Friday, August 21, 2009

Tara's Standing

Tara has been going great guns of late - crawling like a seasoned pro and getting around very quickly. To add something new to the mix, she has decided she should try standing up. Now, instead of just crawling as soon as she reaches an object that she can pull herself up against, she is trying that. I guess it must be interesting seeing things from a different angle. In the cot we have here at our serviced apartment, it was on the high setting, but when she started to stand up, I was worried about her leaning over and falling out - fairly unlikely, but I still didn't want it to happen! So, I asked them to lower the cot. Here are some shots of before and after. Both of them are when she has woken up and is demanding attention and actually kneeling rather than standing - when she was standing she was leaning even more....



I'm sure she'll get used to it though! I feel much happier with the cot lowered now. I don't think she was very impressed with Mummy running to get the camera before she was collected!

The other day, Alex was eating an oreo cookie. I gave Tara the tiniest part of one as she was complaining. Here are the results:

Now that I've found out how to properly insert photos into the blog, there'll be no stopping me! Must try video next.

Happy weekend to all. We don't have a lot on, a birthday party tomorrow morning (Alex is very excited) and we thought we'd go to the zoo on Sunday. Gary and I are heading out for dinner or a movie on Sunday night or maybe both. What a luxury - prior to coming to Singapore, we had been out twice in 6 months, since being here, we have been out 4 times in 4 weeks.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Do Not Disturb....

I've got both of the kids in bed at the moment - Alex is due to wake up in probably 10 minutes or so and Tara - well who knows - she's been a bit erratic the last 2 days so we'll just wait and see. I hung out the "Do Not Disturb" sign on our door for the first time since we have been here in the apartment as the cleaner is due today and hasn't been yet (it's 3:15pm) so the last thing I wanted was a loud doorbell to wake my 2 sleepers! We had this on Sunday. Alex was really difficult to get to nap, he eventually went down and Gary and I were laying down chatting away and then 'ding dong'. Not only did he ring it loudly, he rung it 3 times in quick succession! It was Gary's birthday cake from the apartment people being delivered. A lovely gesture, made even more lovely by the fact that they didn't actually wake either of our babies.

So the weekend just gone was Gary's 40th birthday weekend. We started our celebrations on Friday night with dinner at The Fullarton hotel. Gary sent me a text at 6:50 saying he was still at work and wouldn't be out any time soon. Oh no, I had both kids to get to bed - the babysitter to let in, I had to get ready and work out what plan b was. It all came together though - Alex went down very well, I was feeding Tara and sent a message to the babysitter that I would be down to meet her 10 minutes later (thank goodness for sms!) Both kids went to sleep very well, so I let Lorena in, had a chat to her, got myself ready to go and went to get a taxi to collect Gary on the way to the hotel.

In my opinion 99% of the taxi drivers in Singapore are lovely and friendly. I scored one of the ones in the other percentage point. I got in the taxi and told him we were going to The Fullarton but that I needed to pick up my husband at International Plaza along the way. He told me "He'd better be ready as I can't really pull up there". I phoned Gary and we organised that he would walk to a different building where the taxi driver could pull up. We got there and Gary was still coming. The taxi driver says "Where is your husband?" in this very gruff tone. As Gary said, he was getting paid to wait - what was the issue? Anyway, we ended up getting to our dinner reservation on time and both heaved a sigh of relief. We started off with a glass of Taittinger champagne. That was very nice. We had the "Peking Duck Extravaganza" which was 7 courses. I meant to keep the menu but forgot! It was sublime though. The first course was the best duck pancakes I have ever had. There was another course with truffles and a fois gras course. It was superb. On about course 6, we were eating the rice with prawns and commenting that there was no duck to be seen. A waiter came up and apologised - we had been served the wrong thing. They whisked it away and brought back our moneybags with duck and rice. Funny thing was we were halfway through and really enjoying the prawns also! At the end of the night, one waitress asked us if we thought it was too much food as she said a lot of people don't get through the dessert course. No such problem for us!! We adjourned to the hotel bar for a nightcap before returning home. It was a lovely night and just perfect to celebrate Gary's birthday.

A funny thing happened last Friday. I was shopping at Cold Storage and went to the deli counter to buy some ham. Groceries in general are very expensive in Singapore, especially meat. I asked for 100 grams of ham, and noticed that the scales already had a weight on them and the price (with no ham) was 27 cents. I pointed out to the lady that she hadn't zeroed the scales for the weight of the tissue paper. She didn't seem to understand what I was talking about. I told her that the scales had a tare function that she should be using as I didn't want to pay $30 per kilo for tissue paper. Anyway, after a discussion with 2 of the deli counter staff, I got nowhere, so I walked away. I sent cold storage an email later that day, to say that I didn't believe it was right for them to be charging for packaging materials and that in Australia, they would incur a fine for such a practice. Within an hour, I got a phonecall to apologise. They explained that staff training does include this and that I shouldn't have been charged for the paper. They then offered a refund - I said no, don't worry I don't have the receipt anyway, it's just the principal of the matter and I just wanted to let you know. She then said, no, I'd really like to offer you something - how about chocolates or a bottle of wine. Hmm, I'll take the wine please! So, on Sunday, I went down there and got a store manager come up to me and personally apologise for the misunderstanding and I was presented with a bottle of kiwi Sauv blanc. So there you go. We haven't had it yet, but it is in the fridge chilling.

So, both of the kids are still asleep and the do not disturb sign is working. In saying that, I'd better sign off and get some jobs done - the dishes from lunch are still on the table and the laundry needs sorting and hanging.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A new home

Well, we have been apartment hunting and we have found a place to live. Yay, I'm really happy about it. The condo is called Queens and it is right next to a MRT station which is great for me as the MRT is very easy to get on with a pusher. At the moment, we have been staying very close to buses which are great, but the problem is that I often go out with Tara in the baby bjorn and Alex with his monkey backpack (which is a harness). Then 50 metres along the road, Alex says "Mummy pick up?" and so I end up carrying both of them for some of the way, which is quite tiring. I will be very grateful to be near the MRT.
Here is a link to our condo:

We have a 3 +1 apartment which means 3 bedrooms + room for a live in helper. A lot of the places we looked at had very dodgy places for the helper to live in, but this one is actually quite nice. It is still small (they all were) but it has a window (a lof of them didn't) and it is quite private - off the kitchen with a separate bathroom.

Our kitchen has an oven (not common in Singapore) and what seemed to be good storage space. The apartment is 1194 square feet (111 square metres) so it is not at all big and we will have to get used to living in a smaller space, but we have done so for the past month and it will be nice to do so with our own furniture. Alex is very excited to get his cot and toys back - he keeps on saying "Alex cot Singapore". The bedrooms are all OK in size - I hope that our bed fits into the master bedroom though - otherwise we will be buying a new one. It's just a bit of a funny configuration but hopefully it will be fine.

The apartment search has been dominating my thoughts this week. It will be great to have this behind us - it feels like the final step in our move here. The lease will begin on September 1st which is Gary's very busy time at work but hopefully we will get a lot of it sorted out during the week and be ready to move properly by the weekend of Sept 5th.

Yesterday, we went for a playdate for Alex. Lance is a month younger than Alex and I was delighted when I saw the smile on his face - he and Lance seem to play very well together and they were happy running around and having a great time. It's something I'm very conscious of - making sure Alex has new friends to play with. He mentions his Adelaide friends a lot and sometimes says "playgroup, kindergym". When we move, I will look into some other activities for him as I think sometimes when we are housebound due to Tara's sleeping, he gets a bit antsy so it will be good to have other things to look forward to.

Tonight, Gary and I are off to dinner at the Fullerton hotel. We are going to "A Peking Duck Extravaganza". It's 7 courses of duck prepared in a number of different ways. Yum! I'm so looking forward to it - but my biggest issue - what to wear? I don't have anything dressy but will venture out of shorts as a concession to the evening. It's Gary's 40th birthday on Sunday. I have a couple of presents for him - this afternoon the kids and I need to go searching for a card and also wrapping paper. As the apartments here provide a cake on birthdays (great result - given we have 2 birthdays in our time here!) this is covered, so I just need to work out what we are doing for the weekend to celebrate too. We are considering going on the Singapore Flyer which is the big observation wheel that goes around Singapore. Apparently great views - but we will get a great view every day in our new home - the agent pointed out that we could see Malaysia on a clear day (our apartment is on the 22nd floor).

Tara is fully crawling and getting into lots of mischief now. I smile everytime I hear Alex say "No Tara, that's Mummy's" or "No Tara, no touching 'puter" We will have to ensure everything is childproofed in our new abode. Tara's eating is also phenomenal now. She is so into food - she protests if her brother is eating and she's not. She is on 3 meals a day now plus snacks and I think the quantity she is eating is around what Alex was eating when he was at least a month older. Hopefully it will continue and she will be a good eater going forward.

Must sign off now as I expect Alex will be waking soon from his sleep. I have put some new photos on facebook but also on this post is a photo taken in the airport courtesy of my brother being there to bid us farewell and a photo taken at Queens Condo when we went to take a look last weekend. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bring on the weekend.

It's Thursday night and right at the moment, I just wish Gary would be out of work. He has had a dire week - working till past 10 on Monday and Tuesday. Last night was around 9 and tonight looks similar. Thank goodness for having a long weekend this weekend.

The kids and I have had a good week. We have had a few activities on and been getting out and about. Today was our second day of viewing apartments (the first one was back in late May when we were here on our orientation). Alex stayed at our apartment here, we had a babysitter in for a couple of hours. I took Tara along with me. We saw some apartments that are definitely a possibility. Unfortunately, my favorite was the one at the beginning of the day that Gary missed seeing, but hopefully he will be able to see it on the weekend.

It will be strange living in a high rise apartment rather than a house, but for some of them the facilities are amazing. Beautiful swimming pools, gym, wading pool, playground. Just staying here at Great World for 3 weeks, I have met so many people - mainly in the playground. I think condo living will also provide for lots of socialising and meeting new people. Tonight in the playground, there were 2 little boys around 18 months old. They were Japanese but Alex just happily joined in playing with them and had a blast. I suspect our boy will be coming out with Mandarin phrases before we know it, especially if he goes to pre-school next year as Mandarin is taught at pretty much all of them from my understanding.

Now for something that seems quite 'Singaporean'. I was in the chemist the other day looking for some sunscreen for the kids. I was wondering around with both kids in the stroller and I saw a lady who worked there. She was stacking honey and she greeted me with "Would you like some honey madam?" I said, "No thanks - do you know where the sunscreen is?" She then came over to look for it, and directed me to the correct aisle. Then as I was standing there perusing the options, she was oohing and ahhing at Alex and Tara. Then she started to sing "Twinkle Twinkle" with full actions as well. I was encouraging Alex to join in but I think he was just a bit stunned! She then went into some detail about the kids noses - something about the shape of your nose indicating whether money is coming in or out. I didn't quite get it but I think she was saying that they had good shaped noses??! So, I made my choice of sunscreen, and then she said to me "Would you like some honey, it is very good for babies, put it in their bottles, a few drops and it stops constipation". I again politely declined and she was absolutely fine with this. It was just so funny. She was so lovely and chatty. I have been in the supermarket a few times and people will try to sell you something quite random. Like walking past the butter and they will say "This butter madam, unsalted, very good for your family". It is really quite strange but not in a bad way at all!

Last weekend, we went to the zoo on Sunday and became members. It is a wonderful zoo and Alex had a brilliant time. He is still talking about it and will be delighted to go back time and again so I suspect we will get good value out of our membership.

Tara is crawling pretty much properly now and gets around quite well. Alex is very funny telling her what not to do. For example if she picks up my mobile phone, he will say "No Tara" and run over and give it to me. The funny thing is he tells her off for things I tell him off for! Alex is generally doing very well with sharing with Tara, and is very cute when he says "Here you go Tara" giving her a block or toy to play with.

And finally a word on Tara's sleeping. She had her best night ever last night!! She slept till 5:30, woke up and fed, then went back down, woke again around 20 minutes later, I changed her nappy and she went back down again till 8:45. It was unreal - I don't expect a repeat performance tonight but it would be nice!