Showing posts with label Favourites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Favourites. Show all posts

Sunday 9 September 2012

Yet Another Train Journey

Daddy and Ethan took yet another KTM train journey, our fourth thus far. Ethan is now old enough to call it a father-son trip, and was expectantly looking forward to it. He sang about what would happen, how boys would be with boys and the girls would have their own mother-daughter outing.

That day he asked 100 times when we were going to train station. Mum and Talia left for Bollywood-Veggies early in the morning so we had the day together as well. We filled it with lunch at Marche and the afternoon working in Daddy's office before setting off in the evening.

"Daddy, I think this KTM train is nice but it's a little old," he said when we boarded. I assured Ethan that it was the same as the other KTM trains we took but because he had just been on the JR Kyushu trains, the Malaysian ones looked old!

We happily ate dinner in the sleeping bunk as the train left Woodlands at 7.00pm sharp. After chatting, reading, snacking, and exploring Ethan was tired but not wanting to sleep. Fortunately Daddy recognized the symptoms and enforced story and bedtime. After that, all was quiet and Ethan slept till morning.

At 6.45am I was awoken with an excited yell, "Daddy, we're still on the train!" This is how Ethan always wakes up the KTM sleeper - happy and bubbly! We munched on biscuits while waiting for our stop. Daddy discovered that our train was an hour behind schedule, so we got off early at Dabong rather than at Kuala Krai so we wouldn't miss the return train home.

One iced milo, two tea tarikh, and two roti cenai later we were refueled. After restocking drinks and packing lunch we were back waiting for the train.

Daddy noticed a new poster for a new train (Malayan Tiger Train) that supposedly started in Jan 2012 running between Johor Sentral an Tumpat. The sleeper berths are a new design and they look nice. Daddy will have to check it out for a future train trip. Since we are getting quite accustomed to these trips, we also need to raise the bar a little. Daddy is thinking about bringing the Brompton, cycling around and staying in a simple hotel for the night before catching the return leg to Singapore -- two nights with cycling and trains!!

We are now enjoying the scenery aboard the train. Lots of interesting rock formations rising out of the tropical rainforest here in northern Malaysia. It's almost time for our nasi lemak lunch, though Ethan has been snacking so much that we are both quite full.

I just discovered that JR Kyushu donated these decommissioned trains to Malaysia. I would have taken this on this recent trip if I had known. Will take next time with family. Can go from JB (not Singapore yet) to Wakaf Bahru (Khota Bahru). Great for overnight then homestay or Renaissance Hotel in Khota Bahru! :) Japan also donated trains to Thailand so I gotta figure out whether these trains are running there yet!

If you watch this youtube video all the way to the end, the contrast between the last carriage showing Malaysian culture and the rest is quite funny! :)

Earlier today I discovered that there is a new train running on this line, the "Malayan Tiger Train.". I googled it after I got home. Imagine my pleasant surprise to discover the train itself was a donation from Japan! To be exact, it is the blue train from JR Kyushu that used to run between Tokyo and Kyushu. Now renamed as the Malayan Tiger Train, it runs on the East line between Johor Bahru and Tumpat!

Ethan always has such a wonderful time on these trips, and he is now becoming more aware that his Dadday makes special effort to spend time with him on these outings. I think he is very grateful, though of course he cant express it in words. A super big hug, lots of "I love you Daddy!" makes it so worthwhile. Plus of course we know that we're building strong foundations of memories for the future!

Friday 4 May 2012

Pedal Cycling Day One

Ethan got his first pedal bike, a Specialized Hotrock 16 with coaster brakes. Daddy chose this one as it has decent components and an aluminium frame to make it a reasonable weight. Lots of time on his previous balance bike has made my cycling son adept at balancing so we started his bike riding career with no training wheels and he has taken to it very well. After a bit of practice of how to get started he is doing very well. This ride is after about half an hour of practice and no falls! Daddy sure is proud!

Thursday 15 September 2011

The 2-Child Brompton

We just got a second seat for our Brompton! This one is much larger and excellent quality with 5 point harness, reclining seat, and head rest with space for helmet.

I picked up the seat second hand, brand new, from someone who couldn't fit it onto his Dahon. It's tough with foldies, but a few modifications (mainly to the setback distance to the seatpost) and we were in business out riding in East Coast Park that very same evening!

This video is the very first time that Ethan and Talia rode on the Brompton at the same time. Listen for squeals of joy! It makes it all worthwhile...

All three of us loved the experience of being together. Ethan and Talia are quite attached to one another, so this new experience of being with one another and with Daddy is quite a thrill. Of course the speed makes it all the much better, though needless to say since I was carrying an additional 35kg load it was slower than usual.

More recently, I took both of them out on a more adventurous urban outing. We did some short distances on roads from Pinnacle to Lau Pa Sat for a satay dinner, then on to Marina Bay Sands for the evening light show. It was a great success, especially since I had tweaked the setup and the tire pressure so we were much faster. It's just amazing how well the Brompton handled this load. As someone once wrote, "A folding bike with small wheels like this shouldn't be able to carry loads this well!" But it does... As we were eating satay, Talia looked over at our folded Brompton with two child seats contorted around it and proudly said, "That's our bike Dad!"

Tech note: Total weight < 110kg, front bracket = 15kg, rear seat 20kg with mounting point < 5cm to seat clamp minimizing moment loading. I wouldn't ride the bike daily like this, but for the occasional outing it seems well within Brompton tolerances.

Monday 27 December 2010

Bali: A Father and Son Travelogue

We are beginning our Bali father and son trip. Goo Ma took us to the airport and here we are enjoying Ya Kun before checking in. Ethan is very much looking forward to it, and Daddy is filled with nervous anticipation.

Blankies are the best! Ethan had a short nap before we got on the plane and is now rearing to go. We are taking off now...

Ethan saw me completing the immigration forms and asked for his passport he could work on things too!

Padmore Resort is a really nice and very big resort! Here is Ethan enjoying the great room. He already said that the bathtub was really nice and while we were walking around looking for dinner gushed, "This is the best hotel ever!"

We had a great day which included a quick swim, snacks by the pool and a late dinner with old friends. Ethan loosened up with the older kids after a while and all were having a whale of a time. It was great to see so much warmth and fun and we've only been here half a day!

One year ago Ethan and I did a one night father-son trip in JB. That time the bedtime was hardest. What a difference now! He was such a good boy and listened to everything daddy said. Upon seeing the welcome fruit platter he asked, "Apple! Can I have some apple daddy?" I offered to cut it for him but he likes to munch on it whole. "Do you think it will be nice with the milk we bought today daddy?" I assured him that I thought it would be great, so here he is just before story time and nap time! That's "bear bear" whom he tucked in beside himself by the way...

We chartered a big bus today for almost 20 of us including kids. Ethan had a great view of happenings up front and there was even a microphone he could use to make his announcements. He pretended it was a train and that he was the conductor. He kept saying "All aboard!" and "People, we are arriving at Terminal 3!" I'm sure his favorite part of the whole excursion today is the bus itself!

Today was a bit hard on daddy because we travelled a lot with a schedule not tailored to young kids and it rained quite a bit. Overall though, Ethan was well behaved and he slept in my lap while we were on the road taking 2 short naps today.

Like I said, yesterday was a bit tough with the rain and a little boy who doesn't like getting one grain of sand in his crocs. He wasn't too enthused with this particular outing but overall loved the bus trip and all the friends.

Our room and the standalone bath is really great! Last night we had a bubble bath which Ethan really enjoyed as you can see!

It was a great way to clean up after a long bus outing during which he played conductor, made announcements, and sold ice cream to everyone who would pay "91 cents" for the flavor of their choice. He stopped at one point in the bath, smiled with a look of remembrance and said, "Everyone says I'm a good conductor Daddy!" I truthfully assured him this was so. Though I offered him a swimming day with Daddy the day after, he eagerly wanted to be on the bus with everyone!

Just before the bath I scolded Ethan rather fiercely for not wanting to brush his teeth. The blood drained from his face and he started crying, "I want mummy!" This was enough to terrify any grown man. So I hugged him until he calmed down. Later he said in a very calm way, "I want mummy and Talia." I reminded him that this was a special boys holiday and he sweetly said in a non-complaining voice, "I like my family with everyone." He is very happy with Daddy and j thunk he will go back loving Mummy and Talia even more. I think this is a great thing about trips like this.

The next morning we did something totally new... Jetskiing! Here we are pictures in our jetski togs. After Ethan complained about sand and diet yesterday, I was a bit worried today especially as it was drizzling and not the sunny day we had hoped for! But Ethan ran on the beak into the water ad hopped onto the "water motorcycle" which is what I told him it was. When we took off he literally screamed with joy and laughter that could be heard over the waves! The overpriced $15 ride for 10 min was worth every rupiah!

After cleaning up we ate home made kueh lapis and Korean strawberry ice-cream. I didn't mind the long traffic jam afterwards as Ethan napped for 1 hour in my arms on the way to a late lunch.

Having dried off from jet-skiing the gang went shopping. Since we have Indonesians in our reunion group we get to go to local places so here we are. We bought 2 big beautiful kites and 2 tiny oil paintings of a cat and dog. Ethan and Talia each get one for play and to decorate their bedroom. Ethan thinks about his sister very often and loves to get things for her. Here he is after the shopping trip superbly entertaining himself with drawing while we waited for the ladies to finish their shopping.

Ethan and I had great fun today. It was the first non-rainy day since we got here so it was a great day for the pool. We met an Australian who went to the same high school as Daddy and Ethan played with their 2 pretty girls. They were both jumping off the ledge into the pool which Ethan tried, but this new feat was trickier than anticipated cos the poor fella jumped straight up instead of forward, landed square on his rump then slid into the water! Howls of "Daddy, my bum bum!" were mixed with my comfort and laughter at this unfortunate accident!

We did some coloring after that and the 2 Aussie girls eagerly joined in. Three year old Hannah was really cute and chatty. I think she took more of a liking to me than to Ethan, and asked me to sit next to her at breakfast tomorrow!

After I checked out of the hotel, I gave Ethan his colouring book to entertain himself. He asked me how to spell "Talia" and after I said the letters he wrote out his sisters name and proudly showed it to me. I was impressed with his writing ability and told him so, but I loved him loving and missing his sister which I told him so! I think this Father-Son trip is good for their sibling relationship too!

We left the hotel and went on a driving excursion with friends before I had to go to the airport. On the way, the adults were having a lively discussion and Ethan was the only child in our car. He started putting his hand over my mouth and saying "Shhh Daddy!" After a few rounds of this interruption I asked, "Ethan, we're talking. Why don't you want Daddy to speak?" He looked up at me with large round eyes and patiently explained, "Because I want you to talk to me Daddy."

After a long flight we have finally arrived. I was exhausted cos when Ethan sleeps, I keep an eye to make sure he is safe. On the plane when I try to sleep I get prying fingers on my eyelids and a a cute voice saying, "Wake up Daddy! Don't sleep!"

On the way back from Bali it was really sweet to hear Ethan talk a lot about his sister whom he said he missed. In fact he was rather disappointed to learn that she would be asleep when he got home and he could only talk to her in the morning. Peals of laughter could be heard the next morning and both of them raced into our room and climbed into our bed early in the morning in celebration of this joyous reunion!BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Monday 6 December 2010

Ethan "Armstrong" Liew

Ethan is really getting into cycling and is thus becoming more and more like Daddy! It's funny how he is scared to climb high things in the playground but he is undaunted by speed, balance, and steering. He's taken to his balance bike really well so much so that 2 year old Talia is really keen to have a go even though she's too short! Daddy is looking on eBay for a good quality 16" bicycle (pedals this time) preferably with pedal brakes. Trek Mystic 16 anyone?

Thursday 20 May 2010

The Little Black Car

Some time ago we found this cute little car dumped by the side of the road ready for the garbage collector. It wasn't working but it was still clean so we salvaged it as we thought that just sitting in it, the kids would have fun. That they did, but with a recycled battery and some loving fixing, Daddy got it working again! "Grandma, we fixed the car!" Ethan proudly claimed. He had such great fun driving it around. It was most fun to see him driving Talia around in the little car.

Around that time, I came back from my long 7 week overseas study trip. Mummy and Ethan had made this fantastic "Welcome Home Daddy!" poster. It got me thinking...

Why not have a father-son project together? If Mummy and Ethan had such a wonderful time hand painting (and Daddy doesn't like arts and crafts) then Daddy and Ethan can have a father-son project. And what better project than fixing up a car? Sure, Ethan's car was moving but we could spruce it up a little....

Some of the electrical work was done without a 3 year old toddler pulling at everything, but we did other stuff together. Ethan loves fiddling with tools while Daddy fixes things. It really is doing things together and he is always careful to say later that, "Daddy and I did it!" We don't have enough pictures to cover everything, but in the end the whole body was dismantled and repainted so we had lovely black and silver convertible!

Photos of Ethan and Talia were printed and cut to fit on the steering wheel and the rear boot. It was their very own car and they loved!

Below is the picture that is on the steering wheel, though on the steering wheel it also has the caption "Ethan and Talia's Car." When Ethan first saw it he yelled, "Talia it's yooouuuuu!" And when Talia was a passenger for the first time she kept pointing at it saying, "Ethan... Ethan!"

The project was completed during the school holidays so for about 2 weeks after that, Ethan would drive the car every opportunity he got. In fact, he would often jump out of bed and run to the car. The corridors outside our apartment were totally safe at that time, so we would often awake to happy sound of the whirring electric engine and squeals of happiness going up and down the corridor. He very quickly became an excellent driver with only one hand and very good spatial judgment, managing to maneuver his car through doors and into elevators and go very close and fast but just miss doors and walls! Needless to say, he made his Daddy very proud!

It gave us an extra kick when we saw the same car selling brand new in the shop for $230. Of course, our black and silver custom model was priceless as were all the memories that have been tucked away with it.

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?

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......

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!