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Yosemite August 2013

Last year August we made a trip to Yosemite with some other Singaporean families. It was a really fun trip as the children enjoyed each other’s company. And it too a good break for me as RE basically sticked herself to the rest of the kids and I “didn’t have to do much”. It was summer time when we went there, although there isn’t any waterfall and the creeks were dried out, it was still scenic nonetheless. The drive up to Yosemite was about 4 hours and speaking of which; a 4 hours drive is nothing compared to our drive up to L.A which was about 7 hours. (we will be doing another super long –  16 hours road trip in a couple  of months!)

Here are some pictures:

Since there were 4 families, we booked a cozy lodge and this is how it looked like.

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and after exploring our awesome abode, we drove out to the legendary yosemite national park.

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Wonders of mother earth.

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This one is fearless. It is soooo near us!

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Ee fann is going to “dislike” this picture. (He has since lost ALOT of weight) awww… my ZE looked so little then.

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We packed a couple of picnic baskets and here is ZE, clearly enjoying her tomato.

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If you had tried putting more than 5 children together to attempt a group picture, you will also agree that is is mission impossible.

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spot the animal!

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My happy RE. and yeap, definitely “daddy’s sweetheart”.

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We actually made a mental note to revisit Yosemite in winter for the wintry scene but alas we didn’t. We made other plans instead. It’s almost Spring now, maybe it’s still a good idea to revisit?

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Joanie’s Cafe

YELP.

I depend on yelp when it comes to stepping out of the house. (where to go)

This time it’s for breakfast. 7 minutes drive; we reached the cafe at 9am sharp and it was crowded! (like why?) So the first thought was the food MUST BE GOOD! And indeed it didnt disappoint us. We ordered egg benedict (for myself) and some parisian french toast (rou ern) and it was soooo good… am still thinking about it. But the portion is too much (as usual) and I keep forgetting that its American portion here. So we had to doggy bag the rest – which is a very common practice here.

There was an evening when we were out eating in a restaurant, the food was oh so good but we were sure that we had enough to call it a day. There were leftovers and the server suggested for us to take away the rest which we declined and she went “Oh why? was the food not to your liking?” “Oh you can microwave it the next day.” (we dont have a microwave….) “Oh the next time when you come again you may request for a half portion…”

As I have observed, Americans usually take their time with the food, wine and usually finish their food. They take it slow and easy. I want to… but not easy with kiddos around. These days Zi Ern can be really cheeky. Even when she is strapped onto her high chair, the next moment you will see her standing on it with a big grin on her face that says “I did it AGAIN!” So sometimes taking the girls out on my own is like having my very own acrobat show, with one hand feeding myself, another hand feeding zi ern and another hand (??) holding her when she stands up. With my mouth chomping on the food and “another mouth” reminding ern not to play with her food… ok it’s not the most glamorous scene here. Relax, take it easy with the food and chill? Ha! But it STILL IS enjoyable nonetheless, in a more exciting kinda way.

Some pictures taken this morning:

Joanie’s Cafe

405 California Ave, Palo ALto, CA 94306

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s palo alto duck pond!

Ask any child and feeding animals like rabbits, horses, sheep, goats, cows, BIRDS etc will most likely excite them. With just less than 20 mins drive from where we stay, a chance to repurpose stale bread; it’s a must visit.

At first glance, Palo Alto duck pond doesn’t look very impressive, with its scruffy looking appearance and less than fragrant aura but look it through a child’s eye and you will see that it’s a quiet setting with its sparkling water, full of activities going on as the seagulls swoop in for a feed, the aggressive goose (only one) fending its food, the ducks moving expertly in the water searching for food.

Breathe easy I told myself as I take a breath of old fashioned “fresh air”. Taking it all in, we saw planes after planes coming in for a land. Palo Alto duck pond is right next to the palo Alto airport so we got really good view of the small planes. This place was initially build as a swimming pool fortunately however due to siltation issues it was eventually turned into a duck pond.

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It isn’t the migrating season yet so we didn’t get to see the migrating birds. That didn’t bother ern at all of course.

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Here’s a short video of ern feeding the birds:

The gulls are really fast. They flap their wings and eat the feed even before the food can touch the water. The poor ducks can only wait patiently. I came up with a few ideas with ern to feed the ducks. So I will throw out a piece of bread to lure the gulls away and when I’m doing that, ern will throw the bread at to the ducks! It worked really well and ern chuckled at the silly gulls. she also tried to pretend to throw out a piece of bread and then quickly released it to the ducks and that requires a lot of speedy movement so after a while she just fed them altogether.

A place we will visit again for sure.

The Baylands and the Duck Pond
2775 Embarcadro Road, Palo Alto, California 94301 | 650-329-2506

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Alpine Inn

That’s the venue where our first TGIF was held. It’s an off the beaten path local spot with a lot of character and history.

Among other things, it claims to be the birthplace of the Internet, as researchers from SRI apparently made the first transmission using internet protocol technology in the 1970s from one of the picnic tables outside. Cool huh?

It is a very casual food and biergarten spot, with lots of outdoor seating and with outdoor space for kids to run around.

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It was quite a hilly ride up the mountain to get to this place, the two-way road was a little narrow and so you can imagine how much focus ee fann needs to get us there safe and sound. However, the moment you step right through the restaurant into the open area, the relaxed atmosphere calms your nerves again.

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(It was a little too noisy for ern’s liking so we quickly made our way to the “picnic tables” in the open area)

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The following pictures were taken when ern was playing with friends, allowing them to checkout her new binoculars. After which she started collecting things like stones, feathers etc and then I gave her a discarded carton box for her to contain her stuff which drew a few more children to join her in her “discovery play”.

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There is something magical about sand and this went on for the rest of the evening. (She also has been ROLLING in the sand at our shared playground) A very kind old man came up to me and said “this, (pointing at ern) THIS is good. (Smiling) these days children are exposed to too much electronic devices, Xbox and what have you. But THIS is good for the soul.”

Though I totally agree with what he said….

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I thank god for technology – washing machine!!! Hahahaha!!

And here’s a pic of daddies with babies. He is one of ef’s study group mate. His baby is 7 months old. Cute!

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Have a good week everyone!

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Nicely settled

Just a quick update before calling it a day. Its been a loooong day..

We are all settled here, very happy to be here. There are ample space, lots of greeneries, no pressure (except for ee fann), no hurry. It feels refreshing and invigorating to be so close to nature.

We live in a small but cozy place, with a yard which birds love to visit (will tell you why in a separate post). Ern is STILL making new international friends each time she goes out into the courtyard and she is enjoying every bit of it.

Here in Stanford, we have parties AT LEAST once a week. We just hosted one at our place last night and tomorrow (friday) there will be another one organized by ee fann’s school. There will be parties every Friday as they really do mean it when they say its TGIF! So it’s party after party … Oh we can really get used to this! Lots of mingling around, lots of games to entertain the children, lots of fun and laughter.

And for me, I am totally enjoying my time here, doing stuff with the children, cooking their meals, taking it all in. We are still exploring, taking small little holidays during the weekend. (We dove up to L.A / San Diego) to visit Disneyland and San Diego zoo respectively).

Prolly the only thing … i miss (after family and friends) is the food back home .. Laksa with lots of bloody clams… Fried hokkien mee, char kway teow, kway chap.. The list is endless! Any kind soul to send me some freeze dried durian chips? ; p

And for zi ern, she is a happy baby, charming people she meets with her generous smile. Think it’s the culture here, people here are more outspoken and i receive a lot more compliments from strangers (even in the restroom) about zi ern. It’s always a very nice feeling knowing that the baby made someone happy.

Here’s some pics that was taken during the first few days of settling in:

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(San Diego zoo)

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(San Diego zoo)

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We went on a road trip to L.A abd San Diego before we settled in! So boxes were unpacked, furnitures were still in the packages waiting to be installed, things were everywhere, we grabbed the necessary items and off we went! We just had to make full use of the long break before ee fann’s school term starts.

Ok that’s it for now!!

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Our china trip

Before I delay any longer and decides to skip it altogether I had better write a short post on it.

It was meant to be a Japan trip but we cancelled and changed to China for obvious reasons… but we absolutely enjoyed it. especially Ern!

We went to Hangzhou to look up my brother in law who is currently working there and at the same time met up with our long distanced relatives there. So we visited all the non touristy places and it was totally fruitful. (Except that didnt didnt manage to see her pandas that was promised.)

All was superb and wonderful for me EXCEPT on day 2 on….. my face suddenly became SUPER bloated. Not kidding it was like super enlarged to the extent that I could hardly open my eyes. When I touched my face it was so uncomfortable. It felt like a balloon filled with water to the maximum and bursting anytime soon! Ee fann’s cousin took me to the hospital while ern stayed behind to play with the children (her cousins). Had to get my urine and blood sample tested and a jab on my buttocks! talking about memories! Some of you will know that I am terrified of needles … and luckily the blood sampling was fast and rather “pain-free” BUT the jab in the buttocks felt like the doctor throwing a dart really hard at “the board” so that was rather unforgettable. I remembered limping out of the doctor’s office.. The doctor said that it was an allergy to something but further tests had to be done to determine the cause. I didnt want to wait and I left China with the mystery unsolved.

So here are some of the pictures I took. (and No, I did not take any pictures of my super enlarged face!)

She knew her holiday starts NOW!

Super excited!

Looking for food in Shanghai

Entertaining herself in the train (on our way to Hangzhou)

Cherry Blossom just outside ee fann cousin's house.

Her cousins. Ern is unhappy that her cousin (the younger one) refused to share her little terrapin with her.

Way too kewl! a drive through zoo. we prepared bags of vegetables to feed the animals!

Mr camel

They have a circus in the zoo.. but I didnt quite enjoyed it as I kept pondering abiout their cruel training behind all these. Didnt take many pictures as such.

funfair in the zoo and ern had a go at it!

her prize; my pride : )

BBQ lunch

her simple pleasures

in the arms of mother nature

picking strawberries. We really had a blast there!

pluck, eat, throw. Cant remember how many she had. they were really really really sweet!

washing hands the traditional way. water isnt suitable for drinking.

along the way as we walked, we spotted a goat and her kid.

and eventhough I had a super unsightly face it didnt bother me at all. Ern still recognizes me and thats good enough. We still had a superb trip! Will be back for more. We love China : )

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Malacca Trip Feb 2010

The couple of hundreds are really worth it! And the hubs are already thinking of the next trip! : )

I have never expected that after ern’s arrival, not only mummy had more friends; daddy too!

After so many trips, Ern is now closer to daddy : ) which is really something to rejoice about. We also discovered that ern loves the company of her friends as well. She thrives with friends around her! So the trip started with a super duper early wake up call at 6.30am! Gotta rush through feeding her and getting ourselves ready too coz her friend Matt arrived at 7am! After taking a final pee break and getting the baby food and sandwiches ready, we set off to meet Flo and the rest at about 7.30am.

Once we had all arrived we had to switch car and we are then in the same car with Victoria – Ern’s bestie! Mummies entertaining the kiddos whilst daddy sat in front with ee fann driving the problematic car. Yes it was problematic alright! 30mins before we reach the destination the car had this “tap looking” signal turned on (amber) and after that it started to FLASH!! We had no idea what it meant! tried looking for the car manual but there was none! Did I mention that we rented 2 cars? (next time you wanna rent a car, pls ask me which company to AVOID at all cost) ok so it was flashing right? Ee fann had to turn off the engine and let it cool off when ever there’s a red light! we were pathetic manz!!

We were so glad to be able to reach our destination! Then the mummies went to do our own things whilst the hubs went to solve the car problem and that’s when the male bonding began. Mummy Flo told me that something magical happened that made the process of the car repair so smooth – TEAMWORK. Trevor did all the talking at the mechanics, Ee fann paid the bill, Chris drove the car and Kenny… I forgot what kenny did but all these teamwork made it happen. Oh… hmm… I promise not to say it… but I shall “write it” here. The hubs actually enjoyed themselves so much that instead of rushing back to the hotel (we were all waiting for them to come back for dinner and was even at the verge of ordering room service!) they decided to go for tea break at one of the petrol station! And they told us that the mechanics took so long… blah blah blah… hahhaha…

the kiddos

victoria hugging ern!

besties la

grabbing her.... opps!

during the car trip

what weate - nonya food. Droolicious!

fish maw soup - what the kiddos ate : )

Ern and daddy dancing the the techo beat!

the teochew restaurant that we wanted to patronize but was FULL!!

conference immediately after breakfast!

Ern busy choosing her swimsuit. Her very first swim suit : )

sweet hor?

group picture : )

small kiddos entertained by big kiddos at A&W

our family

Anyhow Victoria and Ern had a jolly good time by themselves! So to summarize the trip, we did some shopping (though shopping in malacca sucks big time!), of coz eat (the food there is super droolicious) and lotsa chatting time! As midnight approaches and Ern is sleeping, ee fann and kenny went for foot massage… I heard loud “bomb” sound and there it was! Right infront of my balcony! It was huge! Never have I been so close to it before. It wasalmost like I could smell it! 3.5mins worth of sparkling fireworks feasting my eyes and soul. A pleasant surprise wasn’t it? I guess that was to mark the last day of the Lunar New Year : )

We were talking about our next trip to K.L. the very next day! hahha… And yes, this trip was a success! : )