Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Calista Luxury Resort, Belek Turkey

It's been a week since we came back from our summer vacation.

Has it only been a week??! Oh boy! It feels longer!

Our holiday was FANTASTIC! We went to Calista Luxury Hotel in Belek, Turkey. Honestly, most people gave us the "Oh no! You're going to Turkey" worried look whenever we mentioned that we were going to Turkey. Most Germans frown upon Turkey these days due to the political situation there.

However, I must say that in Belek, it was perfectly normal! Everything was calm, no increased presence of police or whatever.

It was HEAVEN! I didn't have to cook nor clean AND I had the hubby around for one whole week! That to me, is holiday! We had a ratio of 2 adults to 3 children.

The second we stepped out of the airport and felt the warm breeze on our faces, I knew that we had picked the right place for our holiday! Our hotel happens to be the top hotel in Belek on TripAdvisor too!

Our daily schedule was -

- Wake up at 10.30am. Go for breakfast.
- Go back to hotel room. Change to swimwear
- Hang out at the hotel pool / beach for the entire day
- Grab lunch at the beach restaurant
- Go back to hotel. Bathe. Have dinner.
- Hang out at beach pier for cocktails / catch some evening entertainment
- Crash around midnight.

Our 16 month old napped either in the stroller or on the sofa next to the pool. He was so easygoing. It helped that he was so knackered from swimming too. I believe that I'm also more experienced as a Mom now. Back when we had only one kid, we would be so worried about how to allow baby to nap when we just want to be outdoors.

Now with 3 kids, things have gotten easier with naps somehow. Samuel doesn't nap anymore. Gabriel napped on some days and Liam still naps everyday anywhere.

I'm so thankful that my 2 older boys can swim now. It made our holiday so much easier! They spent days just sliding down the water slides into a 1.4-metre deep pool. Usually we would have to be at the bottom to catch them. But this time, they could simply swim to the side on their own and climb up the stairs to the slides again!

The first few times I was watching Gabriel like a hawk. But after a couple of attempts, he gained confidence and became much faster and stronger at swimming, so it became a breeze!!!

Funnily enough, people in Turkey thought that I was from Kazakhstan and started talking to me in Russian! It was quite amusing actually!

Service of the staff was fantastic! Most of them didn't speak much English but it was still quite easy to explain what I needed. It's seriously a top-notch hotel with very experienced service staff. Food was great too. I had barbecued fish and shrimps with salad every night. I was seriously underdressed for dinner because most of the Russian women massively dolled themselves up!

We celebrated Sam's 6th birthday over complimentary cake at sunset on the beach pier! It was such a simple affair. We were happy that we managed to lit the candle for a few seconds before the wind blew it away! Sam had a meaningful birthday celebration and he kept saying, "I'm 6 now right?"

There was kids' club all day for children aged 4 and above but our kids preferred to stay with us. The only day we sent them to the kids' club was when we decided to indulge in a Turkish Haman and massage at the beach! We checked TripAdvisor and went for a "Haman by the beach" which provided free transport to-and-fro the hotel, a Haman, foam scrub and bath and an hour-massage at only 49€! It was quite an experience!

Truth be told, the husband of a close friend of mine passed away recently. He was barely 50! I found out about the sad news when I was on holiday. It was so hard to process the news. On one hand, I had the luxury of having my hubby around us 24/7 for 7 days. And on the other, I knew that my friend just lost her partner of over 28 years.

I think somehow this terrible news made me realise what's important too. My husband and I didn't fight a single time during the 7 days. I really REALLY treasured every single day with my family. You never know how life can throw you a foul ball!

Increasingly I know in my heart that it's a prudent thing to have a home business! I would never compromise my life as a stay-home Mom to be there for my kids now but it's always good to have a rainy weather plan! I personally know 2 women whose husbands died suddenly and both of them are / were stay-home Moms. I know that God will provide no matter what, but I also know that God gives us opportunities! And what better time to build up a legacy for ourselves than NOW?

I'm so thankful for my work-at-home job which also helped to pay off 50% of our hotel stay! It was such a wonderful 5-star hotel that I'm so very sure we'll be back very soon!

Follow me on Instagram: prissteph or Facebook: Priscilla Tews for more regular updates! I promise to blog more often too!

One of 3 main pools in our hotel
Welcome to paradise!

Turkish delights

I could be at the beach all day!

Free COLD drinks!

An uncertain baby with sand and sea

Love my swimwear from Accessorize at 70% off!

See what I mean about warm temperatures?? Heaven!

Indoor pool next to the spa / haman

Slides galore! My boys went down all these slides!

Our happy boys at breakfast!

Sam turned 6 on holiday in Turkey!

Best sunsets ever!

Blurry pix but had to post this cos of my monkey baby

I love my family! Thank you Jesus!

Simultaneous napping!

Chilled-out baby! He laid down and spread the orange towel over himself!

Friday, September 01, 2017

Boys combined birthday party - 4 and 6 years old

We had an epic birthday party!!!

I think the more kids you have, the better you get at organising kids' birthday parties! Gabe's birthday falls in early July, while Sam's is in early September. We will be gone on holiday during Sam's birthday so being the diplomatic person that I am, I decided to do a combined birthday party in August!

We booked a farm in the city for their birthday celebrations! It was the BEST decision either! We only had to pay 60€ to rent the entire premise and we had SO much space, it was heavenly! In total we had about 40 people including kids. But the place was huge! We never felt a space constraint. The weather was great too so the kids could run around outside!

This year, I decided to do the unthinkable. I actually told my guests NOT to buy any presents. I totally bucked the trend of children's birthday party = presents galore.

Honest to boot, our apartment is not huge. We have 3 kids and 3 bedrooms. Toys are matter. Matter is anything that has volume and takes up space. As much as I know how kids love to have new toys, the marginal utility of toys is very low!!! They would play with a new toy and be totally excited about it for a few days or weeks. Thereafter, I'm stuck with even more toys and no space to store them!

That's why we hardly buy any toys! I hardly had new toys growing up. But that's not the reason. I truly believe children should engage in imaginary play. Outdoor play. Make believe. They don't need more toys.

This is an issue close to my heart. I've been toying with this no-presents idea for the longest time. For the past 6 years, whenever we had a kid's birthday party, it was always such a headache telling others what to buy for the kids. Truth is, we always buy things that we need for our kids! We don't wait until their birthdays to get them something. And we have 3 boys! That means that they play with the same toys, wear similar clothes and I simply don't need anything for them.

What we need is, money. Money is liquid. We can save the money. Or use the money for sport courses, or Sam's private school come September, or go on day trips with the kids or holidays. All these are experiences that we would want to go for with the kids and it means so much more to us! I asked the kids if they would like to have toys, they said "yes!" And I asked, do you want to go for theme parks and go on rides, Sam said, "Yes!" So I asked if its ok that he doesn't get new toys but we go for more excursions instead and he agreed wholeheartedly!

It was such a BREATHER! We collected quite a fair bit of money for them and we're going to use it to get Sam a new bicycle / roller blades and put the money aside in a bank account! So so so thankful for my friends who understood and agreed!

Back to the party, I decided to outsource our birthday cake to a lovely lady! She did the entire Batman cake for just 70€! I marinated boneless chicken thighs in a satay marinade and it was sooo yummy! I asked some friends to do some side dishes of salad for the buffet table. We had an overdose of chicken satay steak and a bit too little sides, but it was perfectly fine!

All in all, I must say that I loved the idea of a combined birthday party. My goal for a party is not to get all the presents in the world but for the kids to have a lovely day with their friends and family. And that was certainly accomplished on this day!

I brought a ball but we didn't even need to do any kids' games. There was more than plenty of things for the kids to keep busy with!

I'm so blessed & thankful to be a Mom.  Children are a blessing and GIFT from the Lord. That's my mantra especially on days when they don't stop bickering at each other. But mostly they are just wonderful playmates for each other and they do love each other a LOT. Sam slept on the bedroom floor today because he was in one of his "teenage" mood. When we went in a few minutes later, we found Gabriel lying on the floor next to Sam ON THE FLOOR! #heartmelt

I will not stop hugging, kissing and loving on my children everyday. I'll enjoy the pitter patter of Liam's little feet because one day I know he won't thud around so loudly anymore. I want to stop and notice the kids' expressions and study their behaviour, understand their emotions and thoughts and with God's help, help them to discover their God-given talents, passion and calling for their lives. But most importantly, I want to enjoy the moments of being a Mom. I've never regretted being a SAHM. Never have. Never will.

That said, I loooove having a home-based business with ItWorks now. I remember my days pre-ItWorks, my most interesting part of the day would be retail therapy. I'd spend hours reading Mummy blogs, searching online for kids fashion and finding out what's the coolest kids' birthday presents.

These days, I'm investing so much time in self-development. I've taught myself so much about photo editing using apps-- the birthday invitation was made by yours truly using an App! I'm learning so much about people, human nature and myself. Being a WAHM is an entirely new dimension that I'm exploring! And best of all, I'm earning an income again! To give you an idea, in all my 11 years as a blogger, I've never earned more than a 3-figure income in total. I've been at ItWorks for 7 months and I've earned a 4-figure income in total already! #truth

I'll write more about my new life now as a WAHM soon! Here's an explosion of photos of the birthday party! Enjoy!

It says, "Let us celebrate Samuel's & Gabriel's birthday together!"

Do I hear you say "WOW!??"

So beautiful, I didn't want to cut it! It's chocolate on the bottom and vanilla on top

Our Salad bar

Trampolin happiness!

Our ex-cell leaders who popped by the party!

Orry looking great with 2 girls!

Take home presents, chocolate and more sweets!

Our youngest guest of day! So glad you could come, M!

Where we got our birthday cake: Message the lady on her Facebook page at "Home Ties"
Where we had the birthday party: Etzel Farm

Friday, August 18, 2017

My Prince brought me out!

My hubby and I went for a date night yesterday. It was so special, I wish I could have saved the whole experience in a virtual reality DVD and re-play it all day, everyday!

Why was it so good???

Because I had absolutely nothing to do with the planning of it! Hub actually planned the entire thing!

He arranged the babysitter. He decided on the day and time. He researched on venues of where to bring me annnd he kept me in surprise until the day itself!

I had NO idea where we were going! It felt like we were singletons exploring a brand-new city!

We went to a German restaurant that we've never been to. He researched on TripAdvisor and brought me to the #1 restaurant in Stuttgart!

I really enjoyed being the one who could sit back and not do anything and just be treated like a princess for an evening!

I have a confession. Since we got married 11.5 years ago, and more so since we started having kids 6 years ago, I'm the organiser. I decide when, where and what to do. As much as I like surprises, I'm too impatient not knowing what's going on. I like knowing what to expect and as a Mom, I don't like last-minute changes.

Yes, changes are to be expected - especially with kids. But that's also why I hate being unplanned. I know how unpredictable kids can be so as far as possible, I try to minimise last-min changes in my regular schedule.

That said, I also complain that the hub doesn't court me anymore. You know what I mean. Or that Stuttgart is BORING. (Sorry to you Germans reading my blog).

Coming from a city with 5 million people, I do like the hustle and bustle of a big city. I like exploring new eateries, going for new experiences and doing new stuff.

Our usual Sunday hangouts alternate between hmmm.... 5 restaurants? Many Germans that we know don't even eat out. We eat out on weekends and that's considered extravagant for many already. Call me spoilt, but I can't wrap my head around the idea of cooking every.single.freaking.day! Mummies need a break too, yo!

Plus, I don't like what the Germans call "Abendbrot" - evening bread, which means bread with cold cuts. Gosh. I can maybe have that once a week but don't expect me to eat it every dinner! Even my kids don't like Abendbrot all the time. If we've had Abendbrot one evening, they will be like "not again" if we have the next evening. That simply means that I have to cook for lunch and dinner.

Right, so let's go back to our Date Night! It was sooo lovely! We first went for dinner and thereafter went for a Skybar! Like wow!!!

Ok, let me put a disclaimer. Our sky bar is on the 10th floor in an old town. My camera battery died, if not I would have taken a photo of the skybar.

To be far, we don't have skyscrapers here. So the 10th floor here while every other building is a maximum of 3 floors means that we are still on the highest point in town. I had to poke fun that in Singapore, a skybar means 55 floors and in Schorndorf, a skybar is on the 10th floor.
(Mental reminder: Stop comparing Pris!)

Right, it was really lovely being right up there though. Neither of us had our phones working more. I ordered an Aperol Spritz while Stephan got himself a glass of white wine.

We sat next to each other and I enjoyed the feel of the hub's arms around my shoulders. That's really what I miss a lot! With 3 kids, we rarely have time to hold each other hands, let alone him putting his arm around my shoulder. You do need 2 hands to push a stroller and the 2 older monkeys still need some supervision.

It was such a wonderful evening. I think I told the hub a million times "I'm so happy you organised this."

I really truly appreciated that the hub took the initiative to organise something! I really loved the element of surprise he brought in with it. To be fair, he refused to tell me the agenda for the day because he was half scared that I would shoot down his idea.

It's such a learning experience for me though. I realised that I need to step back so the hub can take the lead in this relationship. At the risk of sounding corny, I do really miss being the Princess and being brought on a nice journey by my Prince.

I feel that one of the main dangers of being married for a while is that we go on autopilot. We each assume our roles and just sorta keep doing what we're doing. But I've missed the spark you know. Just the feeling / memory of our lives before we had kids. Us just enjoying our lives together. I don't want a marriage that is just an empty shell after the kids move out. We're far from where we want to be, but this date night was definitely a huge step in the right direction!

That's why I kept nagging telling the hub that I wanted him to organise ONE date night. Like just one. So that I feel like he's taking me out on a date and not that we're going out a date that I organised.

And I need to say this once.

YOU did GREAT darling!!! I'm so proud of you!

For you wives  - Let your husbands take over some of the roles that you've assumed for a while. You never know! They might just surprise you with what they can do!

For you husbands - Bring your wives out! Surprise them! Pursue them even when you're married! Do something new with her! You know what they say, Happy Wife = Happy Life!

I went for a haircut and root colouring for my date night!
He dressed up for me too! With a suit!
I had a house cocktail speciality! It totally hit the right spot!

Spätzle (Swäbish egg noodles) with Beef Gulash (14€)

This was THE BOMB! Beef fillet with truffle noodles and sugar peas. Gosh, the smell!! (25€)
Chocolate soufflé with caramel vanilla ice-cream (7€)

Hub's cheese platter with the spiciest ginger sauce! (7€)

#1 Restaurant in Stuttgart!
Der Rote Hirsch Marktstraße 46, Eingang Marktplatz
D-70372 Stuttgart
Tel: 0711 84969373

Monday, July 10, 2017

The day I went to the ER.... and it wasn't cos of the kids

I went to the ER yesterday. And no it wasn't because of the kids. It was 100% cos of me.

You know how you look forward to your date night, cos it's been forever since you last had one-on-one time with your husband? And you decide to go the Hamburg Fishmarkt because you can actually go through the crowds easily without having to maneuver a stroller?

That was exactly what I thought. What a beautiful warm summer evening. Let's sit outdoors and just enjoy the warm breeze and have some fresh fish!!

I had an accident which involved me swallowing a fish bone when I was 12. And I tell ya, I never forgot that experience! That piercing pain when you swallow. The futile attempts to gulp water down to get that damn horrible fish bone through your throat but it refused to bulge.

I was at my school "graduate" camp for 12-year olds and I was so happy to be able to stay overnight somewhere else! I remember talking to a friend while eating my Nasi Lemak fish and the next thing I knew, something sharp and thin went through my throat and never got through.

I waited 24 hours before telling any teacher because I was scared of being scolded! When I finally did, my parents picked me up and brought me to the hospital. We waited for ages before I went for an X-ray only for the doctor to say that he couldn't see any fish bone and the bone had probably got down my throat but it was still sore.

Since then, I swore off Nasi Lemak fish and I've always been very vigilant whenever I ate fish.

All the time except yesterday!

I ate a piece of seemingly harmless salmon, which is usually boneless and somehow the EXACT.SAME.THING happened! And it happened so quickly! I felt the same disgusting piercing pain while swallowing. I tried to puke. I tried to drink. I tried to swallow small chunks of banana.

Literally everything. Hub told me to wait it out, cos most fish bones dislodges itself in hours. But I was in pain! I couldn't wait.

So we went straight to the hospital. Can I just say I'm so glad we did?

German medical care is SOOO efficient! This was a Sunday evening. There was no queue. The only waiting time we had was to wait for the doctor to come back from her break (maybe 20mins?)

There was no X-ray. The doc just wore something on her head with a lamp, peered into my throat and saw the bone. She sprayed something to numb my throat and went on to stick something inside my throat to remove the bone.

I remember being sooo scared that it would hurt. But while I was sitting there, I told myself, "Pris, you gave birth to 2 out of 3 children naturally, this is no big deal!!"

And before I knew it, the whole ordeal was over! I didn't feel anything! Like ZERO!

I saw the fish bone! That horrid thing!

I was so relieved that I gave the doctor a hug! I was so so so relieved! No more pain! No more stuck feeling. Like I felt sooo free!

And I was sooo thankful that I didn't have to pay anything for that! Just passed them my health insurance card and that was it!

Healthcare premiums may be expensive here, but nothing beats having the peace of mind knowing that you will always be given the healthcare you need.

All happy before the incident

It wasn't this fish
It was this smoked salmon!!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Dear Gabriel - 4 years old

Dear Gabriel!

You, my sweet middle child, have turned the big 4! We decided to have a small celebration with family and Godparents because we're going to a have a proper huge children's party for you and your brother in August!

What can I say? Here are some firsts for your past year.

- You've completed one full year at kindergarten and you certainly look forward to going to school!

- You're so confident on your balancing bicycle these days and we think you will make the transition to the big boy's bike this summer!

- You've become more vocal and are able to express your emotions better compared to one year ago.

- You love being a big brother. On one hand, you can be so sweet to your little brother, Liam. On the other, you struggle with sharing your toys with him claiming that the toys only belong to you and Sam.

It's hard explaining to you that if Liam does not share toys with you, he won't have any toys to play with! But we're hoping that it's a question of time before you start to enjoy playing with Liam. Right now, you're going through the phase that you're so frustrated when Liam destroys your "stau" - German word for traffic jam. You still enjoy building traffic jams all over the house by lining up your toy cars really close together. You're so proud of your Staus and have proudly told Mummy, "Look Mummy! Look what I built for you!" "Oh yeah!!! I see you've build a huge, long traffic jam! Wow! How cool!"

You're very observant of your surroundings and you pay attention to how people feel. There's been a few times when we noticed that you would say, "Awww, is everything ok?" And you would put your protective arm around Liam. It's great seeing that older brother aspect of you developing.

One thing I realise you don't do anymore? - You don't crawl into my bed in the middle of the night anymore. I remember there was a time when we would complain everytime you did that, because it would mean that all of us would sleep badly (no space for all of us in one bed!) But now that you haven't done it in a long time, I suddenly feel a bit sad! Just a bit! Come over and join us in our bed every now and then ok? Lol.

We love you sweet one. We know that it's hard being the sandwiched kid. Neither the oldest, nor the youngest. Mummy was also a sandwiched kid. You'll be fine baby. You'll just have to figure out your role in the family. We believe with all our heart that God has placed you as a middle child for a reason and purpose. You'll develop skills and talents that you wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

We pray that you'll discover your own interests and be comfortable in your own skin, out of the shadow of your older brother. Sam will start school in Fall so you would have to go to kindergarten alone. That would be another transition for you. We know you'll feel sad about it, but we pray that it means that you would find friends of your own and build your own social circle outside that of your brother's.

We love you so much. We're sorry for the many times when we have fallen short. We pray that God will give us and you the grace as we continue on this parenting journey with you.

I need to say one more thing that happened today.

Mummy: Who destroyed my metal plate for steaming? .

You: Not me. I don't know

(Repeat conversation 1000 times. Same response)

Mummy: That's ok. Mummy forgives you. But God sees and Jesus sees. God knows who did it.

You: God cannot see. God doesn't have a phone! And he doesn't have a camera!

Mummy: (Does not know whether to laugh or continue with her stern face) Of course God knows. God is everywhere! He sees everything.

You: (thought for a while). Ok, I did a little bit. Sam did too.

That's how we communicate these days. You're really developing into a little teenager. It's so cute listening to you though!

All our love
Mummy & Daddy

Finally one photo where he's all by himself!

I love my family! Gabe requested for a strawberry cake!

He got some Lego and a water nerf gun!

Gabe's Godparents. He looks so proud to have his nerf gun!

A very manageable-size children party!

I made tomato bruschetta, fried Vietnamese nems and heated up some pizza bread


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