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Monday, October 31, 2011

Final week In the Netherlands


Our final week here in the netherlands! the last week has been a mad rush of packing, cleaning and get-togethers that i am kind of glad it's Monday and everything's back to "normal" ;)
a few quiet moments while kaira is @ PeuterPlaza :)

Funny how when i am here, i don't feel like this home and yet when i am leaving, i feel nostalgic looking at the familiar sights and thinking that i am not going to do "this" or "that" again........ ;p  all that i've worked so hard to built up int he last 3.5 years will come to nought once again.......

therein lies a lesson for me .... do i not build because it will come to nought?? however, to spend the effort and time and energy to build on something knowing that it will be taken away from me seems so............fruitless. and so, let's not focus on the end results -- for who can determine what the end may be? i need to remind myself, again, that it's the journey that matters.  the challenges and satisfaction of journeying together.  the growth that we see in ourselves and the people around us as we embark on new adventures..... and believing that in all these God's plans are fulfilled and receiving with gratitude the blessings that are showered upon us. and when the going gets tough, having the faith that God is in charge and that i need to trust and believe.



Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friendship

I am very grateful that the Lord has blessed me with many friends here in the netherlands. and i know i will miss them when i return to SG.

what a difference 3 years made and what a sharp contrast to when we first arrived.

I remember how hard it was for me initially -- with no friends and a dependent baby.  In the first 6 months, i can literally count the number of friends i have with my fingers :( i was worried -- not so much for myself but for my daughter.... i wonder if she will be lonely and whether she will have playmates and so forth.  in fact that was something that weighed heavy on my heart -- her lack of social contact and when she was young, she was very very very sticky to me and i sometimes wondered if our lack of friends aggravated the situation.  and so i "forced" myself to make friends!! by nature, i am not such a social person -- so to strike up a conversation with strangers and making contact was really going against MY grain ;) thank God that he brought people into our lives and some of her closer playmates are those we befriended in the park ;p

and so, i am very grateful for this group of friends that the Lord has blessed us with -- kaira's playmates and her "mandarin" teachers :)

another group of friends that i am very grateful for are the ladies i got to know through church (IBC Eindhoven). The love of Christ showed by these ladies, and their friendship and company made this place more like home.   i thank God for bringing them into my life. and i know that the friendships made will transcend borders :)

whilst i am very happy that i am going home - i will be honest -- the friendships with these ladies makes it more difficult and i do feel reluctance .... i have been very blessed by their friendship. Thank you Lord.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boxes everywhere....

the movers were here on Thursday and Friday to do the packing and moving.

Even though we have moved cross-countries before, it doesn't seem to get easier with every move ;p

anyway, u can imagine a madhouse of boxes -- (but thank God for the pros!) and a few hiccups here and there ;p


thank God too that kaira was generally cooperative on the first day and the movers were kind enough to "entertain" her while packing ;p

on the second day, i am very grateful to my immediate neighbour who hosted kaira for abt 2 hours in the morning -- so kaira had a playdate with her son while i was busy cleaning up and ensure that nothing gets left behind :)

kaira having fun with the moving ......


and here is a picture of our boxes.....


.........a grand total of...............152 boxes!!! my mum is going to faint....... how are all these boxes gonna fit into their humble hdb flat?!?! heehee =D





Friday, October 28, 2011

I can cycle now!

i was undecided where to buy a 2-wheel pedal bike for kaira before we leave netherlands or wait till we are in singapore.

last saturday, we made a last minute decision to get her the 2 wheel bike ;p it's supposed to be her 4th birthday present :) and i was secretly hoping that she can learn to cycle it before she turns 4.

we bought her the 16 inches (i think) tall bike, meant for 4-6 years old and when she first tried her hand at it, she seemed too small for it and couldn't manage the bike well.  but it was not practical (money-wise) to buy the smaller one meant for 2-4 years old (at that moment, i kind of regretted not buying the 2 wheel bike earlier).  anywayz, we decided to go with the 16 inch bike as it's just rite for her age. but we thought it might be difficult for her.... and was prepared that she may need the back wheels! we bought the back wheels too !! -- talk about lack of faith in our daughter ;)

however, as her good friend Andre has been pedaling the 2 wheel bike since he was like 3 years old (maybe even earlier....i cannot really remember) .... i was keen for her to try to cycle without the back wheels first.

think hubbie was abit reluctant initially cos it's quite hard work for him ;p (since he's the one teaching her and holding the bike initially) but he's a good man.... he heeded my nagging and decided to give it a try.

they practiced on Sunday (and he was super tired from it cos he had to hold the bike while she cycles)....he was sweating buckets after like 20 minutes.... heehee. and he came back early on Monday evening to practice with her again.

kaira didn't have to chance to practice on tuesday and wednesday but we managed to find some time to practice on thursday while the movers were packing and i am so very proud of her that she was able to finally cycle the 2 wheel bike without assistance!!!

At least she didn't let her "host country" of the last 3.5 years down....haahahaha
(in case u r wondering, she does have a helmet -- just that it's already packed into the boxes! so we decided to let her practice without. her papa was very diligent, running aside her as she cycles!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Colors of Autumn

This is the road near my place.
this year, the redness of the trees seemed more pronounced :) the trees are balding soon.... i heard from a fren that temperature could be as low as -20degrees celsius this coming winter.


Hope that my frens who will be here for winter will be warm @ heart and keep warm always.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A foreigner Here. A foreigner at home (?).

One of the struggles i have these past few years living in the netherlands is that i feel that we are on the "fringe" of the society. And never fully integrated into it.

I guess it's partly our fault for not embracing the language and not putting in more effort to learn it.  But u know lah, at our ripe age of XX, it's difficult to learn another language.  while it's not difficult to grasp simple phrases and words but to be fully conversant and understand what's being said, takes alot more. as a result, our social circle comprises mainly foreigners even though we have our few dutch friends.

It takes both hands to clap and i know that this feeling of being apart from the society is partly contributed by myself ;D

As the foreigner, if i want to make this place my home, i need to do my part -- learn the language, do things their way etc .  Yet, when i see the foreigners in my homeland -- it seems that the locals are adapting so as to integrate them and not the other way round. i feel sad. Is it just me who feels this way??

when i am in a foreign land, i have to adapt to fit the foreign land i am in. at home, i have to adapt to the foreigners in my country.  What kind of logic is this??!?!!

Why do i say that? Just to give a few examples (can't remember when they happened, but definitely in the last few years on our annual trips back to sg)

- when i am in an eatery and i want to order in english.  the waiter/waitress (foreign talent) seemed to have difficulty understanding my english and i have to switch to chinese. no guesses for where the FT came from.
- i am queueing up and someone cuts queue -- @#$%^%^ -- i tell the person in front in english to go queue up and the person give me a "i don't understand you/i don't give a d&*%#^ look" -- i had to use my "powderful" chinese to make my point!! no guesses.

[i have many good chinese friends and i trust that they will not be offended by the above cos they know i am not one who discriminates or have racists views.... but incidents do happen to irritate me!!]


there were less irritating interactions ....like having to concentrate very hard to understand the bank customer service officer who speaks with a strong accent ;p or realising that the management of certain organisations are helmed by a certain ethnic group who tend to look out for their own kind ;p 

i guess all these are part and parcel of globalisation and learning to adapt and accept is the way to go.  Being in the position of a foreigner for the last 8 years have made me more understanding (i hope!) and tolerant. Afterall, we are all here to make a living......  let's not make it more difficult for everyone.  It is far nicer to be accepting and embracing -- it really makes a difference, especially when one is far away from home.  That is the sign of a mature society i suppose. 

However, my gripe is that our singapore govt seems to make it very easy for foreigners to come into singapore and live.  whereas other countries put the "burden" on the "foreigners such that the foreigners have to adapt to the local way of life, the message i get from the singapore govt seems to be let's embrace the foreigners and make it easier for them to integrate.  the onus seems to be on us the natives instead (@_@)

i am not saying that we should make it difficult for foreigners amidst us..... just that as the country wants to embrace the foreigners, it is a very fine line to thread.  Let's not make the local feel marginalised....that we NEED the foreigners more than they need us .........cos that can only result in greater resentment and we don't even need to talk about integration then!

why did i suddenly touch on a "sensitive" topic like this??  wellz, i had an interaction with a local here a couple of weeks back -- and i got the - don't talk to me if u don't talk dutch attitude.  pissed me off big time.  and made me so glad that i am leaving this place SOOOOON.  yet set me thinking that, i probably brought this upon myself for not working on the language hard enough and try to integrate ;p and then, it made me think about those incidences in singapore -- and how different it is in the 2 countries...... here the locals see themselves as "king" -- u foreign subject, u adapt to fit us! =D  but in singapore???!??! haizzzzz, i shall not say it out in black and white. u know, i know, can liao!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kaira @ Church

Today, the children's church performed 2 songs during the adult church service.  So proud of Kaira that she got most of the song actions and was singing quite loudly :)  will try to get the video later on ....

A big thank you to the teachers of the children's church for their efforts and guidance. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

"Smoke from my mouth"

This morning as we were getting ready to go to school.  A very excited Kaira called out to me "Mama, look! There's smoke coming out form my mouth" : D

I love children -- they are so innocent.

this can only mean i thing to me -- it's a cooooooold morning :(

i think it was ard 3-4 degrees celsius when we were heading out --- maybe it's time to bring out my gloves and hat ;) Make full use of them!! Thankfully, the sun is now out and it has warmed up! Unlike the past few days or was it the last week when it was perpetually raining :(  especially on wednesday.... it was just grey and wet and the rain lasted one whole day :( depressing to say the least.

I am just so glad to see the sun yesterday and today!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Control

I like being in control. I like to know when, how, what, where and whatever...... when i don't have control over situations/things, i feel stressed.

but in life, how often are we fully in control?

it's an irony for me i find. i know that in my life, there's only ONE who is in control and that is God but yet, how often have i found myself in situations where i try to play God.  I try to be in control, to plan and what have you.  But at the end of day, is it not God who is in control?

He who is the author and finisher of our faith.  He who made me from dust.  Who formed me in my mother's womb.  Whose plans are the best for me.

Yet, it seems difficult to accept that and live my life with the knowledge. For some unknown reason, i act as if i am the better one to be in control when it is obvious that it would be better to have the omnipresent and all-knowing God to be in charge.

The little devil sure knows the backdoor into my life to cause havoc.

In recent years i thought i've made progressed with respect to this area of my life. not perfect, but i can say i am trying my best to trust in the Lord.

Yet, with a young child now, i am faced with the issue of control again. I find myself being so upset when i do not have control over her actions/emotions.  If she doesn't behave in a way that i think she should, i get upset. Of course, as a parent we need to guide our kids and set parameters and lead them in the "right" path.  but in many circumstances, there isn't really a right and wrong, but rather a "preferred" way of doing things.  and i have found myself time and again, in that trap, of wanting to exert my preference fully on my child when it's not necessary. this results in unhappiness and grief both for me and my child. i am finding it difficult to lay this at the foot of the cross. I pray for wisdom. I pray for humility. I pray for grace. I pray that God will show me where i should let go so that He can come in and be the one who's bringing up Kaira. Surely, He does a better job than me. And i am but a vessel for Him. Let me not forget that, the next time i raise my voice at kaira and try to get her to do things my way.

There is a better way -- God's way.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Surreal

After talking about it for so long....... it's finally happening.  and it feels surreal..... ;)

In a few weeks time we will be saying bye bye to Eindhoven and Hello Singapore!!!!

A little sad that i am going to leave behind all the friendships that's been "built"that last 3+ years .... but not sad at all to leave behind the discrimination that we sometimes face and the feeling of always being on the fringe and not fully integrated into the society.

A tinge of reluctance because we will miss travelling and seeing more of Europe.

A sense of apprehension because once again, we are called out of our comfort zone.  And even though we are
going home, we have to go through the cycle again of adjustment.  But i trust it'd be easier.

To everything, there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven. 

I look forward to embracing all that's familiar once again!!!! To be able to comprehend everything ;) Pray that the Lord will bless kaira will new friends and good friends.  She has many friends now and i know she will miss them. May the Lord be gentle on her. 

Praise Be to God.


Saturday, October 08, 2011

One reason why Kaira loves Autumn


She simply loves to kick the leaves lying on the ground -- and they are in abundance!!!

Of course, autumn is rainy and she loves splashing about in the water puddles too.

Yes, these are 2 greatest pleasures of her life now.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Kaira's School Outing - Autumn Walk

Today is one of those days .... that didn't start off smoothly ;p

Firstly, i don't have my bike (my back tyre is punctured again and although i sent it in on Tuesday to have it replaced, they didn't have the spare parts and couldn't do it on the same day.  So i am to collect it today (thursday) in the afternoon).

Which means, i have to walk to school with kaira today. it's not so bad usually but it's morning school today and kaira (and myself) are simply not morning persons!! ;p So we were rushing rushing and rushing :D

And it's wet today. Good thing it was only very slight drizzle when we set off for school.

So i walked as FAST as i could....... and when we reached the school, i was greeted by the teacher who was surprised to see us in school! Why? because it's the autumn walk excursion this morning!! DUH.

we were supposed to meet @ 915am at the park opposite our place!! Haizzzz, we could have slept in and save ourselves some trouble if i wasn't so blurrrr.  somehow i don't remember reading the notice about it being today although i know it's happening in Oct.  aaaargh....whatever. so we had to walk home.  And then, it POURED! So we took refuge in the supermarket for a while ;)

Finally, we made it to the park on time.  Just like last year, Kaira had a great time picking up the acorns, brown leaves and so forth.  However, due to the weather, not all the kids turned up..... but at least her good fren was there :)





 


Thank God it all ended quite well! After the walk, her good fren andre came over for more play time and now she's so tired she's sleeping now while her lunch is waiting.

Be careful when travelling in Paris...

or maybe i should say, do be on alert when travelling, wherever you may be.

in 1 week, i've read true and personal accounts of 2 friends (on separate visits) who had had unpleasant encounters.

the first one is more severe, travelling in a car (with at least 3 other persons... i can't remember how many of them were in the car) - the car window was smashed and she was punched and robbed.

the second incident, was that of cheats .... putting a gold ring into your hand and demanding payment for it and being approached at train station and getting offers of help to pay for train tickets first and you can pay back later.

i suppose it's not uncommon to hear of such incidents in europe..... but 2 in one week and from personal friends just made me sit up.

a reminder to be careful and vigilant when we are travelling, whereever we are.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Seasons

One of the things i love about living in europe is experiencing the changing of seasons.  Looking forward to a new season and saying goodbye (even if temporary) to the passing season..... and the different activities of each season seem to add to an otherwise seemingly "boring" lifestyle.

love it when we look forward to the buds of the new spring. to the warmer spring breeze and the greenery that sprouts.

love it when summer sun means we can bask in the warmth.

love the colors of autumn foliage.

love the sight of first snow (although not the cold long wintry months)


it's autumn now and i am planning to bring kaira to pick chestnuts soon! but even as winter is a few months away, i am reminded today that christmas coming!! love the sight of the holly berries!!

holly berries

holly plant
enjoy autumn my frens and whatever warmth that remains :)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Disneyland Paris 2011 - Hotel & Misc

This trip, i chose the Disney New York Hotel for our accomodation.  It's nearer to the park (compared to Sequoia Lodge which we stayed in the last time) and although slightly pricier, i think it's a much better choice than Sequoia! ;p It's less tired and feels more comfortable. Still couldn't bring myself to pay to stay @ Disneyland Hotel this time ;p But happy with my choice! Won't hesitate to stay here again. 


This time round, Disney was markedly less crowded.  Think it's probably low season and we arrived on a Wednesday, not a popular day i suppose.  And i LIKE it! queues were  short and we hardly queued more than 15 minutes for the rides. We get good views of the parades and shows and it was a short wait when it comes to taking shots with the characters.  Really very happy that we didn't have to jostle with the crowds -- makes a difference!

Saturday was of course a crowded day -- but that was also our last day, so it was fine. The next time i plan a trip to Disney i shall remember to try to choose low seasons and weekdays :)

This trip, we did a lot more than our previous trip ! I had pretty low expectations about what we can do and we definitely exceeded it! heehee.  Blogging them down for memory's sake :
Disneyland Park :
- Casey Jr - le Petit Train de cirque
- Le Pays des Contes de Fees
- Its a small world
- Alice's Labyrinth
- Peter Pan's Flight
- Le Carrousel De Lancelot
- Blanche Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow white)
- sleeping beauty castle
- Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast
- Orbitron
- Aladdin's Passage
- Adventure Isle

Disney Studio :
- Animagique
- Cars Quatre Roues Rallye
- Crush's Coaster
- Art of Disney Animation
- Playhouse Disney live on stage
- Studio Tram Tour - Behind the Magic

and we managed to catch the parades for both parks as well as the Disney Dance Express and Mickey's Magical Celebration. We also caught the live Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show which was an interesting experience but not something i'm very impressed with ;p in fact, i was disappointed that there were no characters mingling with us diners :(  would have preferred that!


Monday, October 03, 2011

Reliving the "good old days"?!?

Kaira developed a fever on our last night in Disney.  Deja vu --cos she fell ill during our last visit to Disney as well! This time round i think she caught a "new" virus -- cos she experienced sore throat for the very first time!!

I first suspected sore throat cos she sounded hoarse at times (before the fever came on) but she didn't complain of pain or anything.  That night she didn't sleep well cos her nose was quite blocked. Then on Saturday, our last day in Disney, after drinking some water, she told me her mouth "stings" ..... and after asking her to do the swallowing action, confirmed that she's got a sore throat.

This is new to me !! And with all the information out on the net, it got me worried.... wondering whether she has contracted croup, or strep throat --  the more serious kinds of sore throat/cold. and being the weekend, there's no doctor to visit.

anywayz, when we got back on Saturday evening, i cooked some fish porridge for her. And i cooked porridge again for lunch/dinner on Sunday and now Monday too ;p seems like a LONG LONG time since i cooked those  mushy porridge for her ;p brings back memories... to when she just started on solids and all the 爱心粥 i cooked for her :D seems so long ago !  after a diet of porridge for 2.5 days i wonder if i will lose some weight ??  i really need to take some action to reduce some weight. I digress ;p

Anyway, today, she told me that it's no longer painful when she tries to swallow so that's good thing.  her appetite is also quite good unlike Saturday although her fever comes and goes -- one would expect that from a viral fever. she was fever-free on sunday morning and afternoon and so i thought she has recovered, but the fever came back again in the night, athough thank God she was not much affected by it, ard 38.5 degrees celsius. (better than the fever on Sat night which was around 39+degrees celsius) Her nose is also less blocked now, but it looks like it's developing into runny nose. But at least that we have experience managing ...heehee.

She's been quite active yesterday and today, so that's good.  Kept her at home today, hopefully she will be able to go back to school tomorrow.

Disneyland Paris 2011 - Rides we love and (not)!

We tried some new rides this time and there are 2 rides i want to blog about for memories' sake :

(1) Buzz LightYear Ride -- Thumbs Up!! Love it. It was very fun, child friendly and the graphics and setting awesome!
 
 

 (2) Crush's Coaster -- Inspired by Looking for Nemo.  We were not expecting such a "wild" ride!! ;p after the ride, kaira said she doesn't want to look for Nemo anymore ;p  Me too! It was a such a wild roller coaster ride and in the dark that I was screaming my lungs out. Kaira was brave throughout the ride until we exited the ride.... she started crying.... poor gal .... but nothing some gummy bears cannot calm! ;p
 
 

Kaira's favorites : madhatter's teacups, it's a small world, carousel and alice's labyrinth.






Sunday, October 02, 2011

Little Princess

The Tinkerbell outfit is meant for her 4th Birthday.  Obviously, she can't wait to wear it! So here's the "new TinkerBell"! I love her in this outfit, so cute.

On arrival @ Disney, i told her she can choose one princess dress -- thinking that she's going to choose the Tinkerbell outfit cos she's been quite obsessed with Tinkberbell -- but she chose an Ariel dress instead!! not even the Ariel princess dress..... geeeez. i was disappointed to say the least..... i tried to subtly influence her purchase decision but to no avail :p

The positive thing was, it was a relativey cheaper dress, so i figured we can afford another dress ;p and good thing too that tinkerbell's outfit is cheaper than the other princess' dresses .... ok ok, excuses i know. i just like the Tinkerbell dress, i think it suits her !! and so, we ended up with 2 dresses and 2 sets of shoes ;p Didn't i say we were indulgent??




Disneyland Paris 2011 - #4






Finally, something for us! :)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Disneyland Paris Trip 2011 - #3


This trip turned out to be alot more enjoyable and relaxing than we imagined.  Maybe because our impression from our last trip was that of us being very tired ;p hahaha....   think kaira really has grown up :)

I planned this trip entirely with Kaira in mind and i think, this is one trip when we indulged her ;) i planned for lunch @ Aurberge de Cendrillon (Cinderalla-themed restaurant) where she will get to meet the princesses and mingle with them. First thing i did when we checked in was to make a reservation! Glad that she really really enjoyed herself.

She loves princesses -- and that's what she got! overdose i say -- but she doesn't seem to think so!