Sunday 27 December 2009

Daddy's Home

Daddy's back from his studies and the kids were thrilled to see him again! I think they were missing him but not fully able to verbalise their emotions. For Ethan I think it manifested in extra tantrums and 'neediness', as well as quite a number of night wakings.... Talia would look at Daddy's pictures and call for him but was quite happy with myself and Auntie Mary -- till she saw Daddy and made a beeline for him, calling "Daddy, Daddy" and nestling in his arms for a looooong time......

Here is a happy clip of the 2 of them lounging with their favourite Daddy on our comfy sofa.

Saturday 12 December 2009

A Screaming Good Time

With her newfound mobility, Talia is now able to follow her brother when he decides to do fun things out in the corridor where life always seems much more happening! Here she is having a screaming good time wanting in on the action of her exciting Big Brother as he ventures Outside......

Thursday 10 December 2009

Our Special Father & Son Trip

We're going on a trip
In our little "rocket ship"
Ethan and Daddy, Ethan and Daddy

We're gonna have so much fun
Father and son
Ethan and Daddy, Ethan and Daddy

So goes the theme song of Ethan's favourite TV show, the very musical "Little Einstein" but these are of course our own words... This is our first Father and Son trip! I have been thinking about an overnight trip with just Ethan and me for a long time, and finally thought it was doable when Ethan just turned 3. He is easier to manage and put to bed, well behaved with Daddy, and of course loves spending time with his favourite Dad as well as anything to do with little black Subaru R1.

So I planned it, booked one night at nearby Thistle Hotel, Johor Bahru and started getting Ethan excited about this special trip with Daddy. "It's only us boys going!" I told him with great fanfare. He got the picture, "No Talia!" he roared with pleasure that temporarily overshadowed his love for baby sis.

After stuffing him with as much lunch as I could manage without being accused of treating him like foie gras, I bundled him in the car and prayed fervently that he would go to sleep. As you can see, he gets a fantastic view of the road even in the back seat of the R1 cos the front seat folds all the way down and acts as his foot rest and table! It's business class all the way if you're a toddler in a Subaru R1!

Finally, sleep happened after 15 minutes of crawling along the highway, and I took some detours to make sure he slept some more before we hit the causeway. True enough, he woke up at immigration but he was happy enough and we made it through after a long traffic jam on the Malaysian side.

The hotel is very near the causeway and we were there in a jiffy. They upgraded us for free to the seav/pool view room which is really quite nice. You can see our fantastic view of the pool from the 10th floor and the lovely bathroom with a huge window into the bedroom area.

After a quick rest and admiring our room, we got changed and packed our things for a swim. It's amazing how many things there are to pack for little 3 year old! We had a great time at the poolside where fluffy towels, brand new deck chairs and umbrellas awaited us.

After a roaring good time, replete with squeals, yells of laughter, insistence on "I swim alone Daddy," yelps of "I'm scared Daddy," and precious "Daddy's so much fun, I love you Daddy," we ordered some food and dried off. Great little chicken fillets coated with sesame seeds on a stick were served with various sauces on a beautifully presented tray. The fresh-cut-off-the-potato french fries were the best and all in was reasonably priced and a great hit!

It was mid-afternoon, the sun was disappearing behind clouds and it was getting cold. So went back to the room, showered off, watched TV and played with the best toy... the room itself. Yes, when Ethan is in a new place he loves to check out every switch, hinge, and fiddly thing he can find. His favourite was the walk-in closet cos it had automatic lights that turned on when you opened the doors and it had 4 doors and you could go in one and out the other.

I thought all was dandy and I could laze until dinner until the dreaded words came, "Daddy, I want to go home!" Yikes!! I bundled him up with promises of going out and having more fun. We scouted the hotel for more activies, but the only thing for kids is the pool. Since Ethan wanted to drive we loaded up the car with GPS and went driving. After Ethan "drove" for 5 minutes (on Daddy's lap in stationary car of course) we went for a car wash!

Ethan loves washing the car with me. In fact he wanted to wash it this time too. I tried to explain that we were actually paying someone to wash it for us this time. I don't think the weird concept got through to him. After all, why would you pay someone to wash and vacuum your car (even if only costs 8 RM) when it is the most fun thing in the world to do with your daddy?

I don't have pictures of what happened after that cos it was too stressful! Dinner was a total failure and almost derailed the whole trip! Being totally unfamiliar with Johor, I was heading towards "Claypot Chicken Rice" on my Garmin GPS but it was nowhere to be found. So rather than heading back to the hotel for pizza, I picked a simple place. Unfortunately we sat down and they ran out of this and that, and what we ordered was really not to his liking. He's normally not a fussy eater but he's used to good tasty food of many varieties and none of these fit the bill. You could see the dissatisfaction written on his face as he nibbled on the noodles and only had a few mouthfuls of soup. Then it came again, "Daddy I want to go home!" I may be a grown man, but I got a bit terrified...

We quickly finished what we could and I distracted him more activities as we walked around somemore and I hoped to find something tasty around the corner for him. Hooray! A bakery saved the day and we got a hot dog bun and sugar roll which made him happy. Once the carbs and sugar got in him he was a happy camper again.

As we drove off he very helpfully repeated all the GPS voice prompts and gave me clear instructions. "Daddy, your phone says turn left. Can you turn left okay?" We neared the hotel and I pointed it out to him. "Ethan that's our hotel. A hotel is our new home for just 1 night and tonight is boys only." A grin spread on his face, "Can I sleep with you in the hotel daddy? Can I sleep with you in your bed?" Hooray, the day was on its way to being saved...

Here is Ethan relaxing and enjoying himself after we got back to the room, finished off our bread and enjoyed music and a fun bath time with Daddy. After this came milk and story time and we were settling down to the difficult task of bedtime. I read one of his favourites, "Clifford the Big Red Dog" and then the most dreaded question of all erupted. "Daddy, where's Mummy?" What could I say? I tried explained that we're on holiday and Malaysia is far away and that they already charged my credit card for the room but he still wanted "home and Mummy!" We were only a few minutes away from tears which is the point of no return... I don't know what happened next exactly. It was a combination of more stories, insistence of boys only fun, prayer for HEEEELPP from God, and he calmed down. After lots of restfulness demanding all the different N! permutations of lights to be on/off (where N is the number of lights in your hotel room), he finally settled when I turned off all the lights and drew the curtains so it was pitch black.

He fingered around for my hands, head, and mouth and managed to stick his fingers up my nose but we laughed and quietened down. 10 minutes passed he was fast asleep, after which he turned over and wrapped his arms around me. We stayed like that for a long time while I thought of all the things I could write about today.

Night time went okay, and apart from being a little cold and coughs happening we made it through to morning and the long awaited breakfast. It was actually quite a nice breakfast but hard to enjoy when there's only one adult taking care of one toddler. Here he is enjoying sausages and chocolate milk!

After breakfast we went for another round of swimming which brought us to 10.40am. Since breakfast was just closing we managed to sneak in another round of prata and juice for free! One clean up and a big bubble bath later, we were happy and ready to go home...

This is our final picture taken in room just as we were all packed to go back in our little black "rocket ship". Thank you God, for helping me when it was really scary at times ! And thanks for giving us this special FIRST FATHER AND SON trip together!

After we arrived back home in Singapore later that night, Mummy put Ethan to bed. He told her, "I love my Daddy..." That makes it all worth it huh?

Monday 7 December 2009

SuperTali !

Ethan's surprised us by being quite generous to Talia. Recently, he decided to share his favourite bib with Talia and even lovingly put it on for her....Unfortunately in his exuberence he put it wrong side up and back to front for her!
Ever the good natured sister, Tali (as she is affectionately known at home) hardly minded the slight oversight and after getting used to the new bib, decided she quite liked the new Superhero look! Here is SuperTali looking quite indestructible in the play corner......
......and here is the Architect of Chaos looking very pleased with himself (despite a very runny nose)!

Thursday 3 December 2009

LOVE Ethan!

It's lovely to see Talia's personality emerging day by day and like her brother, we can see that she's got a sweet and tender heart. Her affection is most often displayed on the soft toys that she likes to cuddle and play with, but she is also very affectionate to the special people in her life too. She often comes around to "pat pat" us and I am often pleasantly surprised by a little hug from behind me when I am sitting on the floor! We managed to capture this tender moment with Talia while Ethan was busy playing with his musical toy......

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Stuck On You

Ethan loved the mega Dora sticker book that Gu Ma bought for him a couple of weeks ago! (We still keep it as a back up for rough days!)
Here he is generously sharing his stickers with his unsuspecting sister......

Saturday 31 October 2009

Birthday Bash!

Ethan & Talia turned 3 & 1 ! Their birthdays are just 2 weeks apart so we had a combined birthday party for them on Children's Day. The kids loved the cake that was lovingly baked by Ah Mah, and Ethan helpfully blew Talia's candle out for her!
We had a simple Ice Cream party and with help from Aunty Sharon & Aunty Cheryl, it was quite a bit of fun for the kids.
The Birthday Boy certainly had a great time at his own party. Aunty Sharon lent him her camera and he had a great time snapping away!
But the highlight of the party was probably when all their friends came along bringing their favourite bikes, cars and scooters and the ensuing excitement of running, driving, chasing and screaming that followed!

Even little Talia got her fair share of happy driving before retiring for her morning nap....

Daddy's party-blowers were quite a hit too! The kids loved them and discovered the new skill of multi-tasking -- cycling while blowing them and using them to flick passing kids!
It was quite hilarious to watch the kids having a crazy time with each other and thanks to Aunty Sharon who captured these moments on her camera. Although it was exhausting preparing for the party it was also very heartwarming seeing the kids having such a memorable time together. I'm really grateful for the warm support of our families and feel very blessed for the friendships that we and our kids have here.
Happy Birthday Ethan & Talia! May you always be surrounded in the warm knowledge that you are deeply loved!

Monday 19 October 2009

Playtime Buddies

Mom: Ethan and Talia are enjoying their playtimes together much more with Talia becoming more mobile, expressive and capable of playing with her brother, whom she really looks up to with expressions of rapt admiration!

Dad: Really is nice to see them get along so well. Talia will allow Ethan to play with her toys and he will (usually) teach her how to use them rather than take them away to a corner. "Talia, this is blocks Talia!"
Mom: Her generous big brother has taught her how to appreciate blocks, balls......

Mom: ...and of course his treasured car!! I must say he has been very good in sharing with her (and others) and clearly enjoys taking her on rides and even trying to teach her how to drive!

Mom: His lessons on the joys of sharing have only just begun, but we are quite proud to see our two kids get along so well and even passers by have to break into smiles when they see these two cackling with delight!
Dad: See his protective arm around his sister. Look in the video and see how he grabs her hand and places it on the steering wheel to teach her.... then laughs in delight! We sure hope they continue to appreciate one another as they get older!

Sunday 18 October 2009


Ethan's just got his first chopsticks from Por Por and has been eager to try them out! Here he is trying them out on his donut peach at lunch. Its a surprisingly simple and easy idea -- 3 simple rings for toddlers to slip their fingers through and learn how to use chopsticks in under 5 minutes! (2 mins if you are a gadgety guy like Ethan!)
Of course, after tiring of the donut peach (and after it has disappeared into his tummy), Ethan decides to try picking up his little sister with his newfound gadget....

Friday 16 October 2009


Ethan's cycling! Daddy is so excited but I'm not there to see it! He's had a tricycle for a while but just got the hang of moving his feet is circles. Ohhhh... he likes the speed. Here he is maneuvering quite expertly through the obstacle course of our corridors, looking quite pleased with himself at his new found capabilities.

Thursday 8 October 2009

My Son, Ethan

I had to write a descriptive piece about something to think about improving our powers of imagery. So I decided to write "My Son, Ethan." Of course this pic shows two of my favourite cute animals but this particular piece is about the one on the left. Enjoy!

It is funny how a name sticks with you. Your parents leafed through pages of books and consulted wise family members to choose a good one for you (now we surf the Internet) and voila! Slapped on the back, you clear your airways and enter the world with a voracious yell. Your name is bestowed. It becomes distinctly you and you are that name. My son was given a name – Ethan. Now, despite the infinite choices that bombarded us and some which nearly stuck, it is clear that he could have never been any other thing – Ethan was the only possibility.

“Windows into the soul” is what they call them… eyes that is. He sports two magnificent specimens. They’re wonderfully formed into almonds – that’s what people constantly say. I’ve never thought much of almonds before, but now I think they’re beautiful. His eyes are topped with a double serving of eyelids and long lashes that would make any mascara masquerading teenager green with envy.

Before he could talk he would speak volumes with those eyes. They could wrench your heart from the cavity of your chest, and just as easily melt it while you crumbled to the floor. They were his voice, but they were also his weapons – wielded as skilfully as any stone that flew from sling to a giant’s head. Yes, whole armies of our frustration and anger were felled with those eyes. Yet weapons also reveal weakness, and his too opened wide marvellous gateways into the fortress of his soul. He didn’t mind you see, for this young boy instinctively trusted the two giants who named him. When he could talk he would scamper energetically around the living room loudly declaring which toys he would conquer next. “I’m not sleepy!” announced the trumpeted cry, but his eyes gave him away. Those windows into his soul were wide as ever, but they became ever so lightly cloudy and moved imperceptibly slower. They were his downfall, telegraphing state of affairs more true than even he knew. Bundling him up amidst frequent protests we would ship him off to be imprisoned in the wooden cage that frames his bed.

There he sits. Defeat rapidly turns to delight as he takes in familiar surroundings. Mr. Turtle and Twinkle Star beckon in a restful routine of bedtime congeniality. “Daddy, come inside?” This request combines the power of his inviting voice and those irresistible eyes pulling me to leave my realm and enter his world – his cot. I can rarely resist this cosmic pull, and why should I want to? No, I abandon myself to this futility, stepping over the rails and curling up beside my bundle of laughter and happy giggles. We lie down nose to nose and our eyes meet. This is love.

The next morning he greets me far too early with energy exceeding my sleepy state. Those eyes are bright and full of expectant glee for what the day will bring. “Ethan, I have a surprise for you!” The almonds grow wide and glassy. Like pools of ink they brim with words describing all that a young boy could ever want. It could be a car ride, a new toy, or a visit to grandma’s house – these are all wonderful things but most of all he’s happiest to have special times with Daddy. It’s funny how the ordinary things are most remembered and requested. A broad smile frames expectant eyes when he senses the possibility of washing Daddy’s car or having that picnic with Daddy’s fire cooking bacon for Ethan.

His eyes look a little sadder recently. I am on the opposite side of the world and we cannot share the special things that only Daddy does. Pixels substitute play-time and digitized voices just don’t replace those universe-shattering bed times. “Jesus, thank you for Daddy in America” he prays. “I miss Daddy because only Daddy comes inside.” His bed is there and I am here. I stare in the mirror and subtract three decades of puffy bags and surrounding lines. There they are. At least I have his eyes.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Daddy's Classmates

Daddy is away from home at Asbury Theological Seminary. Here is the new international family for these few weeks while Mummy, Ethan and Talia are far away.

From left to right is Sitali (Zambia), Isaac (Liberia), Daddy, John (kinda famous guy who started the whole of Methodism stuff!), Sorin (Romania), Rob (Canada), Meeli (Estonia), Juan (Colombia), and Rodney (Mauritius). They're a great bunch of pastors, district superintendents, and seminary presidents! Beeson International Leaders class of 2009.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Gong Gong's Birthday

Gong Gong had a special birthday celebration last month and Aunty Ruth and Josie came all the way from Australia to celebrate!
Talia was on her best behaviour and sat with Gong Gong for a looooong time devouring a yummy peach with all of her 2 new teeth!
After polishing off a great lunch by Por Por, all the kids got down to super fun and a grand time playing with all the cousins.
Daddy had fun cuddling the little uns too!
It was a really memorable time with all of the family taking time to be together. Ethan still misses Josie and still asks "Where is Josie?" when we gather as a family!

Monday 28 September 2009

Daddy is in School

The time has come and Daddy is standing on the green Kentucky grass on Asbury Theological Seminary's campus. Behind me are the apartments where 8 of us in my cohort live. We come from 8 different countries representing 5 continents. In front me is the building housing the programs and classes that are the reason for our being here. The Beeson International Center for Biblical Preaching and Church Leadership

I'm here alone for the next 6 weeks, away from family for slightly longer than that as I meet other churches here in the US. Pray not only for me but also for Renata, Ethan and Talia back home!

Sunday 27 September 2009

Want to Wash the Car Daddy?

One of Ethan's favourite activities is to wash the car with his daddy. He's getting quite good at it though he still needs help pointing the powerful water hose and sometimes soaps up the car after I have already dried it!

After washing the car he always wants to taste the fruits of his labour with his favourite Dad. "We drive the car now Daddy!" After a day of washing the car it will usually score highly on his list of what to thank Jesus for that day.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Bath Buddies

Like most babies, Ethan and Talia love their bath times. It's not just about getting clean -- it's a whole other sensory experience that includes lots of happy splashing and feeling the freedom from clingy clothes and cumbersome diapers wearing only your skin! It's also a great time of bonding intimately with the important people in your life.
Talia enjoys regular bathtimes with her favourite Daddy but a few weeks ago, she had her first bath with Ethan! As you can see, Ethan seems to have been the happier of the two since it was like a reunion with his old bathtub (now Talia's) since he graduated from it more than a year ago!
Although Talia wasn't thrilled with having to share her bath with Ethan, she seems to have warmed up to having a new bath buddy once in a while and I'm sure this won't be the last you will see of them sharing baths on this blog!

Thursday 10 September 2009

A Grand Time

Talia has been such a sweetie and is so loving to her daddy recently. With the morning off we are now in Vivo City. Ethan is playing outside with mummy while Talia is napping on her favourite daddy who is enjoying iced frappucino on this warm day! There is nothing quite like having a calm and trusting baby fall asleep on you. Ladies passing by are glancing with "awwww...." looks too! :)

Monday 24 August 2009

Fountains of Fun!

Cousin Josie and Aunty Ruth were in town recently and one of the first places we went to was the Vivocity Playground for all the kids! Ethan had a good time playing with Josie but was a very caring big brother when Talia joined in. Here he is helping her enjoy the water fun... ...
......and it didn't take long for her to warm up to the joys of splashing around! Its funny how different personalities come out through play -- she seems to be much more adventurous about getting wet than Ethan who is usually more interested in the mechanics of water-pouring in his various cups, cans and pails!

It was a little difficult getting all 3 cousins in the same photo as they were running aroung quite a bit! Managed to catch them on in action in this video tho!

Thursday 20 August 2009

40 Winks

We were having lunch in a small restaurant when Ethan fell asleep while eating! There was unchewed spaghetti in his mouth which he later swallowed after he woke up from his brief nap... Yummy!

Monday 10 August 2009

Time with Grandparents

Ethan & Talia enjoy the time they spend with their grandparents. Here is Ethan learning how to bake with Ah Mah. Like his Daddy, he tends to take his culinary skills quite seriously......
Looking very pleased with himself with the end product of his hard work (with a lot of help from Ah Mah!)
Talia is still to young to bake but certainly old enough to enjoy a nice breakfast at the club.

Somehow the kids always manage to save their best behaviour for their grandparents!! (wish this could last all day....)