Sunday, 31 May 2009

Off to Texas

Did I mention that we went to Texas? Hahaha... yes, our main destination was to Stanford, California to visit the girls, my sis and bro-in-law. But we figured since we were in the United States already, we might as well pop over to Texas to see our friends.

First stop was to Dallas, which was sorta near Arlington, where hubb's secondary school buddy was. Zhenguo has been there for many years now, first doing his bachelors, all the way through and now he's doing his doctorate and working at the same time.
Second stop would be Austin, Texas, where my dear friends Garrett & Alyssa were. Garrett and I got to know one another in the year 2001 when we both went to Aberdeen University in Aberdeen, Scotland for 6 months on a student exchange programme. Alyssa's his lovely, sweet wife. We've been great friends ever since, and this is the 2nd time I'm visiting them in Texas. Garrett!!! Your turn to come to Singapore, next!!! :p
Isaac's still under 2 years, so he got to travel free on the internal flights. And we were lucky that the flight wasn't full, so Isaac had a seat to himself.
Emergency situations and what to do during them - very important, you know. Look how seriously Isaac is taking them... Big slide! Big slide!!! Play water!!! Choi! Choi! Choi!!!
Flight was uneventful and we soon reached Fort Worth in Texas. Zhenguo was very nice, he came to meet us at the airport in a car he rented to drive during the time we're here.
Oh side-track a bit - notice how we went to San Francisco, and then Texas - the two affected areas with H1N1 !??!?!?! kekeke... thankfully, we were there like 6 months ago, and not like very recently. Still, when the reports came out that SF and Texas were one of the first "affected areas", it was kinda scary...
Oh speaking of which, my mum just came back from San Francisco, on Saturday 30 May 2009. And for the record, we didn't go pick her up at the airport. My dad did lah. But we didn't. Decided to play safe and kinda stay away from her for awhile. We've been calling everyday though, and thankfully, so far no fever. So we're looking forward to seeing her tomorrow night - Tuesday night - the day we usually go back to my parents place for dinner. We figured it should be safe by then. Kiasi huh? Well, better safe than sorry, I guess.
Ah... here's Zhenguo and hubbs trying to fix up the child-carseat for Isaac to sit in. We hear the Americans are very strict with this. So, after some calculation, we actually got Zhenguo to go to his local Walmart to get a cheap carseat, like US$55, still more worth it and cost effective than renting a car seat for like $20 a day! But for a 'cheap carseat' the quality was actually pretty good! Like a regular carseat to me, it seemed!
Went to an Italian place along the highway for dinner. Nice! Oh and Isaac had spaghetti with Alfredo sauce and grilled fish! yum! :)
Look at the two old men trying to act cute? hahahaha... trying to relive their Catholic High days... Hubbs always tells me about all the nonsense they used to get up to in school... *shake*head* ... faint faint...
Here's our Marriot room! :) very nice and big. Cheap too, think was like US$80 per night or something like that. Guess coz we're out in the boondocks :p
In keeping with the tradition my mum started - I went around snapping pictures of the room... :) and toilet... kekeke...
Oh yes, here below's a vid of Isaac playing with out shoes! One of his favourite activities during this trip! :)

pix & vid taken on 5th December 2008
Isaac @ a day to 16 months old!

Friday, 29 May 2009

The Exploratarium

My sister had been telling us about the Exploratarium - saying that it's very good for both kids and adults and that the girls enjoyed it so much that they cried when it was time to go home. As a result, they bought like season passes to the place so that they could go often at a discounted rate.

Look! We lucked out! It was free on the day we decided to go coz of donation from The Bernard Osher Foundation! Faboo!!! Now, looking at their website, think they support life long learning, or something like that. Anyway, THANKS a lot!!! :)
This huge round thing was at the entrace. It's an inclined huge disc which has some metal pieces within. So when you spin the disc, the metal pieces move about - guess you learn about centripetal forces, and the paths the metal discs take etc. But for kids, it's just fun to make the thing turn round and round and watch the metal discs move.
Look! Kids on a school trip to the Exploratarium! Guess a lot of them were there that day coz it was free. Here they are having their packed lunches - lunches they packed themselves, and not like chicken rice or mc donalds as we do in Singapore. Most of them had a sandwich, a packet drink (some juice), and a fruit (apple, banana etc) in their lunchbox. So cute eh! And they were all very well behaved, sitting in a corner, as instructed by their teachers.
There were older kids outside by the pond, having their lunch and feeding oart of their lunch to the birds too. Isaac liked to see birds, and we wanted to be out in the open for awhile, so we went out. Plus, we were attracted by the kids too kekeke...
See, Isaac managed to score another picture with a blonde...
It's always nice to take pictures out in the open, with natural lighting and all. And all this nice greenery in cool weather... fantastic!
One of Isaac's favourite activities is to go through his Papa's legs. He thinks it's fun. And does it over and over again. Think we caught a video of that below.

Smiley Isaac! :)Here's the vid! enjoy! ;p

Look at Isaac's pants. It's meant for 2 year olds, so it was kinda long. Had to fold it a bit, but it sure came in handy for this trip as it had an inner cotton lining, and the outside was kinda windbreakery kind of material - plus it was only S$10 and branded. Think Baby Gap - got it from those overruns stores.
Hubbs attempt to take a picture of me and Isaac. Again, he's not smiling. hummmphh
Hehehhe.... a better pic this time - at least he kinda looks like he's smiling!
Here's a vid of Isaac walking. I like to take vids of him walking, coz I think it's an important milestone to be able to start walking.

Here he goes again... in, out, in, out... hahahhaa...
Smiley Isaac with hubbs' knees! kekeke... See, Isaac's smiling...
Nice place huh. How come our Science Centre don't have surroundings like that. hahahhaa...
We were kinda scared that Isaac wouldn't get used to the cold, or that he'd fall sick. So we dressed him up in at least 3 or 4 layers each day. That's why he looks pretty buff in the pictures.
After lunch and the walk outside, we went back into the Exploratarium. Here's Isaac playing with sand on a spinning horizontal disc.
And here, playing with pendulums...
The Exploratarium takes everyday simple science concepts and blows it up, and make it such that it's very hands-on. You can touch it, feel it, and just play with it. I mean, look, we've all learnt about pendulums and the path it takes, wave theory etc - but when have you ever seen such a huge pendulum swing thingy that kids are allowed to touch?

This one below is a room, which uses the lines to give an illusion about size. They didn't do this well though. We saw a much better one in New Zealand when we were there on honeymoon. Hmmmm... maybe I oughta go dig out and post the video hubbs and I did in that. :)

See here, this is an interesting contraption. It shows us our face, in the orientation that our friends see us, and NOT the orientation that we see our own face in the mirror. Oh yes, if you didn't already know, we see our own face in the mirror differently from how others see us. We didn't conciously realise that till we saw this exhibit.
It is kinda disconcerting when you see the picture of your face the way other people see you. I'm not sure how to describe it, it's just kinda wierd. hahaha...
This one below is about Mark Twain's theory that so long as the first and the last letter of the word is correct, it doesn't matter how the rest of the letters are placed - people would still be able to read what you're intending to write. Hahaha... well, sure, but you defnitely get marks minused for sure... and confirm spelling FAIL!!!
Ah this is my favourite below! My sis says it is Isabelle's favourite too. This blackish gray stuff below is Magnetite - it's black magnetic sand. Magnetite is an iron ore that is found in beach sand in many locations. It can be collected just by dragging a magnet through the sand. (info from Exploratarium website). COOL HUH!? See below for the video I took one-handed of myself playing with the black sand! :)So, my theory about why the Exploratarium is so successful and popular is coz it breaks complicated scientific theories down into simpler terms by making huge exhibits, or exhibits that allows kids and adults to be hands on with it. This makes it very fun and interesting for both the young and the old.

Well, being typical Singaporean that I am, I was telling hubbs that "Actually this place, not difficult to do what. We can also make one like that in Singapore. The Science Centre people should come and take a look." hahahahhaa... See, I typical Singaporean, right? kekeke...

So, we spent an entire day at the Exploratarium and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Travelling with Isaac has been 'slow'. Which we kinda expected. Of course, we can't expect to like cover 3 or 4 tourist attractions like we used to when we were travelling before we had kids, right? So we managed our own expectations and just took it slow and easy.
Well, we had a lot of fun this trip, despite it being slow-going and we didn't "cover " many places. So, to us, it just goes to show that you CAN travel with kids, even though you have kids. So! To all those people whose excuse not to have kids is coz you "wanna travel" - it's not true!!! kekeke...

pix & vids taken on 4th Dec 2008
Isaac @ two days to 16 months

Oh these last 3 pix are of us chilling in the hostel's lounge after dinner, and before we went back to our room. Was quite a cool place coz there was free wifi, and loadsa backpackers were all there chillin' too. So we had a nice chat with some of them. And of course everyone was entertained by our cute Isaac :)

Friday, 15 May 2009


Hehehe... nice pic? kekeke... I used to have a 'fetish' for images of american flags. Kinda died off, but still quite like them. No particular reason. Well... when I was young, I used to read the encyclopedia for fun, coz it was interesting.

hahaha actually it was coz my dad was pissed that he spent a ton on a set of encyclopedia and yet neither me nor my sister was reading. So he refused to answer any of my "Why...?" questions and would always reply me:"Go and check the encyclopedia." After many such replies from him, I was so frustrated that I wasn't getting my replies that I really went to read the encyclopedia.

And what fun it was! So much info! I was intrigue, and there started my love for reference books. In fact, I used to run to the living room to grab a volume of the encyclopedia before racing off to the toilet to do my big business! hahahhaa okay okay *too*much*info* hahahhaa...

Coming back to why I started telling this story - the first encyclopedia we had was an early edition of World Book Encyclopedia before they came up with the Global version, i.e. it was very America-centric. Anything about America had tons of info, for eg like information about the different states, and the Presidents of the United States etc... Thus, these are info which I know more about compared to the average Singaporean.

Hahaha... ah yes, thus the fetish about american flags and all things american. Well as some of you may know, this is the total opposite of my dear hubbs who's more China-centric than me American-centric. Or rather, he's cheeena-centric and me angmo-centric!hehehee
ALCATRAZ!!! The famous prison island!!! Okay, it was the prison island that was in the film X-Men 3 - The Last Stand! It has been featured in many other Hollywood films, like The Rock, and Escape from Alcatraz. It's no longer a prison but has been turned into a tourist attraction.
View of San Francisco from the ferry ride out to Alcatraz. The prison has small windows and little slits in its walls which the inmates can look out from and see this view. In the silence of the night, they can also hear the sounds of the night-life in San Francisco. It was said that this would really taunt the prisoners, constantly reminding them of the life they are missing out on by being in prison.
American Indians lah... :p Apparently, after it was not a prison anymore, at one time, the government resettled a community of Native American Indians there. There was this documentary we watched there on this topic, very interesting! Read more about Alcatraz at their official website.
Look here below - it's the water tower I think hahaha... think it was "featured"in X-Men 3 when the final battle was taking place and they were throwing stuff around!
Bored with the tour guide's commentary on the prison island, Isaac was spending his time with his other pursuits...Jialat. Chat girls up not enough, still want to touch her hand... sighz...
"HEY! The two of you!!! Not blatantly in front of me, please!!!" See their guilty faces... kekeke...
We walked down the road, and up the hill and entered the main building where we were each handed a set of earphones and a tape player thingy. It's quite cool, the audio commentary can be started and stopped by yourself since we each hold our own set.
But you hardly need to do so, coz they time the audio commentray very well such that you just listen to instructions and walk where they tell you to, and listen to thei commentary on what you see around you - fantastic!!!
Here's Isaac looking kinda bored ;p
Look at the rows and rows of cells!!! Shawshank!!!
Oh no!!! stuck in cell!!! Not!!! hahahhaa...
We broke free!!! yay!!! kekeke...
Look at the mugshots of the escapees!The inmates had a lot of rules to live by. There was even a rule book! I bought it! kekeke... will come in useful next time ;p Here we are, leaving the prison island The Alcatraz!!!
Here we are back on mainland, went for lunch at a nice Italian restaurant while Isaac slept in the stroller. As we had a late lunch, we more or less had the whole restuarant to ourselves. Hubbs even had a glass of wine to go with his meal. Sweet!
Afterwards, we got him some food and bought stuff to cook for our dinner at this shopping centre near the piers.
Isaac would always want to imitate us - including carrying paper bags! We usually empty them except for one or two light items, and let him carry it. Bother!
See, we took the public bus back to our hostel! They have a map that's very comprehensive - even has all the bus routes and bus stops on it. Hubbs didn't know how to read the map - luckily I could figure it out! hehehe...
pix above taken on 3rd December 2009
Isaac @ three days to 16 months old


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