothousing must have been at play and hence the child must be downright miserable and deprived.

I'm a 100% believer that kids can't be pushed beyond their innate capabilities. When mothers talk about their kids' abilities, I believe them and don't suspect that the kids must have been worked to the bone. Some kids are just better able to grasp abstract concepts, just as some kids are great at drawing intricate robots, some kids can bend balls like Beckham, some kids build crazy-shit lego machines...I don't have to undermine their abilities by saying, oh my kid sucks at soccer but it doesn't matter, cos he's happy. Why do we assume that kids who play soccer all day, draw all day, play all day, are happier than kids who choose to read or spout mathematical formulas all day?

Who doesn't want their kids to be a soccerstar-stardebater-science&mathwhiz-mostpopularkidinschool? But not everyone can be well-rounded. Yet the people getting schtick and made to feel bad are always the egghead brainiacs' parents. First, that they are pushing their kids. Second, that they're not doing enough to make their kids more well-rounded (so you want us to push our hothoused kids even more?).

On the term Gifted, I'm not all that comfortable using that term, NOT because the word has become taboo and politically-incorrect in the western world, but because I have a different measure of what Giftedness is. Gifted to me are children who are able to perform at a level most adults can't. Eg, my Thai friend's pianist son here, and the math prodigy I spoke about in an earlier post. I know most of my friends who learnt piano will not be able to play like that. And I've seen the math prodigy's work, it's at some crazy level I can't comprehend, and I majored in Statistics. Doing math or english or science a couple of years ahead of your peers is highly-able yes, but gifted? Hmmm.

It's unfortunate that GEP has the word Gifted tagged to it, making it fodder for jealousy in today's we-are-all-equal world; ALL kids are gifted remember? It's actually simply a programme designed to better challenge academically-able children. Let's just take it as that.

And of course there're bragging rights to your child being in GEP, just as any parent would be proud that their son just scored the winning goal for the school team. If your child is in GEP, there should be no shame in it, and while there's no need to hold a placard announcing this fact, I don't think there's anything wrong with parents being rightly proud of their child's achievement. People should not be made to feel bad for what they are, nor for what they're not.

We all know academic success doesn't guarantee success in life, which in any case, is a subjective measure. What one deems as success may be utter failure to someone else. Sure, there may be GEP kids who grow up to become janitors (not that there's anything wrong with that; oh, one even became a world-famous porn star), and there are GEP kids who grow up to be thick-headed asses ruling the civil service, but there are many, many, GEP kids who grow up to be responsible, kind, ethical and useful people.

Replace GEP kids in that last sentence with any of the following, dumb jocks, star soccer players, gothic-kids, emo-kids, IT nerds, and you'll get my drift. Let's not knock our kids when they're so young just to feed our own insecurities.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

DSLR pics: My house downstairs...

You know?

My house downstairs as in "My house downstairs the charkueyteow dam nice." or "My house downstairs got NTUC and bus interchange, very convenient."

Well, presenting...My house downstairs...in pictures :)

View of the apartment blocks from the pedestrian embankment.

Pedestrian walkway in the direction of children's playground.

The Rotunda/Pavillion that nobody uses.

The Poser poses in front of yachts.

Yachts docked at the yacht club. Wonder what happens when the river freezes in winter.

My house downstairs got functioning lighthouse.

The lighthouse has gargoyle-like dragons holding up lamps. In-your-face over the top? That's Russia for you, land of the oligarchs; subtlety is not in their vocabulary yet I guess.

DSLR pics: Moscow River scenes

Some photos I took yesterday. Went for a walk downstairs with Sean. Our development is right by the Moscow River. First two pictures are of Sean looking at a cascading mini-fountain with the Moscow River behind him.

Btw, any suggestions on how the photos can be improved will be much appreciated. I just went click click click, fiddling with the dials, not really knowing quite what I was doing. With time and experience, I hope I can truly harness the capabilities of the Canon EOS 1000D.

The barrier-fence separating the river from our development. Sean always gives me a heart attack when he steps on the fence to get a better view of the river.

Moscow River and the barge that sailed past later.

Was sunny and bright but don't be fooled, it was COLD!! Poor duckies.

All this turn to frozen ice during winter (we always wonder where the ducks go to); I'll take pictures when that happens. Hmmm...wonder if the camera will work at sub-zero temperature.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Techie gifts from Singapore

Just an excuse to post a picture I took using the new Canon EOS 1000D Eddie brought back from Singapore yesterday. I'm still trying to figure out this camera, my brain just can't absorb techie stuff. It'll really have to be all trial and error.

I wasn't the only one to get a techie gift from Singapore. The Nokia phone up there is Brian's first mobile phone. It's a basic cheapy model, about $90 or something. It's for him to be contactable after school; there's no fancy functions in there.

Back in Singapore, just 1 week into Primary 1, Brian came back one day asking, "Mummy, when I get to Secondary 1, will you buy me a handphone?"

I was shocked, cos he's not the type of kid (back then) to ask for stuff, and what did he know about Secondary 1? When I asked him where the heck he got that idea, he said his classmate told him that his father promised him a mobile phone when he got to secondary school.

Just a story to show the power of peer influence at such a young age.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friends and friendships

Brian's best friend Gherardo came back with us after school yesterday for a sleepover. When they're here, they spend all their time playing x-box. Brian had a much more educational time when he went to Gherardo's parents' Dacha (Russian country home) for a weekend. They went walking in the forest, read and played monopoly, with Gherardo's dad trouncing the boys.

Meanwhile, Sean has learnt to hang out with his brother's friends without annoying them too much. It helps that Gherardo is a very mild-mannered and sweet boy. Brian's best buddies in the UK weren't quite so subdued. His Argentinian buddy Cristobal (who has since returned to Buenos Aires), oldest in a family of 5 kids, regularly chased after Sean while growling loudly, and Sean would scream in terror. His British friend Ivan generally ignored Sean and on the walk home from school, would use his trolley bag (for sleepover) to run over Sean, calling it the "Anti-Sean lawn-mowing machine".

Brian still keeps in touch with his UK friends via email, subject matters usually jokes (with Ivan) and Pokemon (with Cristobal).

This brings me to the topic of friendships and playdates, in particular, mum-induced/mum-arranged playdates. I was reading a mummy's private blog about her efforts at helping her 5-year old form friendships by arranging regular playdates. After some unhappy incidents with other children over some months, which eventually affected her child negatively, she decided she's had enough of forcing friendships on her child.

When Brian was younger, although he was an only child, I didn't make it a point to arrange formal playdates for him. He went everywhere I went and I really enjoyed hanging out with him, and he got to play with children of my real friends, not friends I made just cos they had kids my child could play with. My friends' children may or may not have been the same age he was.

When he started going to school, if I asked him who his friends were, he'd say he had no friends. Each pre-primary year however, there was always a girl whom he was close to and who would take good care of him. When he went off to Primary 1 in St Hilda's, he would spend the ridiculously-short 20-min recess in a room where they could watch tv, or at the library. He was never bothered about this and truly enjoyed doing his own thing.

His only playdates that I can remember were with my friend Monica's daughter Lesley-Anne, and that was because they had become good friends after taking the same bus to school for some months. Once, after a playdate, they even arranged to meet downstairs in the evening to play with a kite that Lesley-Anne had made for him. Monica: I don't think L-A or you would remember this, but I happened to tell Eddie about this in an email, and I found that email while hunting for that photo you wanted.

In Germany, again, he had one girl-friend whom he hung out with a lot. He was at an age where he was extremely petty too, so after a while that friendship fizzled out, all because he felt this girl and her friends kept making him "IT" in tag :) But because I kept asking him whom he played with in school, he pretended that he was still playing with that girl and her friends. Eddie later saw that he was actually playing by himself. Pretty heartbreaking that my child had to pretend to have friends just cos he didn't want me to worry. I told him then that he should never have to pretend to be anything he's not and I love him as he is; if he's happy to be alone, that's all that mattered. He said he was happy.

I admit I was concerned and wondered about his social ineptness...given that I had plenty of friends even from primary 1, and was often the ring-leader in my younger days. Eddie was the same, he always had lots of friends. Someone told me this lack-of-friends syndrome is pretty common among Singapore kids these days.

But as Brian grew older, he found his own set of good friends. In Moscow, it is Gherardo and another 2 boys (an American and a Canadian) that he hangs out with at lunch and breaks. His teacher says kids are drawn to Brian, in particular "cerebral" kids (read: nerds). Any playdates/sleepovers he has are arranged entirely by him and his friends. I became friends with his friends' parents because of him. He always had a great time over at his friends' and their parents would gush about how well-mannered, smart etc etc he is. I suspect he behaves a million times better outside than at home.

The only time Brian had a mum-induced friendship, it turned disastrous. This was when he was about 6 and a mum we had met at chess lessons took a huge liking to him. Discovering that her child and Brian were to go to the same school for Primary 1, she even arranged with the school principal to have them placed in the same class (BIG MISTAKE). I won't elaborate much but my conclusion is this; because her child had this friendship imposed upon him, and told every day that they were "best friends" and hence should look out for each other (not my doing, hers, I was too busy working), this boy, who hitherto had his mum's 100% devotion, began to resent the attention his mum gave to Brian. It turned into a very unhealthy situation.

Looking back, this mum's desperation to get her child (a prodigious math genius who had quite a mouth on him and always got into tiffs with other kids) a friend she thought was like-minded and mild-mannered enough, wasn't really necessary. He's doing fine now, in fact, more than fine...travelling to different countries participating in and winning math competitions. And I'm sure he's formed good friendships himself.

Brian doesn't remember any of the unhappy incidents (perhaps mums are the ones who are too sensitive?) and when the two do meet during the times we are in Singapore, they enjoy their time together. Who knows?...They may well become good friends in future, BUT that friendship will be on their own terms, not their mums'.

On to Sean. The little fella replies all the time (nonchalantly) that he has no friends when I ask him who his friends are. Again, his teacher says lots of children love playing with him and they look for him when he's absent. His teacher suggested that I arrange playdates if I want him to form fast friendships. I will consider ad-hoc playdates, but definitely not regular ones unless the kids truly enjoy each other's company.

After my experience with Brian, I am content to take a laissez-faire approach to this. Sean still has the benefit of his brother's company and he hangs out with his brother's friends too. He's much better than Brian at knowing which battles are worth fighting. Eg, Brian will never give in to Sean at board games or any games, so Sean has learnt to lose graciously. At Sean's age, Brian would have a fit if he's about to lose, which he usually does since I too am incapable of throwing a game (It's ALL about the winning, baby!). And when Brian refuses to agree to something even after numerous pleas from his younger brother, Sean would just go, "Fine."

So re playdates with people I don't know, chances are Sean will have to do without. I'm sure when the time comes, like Brian, Sean too will form his own non-mum-induced friendships.


Am I imagining it or is this obsessing and intense self-reflecting a lot more pronounced amongst moms of boys than moms of girls? So many moms, myself included, seem overly protective of their sons' emotional wellbeing. Perhaps it is because little girls are more savvy and generally learn to get along with each other at an earlier age than boys do. Or it could be that us mums, having been girls ourselves, think we understand girls better but are at a loss when it comes to boys. I dunno, sometimes I think we should all just...CHILL!...maybe for a minute before we start obsessing again ;) And here I go, obsessing about obsessing!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Lebanese lunch at Shafran

So yesterday was Settling-in Conference Day. (mini-rant: School started a month ago, and teachers meet with parents mainly for us to discuss goals for the year. A month is obviously not enough for the teacher to know our child, yet this is the only formal setting that we get to meet with the teachers the entire school year! On the last day of school, the report book comes back with your child, but there is no meeting with teachers to discuss the report book nor how the year had gone. S.T.U.P.I.D.)

*takes deep breath...ohhhmmmm...

So after meeting with the respective teachers, I decided to take the boys out to lunch at a Lebanese restaurant which I had been to twice previously. It was a risk cos my boys (Sean more so than Brian) have pretty conservative tastebuds.

Shafran or Saffron is located in the heart of the city (Spiridonyevsky Pereulok, 12/9; tel:+7 (495) 788-06-00) but thankfully traffic wasn't too bad at that time of the day. I'm listing the phone number down so that I remember to reserve the nice cushioned seats (gives an Arabic feel mah) next time. All the nice tables were reserved; in fact, we were quite lucky they gave us a table as the place began to fill up really quickly right after we were seated. All business people, we were definitely out of place.

I only managed to take a picture of the oxtail soup, mezes (appetisers made of different veg and meat), pita and flat bread. When the mains came (Brian had beef shaslik and me/Sean had chicken kebab), there were too many waiters around...(I find the place a bit over-staffed), just didn't seem appropriate to take pictures. The restaurant scene in Moscow seem a bit 'atas', even those in moderate price-range...unlike in Singapore, where you can be pretty informal in most restaurants.

Just like the Korean place I went to the previous day, I only really like the appetisers, not the mains. I would be happy just to eat the unlimited Pita breads dipped in a few plates of mezes. This time, I ordered Turkish Salad (some slightly spicy tomato concoction) and another meze made of cod fish. The boys wouldn't have any.

Brian's beef shaslik was really delicious. And thankfully, Sean loved the chicken kebab...I told him they were sausages. He loved the pita bread too. Five minutes after we left the place, Sean said he wanted to come to the restaurant again the next day. I'm happy, not easy to find a place where Sean would eat anything more than just bread! Saffron it will be again the next time school's out.

As if you didn't know already...

You Are a Morning Person

You're optimistic, alert, and full of energy to start the day.

While you would love to party all night, you rather be up at the crack of dawn.

You don't procrastinate or spend time worry about what to do next.

You take life by the reigns, and you like to have an early start.

Are You a Morning Person or Night Person?

...of course I'm a morning person. Kena tagged by PP to do this.

Description not quite accurate though. Definitely not full of energy to start the day, I'm quite grumpy in the morning, mainly cos of hurrying the slow-coaches for school. And I'm a HUGE procrastinator....my mantra: Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow? :)

It's not by choice that I'm a morning person, I've been like that all my life. I envy those who can crash till noon on weekends. I want to sleep in too! But I can't, 8am latest, and I'll be up. A big pain when I had only gone to bed at 4am!

Who's a Cookie Monster?

My first time baking cookies, would you believe it?

I've baked cakes and cupcakes, but never cookies. I bake cakes cos I LOVE cheesecakes and moist rich chocolatey cakes...I bake cupcakes cos I like to play around with the decorations...but cookies? Never felt the urge to bake them cos am not a Cookie Monster. I love Oreos but don't crave for them like I would a sinfully rich slice of chocolate cake.

My mum, on the other hand, loves baking cookies. She makes excellent CNY cookies; people rave about her pineapple tarts...sorry I have not picked any tips from her...not really motivated, seems like a lot of work.

But I came upon a chocolate chip cookie recipe that looked simple enough...and decided why not. I didn't really have to do very much cooking this week cos Eddie's out of town. As it turned out, cookies are really easy to make, not as cumbersome as cakes. However, I didn't have chocolate chips, so substituted with dark chocolate instead; but they melted. I'll give it another try next time with chocolate chips.

Taste-wise was pretty good (they're almost all gone now), but not Famous Amos standard, something's missing, Cinnamon perhaps? Anyone knows how much I should add and do I use cinnamon powder?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Korean at Korston's

Lots of people have been telling me about this Korean restaurant south of the city that's pretty good. It's in a casino/hotel called Korston. I finally made my way there for lunch with another school mum. I hardly venture out to restaurants cos of a a huge deterrence, Moscow's notorious traffic jams. Today, we left the school at 1015am and arrived at the restaurant at 1130am, without traffic it would take us maybe 30 min MAX.

Last week, we took the boys out for a rare dinner on a weekday; never again; we left home at 5.15pm; arrived at 6pm, which was really fine (under normal traffic, it's about 20 min). We were done by 7pm BUT was stuck in terrible traffic that we only got home at 9pm. Two hours...CRAZY! I could have gone to Kuala Lumpur from Malacca with 30 min to spare.

Enough about traffic, well, I enjoyed the lunch at Korston's Korean restaurant. The main dishes we each ordered were just so so. What I loved most were the plates of appetisers that came with your main meal. See picture below. These were all free! I enjoyed these much more than the main dish and would have been happy to eat these with rice alone. Delicious!

Big Blue Marble

Many of you would remember "The Electric Company", "Sesame Street", "Muppet Show", but how many of you know this show, "Big Blue Marble". It was by far my favourite educational show from my childhood. I remember watching this in the afternoons after school with my siblings, we loved it. This was in the late 1970s, I was probably 8-10 years old. The show celebrated multiculturalism, we got to see how children in other parts of the world lived, and there was also a pen-pal segment.

Lifted from here:
"Acknowledged as one of the greatest children's educational/entertainment programs of all time, BIG BLUE MARBLE is a truly global magazine show for all kids, ages 5 - 14.

BIG BLUE MARBLE is the recipient of:
- Thirteen Emmy Awards including "Best Children's Informational Series" and "Best Children's Entertainment Series"
- The George Foster Peabody Award
- The New York International Film Festival Grand Prize
- More than 100 international festival prizes and awards"

One particular segment that really tickled us (and I often fantasised and wished that it was true) called "If Children Ruled the World...", turned the tables on parents; with spoofs about kids ruling over parents.

Googling for this post, I found summaries of the show, and among my favourites from this segment:

- "If Children Ruled the World" they would give their parents educational presents. In this spoof Mom gets The History of Housework.
- This segment pokes fun at the dress selection a mother makes. The daughter urges her to purchase "that sweet pink one" instead.
- "If Children Ruled the World" they could try out new recipes on their parents. This spoof shows a young boy getting the ultimate retaliation on his parents--peanut-butter soup.
- The topic in this program is friends. The child reprimands her mother about her choice in friends.
- This week the son goes over his mother's report card. Her "D-" in ironing reveals that she is simply not ironing up to her potential.

and my favourite (cos I do this to the boys every single school day! What an annoying mum!):
- The son asks his dad a typical "dumb question": What did you learn at work today? The father mumbles, "Nothin'", but this child won't take "nothin'" for an answer.

Click on the Youtube video above if you can (once maintenance is over), that song brings a lump to my throat every time I hear it. There are over 200 comments on that Youtube video, I was surprised other people remembered this show too. If only they still air shows like these, I know my kids would love them.

What shows do you remember from your childhood?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Buttoned-nosed little boy

Some old pictures of Brian, taken when he's about 2-3 I think. See how kemek his nose was! A real button nose :)

He may have been younger than 2 in this first picture. Taken after attending church in Suntec City. He was such a good little boy, just stood here posing for a long time as mummy tried getting a good shot.

Brian at the zoo, his thighs are still quite chubby here.

Passport photo.

Taken at the balcony of our hotel room in Lucerne. I think he looks a lot like Sean in this picture.