Tuesday, January 22, 2013


We checked in, kissed Brian goodbye and made our way to the boarding gate. So far it was just another fly-from Changi occasion. So we thought - until I asked Craig where he'd like to sit as we wait to board. He chose a far corner of the waiting lounge where there was only another lady seated. As we approached the seats, I realized that she was not just any other lady - it was the one who played, well, the lady, in The Lady, a movie about Aung San Suu Kyi. It was Michelle Yeoh (!) who was also flying to home to Ipoh for the Xmas holidays.

True to what we have always heard about this beautiful Bond girl, she's friendly, personable and most obliging - as we asked for a picture with her. After her picture with Craig, the other waiting passengers realized who she was and started asking for pictures. (Oops - did I blow her "cover"?). 
While I was clearly star-struck, to C, she's just another pretty pleasant "aunty" who tried to make conversation with him at the airport and showed him videos on her iPhone as we waited to board our plane. One day, he'll know...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Family day out: Part Two

After a morning out in the sun, we strolled across the East Coast Parkway to the Singapore Marina Bay Sand ArtScience Museum to the second part of our day out. We have driven past this architectural work of art many times and decided that a Lego art exhibition is the perfect reason for us to make our way there.

The Art of the Brick exhibition by New York-based artist Nathan Sawaya was truly inspiring. Using merely standard Lego pieces, he built 52 awesome sculptures including a 6-meter long T-rex dinosaur skeleton which was C's highlight. We loved the sculptures and the fact that there was a play area with Lego for visitors to play with at the end of the exhibition. Most parts of the exhibition were children-friendly except one which C would tell you that it's spooky as they had strobe lights, smoke and scary displays.

What a happy day it was!
I'm thankful these are not strewn around our apartment!
Clowning with the strobe light feature
Shadow play
Looking for the tiny red dot called Singapore
Inspired play

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Family day out: Part One

Though we live in a city where many travel from around the world to visit, we don't do enough in this beautiful cosmopolitan that has so much to offer. Last Friday we decided to change that and be tourists for a day. Craig's school was closed for the day and that was the perfect excuse.

After fueling up on a hearty breakfast at home, we made our way to our first stop - Singapore's Gardens by the Bay. We have heard so much about this new hotspot in town but it was only two weeks ago that I finally I visited this new city-attraction with my mom and aunt when they were here for their sisters getaway. My first reaction was that it should be on our regular family outing list.

What's there not to love - lots of space for C to run and expand his boundless amount of energy, educational (lots to learn about global flora and the ecosystem) and it's free (if you choose not to visit the two indoor conservatories). Our first activity was a stroll on the OCBC Skyway which connects two environmentally sustainable SuperTrees. At 25-metre high, it offered an impressive view of the park and of the city.
We took our time to explore the various regions within the Park and concluded our visit with lunch at the Supertree Dining foodcourt. We decided to skip the conservatories as we reckoned we would be returning in February when Nana's visiting. (Yes, Nana - we can't wait!) Check out more pixs here. There's a second part to our outing - watch this space!
Ouch! Petrified - wooden sculpture of a lion.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Loving the lessons

As our little man turns three and a half, and as it's almost always summer here, anytime is a good time for him to start his swimming lessons. It's such a bonus that we live right behind a swimming complex where we can walk right over on our Saturday mornings for his lesson with Mr Wayne.
C was quick to come to a verdict after the first (also a trial) lesson - a BIG yes! We love the fact that his class is a relatively small group - usually five or so of little ones around C's age. Hence an alteration to our Saturday morning ritual: it's now swimming lesson before C's Happy Meal breakfast treat. And so far, we're all lovin' it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's The Cat!

Ever since Craig was a few months' old, we had started reading him Dr Seuss's books - from One Fish, Two Fish to the more advanced Horton Hears A Who and, the classic, The Cat in The Hat. Needless to say, when we saw the made-for-television Cat in The Hat science series when we visited the US, it became an instant favorite. Back in Singapore we watch them on DVD as they're not screened on local channels.

A few Fridays ago, Craig's school was closed for the day for staff training. And in planning for the day, I came across the fact that a play adapted from the Cat in The Hat was premiering in town. We decided to surprise the little one. When we finally arrived at the theatre we told him what we were there for. He was at first pleased but then went on to say that he wants a movie of The Cat instead of a play. Of course he had no idea what a play was. Guess what? Whining turned into face-wide smiles and giggly laughter three seconds into the play. The production received overwhelming favor from the young happy audience. To top off a wonderful family day out, we lunched at the 3.5 year-old's favorite ramen joint - Ramen Play. Everything was evidently a thumbs up!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Clogging fun

I love it when I can have Craig travel with me on my work trips. One such opportunity came when I was to be in Ipoh two weeks ago. What topped that was the fact that there's where my parents are. We stayed for a week there so C could catch up with GungGung while I got to nestle in the comfort of my mom's cooking. While B was home alone in Singapore, it was good time for him to make substantial progress on his doctorate thesis.

One of things we decided for C was that we would attempt to expose him to as many childhood experiences as possible from both our cultures. From strolling with a dragon lantern on Autumn Festival to turkey and green bean casserole on Thanksgiving, we want to make sure that he experiences and appreciates the richness of cultural diversity. 

While at a provision store stocking up on Ipoh's famous soy sauce, we came across some handmade Chinese clogs for kids. There was no way I was going to let this pass. So we got the 3.5-year old a pair and taught him how to walk in them. Here's a video of the boy entertaining us with his silly antics. 

*Note on the dialogue: As we were watching a lot of the badminton games during the Olympics, he thought that all the events at the Games were called badminton!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Turkey - revisited

It seems like I'm making up for lost time as I had just returned from my second trip to Turkey in six months. This time my visit started off in Izmir (ancient Smyrna) for a conference followed by few days of stay in Bursa where I caught up with M and her family.

The conference in Izmir was held at a coastal resort just minutes away from ancient Ephesus. The environs were picturesque. But alas, I was there for work and was not at my leisure. Post conference I spent a night with A and her mom. I knew A from way back when I lived in Bursa. She has since migrated to Toronto and now moved back to Turkey.
View from my hotel room in Izmir
I then took a coach bus up to Bursa. I remembered how comfortable Turkish inter-city coach buses were and hence was not reluctant at all to ride on one even for my 5-hour journey. Imagine my joy when I found out that they even have free wi-fi on them now! It was great as I FaceTimed with Brian back in Singapore and showed him the beautiful landscape we were driving past.

Arriving in Bursa's bus terminal brought back much memories of my days there. But my reminiscing was short-lived as I saw M arriving to pick me up.  When I first met M 11 years ago, she and her two younger sisters were single (the youngest was in high school) and now all three of them are married and with a child each (H the youngest will be a mom in July). As you can imagine, we had lots to catch up on. I was introduced to her husband, M, and her 4-year-old son, K. As they speak little English, it was almost a full week in Turkish for me. 
Making Turkish dumplings: M and her mom
Bursa's bazaar 
In addition to delighting in M's family's Turkish hospitality, M and I talked, cooked, exchanged recipes and shopped at the traditional bazaars and at the various new malls that have sprung up in Bursa the past few years. My visit to Bursa ended with my talk on evil and suffering at the Bursa Protestant Church. Always a joy to connect with my Turkish brothers and sisters.
M and her son , K, seeing me off: Always hard to say Goodbye.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Three already???

We have been quiet on this front as I have not been in the state of mind to blog with so many aspects of our life up in the air. Nonetheless, I'd like to report a major milestone of a certain someone - turning 3!
This year Craig got to celebrate his big day with his friends at his school as his past two birthdays coincided with the Chinese New Year and school was closed. Even days before his birthday, he had already his day planned: Buzz LightYear cake with his friends at school all wearing Buzz Lightyear party hats! (Little did he know that that was exactly what we had planned!)

So on February 10, Brian and I turned up at his school with his cake and birthday paraphernalia after naptime to surprise him. We doubt he was surprised as he was already aware that it was his birthday that day. In fact, the teacher said, in the morning he asked her if she remembered that it was his birthday!

Two days later, he got to blow some candles again when our church group got together for our regular meeting. Then again when his Godmother came by with his present and some cakes. So, here we are, our three year-old who got to blow birthday candles on three occasions. Happy 3rd birthday Craig!
Party 1:
Party 2:
Party 3:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A "self-reading" book

The long New Year's weekend was only too opportune for C to enjoy his Xmas presents - one of which was a "self-reading" book from Nana. Click the video for an instance of the fun he's having.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Long holiday weekends

We have been enjoying our two long weekends, courtesy of Christmas and the New Year's, quietly at home. The week preceding Christmas was challenging with Craig getting the flu which worsened into bronchitis. Thankfully he speedily recovered and was able to enjoy the company of Yiyi and two other dear friends, P and AK, when they visited from Malaysia. Despite the madness and sleep deprivation following a week of overnight sponging, we all had a wonderful few days of Christmas celebration full of good feasting and fellowship at home.

Christmas morning present-unwrapping was slow going with a certain someone sleeping in till almost 10 am. Trains, train character-related paraphernalia, shirts, pants and books made up most of C's reaping this year. Nana and PopPop also "joined" us for the gift unwrapping over Skype from MD.

It is already the second day of 2012 as we post this and here's wishing all of you and yours a wonderful hopeful year ahead!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We're still here

While it may appear like I've abandoned this blog, reality is that I've been consistently taking notes of the various adventures and misadventures of the Thomas family but just have not had the time to post them here. Now that my work schedule is slowing down for the year, I shall attempt to recount our days in the last six weeks or so which included:

1) Visit with Grandpa J and Grandma V in Williamsburg, VA.
2) Visit the the G's in Charlotte, NC.
3) Visit with Nana and Pop Pop in MD.
4) My brief work trip to San Francisco where I witnessed a gang/mob fight!
5) Hand, foot and mouth disease outbreak at C's creche upon our return to Singapore ...

As I write this I'm still basking in the lingering pleasant recollection of my visit to Turkey after having left the country ten years and three months ago (I left on September 11 itself!). Much has changed and the city I used to live in has developed beyond my recognition. Besides savoring the sweet memories of my life back then, I also made sure I reacquainted with my favorite Turkish culinary offerings - from sweet sesame paste pizza (Bursa tahinli pide) to fiery Iskender kebap. Photos of my trip will be up soon...

Another significance of my trip was that it was the longest I was away from Craig - ten days! Needless to say we missed each other terribly (notice I say, "we" as he's now old enough to express his feelings clearly). But thanks to modern technology we were able to "hang out" virtually and at practically no cost. But nothing beats the first squeeze-hug and slobbered kiss I got when I arrived home. Here are some screen shots of our "conversations":

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grumpy's day out

On one of the days during our second assignment on the Logos Hope, we decided to take an excursion to Kuala Lumpur which is merely a 45-minute drive from Port Klang where the ship is docked. I had the day all planned to the amusement of Captain Craig: first a visit to the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) Aquaria, then a brief stroll at the KLCC park to see the magnificent Petronas Twin Towers before adjourning to lunch at one of the fancy local restaurants at the KLCC mall. Next we would proceed to my sister's place where C could spend the rest of the day with his YiYi. Perfect? So we thought.
Hi, I'm Grumpy McGrump:
Against the Petronas Twin Towers:
On the morning of the day out, our little man woke up on the wrong side of the bed! He was mostly grumpy throughout the day - was not too interested in the swimming sharks, stingrays and beautiful fishes around him at the Aquaria; had a meltdown during lunch (rather out of character for him) and was not too happy to see YiYi. We don't remember him ever having such a bad day before and we attributed the foul mood to both his residual cold and homesickness. Thankfully, he woke up a happier boy the next day and when we returned home from the ship a few days later, he was thrilled!

P.S.Click here for pictures of our KL excursion.

Monday, September 26, 2011


No, not the burger joint - though we miss it very much - but us! We arrived back from our long work trip which included Penang and Bangkok (detouring in Ipoh) last week but we're packing to leave again this week for another assignment onboard Logos Hope.

Our time on the ship was delightful - we enjoyed both the work we were assigned onboard and the experience of living on a vessel as a volunteer family. We were checked into a family cabin which meant we had two adjoining cabins to ourselves. This is a luxury considering how little space singles on the ship get. Most volunteers are on a two-year contract and we can imagine how hard it must be to live in such confinement for that long! The sacrifice they make to serve onboard is admirable.

As a family, we also had the privilege of having a table to our name at the dining hall. This worked out great as it meant we will always have a table during the oft busy mealtimes. As the ship was docked in Penang's central Weld Quay, we also took the chance to reacquaint ourselves with the island's local hawker food. Click here for pictures of our time on the ship.
A visit to a stud farm when we detoured in Ipoh to see PohPoh and GungGung:
 How special is that? Our very own dining table:
On the day we arrived, we were given the grand tour of the ship including the bridge. While taking pictures of Craig on the Captain's seat, the officer who was watchstanding could not resist but offer the Captain's hat as prop. It's Captain Craig from now on...
  S, who's German-Swede, a new-found friend on the ship:
We board the ship again when it's docked in Port Klang near Kuala Lumpur. Port Klang will not offer as much as Penang did in terms of accessibility to the city but a kind friend offered us a car to use - so that's a big plus. We look forward to catching up with friends and family there - some of which have yet to meet Craig!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ship Ahoy!

As the weekend approaches, we are counting down to our boarding the Logos Hope ship, aka World's Largest Floating Bookstore, as she docks in Penang, Malaysia. Brian and I have been invited by the organization that runs the Logos Hope (Operation Mobilization - read all about it here) to conduct a series of private and public talks on board the vessel. During our ten days there, we have been offered accommodation in one of the family cabins. (Watch this space for more pictures!)

The last time I sailed with an OM ship (the now defunct Logos II) was in 2000 when it sailed from Albania to Turkey. Then I was invited to do a series of workshops on the Turkish culture and language. The experience was unique in so many ways - one being the interaction of so many different cultures within such a limiting confine. And now, eleven years later, I have the privilege of serving on an OM ship again. I anticipate another memorable episode but this time shared with the two men of my life.

I broke the news of our impending adventure to C a few nights ago before bedtime and his response was that he wants to stay on on the ship and not come home! But as certain as the sun's rising in the morning, he would be asking to go home after a few days.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back to the routine

When Craig was in utero, whenever I'm in the presence of my sister, he would somersault excitedly - especially at the sound of her voice. And then when he saw his YiYi when he was 9 weeks old, he gave her the broadest smile we've seen from him. We knew then that he has a special attachment to her:
From his fondness for eggs to his love to talk, he resembles her in ways that we didn't expect. Though they only see each other once every few months, he asks about her often and a day last week commented that he hasn't seen her for a while. The situation was immediately rectified when YiYi drove down from Malaysia after work to see the little boy. He was a happy camper all weekend with a house full of family.
Face of endearment:
After more than a week at home, Craig is finally fit enough for the creche today. So off he went and though he was reluctant to go, we know that he will have a good time with his teachers and friends there - he always does.