Into The Jungle: Day 1

March 31, 2014

Jungle Essentials: a princess umbrella

Hiking in to the camp from the road. Sky was a little trooper and walked the whole way herself.

Still on the way up to the camp. I can't say that I minded much when our guide's friend took that suitcase from me.

Fire got a lift to camp

This building was where we stayed. We kept it open all the time to catch the breezes

There were also three of these platforms that we could have slept on (the house seemed safer with the kids)
The bathrooms (toilet and shower inside, both run off the river nearby)
Playing in the river

A little down-time before dinner

Sky was playing with the camera after dinner and got some good shots of all us

Our guide (Gary Phong with Kesyar Falls Junglestay ) picked us up at our hotel around 9am and we headed out of Kuala Lumpur. It took us about an hour and half to get there and once we parked, it was a 15 minute hike in to the camp. Sky was amazing about it- she just grabbed her princess umbrella and got walking. She was even walking ahead of Gary some of the time. Slippery, muddy, crossing a makeshift bridge over a rushing river? No worrying, no whining, just doing it. We told her over and over how proud we were of her.
The camp was really amazing. Gary put a lot of work into it and it shows. We stayed in the only real building there, which was still pretty open, with large doors and windows on three sides. The camp is built into a hill with our place at the top and three covered pavilions at different levels heading down towards the kitchen/community building. There were even enclosed bathrooms with showers and toilets, both "powered" by water piped in from the river.
After knocking off the leeches that found their way into our keen sandals (closed shoes for all next time!), we settled in to our "room", had lunch, and put the kids down for naps. We had originally planned to visit a fruit farm but the harvest had been a little early this year, so there wasn't any fruit to see at the farm any more. We were pretty hot and sweaty from the hike in so when Gary offered to take us down to the river for a swim, we jumped on it.
It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon. The water was cold but not too cold and rushing, but not so fast that it would sweep the kids away. At one point, I had D hold my hands and I just laid back in it- heaven! Fire loved dropping leaves into the little waterfalls between the rocks and watching them wash away and Sky just wanted to sit in them and feel the water run over her hands. Both kids liked jumping off of the rocks into the water (don't worry, we caught them as they jumped). It was so refreshing that none of us wanted to leave but eventually we all got prune-y and the kids lips started turning blue so we dried off and hiked back to camp.
We let the kids watch a movie before dinner and then again afterwards until bedtime. Both kids had a bit of hard time falling asleep but they went down eventually. I wanted to relax with a book but unfortunately the light from D's kindle kept drawing (huge) bugs so we called it an early night as well. Elephants tomorrow!

Bright Lights, Big City: Our Last Day in Singapore

March 30, 2014

    We had a great day at Universal Studios and the kids were doing great so we decided to try to end the Singapore leg of our trip on a high note with another trip to the zoo.  We surprised the kids with a special breakfast there in the morning, something my brother had recommended, called "Breakfast with the Animals".   Since we'd registered in advance, we were sat at a table right next to the stage so we had a great view of the organutans when they came in.  We got to see them up close and have our pictures taken, but no real interaction.  That was just fine with the kids- Sky was actually more excited at having chocolate cereal for breakfast than she was about the animals and Fire just didn't know what to make of them.  I don't know that I'd go more than once but the food was good and it was a fun way to start the day.
  After breakfast we split up to walk to the kids area at the back of the zoo.  Sky wanted to the see the giraffes so she and I walked around one way and D took Fire to the reptile house on their way back.  I had a great time walking around with Sky.  She was cheerful and talkative, she asked questions and made up stories.  She was excited to see all the animals and we had a lot of fun together.  We met up with D and Fire just in time to see the kids animal show (jumping dogs, running bunnies, leaping cats) and then let the kids loose on what they really wanted: the splash park. 
  Sky loves splash parks but she's also pretty scared of them since they're new to her.  She and Fire (her little shadow) will stand on the edge and just watch all the other kids run around.  That day, it took her a good 10 minutes to just get wet and that only happened because Fire got impatient and started pushing her into the jets.  The kids ran and played and ended up having to pry Sky off the waterslides with ice cream so that we could get them cleaned up to go home. 
  Naps, a dinner of leftovers, a little TV while I packed, and we were off to terrorize another airport.  Moving sidewalks and TV shows on devices kept the kids somewhat occupied but we were all ready to get on the plane by the time we boarded.


Augmentin and Other Fun Things

March 25, 2014

  Well, now we know one of the reasons why the kids had a bit of hard time on the flights home.  D took them to the doctor this morning and they both have raging ear and sinus infections.  All of us will be taking a full course of antibiotics to reduce any chance of reinfection.  My poor babies!  We did take Fire to the hospital in Singapore but somehow they missed it.  Hopefully the medicine will work quickly and he can get back to his lovely screaming self.
  On a happier note, I received my first installment of PaperWorks from Jones Design Company and I'm over the moon about it.  It feels a little excessive to spend $30 a month on something I don't really need but I've already used the grocery list and meal planning sheets, I have seven new posts annotated on the blog work-flow worksheet, and I've written two notes on the really cute note cards that are included.  If you're looking for a little treat for yourself that might also help you get a little more organized, take a look at PaperWorks.


March 24, 2014

  At my lowest point, I couldn't even remember what it felt like to be home.  All I had was one terrible moment after another to fight through, without actually being able to fight, since I was stuck on a crowded airplane between two very upset children.  I know that sounds dramatic but that's how it felt.  Fire's fever was back and he was uncomfortable and over tired.  Nothing would make him happy- no toys, books, or cuddling.  I was eventually able to get some milk into him (he wouldn't take it from anything but his tippy cup from home) and then he calmed down enough to watch some Little Einstiens while I worked with Sky. 
  She had had an epic meltdown in the airport before we got on the plane and her tantrum now was an extension of it- nothing and everything was wrong at the same time.  I was finally able to distract her from her broken Barbie (which she'd thrown and broken, which had set off the airport tantrum) and got her to eat a little of her dinner.  After she got a few bites in, I put her movie back on and she was calmed down. 
  D reminded me this morning that I managed to do all that while being very upset myself, so I must not be that bad of a mom and that it was one moment on our trip.  We'd had other breakdowns but this one was so bad that it started to block out all the great moments on our trip.  D also reminded me that right in the middle of something is a terrible time to make any decisions, so we're going to sit on everything for two days and just concentrate on getting back into the swing of things here before we even talk about what might be next for us.  He said that he's pretty calm about whatever we decide for the future: to stay here or move on, to grow our family or stop with two, that he knows we'll make it great, that whatever we decide will work out perfectly.  I'm so lucky to have him. 
  Oh, and one last thing:  To the lady sitting in front of Fire on that flight, I know you'll probably never read this but perhaps writing this here will help exorcise my frustration at you for me.  The stewardess informed that my son's playing with the tray was knocking your seat a bit and bothering you, since you're pregnant.  Where to start?  First, congratulations on your pregnancy.  However, if your condition is so delicate that a little rattling from a child playing with a tray table bothers you, perhaps you shouldn't be on an airplane in the first place?  Also, welcome to being a parent!  I'm sorry if the temper tantrums are bothering you but if you think your child will act any differently, you have a huge surprise coming to you.  Why don't you get in touch with me in 2-4 years and then we can revisit this issue?

P.S.  A friend did point out to me that pregnancy can be really uncomfortable especially as you get further along, so I just want to add that the woman I'm referring to above wasn't even far enough along to show through her clothes, and that I did apologize to her and her husband at the time.


March 23, 2014

  I am broken.  This last part of the trip has broken me.  Fire's fever came back while we were in the jungle, Sky's been struggling again since we moved on from Singapore, and I just had the worst plane flight ever as a parent (Thank you, KoreanAir stewardess, until you stopped by I had no idea that my screaming son and crying daughter were disturbing other passengers). I hadn't slept in almost two days and I finally just started crying on the plane.  I wad done.  D helped where he could but he was across the aisle and once I started crying, I wasn't about to move.
  I was crying in part from being over-tired and part from frustration with the kids, but mainly because it hit me that this is the last trip we'll be doing  with the kids for a while.  It's too much for them and too much for us.  That realization, which D agrees with, changes a lot for us and we're going to have to reconsider some earlier decisions that we made about growing our family and where and how we live.
  There are more posts coming, fun ones with pictures, but  for now we're almost home.  And I couldn't be happier.

Bright Lights, Big Sobs: Screaming and Crying in Singapore

March 17, 2014

  Change is hard on kids and it seems to be especially hard on Sky.  She thrives on routine and on knowing what's going to happen next.  At home, she'll ask us over and over, "What's next?" and "What's after that?"  We tried to prepare her for what was going to happen on vacation to satisfy this need and to reassure her that no matter what happened, we'd all be together. 
   She and Fire both did great on all the flights it took to get here but our first few days were a little rough.  Sky had a few crying jags that she couldn't shake and the smallest things, things that she wouldn't even notice at home, caused her to burst into tears.  She couldn't tell us why she was crying, just sobbed huge, heart-heavy tears.  We couldn't say anything to calm her, she just needed to be held.  I know it stems from her fears of change and of being in a new place but it's so hard not to be able to assuage them.  She's done a lot better these last two days but we fly out tonight to Malaysia, which means more change.
  Fire, my sweet and lovable baby boy, is a screamer.  He's been doing it for about a year now and we haven't found any way of stopping it.  He'll scream when he's happy, when he's sad, and for no reason at all.  And on this trip, he discovered pretty quickly that screaming will get him out of a baby chair and out of a restaurant fast, so he started doing it when we sat down to eat.  D and I were at our wit's end about it after our terrible experience at the pizza restaurant the other night so we decided to try something different.  We've tried ignoring him, turning away from him, covering his mouth, covering our ears, all of that and nothings worked.  We finally decided to take it up a notch and give him a hand spanking when he screams.  It goes like this: the first scream gets him a warning in a very serious voice, the second scream gets his hand held and he gets told again that he'll have his hand spanked if he does it again, and the third time his hand gets spanked.  We make sure not to do it when we're angry so that he only associates it as training and not as hitting.  And it's working.  At most, he only screams twice now before he stops and he's been a lot easier to handle now that we're back in charge.

Bright Lights, Big City: Chasing Pigeons

Bright Lights, Big City: Sentosa, Universal Studios and an Aquarium

March 16, 2014

   When we initially started thinking about coming to Singapore, we thought that we would just be coming to a city, so the kids could see a zoo, an aquarium, and the symphony, but we've also managed to hit a bunch of the high points of Singapore as well: Chinatown, the Gardens by the Bay, and today, Sentosa and the Merlion.  The kids woke up in great moods and they were wonderful all day.  Seriously, we all had a great time today, which was sorely needed. 

We took the cable car from Harbor Front over to Sentosa

The kids split a giant cookie

 while D and I had white chocolate mochas to fortify us for the day

The obligatory "us with the Merlion" pictures

We rode the flying dragon three times and saw the two shows in Far Far Away and then went back to Madagascar for the merry-go-round and the water tunnel ride.  

 Fire LOVED the merry-go-round and cried every time we took him off his foosa (after the first time around he insisted on sitting on the same one every time) so we rode it three times

 Sky says "It's okay, but it's not flying dragon"

After lunch we walked over to Jurassic Park.  D and Sky rode the flying dinosaurs and I stayed with Fire while he napped ...
 under a dinosaur!  Wow, that kid will sleep through anything!

We made one more stop back in Far Far away to ride the flying dragons again and the small Ferris wheel in the Fairy Godmother's store.  Sky got to meet the Fairy Godmother but was a little sad about not being able to meet Fiona (it was rainy and the big characters weren't out).

The kids were doing so well that we decided to try the aquarium.  They loved seeing the fish but were having trouble focusing on one thing after running around in Universal Studios.  We eventually corralled them in the main tank viewing room and just sat and watched the fish for a little bit.  
And of course, they tried to pet the sharks.

  We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe before catching the cable car back to the city.  It was a wonderful, amazing, super fun day.  The kids were champs through it all and it was so great to be able have that kind of day with them.  Tomorrow is our last day here in Singapore (how did that happen?) and we're heading to the zoo one more time for breakfast with the animals.  We fly to Malaysia tonight and then head out for some jungle camping.

Bright Lights, Big City: Noise, Tesla Coils, and Snow

We took the kids to the Singapore Science Center and Snow City yesterday morning and this is the one picture we have:

Shortly after this was taken we entered the sound room which was so full of things to do and so loud that the kids were overwhelmed by everything and bounced between exhibits like tiny pin balls.  D and I were having trouble focusing ourselves and had to split up so that we were each following one kid.  That worked until we went to the math room, where D found his happy place, and then to the atrium where they had a giant Tesla coil set up, where I lost him completely.  The kids enjoyed the museum mostly because there were lots of buttons to push and it was bright and loud, not because they enjoyed it or learned anything.  It was a Science Center, not a children's science center- we found out as we were leaving that there is a wing for small children opening this summer. Oh well, two out of four ain't bad, right?
  We had a quick lunch there and then headed over to Snow City, which was kind of like an ice skating rink but filled with snow instead of ice.   T fell asleep shortly after lunch (all circuits overloaded, must reboot!) so I stayed with him in the lobby and D took Sky in to play.  She loved real snow the last time she played in in it but I'm guessing she was overwhelmed again because they weren't even in there for a half hour.  When I asked D what they did in there, he said "Played with dirty snow?".  I think we'll save our money next time and wait for winter.
   We like being able to show the kids so many wonderful things but days like this, and trips like this, are making it more and more clear to us that it might be time to head back to the world.  I love Kwaj and our life there and I really love how much freedom the kids have but it has a bit of cost as well:  they either aren't afraid when they should be (of traffic, crowds,  and getting separated from us) or they are afraid when they shouldn't be (of splash parks, big noisy rooms, and friendly waiters).  They're terrible at sitting still because we never do that at home and that keeps them from enjoying some things that happen while you're not in motion.  We're not going anywhere any time soon but I'm not as sure as I was that Kwaj is where we'll be in five years, let alone twenty.

Bright Lights, Big Sounds: The Children's Symphony and the Children's Garden

March 15, 2014

 We laid low this morning, hoping that some quiet time in the condo would help get the day off to a better start.  After some TV and family time, Sky and I headed out to see a children's symphony put on by the Singapore Orchestra.  Sky has always loved music so I was really excited for her to have the chance to see this show.  Unfortunately, I underestimated how long it would take to get there and we got to the theater 20 minutes late.  I had been very worried that they wouldn't let us in after the show started so I was really tense about it before we got there, especially since I chose to walk from the subway station to the theater instead of taking a taxi.  To add to it, our big stroller was broken and I decided not to bring the little one so poor Sky, who never walks more than a few hundred yards at home, had to hoof it almost half a mile (well, to be honest, I carried her quite a bit, which made me even more tense, but she was still a champ).
 Luckily, the did let us in and the show ran longer than I thought it would we still got to see a lot of it.  Sky loved hearing all the instruments play and she was able to tell me what she thought the music sounded like (loud, quiet, happy, sad).  The second part of the symphony was an adaptation of Babar the Little Elephant.  Sky's never been to a play so she didn't entirely understand what the actors were doing on stage and her main takeaway from that part of the show was that a hunter shot Babar's mother, but all in all, it was a great time.
  After the show, I took her to Swenson's (kind of like Friendly's, for you east-coasters) for lunch (where she had ice cream and french fries to eat) and then we caught the train back to the condo.  Sky was so tired by our morning that she fell asleep on me as soon as the train started.

All dressed up for the symphony
 And what did D and Fire do while Sky and I went to the symphony?  Laundry, of course!

  After naps, we took the kids out to the Children's Garden at the Garden's by the Bay.  After wanting to go so badly yesterday, Sky and Fire practically had to be pushed out onto the splash pad today.  This is only the second time they've played in a splash pad so it's all new and scary to them.  Fire finally got things going by pushing Sky into a jet of water.  Once they were wet, the warmed up to it and had fun playing together for almost an hour, until they came back to us blue-lipped and shivering.

  After the splash pad, we took the kids through the Adventure Trail and playground.  They had a lot of fun trying all the walkways and slides and Sky loved climbing around on the huge play structure at the end that was built to look like a tree.  She actually had so much fun that she ended up kind of overstimulated and hyper.  The kids just aren't used to being around a lot of people or to having those kinds of things, like a super-awesome play structure, available to they do have time, sometimes they get overloaded.  We ended up having to leave earlier than we thought we would because Sky was so far gone that she'd stopped listening to me or D at all.  

 Next stop: Chinatown Food Street.  It's kind of kitchy but they've restored and covered over one of the shop house streets here in Chinatown and in the evenings, it's full of tourists.  We joined the throngs out looking for good food and got a selection to bring home (no more restaurants for us after the last two nights!).  We ate dinner on the balcony and then let the kids watch some Little Einstein while D and I had a little time for ourselves after they finished eating.    After the rough day yesterday, we definitely needed the smoother day we had today.

 Fire's not sure what to think of the black mud crabs at the restaurant

 Dinner on the balcony

D: 1, red chili crab: 0
Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.