Friday, July 10, 2015

Whirlwind trip to Zürich

We took a 2-hour drive to Zürich recently to see my friend, Beverly and her family from Singapore.

We met them when we visited Singapore in January this year. Her two boys are around the same age as mine, so playdates are awesome. Sammy remembered Hunter and Carter too and he was so excited to see them, he went to bed the night before saying, "Yay, we're gonna see Hunter and Carter tomorrow!"

Originally, we had planned to spend the weekend at Zürich and stayover at a friend's place, but poor Gabe had a bad fall on Thursday. We had to observe him for the next 24 - 48 hrs so I didn't want to make any trips within that time frame.

Hence, we had to cancel out on my friend, but still decided to drive down to Zurich on Sunday. It was after all only a 2-hour drive away.

It turned out to be a fantastic idea to drive on a Sunday, cos the roads were empty!!! Apparently long vehicles are prohibited from driving on Sundays unless they had a special permit and I guess most people do road trips on a Friday or Saturday.

One thing I must say is that drivers in Switzerland are super obedient! They would always keep to the speed limit, whether or not there are traffic cameras around. I told hubby that they have probably been "fined into obedience!" Traffic fines in Switzerland are known to be cut-throat! My Dad once drove in Switzerland and was caught on a traffic camera for "speeding" at only 58km/h where 50km/h was allowed.

Guess how much he had to pay???

80 CHF!!! That's 80€ for exceeding the speed limit at less than 10km/h!

The weather was scorching hot that day! A real proper heatwave. So the girls made a spontaneous decision to go to the outdoor swim area at the lake rather than to the park as we had originally arranged.

The boys had to borrow swimtrunks from Bev's friend and I decided to be the offical photographer for obvious reasons that I had no swimwear and it was also that time of the month.

It was a beautiful outdoor swim area. They had cordoned off part of the Zurich lake so the boys went down a giant water slide right into lake which temperature was only a meagre 19 degrees!!!

I was so proud of my boys, cos although they were shivered (the younger ones), they very much kept wanting to go on that slide repeatedly!

We alternated between the chilly lake waters and the baby waddling pool which water was a little bit warmer. Read: little.

After a couple of hours at the pool where lunch was a mix of food we brought along with us and a pizza that cost a staggering 20CHF (that's double the price of pizzas in a restaurant in Stuttgart), we adjourned to a playground at the nearby park for even more outdoor play.

It was quite a cool experience to meet a fellow friend from back home, halfway across the world and share some common experiences on our continent. 

The kids were so knackered they fell asleep on the way home.

We got home by about 10pm and since the kids had slept in the car on the way home, they were awake until close to midnight before falling asleep again.

I'm so keen to head back to Zurich lake and try some outdoor swimming for myself! If only Zurich weren't so expensive, it would definitely be on one of our favourite daytrip destinations!


The giant slide that goes right into Zürich lake. The water was 19 degrees! Brrr!

Both Dads helping their little ones out of the water



Have I said how proud I felt at my boys? They were shivering but kept wanting to go for more!




And off they go for their next slide!

Picturesque

Switzerland for you

Chocolately-mouth Sam

Notice the difference in skin colour?

Gabe showing where he got his boo boo. He fell off a bench then, but all's good now!

They actually partitioned that circle on the left, so people could swim in a safe, enclosed part of the Lake

The 3 men I love the most in my life

 Sammy can be such a protective older brother!


 See what I say about how my boys lurrve their swings?

That  hat actually looks quite cool on Gabriel! It belongs to Carter btw.

Sam and Hunter "reconnecting" after not seeing each other for 6 months

And that's my friend, Bev whom we came over to see!

The best photo I could get of the 3 boys. Gabriel was already in the car.
Their expressions speak a thousand words

And with that, we said adios to our friends! Until we visit Singapore again!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Loving Summer!

Everybody loves summer here.

In a temperate climate like Germany's, weather rarely gets warm enough such that you don't have to wear a jacket. We probably only get 2-3 months of real summer and 9 months of cold(er) weather! So now that summer has finally shown its elusive face, we've been making full use of the warmer temperatures! Days get dark only around 8pm so kids can stay outdoors longer too. 

Here's what we've been doing:-

Going to the playground! 


Compared to last summer, Gabriel is able to move around more independently now. This little monkey totally loves running around at the playground and being on the swing. Sammy also has more of a playmate in Gabriel now that he can actually run around with him.

As you can see, summer time has gotten a notch more fun and interesting for me! I'm able to leave both kids to play on their own and would only have to give the little one a hand if he needs to go down a long slide or go on a swing.

Of course having two toddlers also means that I got to be on my guard that none of them disappears out of the blue. Sam has a knack of doing his own thing, while Gabriel has this thing for bushes.

I must say how much I treasure the dry summer air here. It gets humid sometimes, but is nowhere as humid as Singapore. We are able to have playdates in the afternoon with no fear of the scorching sun. And best of all? It's all FREE!

It could be summer all year round if I had my way!


Gabriel at the playground about a year ago. I had to carry him everywhere

Gabriel at the playground now

This is what he does when I say, "say cheese!"



Mouths wide open

Who would have thought that playgrounds can be SO fun right?

The three musketeers

Here we were on a steam train at the park

Our first family train ride with the hub too

 

Going on bicycle tours


Sammy is such a champ on his Puky bicycle and has such stamina that we are able to go on long bicycle tours on the fields around our house. I so love this time when we can all cycle together as a family of 4! Sooner or later, Gabriel would probably not want to be a pillion rider anymore, so I gotta milk it as long as it last!


Taking a break on one of our bicycle tours


Even Gabriel's tired out by the cycling


A wefie with my littlest

A family that works out together strays together

 

Barbecuing! 


Hub got a Weber BBQ gas grill for his birthday and we've been making full use of it! We place it on our balcony and because our balcony is just next to the kitchen, we have the convenience of BBQing without the hassle of bringing all the utensils / meat to-and-fro. Yay!

I made chicken satay for the first time from scratch and it was heavenly!

Like really. It tasted so great! And I'm not bragging here. I got a great recipe here for anybody who wants to try making it.

Our Q1200 Weber grill making its home on our balcony

No photoshop needed for this amazingly tender and juicy chicken satay!

Of course satay had to be eaten with a spicy peanut sauce, cucumbers and onions

Chicken Satay recipe here.

I'm so glad that summer has barely just begun!

Here's to an awesome summer of enjoying the sun, pool and outdoor nature with your family and loved ones!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sammy's first performance

Sammy's kindergarten had their annual Summer Festival last Friday.

I heard from my neighbour that the kids would put up a little skit followed by barbecue.

Thing is, my kids still nap everyday so I had to pick Sammy up earlier and put both of them down for their naps before the festival began at 4pm.

I must have overestimated my ability to wake the kids up and get them out of the door. Needless to say, I was running late and had to hurry the poor boy down to the kindergarten, while pushing the stroller with Gabriel and carrying a big bag with my potluck contribution.

I had hoped that they wouldn't begin punctually at 4pm because which kindergarten's performance starts on time right? Last year's Christmas play started at least 20 minutes later than planned and I was one of the earlier ones so I had to wait.

My heart skipped a beat when I realized that the entire garden surrounding the Kindergarten was completely empty!

Where were the kids??

I rushed up the stairs to the performance hall and heard one of the Mothers say that they were waiting for "Sammy". Ahhhh!

I brought Sammy backstage and heaved a sigh of relief when the school leader said they still have to wait for one or two children who had to go to the toilet.

When the curtains opened, EVERY single kid was looking earnestly at the audience for their parents! When Sammy saw me, he was sooo happy and kept waving! I realized how important it is for a parent to be there for special occasions! It might seem like an insignificant event but to the child, it means the world to him / her!

Hubby tried to be there by 4pm but only managed to make it around 4.40pm. He was held back at work and was stuck in heavy traffic. It turned out fine though, because Sammy's performance was the last.

I felt so proud of my little man. He was an angel dressed in white and waved a yellow star. Funnily enough, when I was in preschool, I remembered being dressed in yellow and waving a yellow star too!

I wish I got it all caught on video / a proper camera. But in my rush to get out of the house, I only had my trusty iPhone that cannot take proper long-range photos.

So here's what I managed to capture.

Spot him on the right? With a star on his forehead
Looking a bit bored while waiting for his turn


He kept waving while walking in circles


I do so enjoy being a Mom.

It's milestones like this that I want to treasure. This boy totally warms my heart. I feel so blessed being able to watch him grow up and am even more honored that God chose me to be his Mom!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Date with my firstborn

I went on my first date with my 3.5-year old last week.

Guess where we went to?

A soccer match no less! It was a friendly under-16 match between Germany and France.
 
Sounds like such a fun date right? But it definitely got on to bad start! 

Firstly, all regional trains were on strike, so there was an increased volume of traffic on the already-crowded streets (ie. Traffic jams everywhere!)

Needless to say drivers were in the worst of all moods. I've not encountered SOOO many impatient and frustrated drivers! Whenever I need to change lane, the driver in the other car would speed up, so I couldn't squeeze in!

Secondly, it was drizzling quite heavily that day. I was considering cancelling our soccer plans but I didn't want to disappoint the kiddo. So I decided to carry on with it. (The seats in the stadium are sheltered). 

When I finally arrived at the venue, I was sooo relieved that we were almost there. But my relief was short-lived because I realized that the police had cordoned off the entire multi-storey carpark where I had wanted to park! Turns out that it was a working day so the employees from Daimler needed the carpark for themselves.

While driving around the stadium to search for the alternative open-air carpark, I was getting all flustered and discouraged. We were already late and I had no idea where we could park!

There and then, Sammy said a prayer that we would be able to find a carpark! This boy totally touches my heart! His prayer worked almost immediately and at the very next turn, I found the entrance to the huge open-air carpark.

When I wanted to get out of the car, I realized to my horror that I had forgotten to bring Sammy's thicker waterproof jacket and it was SOOO mega cold! That was such a last straw for me! I simply couldn't wrap my head around my kiddo sitting in the cold and watching a soccer match for 90 minutes!

But I also didn't want all the effort of making it to the stadium to be in vain just because I didn't have a thicker jacket for Sammy! I even called my friend (who invited us for the match) and told her about my dilemma. She convinced me that the stadium wasn't that cold because it was sheltered and there's a lot of people sitting together. I decided that Sammy would simply wear my pink cardigan on top of his fleece jacket and that should do the trick.

We finally got to the stadium at close to half-time!

But we got there! That's the most important part right?

Our seats were really close to the field so we could see the game pretty well. I really enjoyed watching a live match! It was such an eye-opener to see how a real match works! Everything was exactly the way you see it on TV but so much more exciting! And so much louder! It dawned on me that France and Germany raise up the next generation of World Cup champions by grooming their own young! 

I wish I could say Sammy was all blown away and got inspired to be a professional soccer player. Hah. But he was mainly interested in the birds flying over the stadium! Oh and waving the German flag! He would wave the German flag whenever the German side was playing.

I felt so proud of my kiddo. He's turning 4 this year and growing to be such a little gentleman! Taking him out one-on-one makes me so happy to be able to spend quality time with him! I could hold his hand and walk together! He has such a gentle and sweet nature. I know it sounds weird, but I would so totally date this guy if I weren't his Mom! LOL.

We ended off the day by having Macdonalds for lunch and going to visit an ex-neighbour friend and her kid for a playdate!

You bet we'll be going on more Mummy-son dates soon! Definitely recommend date days for all you Moms out there! It's so heartwarming to be able to bond with your child! You just see a different side of him / her, without the usual role of playing referee between the kids! - You know what I mean!


Rocking my pink sweater!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The story of THE breakfast

You know how they say that after you get married, things get dull?

Ok, to be fair, things don't get dull. They get .... repetitive. And when you have kids, things get routine.

Now that the kids are 3.5 years and almost 2 years, hubby and I have sorta settled into a very well-adjusted family life of 4. It's a very comfortable feeling.

But then again, you read news of people doing special things for other people on Facebook. Like on Mother's Day. Or Father's Day. Or birthdays. Or anniversaries.

And you think, "Oh, that's so nice and sweet..."

And you try to stop yourself in mid-thought before you go into the, "I wish my husband ..... " Cos you know you shouldn't compare.

And Facebook is so crazily distorted anyways. Nobody is going to post a photo of the laundry done. Or the cleaning of the house. Or the regular "my hubby came home from work today after working 10 hours to provide for our family".

But that's real life! But who cares about real life right? It's mundane and usual.

People care about the extraordinary. The crazy. The out of this world. The "WOW!!!" factor.

Hubby and I don't really celebrate special days like Mother's or Father's Day. We don't even buy presents for each other on Christmas. Or birthdays for that matter.

I think we're more practical people. We buy what we need / want whenever we need / want to, so we don't usually need / want anything by the time our birthdays come. Makes sense? And why spend money on something just because it's a birthday right? We'd rather go for a massage or a nice dinner together.

So anyways, that's why I was sooo surprised and even somewhat shocked when hubby gave me a huge surprise over the weekend!

He made this!

My own hotel-styled breakfast served in bed! Notice the yakult?


To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement!

I was over the moon! It was so romantic! And totally what you see in the movies! 

The omelette tasted perfect! There were bits of mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and cheese inside! So yummy I refused to share it with any of kids clamoring for my food (they had already eaten).

It was his way of commemorating Mother's Day - one week later.

Thing is, hubby is one of those special babies who was born on Mother's Day. Great Mother's Day gift but that also meant that my Mother-in-law has spent most Mother's Days celebrating the birthday of her son instead of getting pampered by her children and/or husband.

And now that I'm a Mom myself, I'm also in the same "predicament".

So when I saw this breakfast made with love, it totally touched my heart!

To be honest, it wasn't a real surprise because truth be told, a postman had to ring on our door on a Saturday morning! I was still lying in bed and wondering why my hubby had not opened the door. When the bell kept ringing, I realized that hubby was probably not at home so I jumped out of bed in my PJs, ran straight to the door and pressed the button to get  my parcel.

Totally puzzled at my hubby's absence, I asked Sammy where Daddy was. He replied, "Daddy went to the car to get you something nice to eat!"

I was like, "Car? What car?"

And Sammy was like, "I told you! Daddy went to the car to get you something nice to eat!"

2 minutes later, hubby comes back through the main door carrying some groceries. Turns out, he had gone to "Ede-ka" (therefore the word "car") to get some groceries to prepare me my breakfast! Edeka is the name of a supermarket just downstairs from our house.

The hub was so upset that his surprise was ruined! So he told me to just go back to bed and pretend to sleep! hahaha. I sat in bed and played on my phone while waiting for my surprise breakfast to be made.

It was totally worth the wait! It was sooo good! He totally exceeded my expectations! And you know how they said home-cooked food is the best? It really is! It felt sooo good being on the receiving end of great service!

The "sad" thing is that I had to rush through my breakfast, because:-

My kids couldn't wait to help me to eat it! My yakult was gone in seconds (but hubby brought me another one), my grapes were devoured by the baby, Sammy kept asking me for the yoghurt so he ended up eating it and best of all......

I was SOOO worried the kids would end up dropping food all over MY bed!

In short, I REALLY, totally enjoyed the experience of having breakfast in bed. But in reality, I realized it would have been MUCH better had the kids been locked out of my room so that I could have my breakfast in peace.

Love you hubby! And so you know, I could get used to having breakfast in bed sans kids every weekend!!!! Hahah.

Breakfast in reality - sharing it with kids (in the background)

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