Chasing after Eevee, Pikachu and Bulbasaur

If you are wondering what are those mentioned in the title, then you are clearly not playing Pokemon Go. I have mentioned in my last post that I have joined in the PG craze, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have played many game apps before, but I have not experienced one that is this fun and captivating. In fact it’s not only me, but Buddy enjoys it too. He loves the cute critters like Pikachu, Eevee, and Bulbasaur. He even named his doggy pillow lovey as “Eevee”, and “turned” his little dino models into the Pokemon creatures.

Buddy remembers the names of many critters, and how they evolve. And after each catch, without fail, he wil announce, “Gotcha! Eevee (or whatever the Pokemon) was caught.” Not only do we have fun catching them, but we also get a kick out of battling in the gyms. In fact, he has a fascination with the latter, and always wants to check out the creatures defending them.

But Buddy doesn’t just sit around and get glued to the cellphone. He incorporates the game into his physical play. He acts out as Eevee and wants us to throw Pokeballs at him while he dodges them. He also  does gym battles with me, when he acts out as a Vaporeon (because it is super duper Eevee), stamping his foot on the ground while I am a Pidgeot (flapping my hands like a crazy person), and we will end up pushing against each other like Sumo wrestlers. 


I know there are people who regard the game as stupid, and some religious leaders even branded PG as unholy and called on the followers not to play the game. The rationale given is that it is addictive and turns people against God, and some even insinuate that it is of the devil’s making. Well, I didn’t know that the Divine Entity is so sensitive to an app, that it would threaten his status. Or is it really the egoistic attitude of men, who think they speak for God? As far as I can see, there are a lot of other addictions around us, like power, being in control, money, material goods, fame, and the list goes on. In fact, with so much atrocity, injustices and heinous behaviors going on every minute, you would think there are much more serious and legitimate issues to tackle instead of criticizing PG. I guess it’s easy to attack an app since it is passive, instead of standing up against child abuse, exploitation of labor, inciting hate or violence in the name of religion, or even exploitation of environment.

Sure, I know some PG trainers (or players in layman term) can be rather idiotic and inconsiderate, like dashing across the road to chase after a Pokémon, getting into a fight, and even leaving behind trash after congregating at an area. Unfortunately, there’re always bad apples in any society. But people don’t seem to realize that it has nothing to do with the app, but everything to do with the person using it.

Anyway, I think PG is a better game app than others out there because it actually gets trainers to get out of the house. I was also told by a friend, who had been to a hot pokestop (where hundreds of  trainers gather), that it was really fun interacting with fellow aficionados who are pretty friendly as well. I haven’t been to any of such hotspots, but I have been sharing tips with another friend who has attained a higher level.

I read a news report today that the game is losing popularity, but the crappy article doesn’t even provide reasons for it. I can guess what it might be, but still, I am going to enjoy it while I can, since it provides another chance for buddy and I to bond together. 

 

Uncovering the culinary gems

I should have started on this post earlier, but like many, I was caught up in the latest Pokemon Go craze! As Singapore didn’t get to download the app until last Saturday, I thought my initial enthusiasm would have waned. But after I did it at the suggestion of my husband, so that Buddy and I can catch the Pokemons together, it has been an itch that I cannot stop scratching! I am rather pleased that I am now a level 12 player (or trainer in Pokemon speak). And I am also rather excited that I managed to catch quite a few pokemons with high CP (combat point). There is still a lot to learn about how to train my pokemons to fight in the gyms, though I did try my luck at it. But that’s a post for another day. Let’s focus on food for now.

Last month, the Michelin Guide finally featured Singapore food, including street fare, or what is known as hawker food here. Whether expected or not, there were much questionings and even sneering at the choices. (These “Gwai-Lo/Angmoh” don’t know what good local food is! How can this restaurant/stall be included? The food is only average!!)  On the other hand, we are also relieved that our favorite food is not in the list because we don’t want the wait time to get even longer. 

Anyway, over the past couple of weeks, we have been checking out the food at Fengshan Hawker Center. It’s only now that we finally understand why this is the oyster omelette hub of Singapore! There are so many hawkers selling the famous dish. But here lies the problem: which one to order from. We didn’t do any research before coming here, and so it was really trial and error.

I ordered the omelette from one stall which seems quite popular, and unknowingly agreed to having Chili added. Strangely, despite the stall taking many orders we didn’t have to wait long for ours. The omelette turned out to be ultra spicy and totally overwhelmed the dish. I then walked around to see what are the other stalls that I could try my luck, and chanced upon stall number 85 with the signage ‘Traditional Kampung Oyster Omelette’. 


There are a couple of pictures of the Chef owner posing on a Chinese TV program. So I thought perhaps it might be ok. There were only a couple of customers waiting around, which meant I wouldn’t  have to wait long. 

As I stood around, I realized that there were a lot of back orders for takeaways. The Chef owner works alone and there is no one else to assist him, and so he has to cook big batches each time. It also turned out that my presumption of a short line was wrong; before I knew it, a queue started forming behind me. The food was more popular than I thought. 

As I watched the Chef, I realized that he is one who puts a lot of care in his cooking. The egg mixture is pan-fried to the right timing before he added the oysters, with the resulting omelette looking really good and very tasty too. Best of all, it’s not as oily as what many other stalls serve. On a separate occasion, after  my husband placed his order at the stall and paid for it, he left the line thinking he could return to collect it later. When he did, the Chef told him he wouldn’t cook his order when he was not around to collect it immediately. He refused to serve the dish cold. This shows pride and how much he cares for his food.


That evening, we also tried the porridge from Chai Chee Pork Porridge stall. The name may be misleading as it doesn’t just sell pork porridge but also sliced chicken, sliced fish porridge, etc. Look at the line below!


We went for the chicken porridge, and I have to say it’s really good!


It’s smooth but not overly so, unlike the one from Imperial Treasures which can taste like baby food, and allows you to taste the rice grains in your mouth. The sliced chicken pieces are cooked to the right texture. The porridge is also slightly seasoned, not saltish unlike many. Though it was a simple fare, it gave so much comfort to my tummy.

My husband ordered the minced (pork) meat noodle soup (known as “Bak Chor Mee” locally). There are a few popular ones and he opted for Xing Ji, which advertised that its recipe is passed down over the generations. There is no apparent line, but that is because the stall serves the noodle to the customers at their tables.


The soft but springy noodles swim in a sea of clear and subtly flavourful broth, with little oil. I had half expected it to have a porky taste but there was none. I didn’t try the meatballs, but my husband love them as well. He said that this was likely the best Bak Chor Mee he has ever had, the handmade meatballs were really tasty.


The thing about the Hawker food is that different fares are served at different times of the day. Like in the morning, you don’t expect the oyster omelette stalls to be opened. Instead breakfast food such as carrot cake (which is actually pan-fried radish cubes or “Chai Tow Kueh”) is available instead. 

One morning, we decided to give that a try. I spotted two stalls, side by side, and wondering which to go for. One has a stream of customers (Ming Ji, on the left) whereas the other (middle stall in picture below) has media exposure plastered all over. Against my better judgement, I went for the publicity.

When my husband saw the plate of carrot cake, he groaned. After tasting it, he took me to get a plate  from Ming Ji. Here are the two carrot cakes with Ming Ji on the left in green plate. 

Presentation-wise, MJ’s carrot cake looks pretty appetising. In terms of taste, I have to say it must be the best carrot cake I have ever tried! Like the above amazing food, it is not overly seasoned, and you can actually taste the texture of the eggs, and the radish cubes are cut small so that they are cooked through nicely. 

We left the right plate almost untouched, while we wiped clean the carrot cake from MJ. I then went up to the stall, which is manned by an old couple, and told the old lady, doing the cooking of the carrot cake, in Chinese, “Aunty, I want to let you know that your carrot cake is really good! It’s the best I’ve ever had!” She was a little taken aback by my compliment and replied that she thought I wanted to say that it sucks. Maybe she doesn’t get much compliments because she was rather appreciative after that. Still, it should be pretty obvious that folks around love her food because she was cooking almost non-stop.

Even when it comes to tea and coffee, not all stalls are equal. I bought ice tea and coffee from a drinks stall and they are so weak! My husband then went on a hunt and discovered “The Blend Inc” which focuses on tea and coffee. Check out the foam on the drinks! They have the right amount of oomph and lightly sweetened as requested. 

Now Fengshan hawker center has become a favorite street food source for us, and there are also good seafood BBQ available as well. The only downsides are there is no good satay stalls and no fruit stall available, unlike Bedok centre hawker center. In fact, though there is only one satay stall at the latter, the food is still better than what we tried at Feng Shan. 

Of course, other than Feng Shan, there are other Hawker centres in Bedok that have culinary gems available. Like there is a “Kway Chap” (pork innards and trotter) stall at one hawker centre which is hailed as “gourmet food” by a US relative. My Husband is insistent that those people from the Michelin guide must not know about this place. 

Buddy, don’t grow up so fast!

It has been a few weeks since my last post. I have been pretty busy with work and Buddy was also sick, which, unfortunately, didn’t leave me time for the blog. Needless to say, I haven’t been spending much time following up on new cheongsam designs either. So, this post is dedicated to Buddy instead.

Looking at past pictures of Buddy, it’s amazing how fast he has grown. He’s a meter in height now, though I wish he is slightly taller. But my husband told me he’s still a toddler and his development has a long way to go. Despite being a four-year-old, Buddy sometimes wants us to pamper him like a baby. He still wants my husband to carry him if he can get away with it, especially when we take him on the escalators. I don’t know why, but Buddy is afraid of stepping on them, maybe he’s scared he would trip and fall. He wails when we try to insist he rides the escalator on his own, so we end up having to carry him.

Buddy does not have a “cowabunga” personality, in the sense that, outside the comfortable confine of home, he avoids trying something that might risk a fall, like climbing up a rope ladder at the playground. Though this doesn’t mean he’s timid. He is not afraid to push back when other kids try to take his place or his playthings, or refuse to give way to him.  He will stand his ground and loudly tell the other kid off, “Hey, this is mine!” Sometimes I have to tell him to share the toys or play area in the toy store, because he can be a little too assertive. I guess we had taught him too well. You see, when he was like two years old, he was pushed around by other older kids or had his toys taken away from him and he would wail.  So we told him to stand his ground by loudly telling the other kids, “No, this is mine!”, and we even acted out the role play for him  to learn.

Buddy loves to go to the toy stores, more so than playgrounds, and in fact his favorite hang-out is The Better Toystore. Whenever we take him out, he will ask to go there to play. We are  there so often that I have to buy something from the store, from time to time,  else it gets a little embarrassing for us.  During those times when he doesn’t get a chance to go to a toystore, we will tell him that he has one at home. And it’s the best toystore since there’re no other kids around to fight for space  or toys.

Talking about toys, Buddy’s love for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) is over. At least for now.  He’s not even interested in wearing the T-shirts or pajamas. At least though, he’s now back to wearing the clothes bought pre-TMNT, mostly dino T’s. He switched his attention to “Underdog” about a month ago; this is a 2007 movie which I think most people probably have not heard of (at least I didn’t until we saw it on cable). It’s about a beagle which found itself possessing superpower after an accident in a lab.

916bmnho11L__SY445_

Buddy loved the protagonist, and he wanted to be “Underdog”! And of course, the superdoggie must have a cape. He didn’t want the TMNT capes with the turtle shells on them (there are two pajamas with removable capes), and instead he asked for the swaddle cloth as the cape.

I think Buddy’s liking for the super beagle may have stemmed from his doggie cushion, which has a picture of a Jack Russell Terrier on the casing. We bought it for him before he was two, from a shop that sold animal-themed products. He absolutely loves the JRT , which is called “doggie” (duh!), and it goes to bed with him every night, and even goes out with him sometimes. It’s like a pet dog to him. I cannot imagine the day when the cushion casing is torn because I only have one extra, and the shop has since closed. I might try to get another one with a cute doggie picture and pray he accepts it. But he will definitely wail like a banshee when he doesn’t have “doggie” with him when he sleeps.

Anyway, now that Buddy has moved away from TMNT, he is back to playing with his trains and occasionally, the dinos. And he’s also renewed his interest in Godzilla, which he was devoted to before his attention was taken over by TMNT. So you see, kids being kids, their interests change all the time. Probably in a few months’ time, he will return to the turtles.

Still, despite imagining himself as a super hero, Buddy is afraid of monster, specifically the insect monster in the 2014 Godzilla movie. Admittedly, my husband and I are at fault for allowing him to watch it, as well as “Jurassic World”. Though he didn’t show any anxiety during the shows, he becomes anxious during bed time, after I switch off the light. He tells me almost every night, “Mama, I’m scared of monster.” After some probing, he revealed it was the insect monster. Even though I tried telling him it is not real, he cannot grasp the reality. I guess, being a kid, he has a fertile imagination and the monster probably takes on a larger than life image in his mind. Even when I told him that I was not afraid of it and I would beat the crap out of the monster, he said, “it’s very, very big, with sharp teeth!” So now I tell him that Godzilla will protect us. (Lately, Buddy has also shown an interest in the Power Rangers, probably learned about them from the other kids in school since he doesn’t watch any children programs on TV. My husband assures him that the Power Rangers are also helping us to fight the monster, and he doesn’t have to worry.) So, no more scary movies for Buddy, only kiddy-friendly ones!

Over the past 2 nights, Buddy also told me he didn’t like the dinos, and that he didn’t like the T Rex and Carnotaurus. (The dino movie!) When he was watching “Jurassic World”, I was a bit worried it was too violent for him, but he said, “it’s just a movie!” Turns out, perhaps, his imagination is getting the better of him. He might have been spooked by the fight between the T-Rex and the Carnotaurus-like mutant in the show climax. (By the way, the monster in the movie is not a T-Rex mutant as claimed in the storyline, it actually looks more like a Carnataurus. Even Buddy knows that. And the image of the velociraptors is totally wrong, they look like Coelophysis instead. The movie producers have absolutely no idea what the dinos look like!)

But Buddy still has a deep interest in dinos, and he is constantly asking for dino books. Like the expanding train members, he has a growing dino family. Though he has a preference for the herbivores now, as the carnivorous models look rather intimidating especially since they are pretty life-like. Thanks to Buddy, I have also gained much knowledge of the dinos from the books I read to him. Because of this, I like to ask the producers of the dino movies why use “Jurassic” name, when many of the prominent dinos like T Rex, Stegosaurus and Triceratops only existed in the late Cretaceous period? (See, I know my dino stuff!)

Alright, enough of dissing the dino movies, back to Buddy. He does whine about going to school (daycare) at times, but luckily he doesn’t protest as much now. We still use the star reward system to get him to do things. Like when he quickly put on his shoes in the morning (as quick as a young kid can get, since getting a toddler to do something is like herding a cat), or when he eats his vegetables, he gets a star. Lately, he is able to get over his fear of public performance and to stand before a crowd. The first time was more than two months ago, when his class performed before the parents, as part of the speech and drama class performance. And last Saturday, he and some of his friends participated in a poetry recitation competition. We were really proud of him that he was able to stand before a big crowd. We gave him a star for his bravery.

The playgrounds

Last week, we took buddy to check out two playgrounds. One was the newly opened Marine Cove at East Coast Park, and the other was the Future World exhibit at ArtScience Museum of Marina Bay Sands.

Let’s start with Future World, which is touted as the largest interactive digital playground in Singapore. It’s a permanent exhibition at the museum, in collaboration with the Tokyo-based teamLab, which explains the Japanese elements found throughout the set up. The theme is basically about sustainable living with nature. The first couple of displays have complex messages, but the rest are enjoyable and fun stuff for the kids, which also appeal to the adults.

The first display is an animation of nature: the blossom cycle of a tree. It’s rather zen, as I think we are supposed to contemplate our relationship with nature as we view the petals forming and shedding, and butterflies fluttering around. It’s actually rather pretty, but Buddy wasn’t interested in reflection.

The next display is the 100 years sea animation diorama as we watch how climate change causes sea water to rise and inundate everything around us. The museum provided bean bags in front of the paranomic screen for visitors to lie down and view the 10-minute scene.

After the somber reminder of the damage caused by the warming climate, I think the kids are glad to have some fun at last. Here, a table with blocks on them allowed kids to use their imagination to create a transport system. Certain blocks form tracks for trains to move, some form roads for cars, some form clouds for planes or helicopter,  and others form river for boats. The interactive image on the table is reflected on the screen. Buddy had a lot of fun making train tracks.

There is also a slide within the hall, but Buddy only went for one try. I guess the other exhibits are more interesting.


There are three digital installations which allow the visitors to bring to life the images we create. They are displayed on a large screen showing a city (picture below) that features iconic singapore landmarks, and there is even a dragon. Kids and adults can choose the transport they want to color from the selections available in the side slots of each bench, sit on the lighted benches and color them using crayons provided. Once done, you then scan the image (scanners are located next to the benches), and it appears on the screen.

One other animated installation features nature, with the images appearing on the floor. You can choose from flowers or animals like frogs, crocodile, salamander, etc. There is even a big whale, which is a little scary to Buddy.

Here is my frog swimming in the digital river!

Buddy created a psychedelic crocodile, and apparently he wasn’t the only one. He mistaken this rainbow croc for his creation.

img_1175-1

Turned out it was Swimming right by my husband’s feet.

img_1176

There are more installations which, unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to check out because it was already lunch time and we were famished. It’s worth another visit to check out the other interesting set up.

The other playground, Marine Cove, opened a couple of weeks ago, after several months of makeover. According to news report, it took the park authority (N Parks) S$18 million dollar to build the huge playgroup the size of 3/4 Football field, the five F&B outlets next to it, and the open carpark.

The playground is truly huge, with lots of stations catering to kids of different age groups. The highlight is the big ass lighthouse cum slide. The only way to get up is to climb up the rope ladder. But Buddy has never been very adventurous since young, and so he didn’t manage to climb all the way to the top. (One thing for sure is that he will not be a base jumper.)


The lighthouse tower can be pretty scary for young kids. Some parents climbed up the rope ladder with their children to guide them. But sometimes it can still be overwhelming for the little ones. There was one little boy (probably younger than Buddy), who was wailing on the rope walkway as his father firmly repeated, “you can do it!’ I know it’s good to encourage kids to overcome their fears, but it takes time and patience to do so and insisting on it may not be a good move.

The station where Buddy had the most fun is this game that is similar to hit the mole/mouse.  There is a circle of signal stands which will light up with either green or red circle when the game starts, and the kid has to hit the button on it once it lits up. Buddy had a lot of fun running around with other kids for this game. Unfortunately, he tripped and hit his head against one of the stands which caused him to bawl. Poor boy had a cut and a bump on his forehead. Luckily it was nothing serious and an ice pack easily soothed the bruise.

This playground is definitely a hit with the kids. During our first trip there in the evening, the place was literally packed! This second trip was during lunch time, and the crowd was smaller because of the heat. Yes, it gets really warm in the afternoon. So if you want to check this out with your kids, best to come in the early morning or evening, though of course in the evening, you have to fight your way through the throngs of children. (Fight may not be unexpected, because my husband overhead a little girl telling her dad that another child hit her when she was playing at a station.)

While we were there, we also checked out the F&B outlets at Marina Cove. McDonald’s, as expected, is a big hit. It’s the first and only  McD restaurant in Singapore to have a salad bar, and waffles to boot.  Luckily the restaurant provides self-service order stations, probably another first in Singapore, which makes it convenient to get your food.

We went to Hill Street Coffee Shop for brunch, since we had tried its sister outlet at Garden by the Bay, and the food is acceptable. But I think some people are not familiar with the restaurant and got confused over how to order their food. They were not sure if they should wait for their table or queue up in line to place their order. Well, very easy, you just have to get a table, take note of the table number, get the order form (from the front desk), note down what you want on it while in the queue to save time, and then place order when it’s your turn.

The other restaurants are Coffee Bean and Tea Leave (which apparently can seat more than 200 pax), Babalicious which serves peranakan food, and Briyani House which also offers prata. Initially, we had wanted to have brunch at Coffee Bean which serves whole-day breakfast,  but was told the food would take 20 minutes! Anyway, we will check out Babalicious and Briyani House for our future visits. These two restaurants even have play areas for kids, which is a nice touch.

The latest cheongsam launches 

Since the last launch in April, Our Bitsy Prints has been quiet until now, when it will launch its 30th collection today at 9PM local time. Titled “Sunny Singapura”, it’s an advance shout out to our National Day on 9 August.

The collection features tropical  prints, batik fabrics and colors that are fitting for the sun-drenched nation. I wouldn’t say I am bowled over by the designs, but there are a couple which are quite pretty, like this pastel orange lace cheongsam.

I do like the design of this brown batik dress with bell-shaped sleeves, but the color is rather dull. I thought there should be lots of green and vibrant tropical colors?

Sissae‘s latest cheongsam collection is called “Daydreaming”, and pastel colors are chosen for the theme. (I take it that when you daydream, your mind is in a haze and so colors seem lighter?)

Sissae has always tried to make the cheongsam design looks ultra modern, with mix results in my view. This time, I must say the collection does look rather classy and elegant. I hope the workmanship has improved though.

 

Lark and Peony launched two designs for pre-order a few days ago. These are not new looks, but basically a change in prints.

IMG_2537_1_grande

Cheongsam sales continue at Studio 55

Studio 55, the boutique by Peter Kor, has moved from Purvis Street to 222 Queen street a couple of weeks ago. I made a trip to the new location yesterday to check out the new shop. 

I must say I like the ambiance at Queen street better than at Purvis. Queen street is the lane along The Singapore Art Museum, which is a stone’s throw away from the shop. There is the Church of St Peter and Paul next door, and Singapore Management University is pretty close by. 

The place has a cultured vibe about it. In fact, as I was walking down the street, I noticed two pianos standing in this open space and there were two kids playing on them. There is also a relaxed air about the locale, even the cars drive by leisurely. 

The place is rather easy to get to, with the Bras Basar MRT station very close by, and lots of buses. For those who drive, parking is available at the church (except on Sunday), or the hotel across the streets.

Peter’s shop is located in this building called “Le Danz”, at #02-03. When I first stepped in, I was a little surprised to find the shop space had shrunk compared to the one at Purvis’. But it turned out there was more to the boutique as Peter led me along a hallway to a another part of the shop where more racks of dresses are available.

The decor retains the previous classy zen look. There is no clutter, lots of space to move around, and there are three changing rooms.

Peter has extended the relocation sale to the end of this month, 30 June. At either 50% or 70% off, the dresses and jackets are worth checking out. There are also non-cheongsams available, for those who want regular dresses. Peter will be launching his new collection in mid July, and there wil be an official opening of the new shop.

The return of Lai Chan cheongsams 

A couple of days ago, after a long hiatus, I popped by Lai Chan boutique to catch up on the new designs. I met up with the man himself and Eddie, and it was good to see both of them looking well. 

Eddie told me they managed to clear some custom orders and launched new clothes from the backlog designs. There are beautiful classic dresses with the semi-precious stone buttons are available in new fabrics and prints. 

First on the list, we have this cheongsam with an interesting retro print. Though it is not lined, it still retain the amazing workmanship! The fabric is a mix of cotton with elastane and other polyester, and so there is some stretch to it.

Despite having reservations about floral print, I really like this dress with a chinoiserie image of large peonies and mandarin ducks against a pink backdrop. I am attracted by its bold and striking look!

Lai Chan has created a cheongsam for the T-shirt crowd, using T-shirt material: a basic cotton cheongsam with stud buttons and no piping. For those looking for a casual cheongsam, this is it! However, I feel the sleeves make the dress looks rather matronly.

Below is an elegant cheongsam with floral appliqués. 

img_1077

Another floral dress, which is part of the new collection, featuring Japanese kimono prints. The fabric is cotton, and the collar comes with checkered piping.

Lai Chan’s cheongsams are mostly sleeveless. This cap-sleeved cheongsam is created in response to requests from the older customers (“aunties”) who want short sleeves to cover the flabby arms. However, this length is seriously not going to help, and Eddie agrees with me. You would need something longer, like elbow-length, which will then make the wearer looks even older. 

Here is a gorgeous long cheongsam, made from silk brocade fabric with a beautiful sheen. Eddie told me such fabric is hard to come by, and it is only sufficient to make a couple of dresses.

And here we have a modern piece for the plus size lady. According to Eddie, this dress is also for women who want a loose fit, and it even has a side pocket at the hip (see third picture). It also comes with a zip for easy wear. 

From dresses, we go to jackets. Lai Chan had made some avant garde pieces which may take some getting used to.
img_1091

 Guess what? Surrounding the collar of this jacket below is a layer of real bird feathers! 

 An elegant  bright red cape which is light enough to be worn in Singapore.

Finally, we have a regal-looking top that is partly  made from silk brocade fabric (front and collar). Another beatitude creation from Lai Chan!

Cheongsam sale from Joli Pretty

Joli Pretty is having a “Hello Summer” sale with up to 60% discount off attires and accessories starting today, for 10 days.  Dresses and a top from previous collections, including the last one, are up for grab. Even cheongsams for little girls. As for accessories, they are brooches in four different Chinese designs. 

Here are some of the merchandise that are worth considering.

Cloud Sky

Luxera

Kyoto Blossom

 

Secret Garden

Elephant March

Pink peacock broochRed bird brooch

 

Buddy is four!

How time flies in the blink of an eye!  Some friends still remember Buddy as a chubby baby, and indeed he was a mini sumo wrestler.


But that is in the past, because since he was two, he has been steadily losing the blubber. In fact he is rather lean now, thanks to all the jumping, rolling, and play-fighting. To be honest, I don’t know where he gets all the energy from. I get tired just from looking at him moving non-stop!

Our couch is Buddy’s favorite part of the home because of its multi-uses. It acts as a trampoline, the top of a tall building where he can jump off ala TMNT move, the scene of many fights, and, previously, together with the cushions, the island of Sodor for Thomas Train and friends.

Since Buddy was a baby, my husband had said that there are three important development areas for a child: mental, physical and morals. So far, we didn’t have to do much on the physical aspect because Buddy has been pretty active. He used to played balls and rode the scooter when he was younger, though, unfortunately, he has since stopped. (We had a pipe dream that he might turn out to be a good footballer since he had the ability to kick the ball at a very young age, but it looks almost certain the dream has been flushed down the drain.)

Instead, Buddy is most happy play acting as one of the ninja turtles fighting Shredder. My husband made him a pair of Sais at his request, when he wanted to be Raphael.

When the first paper sword went kaputt, Buddy wanted another in black. He also asked for a purple scabbard because that is Donatello’s color. He even turned it into a staff by removing the scabbard.




We didn’t make a nunchuck for him though, and I was wondering whether to get one. But it turns out he had found a creative solution: socks, since they can twist and turn like nunchucks. We encourage him, since that saved us  from getting new toys and besides, socks don’t hurt.

Since Buddy’s love affair with TMNT started, he has lost interest in the trains though he still plays with his dinosaurs sometimes.  Even the toy cars are hardly played with. But we have noticed he goes through phases with his toys. He started with trains before moving to dinosaurs, and then back to trains, and now to TMNT. So, he has a rather narrow range of toys since he is specific of his likes even when he was younger.

When it comes to mental development, my husband is very much involved in this because he places a lot of emphasis on thinking skill. He believes strongly in building Buddy’s foundation before his formal education begins in a couple of years’time.

Previously, Buddy worked on jigsaw puzzles and simple Learning Journey games. During the past year, we discovered Smart Games, a company that developed logic games for toddlers and adults. We started Buddy on Three Little Piggies before he proceeded to the rest like Camelot Jr and Smart Car, etc. So far, he is enjoying  these games and I guess that is a good sign.

As for Buddy’s moral / character development, we try to give him as much positive reactions as possible, as well as explain the good and bad behaviours to him. But he doesn’t seem to fully grasp what we said to him. Like when he does something wrong and I explain to him on why he has to apologize, he would do it but he cries after that. He doesn’t like to say sorry; which I guess it’s normal human nature?

He has been a strong-willed child as long as I can remember. He wants things to be done his way. For instance, when I notice he didn’t button his pyjamas top correctly, he becomes upset if I redo it for him. And he is particular about his pillow case. He is ok with pictures of safari animals or penguins, but not the one with sheep. Same goes for the bath tub non-slip mat from IKEA. Buddy has been using this blue-coloured curvy mat all this time and it’s become a little ratty. Unfortunately IKEA has stopped stocking it. I tried to explain to Buddy that we have to get a different one, but he insisted it has to be the same, and refused to accept the available crocodile design. I will have to take him shopping, and hopefully he will be able to choose one that he will use.

It’s the same with the books that I read to him. I usually borrow at least 15 books at the library each time. After going through the books once, Buddy would have decided which books he likes and want me to re-read to him. He doesn’t even mind listening to the same story every night after that. Like this TMNT book “Pizza Party”, this is a renewal loan, and he has been listening to the story for at least 4 weeks! But he loves it, and many times he will act out the story. So, basically, I have to ask for his opinions before getting most things for him.

I guess Buddy inherited his quirks from me or my husband. Like us, he is slow to warm up to others. He is very chatty and asks lots of “why” questions when he is alone with us, and is also communicative with people he is comfortable with, like his class teachers and classmates. (Though, like me, Buddy has his moods, and he doesn’t have any one best friend because it depends on whom he wants to play with that day.)

However, when there are unfamiliar people around, Buddy tends to clam up or speaks sparingly and softly. It’s a totally different persona! Perhaps he is not born to be an entertainer or politician.

Despite being comfortable with his  teachers and most classmates, Buddy still has a love-hate relationship with the daycare More often than not, he would whine when he notices the uniform on the bed, and cry that he doesn’t want to go to school. Instead he wants me to stay home to play with him. However, once we arrive at the center, he willingly enter his classroom. It’s the same with the Berries Chinese  enrichment class. He will cry on the way there, but is able to settle down for the class. When we ask him after if he had fun, he gave a resounding yes. We are trying to figure out the reason for the different behaviors, but my husband suspects that he needs to be eased or to transition to another environment, like me. (I don’t even realize this!)

Still, most importantly, Buddy is a loving boy; very often he tells us, “I love you, mama/papa!” and gives  us hugs. To us, he will always be our baby!

Buddy’s birthday celebration

Buddy celebrates his fourth birthday today, together with his classmates in school. For the first time, I ordered a character cake for him. And what else but a TMNT cake? Specifically, it’s a picture cake, and Buddy had selected this image for it.

As for Buddy’s birthday gifts, needless to say they are of TMNT. He had spoken about getting a turtle shell a number of times. Since he didn’t have one, he improvised by wearing a bag (like the Berries bag) on his back, imagining it to be a shell. We are not sure how to make one for him that has sword holders. It’s likely possible but might be tedious, so I decided to get one from Amazon instead.

And how can any self-respecting turtle go without a mask? The Leonardo eye mask that came with the combat gear from Toys R Us isn’t suitable for Buddy because it tends to slip and irritates his eyes. I searched on Etsy and found these felt masks with elastic band. I bought a set from the seller (including an extra Donatello mask for a classmate), and the seller very kindly included a free set of purple wrist cuffs to go along. These are pretty well made and comfortable, and I am sure Buddy will not want to take them off.

This year, I was wondering what party favors to give to Buddy’s classmates. I didn’t want to include sweet snacks because I usually throw away those that were given to him. I also feel the kids have enough of the usual party favors like blowouts, stickers, and the numerous stationeries. Initially I thought I would get each of them a special board game, like Frozen game for the girls and Avengers or some superhero game for the boys. Strangely, it was easier to find something cost effective for the girls but not the boys. So I decided to go for books instead. I settled on these 5-minute stories: Marvel for the boys, and either Frozen or Disney for the girls.

When I received them from Amazon, I was surprised to find that these hardcover books are 3/4 inch thick and were bigger than I thought. My husband didn’t appreciate them as party favors because he feels that books can be easily borrowed from the library. He said I should have gotten puzzles for the kids instead. But my female colleagues disagree and think these are great gifts. My hope is that the kids’ parents will take time to read to them, and they will enjoy the bonding session together.

So here is the birthday cake I ordered from Sensational Cakes, made of strawberry sponge cake and blueberry filling. I have to say it looks amazing!


When we arrived at the daycare to celebrate Buddy’s birthday, I found him with tears in his eyes. Turned out he was cranky from insufficient nap. One teacher told me it took him a long time before he slept, probably because he was too excited, and ended up only napping for 15 minutes. He cried when he was forced to wake up. So, unfortunately, the celebration didn’t get off on a happy start. But his mood got better after we sang the birthday song and he blew out the candle.

The mood turned into excitment when Buddy spotted the TMNT gifts. He immediately put on the shell and the mask, and that got rest of the kids all excited as well. And everybody shouted “Ninja turtles! Ninja turtles!” Thank God the celebration ended well.

So, you might wonder if the cake tastes as good as it looks. I couldn’t have it since I am sensitive to wheat, but my Husband did. He finds it average, like the cakes from Hans or Polar Cake shop. It can’t compare to the rainbow cake from Dean and Deluca we bought last year.

It looks like we have to get a cake from a really good baker and decorate it ourselves, like what we did last year. In fact, I also realized that I have to get a cake from a halal baker because the Malay kids couldn’t have any since it’s not certain the TMNT cake is halal. They also couldn’t have the strawberries and blueberries I brought along for the kids because I had prepared them at home. Oh well! At least I know now where I should get the cake for next year: And All Things Delicious (which I reviewed in the post “And they are truly delicious” dated 5 August, 2015). That should please everyone.