A Behind-The-Scenes Peek: Say Cheese!

I would like to think that my children are pretty good-looking.

But trying to take a photo to PROVE that… is tough.

I thought life was tough when I just had Jayvon, and he was in a “I DON’T WANT TO SMILE” mode.

But multiply that by THREE, and you get lots of blurry, out-of-focus shots on the phone.

There are muttered threats, frowns, exasperated sighs of “Look HERE!” “Xavier!” “Jayvon!” “Zoie!” “Xavier!!!!” that accompany most photo-taking times, when I *try* to capture the siblings all in one single frame.

CMI1

Take the recent grocery run we had with the kids. We plonked the kids at this small play area while the hubby went to load up the groceries in the car, and I took this shot of Zoie, and posted in on Instagram. She looks all calm and peaceful.

CMI2

Then the storm happened. No thanks to me. I called the two boys to gather for a quick shot.

CMI3 CMI4 CMI5 CMI6 CMI7 CMI8

And there you have it. ZERO nice shots. Haha!

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To Singapore With Love

(Or in other words, what I miss about Singapore).

#1: It’s the land of free wifi and affordable 4G network.

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(Image credit here)

I know – I heard a lot of my friends gripe about how the telcos in Singapore have introduced new plans and scraped the older unlimited data-with-mobile plans.

I have had to learn to cope with a very low data limit for the longest time. Case in point: The Optus $60 plan gives 2.5GB data (recently increased cos it used to be a mere 2GB not too long ago). Singtel’s $62 plan gives 3GB. Singapore’s small size means that quite literally there are hardly any “dead areas”. Sure there might be, especially in high rise buildings – but this is solvable by simply walking to another spot. Over here in Sydney, my network switches to 3G – especially in less populated parts of the region.

#2: The land of the message.

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(Image credit here)

I can’t speak for every Singaporean. But the ones I know (me included!) – we love our messaging. Whatsapp, SMSes, BBM (my old flame, no longer the case haha!) and we have long meaningful group chats and conversations over messaging. We embrace non-face-to-face communication, but then we also enjoy the physical meet-ups.

I can’t speak for every Australian. But the ones I have gotten to know… seem to dislike using SMSes or whatsapp or what not. In fact, they prefer face-to-face conversations, or talking on the phone, or (and this might seem ancient to Singaporeans)… leaving a voicemail.

Yes. Voicemail.

I was so unfamiliar with the concept of listening to my voicemail that it took me ALMOST ONE MONTH before i accidentally discovered a voice mail left to me. By the pastor of the church i now attend over here in Sydney. The senior pastor himself. Leaving a voicemail on my phone. And I only chanced upon it when i happened to dial the voicemail for fun. I’m sorry for missing your call Pastor Phil. And, erm, thanks for the nice welcome message. I would have returned the missed call, but the number was smack in the middle of two call centre cold-calling me and I assumed the other number was also another similar one.

Don’t I get notification about a voice message?

Of course I do.

I ignored the SMS of course.

Cos who leaves a voice message? A lot of people, obviously. But I am slowly learning. Slowly.

But I stand corrected.

Still, you can take a girl out of Singapore, but you apparently can’t take the Singapore out of her.

#3: I miss Singapore’s efficiency.

Most of my experiences happen because I started on Missy Stella Australia, so I had to write and coordinate and explore a lot of options. One such option was to write in to a shopping centre about some possible space I could lease. I used the contact form on their website. And the reply came in about three months later. I replied back almost immediately, and there was white noise for another week, before she asked a question – that I had already addressed in my first contact with them. As of now, the email conversation has been buried in the sea of “difficult” questions, I reckon, seeing how I posed a tough question… and haven’t heard from them, oh, for about 2 months now.

Another contact I made excitedly assured me I would receive some information over email the next day after we had physically met over coffee. 5 months on, I am still waiting for that email. But after the meeting, after doing some number crunching, I decided to not go into that due to the high cost involved, so no biggie. Just that I wanted to nicely reject him when I got the email. But he probably spared me from that. Though how he knew this decision of mine is a surprise seeing I was pretty open during that meeting.

I posed a simple question to a new Aussie friend over FB messenger once. A question that I thought just needed a “yes” or “no” reply, and I messaged cos I was trying to put my baby to sleep and just thought about it on the spur of the moment. She asked to call me back. I told her it was inconvenient for me to answer. She told me to text her when I was done. I asked if she felt she needed to say MORE to me than a simple “yes/no” reply to my question… and she told me, it would be easier to answer me over the phone.

I have to bite my tongue. No being rude. Don’t be rude Sandra. She’s trying to be personal and nice.

But the time she spent typing all that out… she could have just replied me!

Sigh.

And she left it at that. For me to text her when I was free so she could reply me. Over the phone. Yes or no.

It is the Singaporean “kancheong-ness” (colloquial speak for hurriedness) in me. It must be.

While I appreciate the fact that there is space for us to breathe and enjoy… I must admit at the back of my mind, I am going… “HURRY UP WHY DONCHA?!?” when I order a cup of coffee and it takes 20 minutes to come – in the middle of an almost empty cafe.

~~~

But this ain’t a whinging post. Because Australia has also won me over in more ways than one.

People saying a chirpy ‘Thank You’ to the bus driver as they alight.

Cashiers asking “How ya doing?” and honestly wanting a reply.

Good chai lattes. Like seriously good.

Gorgeous beaches.

And space. Oh so much space.

And yes, we’ve booked our air tickets back to Singapore for a much-needed breather (and back to the land of glorious hawker food) in December, we will be enjoying life in Sydney for a tad longer! ;)

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Fave Fridays: Photo of the Week

Holding Hands

This was my favourite photo of the week. Taken last Saturday as we were making our way to a friend’s birthday party. She lived in a suburb some 60 km away. (I kid you not.) There are a few things that keep the kids occupied during long car rides, and one thing that the two younger ones sometimes ask for is to hold my hand – especially when they are in a fussier mood. Being at the front seat however, makes this a back-breaking task at times!

This isn’t the first time Xavier and Zoie have held hands.

But most of the time, it is Xavier who initiates it. Which is the sweetheart that he is.

This time, Xavier was the fidgety one, and he was asking in his usual whiny voice, “Hand hand… mummy! Hand hand!”

I turned back, wanting to talk to him, only to see a small hand stretching from her car seat and waving at him. Heart melting moment!

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Living The Moment

So the school holidays for Jayvon is here. Two whole weeks and I am glad to report that we’ve (almost!) survived it – and he returns back to school this coming Tuesday.

And this holiday has been somewhat different. The past few holidays, I made the effort to sign Jay up for holiday swim class, and once he went for a weeklong cartoon camp. But not this time round. The cartoon camp wasn’t held anywhere near us, and Jay wanted a different art style – it was not so much teaching art but packed with so much other stuff that he didn’t feel he learnt anything new. He wasn’t keen to go for extra swimming lessons. And that just limited our options to… nothing much else.

So I decided that we’d just spend time together.

We went to parks & hung out at playgrounds…

Jay Sep 2014

He told me endless tales about underwater creatures, planets, and discussed thought-provoking things like how he discovered (through a TMNT cartoon episode on YouTube) that Master Shredder was an alien (or something like that).

We bought him a mini camera from Big W a few weeks back, and his favourite activity has been to take photos of places we’ve been. So we went on a trip around the city where he whipped out that little mini-cam to take some shots.

Jay 2 Sep 2014

His eye for detail continues to surprise me – as we walked past the statue at St. Mary’s Cathedral and he pointed out that the boy was using… the iPad?! (I was just looking ahead at our destination – the Australian Museum which was still a distance away! So of course, I had to make Jay pose for me just so I can remember this haha!)

Jay 3 Sep 2014

The camera is one of my favourite buys of the month. It cost me under A$40, and also comes with a waterproof casing (we haven’t tested if it really does work or not though!), and a handlebar and helmet attachment. Like GoPro. But for kids. And at half the price.

Oh, and of course it wasn’t outdoors all the time. We stayed in to play Skylanders: Swap Force on the Wii U together, having heated discussions about each Skylander (I had no idea what it was, but Jay loves a conversation hahaha!).

All in all, living the moment.

Learning to enjoy him at this age.

Because there are signs that he is growing up. Too, too fast. It’s in the way he is about as tall as my chest level. It is in the way he insists on choosing his own clothes, and doesn’t even want me to lay out his PJs after bath for him. It is in the way he beams with brotherly pride when Zoie does something cute, and turns and tells me, “Did you see that? What an awesome baby.” You used to be a baby too!

And so while I deal with my heart pounding, trying to master the art of letting go while still holding on, I enter what must be the rite of passage of most parents…

The beginning of pre-teenage years.

*gulp*

I think I need me some chocolate for comfort now.

SANses.com's Talkative Thursdays



EatNow… Have A Feast Without The Prep

My domestic genius has been blogged about a few times in the blog. Cough. Well, I give it my best effort anyhow. But time passes so fast in the day. I mean, I sit down at the computer and do a bit of work, and whatdayaknow … it’s time to pick up Jayvon, and in a blink of an eye, it is also time to pick the two younger ones from childcare too!

This leaves precious little time for dinner prep, and so here is a confession.

I love takeaway and delivery food services.

In fact, it might be fair to say I might be indebted to them.

How else was I able to feed the family on days when I am especially under the pump and tight for time?

Hallo delivery guy!

The good people at EatNow.com.au were generous enough to offer me and the family a chance to try out their site. I downloaded the app and it was simple and user-friendly – a real no-brainer!

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Once the suburb’s selected, you can easily browse from the long list of available restuarants. I loved reading the various reviews and I was torn between ordering Chinese and Thai. Till I realised that Chinese restaurant was closed on Tuesday, so the decision was quickly made, and I selected some dished from Na Bangkok Maroubra.

Now, even though we’ve been to the beach at Maroubra quite often, we have never seen this restaurant, so it was a pleasant surprise to be introduced to such a gem that is so near us.

This was the feast we had (a portion of it anyhow):

Eat Now

Red Duck Curry: Spicy and with a kick – just the way we like it!

Fried Chicken Wings: devoured by Jay and Xav.

Chicken Fried Rice: Zoie loved it.

And more! All in all, it was one very satisfying meal – and we’ll be sure to order from them again!

If you’re living in Australia, and *cough* like me, need some respite from the kitchen heat, check out EatNow.com.au for a list of restaurants – and who knows, like me, you would chance upon a previously-unknown gem of a place!

Als0, from now till 10 October, EatNow is running  a Best Eats competition. Vote for your favourite restaurant and stand a chance to win a holiday trip or vouchers!

(This post was sponsored by EatNow, who has kindly offered to reimburse my meal. No other monetary compensation was received, and all opinions expressed are 100% my own.)