Sunday, 31 July 2016

Raphael's First Birthday!

Raphael turned one last Sunday, July 24. It's hard to believe that it has been a year since he was born. He came two weeks early and surprised us all. I totally thought I was having a girl and was shocked when Lyndon said "it's a boy!". That day was a crazy one. But he came and he was perfect. My little perfect angel. We had not completely decided on a name for him. We had a few that we had picked out, but when I held him in my arms for the first time I knew that his name was Raphael.

At twelve months Raphael is very curious. He is a really fast crawler and likes to put everything into his mouth. He likes to be involved with what the family is doing. He says "mama", "dada", baba", your typical baby babbling, but it is so sweet. He loves to eat. Every time we feed him he eats like he has never been feed before. He is a great sleeper, as long as he is in his bed. He loves swimming and tires to be very independent in the water. He loves to flirt with just about anyone. He waves bye-bye to everyone on the train. He gets lots of attention from everyone here in Singapore. He is Lyndon's mini me, but has my dimples. He has the cutest smile and I could go on and on about how much I love him.

Getting a family photo done looks like this. 
And then this.
Holing up one finger because Raphael is one!
I was lazy and did not anything special for his cake, just threw on some whipping cream and raspberries. I was tired and he does not care what was on it. It was a hit though. 
The birthday boy!
This is what he was thinking in these next few photos: "I guess I'll try it. I do love food."
"It's alright."
"Mmmmm! This is delicious! I'm so glad I am old enough to eat cake now. "
"Finger lickin' deliciousness. Wish I could feast like this every day."

He got his little green cart to push around. He is in love with it. He takes it and walks, walks, walks till he runs into something because he has not figured out how to turn yet. Walking on his own is just around the corner. 
With each of my kids my heart grows larger and more full with love than I ever could have imagined. This year has been a very challenging one, but we made it! Loved celebrating our Rapha! Happy first Birthday baby boy!

Here is a video of our three birthdays! My favorite is hearing Henry's sweet little voice when we were singing to Raphael, and Rapha smashing his face into his cake.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Cosette is Five!

 July 22-25 is birthday week at our house. We have Cosette's, Raphael's, and my birthdays within four days of each other. Raphael confirmed it birthday week when he decided to come two weeks before his due date. I don't want to say that we party hard because this is only the first year we have had to celebrate the three birthdays all together, but it certainly is a week where we celebrate. I have worked it out that we don't end up having cake and ice cream so much we are sick by the week's end. 

Cosette's birthday was first, July 22. She turned five years old. And now I am like okay I officially have a kid because she can think, speak, act all for herself and is much more independent than she ever has been. She can read and write! She is a real person, which I have always known and treated her as such, but her preferences are stronger as well as her personality is now. Am I making sense to anyone? I feel like I have to up my Mom game and get with it. With what? I don't know, but she is growing so fast and before I know it she will be ten, fifteen, twenty! And I will be old....okay, rambling stopped.

At the kid's school, when it is their birthday their parents and siblings come to the class for a party. You bring cake, and goodie bags and then do an activity with the kids. Cosette has been talking about her birthday since January when the first kid in her class had his birthday. She has been dead set on an Ariel birthday cake, and finally decided on vanilla and strawberry flavor (see what I mean about the preferences). Lyndon took off a few days so he could be home to celebrate all weekend long with us. It was the first time that he has been to her classroom and all the children were amazed at how tall he was. We all sang "happy birthday" to her ate cake, and then we brought five or six of Cosette's favorite books to read to her and her classmates. Then it was time to hand out the goodie bags and go home. I love that the school does that because then you do not have to throw your kid a birthday party because you already had one. They get to be with their friends and all you have to do is show up with the goods. Cosette's teacher was really sweet and suggested we do it after Henry got done with school so he could participate in the party. 

My best attempt at an Ariel cake. If only I could do faces.

Cresent, Cosette, and her teacher Ms. Su Hui

We opened presents at home and she was pretty happy with everything that she got. Poor Henry had a hard time because he was really tired and he is two. It was hard to see Cosette getting all these presents and him not get anything. Grandma came to the rescue! She let him open up something that she got for his birthday, and that worked out and helped him be in better spirits. 

She was making some pretty awkward faces in the photos. 

Lyndon took Cosette out on a daddy-daughter date to the Night Safari. When they got there they got some french fries and instead of getting ketchup, the servers gave them chili sauce. They started eating the fries and Cosette said "something is wrong with this ketchup Daddy". That's when they figurered out it was chili sauce. She picked out a stuffed animal elephant" as her gift from Grandpa and Grandma Plothow, which she has named "Sally the elephant". Lyndon said she went through every single item in the gift shops before settling on Sally. They had a good time and she fell asleep on the way home. 

Grandma took her out the day before her birthday to get some ice cream and have some one on one time. Naturally she ordered strawberry.

That is the ultra detailed story of how we celebrated Cosette's birthday. She was born on a Friday five years ago and her birthday was on a Friday this year. That was kind of special for me. Brought back the day she was born a lot more clearly than usual since the days coincided with the same days of the week when it happened. 

I am really grateful for my Coco-bean. She has been my buddy since I was pregnant with her. I had a really close connection to her during my pregnancy and the day she was born was the best day of my life. I was so happy and at peace, it was beautiful. 

Happy Birthday Cosette! 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Singapore Zoo Video

If you have been reading the blog, you know we are zoo people. And the person who made us zoo people is my mother. It was on my Mom's list to visit at least one of the animal parks while she was here, and she ended up visiting two, the zoo and bird park. We spent almost the entire day at the zoo with her. The weather while Mom has been here has been amazing for Singapore. It's cold here for Singapore. Usually when we go to the zoo we are drenched with sweat and dying from heat, but not that day. I made a video of our day there because it was a special day having Grandma there with us. We got to have lots of animal encounter experiences with the orang utan (that's how they spell it here in SG), feed the elephants, petting the pony, and Cosette was picked as the child volunteer for the Safari Splash show! It was an epic zoo day and we were so so tired when we got home. We closed that place down. We saw pretty much every single animal in the zoo, minus the baboons. One thing that was exciting for me to see with Mom was the Tree Kangaroo. When we were little she would tell us stories about a Tree Kangaroo, so I was excited to see it with her. We saw the pygmy hippo open up its mouth "roaring" twice, heard the lions roar, had a ring tailed lemur walk right up to us, see the largest species of crocodile in the world swim right up to the window (that thing is huge and it was a small one), see the Proboscis Monkey's getting fed, and the elephants dancing. It was a most excellent zoo day. Here is the video and some photos from the day.

 Henry channeling the spirit of Ah Meng the famous orang utan at the SG zoo.

 We found a stink, I mean skink in the bird's nest fern.

 Blurry picture, but funniest story. These girl were taking a photo in the igloo and then my kids decided to hop in and photo bomb their group photo. Luckily the girls did not mind and their aunties and other people started taking even more photos. 

 The cuteness monster.

 Grumpy Cosette, and fruit bats!

 Lemurs are cool.

 So proud of Henry for petting the animals at the kid zone. He is very cautious when it comes to animals so I was really happy that he was not afraid and pet all three animals that were out: pony, ferret, and dog. And Aunt Bunny will be happy to know that he used the two finger touch method, just like she teaches at the zoo.

 Dogs are the one animal he is not afraid of.


 Mom really enjoyed seeing the orang utans. I love their exhibit at the zoo because it is a free range exhibit. You can look up and see them hanging out in the trees above you. Just watch out for falling pee. We saw a kid almost get hit by some one time we went. 

 We got to see the orang utans up close like this twice that day. When it was time for them to go back up into the trees, one did not want to go so the zoo keepers took it by the hand and took it back to the other orang utan enclosure. Seeing the orang utan holding hands with the zoo keeper was the sweetest thing. 

 Elephant feeding time! So cool to feed these beautiful creatures. In between people feeding them they would sway back and forth like they were dancing. It was so interesting. 

Since Cosette was the kid volunteer at the Splash Safari we got first dips on taking photos with Pedro the sea lion. 

Mom said she really enjoyed going to the zoo. Her favorite thing was the orang utans. I am glad we got show her one of our favorite places in Singapore. It's hard to do a ton of sight seeing with the kiddos in tow. Raphael has started screaming like a banshee when he is frustrated or wants something and Henry is a crazy person chewing on everything including my arm. We are a constant walking circus. Anyway, that whole spiel was to say I am glad that Mom really enjoyed our kid centered outing. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

National Orchid Garden

When we were living in NYC, during one of my Mom's visits the NYC Botanical Garden was holding their annual orchid show. My Mom really wanted to go, but ticket prices, times, etc it didn't work out and we didn't go. We made up for that by taking a tour of the National Orchid Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Every third Saturday of the month they do free tours of the Orchid Garden with cost of entry, but that is nothing since the Orchid Garden costs $5 SGD. I love where we live in SG because we are so central. It makes us close to a lot of things, like the Botanic Gardens. Only three MRT stops away! Lyndon took the kids for the day because he is the best and also because he misses them during the week. And we have been gone for so long there was much needed daddy-kid time. My Mom and I got to have the whole day to ourselves to sight see and relax. It was such a treat. I am going to miss her when she goes back home. Lots of rambling going on so I will get back to our Orchid tour. 

We made it just in time to catch the 10am tour. Our guide was really good. She made a lot of jokes and has been a volunteer at the gardens for a while. She said her name translates into flower. Anyway, she was a hoot and was very knowledgeable about the orchids which enhanced the experience. 

The gardens were so beautiful. I had not been yet because I just hadn't. It was on the list, so thank you Mom for giving me an excuse to make it happen. She is a nature person. The gardens were stunning. And we saw all sorts of different types of orchids including the largest orchid in the world, the Tiger Orchid, which can weigh up to 700 kilos. 

Like Singapore, our group was very diverse. We had locals Singaporeans, New Zealanders, Americans, Indians, etc. Singapore is so diverse it is always interesting to see what kind of people will come together. 

I found out on the outing that my Mother had orchids in her wedding bouquet. I am guessing that is why she is so keen on seeing them. They hold a special place in her heart, and now in mine. When I see them now I think of her. 

Selfie stick magic. 

Free ranging chickens in the gardens. 

We saw two monitor lizards while we were out. One was hiding on the fountain right when you walked into the orchid garden. It was small and blended in really well to the rocks, so you had to look to find it. The second one we saw as we left the gardens. It was crossing the path over into an area that had been fenced off by that plastic fencing with the holes in it used by construction crews. It tried to climb through it and got its head stuck and for a brief moment I thought "Oh no! I want to save it, but I don't want to get to close to it. i am not sure what is going to happen if I do". Lucky for everyone, it managed to get its head out and find a spot to go under the fence. And not I am super anti things like that in nature, like those plastic things that connect Coke cans. Seeing it come close to harming an animal makes me want to go out and save the animals and monitor lizards. 

This tree is dedicated to Nelson Mandela. 

These orchids are called "dancing ladies" because the flower looks like a lady's skirt. 

 The Tiger Orchid. It was not in bloom, but it was still gigantic.

 A picture of orange orchids for Ellen. Whenever I see just about anything orange while I am out I think of her because it is her favorite color. 

 This is the national orchid of Singapore. It is called Vanada Miss Joaquim. 

 This one was growing on a tree. The plants here are so fascinating. We will see large plants growing on tree trunks. It is so different from things we are used to back home, or just different because moss grows on trees, but not these plants with leaves the length of your body. 

 Our guide described this orchid looking like a Crocs shoe.

It was really special to spend some one on one time with my Mom. She looked so beautiful. She does not give herself enough credit with anything. She is an adventurous, creative, intelligent, kind woman no matter what she might tell you. Ever since I got married and became pregnant with Cosette our relationship has become really close. She completely understood what I was going through because she was pregnant with me when they first moved to Japan and could understand being pregnant in a foreign country (we were in England at the time) with your husband being busy with work, or in my case school. I can go to her with anything and she has the wisest responses and perfect solutions to problems or things I am trying to figure out. Our relationship is not perfect, but it is one that I know I can count on always. I am so grateful for that. 
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