Friday, September 26, 2008

Daddy turns a year older


E loves pampering his car. According to some of his coursemates, our trusty 11-year-old Hyundai Lantra - which has taken us on many a roadtrip across Gippsland's many scenic spots, even has a name - and it is Natasha. (Roll eyes.)

What better birthday gift than something that makes our "Natasha" look even better than it already does?

So here is the birthday boy's loot, including cards from Mommy and Son, and a wooden door hanger hand-painted by our very own in-house artist, all 21 months of him:
E's birthday goodies

Here is "Natasha" decked out in her new seat covers, with matching steering wheel cover, no less:
Daddy's new seat covers
Mommy enjoys it too!

All in all, E's birthday was celebrated in a quiet, low-key fashion.

We headed to Traralgon for lunch at E's favorite cafe, Iimis, and tried something new on the menu - a Greek mezza for 2. On a big white plate, was piled pita bread, an assortment of meats, olives, sundried tomatoes, fried cheese, with houmous and taramasalata dips. Yumz! Too bad we were so caught up in eating that we forgot to take a photo to remember the meal by!

After a white chocolate cheese cake which was slightly on the heavy (burp - excuse me!) side, we headed over to Newman park where Dylan showed us once again why he is such a cheeky little monkey. The sun was out in full force, and soon we had to strip him down to his sleeveless tee.

Back in the comfort of our cosy Churchill home, I tried my hand at this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. Instead of using the drumstick, however, I used a maryland cut, which is basically the deboned side of a chicken. In Singapore, this is the cut Western foodstalls use to make chicken chop.

Although the original recipe is named "Crispy Yoghurt Chicken", my version unfortunately flopped. So I'm going to name it "Yummy Yoghurt Chicken" instead, because in spite of the soggy breadcrumbs which didn't turn crispy at alll, the chicken was still tasty.

Yoghurt Maryland Chix with Veg

Here it is, Yoghurt Maryland Chix with Parmesan Potatoes and Asparagus.

Here are the father-son duo with the cake. D kept watching the cake intently, I think because the flames on the little candles fascinated him so. It wouldn't be inaccurate to call them the birthday boys - after all Dylan turned 21 months too!

Birthday boy

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cast Your Cares on Him

We've been attending a small Christ-centered fellowship church in Traralgon over the last month or so. Housed in a community hall building made of wooden-slats which must have seen better days, it is a stark contrast to some of the glossy mega-church buildings we have back home.

Within its austere facade, however, is a small group of people who have extended Christ-like welcome and warmth to our family, and through that, demonstrated how true the old adage from the hymn "They will know we are christians by our love" is.

Just to explain, at one end of the church hall, hangs two large fabric letter holders with many pockets. On each pocket, is hung the name of a church member - so that you can receive little notes and presents from each other. After just the second week of "visiting" the church, E and I were surprised to find that a tag "E and D Koh" pinned one one pocket, and "Dylan Koh" pinned to another! And in each pocket, a little note and a hand-knit bookmark for Dylan.

This morning, I found again, a little handicraft with a yarn tied to the note:

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

A timely reminder indeed!

The full context of the verse is also timely and fitting:

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:6-8)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cheesy Macaroni and Tuna Bake

After our encounter with the surly magpie last week, we were in the mood for some comfort food, to remind ourselves how good it is to be alive. Heh.

I had a bit of macaroni and tuna in a can left to use up, so I decided to do a variation of an Annabel Karmel recipe for macaroni and cheese.

Essentially, I added some tuna and leftover scrambled eggs to the cheese sauce. The original recipe calls for a ramekin, a small ovenware for 1 serving, which, unfortunately I do not have. So I used the 6-muffin baking tin instead, which meant that the servings were quite small.

Tuna Pasta Bake (set)

Then again, I was cooking for a small eater, so it turned out to be quite alright in the end. What makes this a tasty treat is the breadcrumbs and grated parmesan topping - even the daddy liked it!

A close-up of what turned out to be a hit, one of the rare times you see the tyke finish his entire serving.
Tuna Pasta Bake close up

Hmm. Think I may just go buy me some ramekins after all.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Them Crazy Aussie Magpies!

Dylan and I have come face to face with Aussie madness in a most unexpected form - from our feathered friend, the Aussie magpie.

Now that spring is upon us (today being an exception because it was raining the whole day), I always look forward to bringing Dylan to the nearby playgrounds in the morning when the sun is out. A few days ago, we set out bright and early in the morning to do just that. There's a simple playground just 2 minutes walk from where we live - a couple of slides, a see-saw, that kind of thing.

Unknown to us, however, we must have unwittingly stoked the ire of a resident male magpie. a kind of largish bird with black and white feathers on its back, native to these parts.

Dylan was taking his 4th turn going down the slide when completely out of the blue, I spied from the corner of my eye a mess of black and white menacingly swooping down on me.

Out of pure instinct, I screamed and flailed my arms about my head, and watched this harbinger of doom swoop back up to the branch of a nearby tree. Also instinctively, I ran over to Dylan at the bottom of the slide who looked rather haplessly at his mother suddenly gone crazy, and swept him up in my arms while screaming these exact words "Go away you stupid bird!".

I glared at the bird, now loitering close by on the ground, eyeing us with equal suspicion. Next thing we knew, it took flight again to build altitude, before swooping dangerously close to our heads, eliciting another scream from me as I bundled Dylan up and started running away from the park.

Thankfully, other than the school nearby we were in a pretty quiet neighborhood, so I attracted no further attention. But the hairs of my neck were now standing on end, and we quickly walked back home.

Disturbingly, the magpie stalked us, making two further menacing swoops, and punctuating each trough with a "Caw caw! Caw caw!" before flying up to the telephone wire, until we were properly out of his territory.

Dylan had the benefit of looking over my shoulder and watching this whole fiasco unfold. When we got home, he said "Bird!", made a swooping motion with his hand, and said "-Cared" (scared!). I said, yes, son, mommy is really scared!

So I did a bit of investigative research - and uncovered thanks to Google Search this article titled:

Magpies Behaving Badly

Who knew! Wish we were warned. Apparently magpies are generally harmless in the urban areas because they are so used to humans. But out here in the rural parts, they have a reputation for being aggressive around open parks with trees in August/September for a period of about 6 weeks when they have chicks in their nest.

Oh well, looks like we have to scout out a different playground (one that's NOT stalked by magpies) for the next few weeks...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Like Father Like Son

This week, we're starting to really see the cheeky side of our son emerging. Things that tickle his funny bone include seeing Daddy imitate his tantrum by dramatically falling to the floor, making funny faces, and when Daddy bounces a ball off of his forehead.

I'm starting to see the Daddy's boy in him, wanting to imitate the father all the time - be it in washing the car, shaving (he picks up this small grooming box and pretend-shaves), or even in something as mundane as watching TV.

Like Father Like Son

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day out at the Playhouse

In a town about 45km from here, is a big old warehouse building retrofitted to contain three themed bouncy castles including "The Incredibles" and "Monsters Inc", and a humongous playstructure and a variety of kid-friendly toys.

In short, it was wonderland for my 20-month old, and it lasted for two hours on Thursday, when I took him to Giggles Playhouse in Warragul. It was part of the Thursday play-group outing, and all moms paid $6 entrance fees for their littlies to enter.

And, after countless times of reviewing his video two weeks ago, he's also mustered enough courage to zip down the slide by himself, finally!

The huge floor was spotted with buggies, tricycles and kid-friendly toy cars, so no prizes for guessing what D zoomed in for.

Getting in and out of my vehicle

Starting small:

And then graduating to the bigger one:

Very soon, he was joined by a steady stream of fellow pilgrims ascending Mount Slide:
Ascending Mount Slide

I'm falling I'm falling!

Most of the time, he still liked to play by himself, quietly, as seen here, with the fire truck and a ramp.
favorite truck - the fire engine

Crossing the plank suspended by a fabric netting:
cool suspension bridge

"This feels wobbly, but mommy says it's safe!"
wobbly but safe

Or this:
Quiet games

At times, though, he's joined by a fellow player, here he is with one sweet little girl!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Father's Day 2008 - Take Two

7 September was Australia's Father's Day, and the mailers we've been receiving in our box and television commercials have spared no effort in reminding us to get something special for our dads.

So to fathers everywhere - keep up the great job! To the grand-dads, we miss you, and thanks for everything, once again!

Dylan's daddy deserved a treat too.

To celebrate this occasion (the second time this year - the first was in June, following the American calendar), Dylan made a special card for him. That means getting his little fingers into goo-ey paint, which is excellent for developing fine motor control. Oh, and the reading specialist in me would like to also add that activities such as these involving paper and markings build that all-important concept of print, a stepping stone to reading and writing literacy!

Step 1. First dibs in the palette!
mom? is this alright?

icky fingers

Step 2. Find innovative ways of transferring paint to paper.
dabbling in paint

Step 3. Review masterpiece - check for spelling errors. Was that "Dajee" or "daddie" now?

Step 4. Scare mommy by looking as though I'm going get my fingers all over the furniture now.

He also became Daddy's little helper by chipping in with washing the car. Anyone who knows the daddy knows how much the car means to him, after all!

"Hmm, let me get this spot out of the rim"

"Mommy, can you come check if this is clean enough?"


"Me, my Dad, and his freshly-washed baby gleaming in the evening sun!"

Love my daddy. =)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Conquering the playground, one slide at a time

One of the best things about being a full time mom is seeing the gross and fine motor skills slowly developing in this toddler day by day, week by week.

Last Friday, on probably one of the first break-out days of spring when the early spring showers dissipated and we experienced a truly gorgeous sunny, warm afternoon, we took Dylan to this playground.

Here he is, attempting to go down the slide by himself, unsuccessfully. You can see his thought processes vacillating between going down and staying safe! First, he wavers, and then he tries another slide, and then he tries going down pronated, and then he gives up. Brings a smile to my face every time I watch this!

Since then, he's shown much more progress, and can now confidently go down the slide - although he still prefers to do so feet first, face down.