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Saturday, January 20, 2007

My Other New Hobby

When I ended my last blog entry alluding to the fact that I had a new hobby, the intention wasn't to keep everyone in suspense for so long. Work's been super busy, Ray's been travelling a lot since he moved to a new position within the same company (which means more babysitting for me!) and now that I can't even blog from work (bloody increased firewall security) AND I'm been spending a lot of time on my new hobby, it's taken a while to get this new entry in. Sigh....
Anyway, enough with the excuses, I've been bitten (badly) by the scrapbooking bug!! One of my friends suggested doing a class at Laine's Papeterie at Wheelock Place and I had heard about it but didn't think much of it (or rather didn't think I was creative enough to do it).

In an effort to be social, I went, armed with 3-4 photos with the same theme as instructed and I ended up with this!!

It does take a number of hours to get each layout (LO) done but since I had all these photos of Alicia just lying around in a shoe box somewhere, remnants of good intentions to complete her baby photo album, I thought this was a much cooler way to display her photos!

After reading up and learning more about the craft, i realized I didn't like the first one I did so much. So here are a few others that followed:

The papers available are just so pretty that you can't go wrong!

Best part of all, they make great gifts! It was my mum's birthday yesterday and I decided to make her a tribute to Grandma LO. These pages can't be fitted into regular frames because of all the 3-D embellishments so they have "shadow boxes" - frames with depth.

I used to think that scrapbooking was something you made from scraps but this trend has been commercialised! These days, they make really expensive "scraps" which means I've had to cut back on shopping for me.

I'm hoping I won't lose interest too quickly. It'd help if my friends reading this show some interest too for mutual inspiration. Just like how Pui, Meips and I "inspire" each other to attend our weekly photography lessons religiously. God knows if they weren't there, I would be so much more tempted to skip the classes.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Instead of our annual Oz Christmas visit, this year, we decided to ship Ray's two youngest brothers over to Singapore for a visit instead. Since Ray is usually pretty tied up with work during the course of the year, this visit was a great opportunity for some brotherly bonding and for Alicia to get to know her uncles better.

When I first met them, Glen and Dean (aka "the boys" or "the kids") were only 11 and 9 respectively. Now they're 21 and 19, both taller and bigger than Ray, who at 6 ft 2, is no midget himself.

Well, boys will be boys, and given that the McGregor folks are super duper competitive (in all things) and sport jocks, the boys (including my dear hubby) decided to challenge each other in a 100m dash. Obviously, the appeal of that was totally lost on me but I thought it would be a great opportunity to test out my new Nikon D80 and provide a photo finish in case of sibling disputes! (I did say they were competitive :)

The results were not surprising - Glen, who weighs 10 muscly kg more than the other two, won easily but old(er) man Ray still managed to keep up with a not too shabby finish.

The funniest part of this was when Alicia saw all of them running - she decided it was a cool thing to try out as well. This, coming from a "gu niang" girl that loathes walking too much and is always saying "bao bao", was a pleasant surprise.

She even looked like she was giving it 100% as well with sheer concentration on her face and arms pumping vigorously to keep up with her little legs that were working as fast as they could. It was hilarious to watch.

On another note, I loved how my photos are coming out on my new DSLR camera. I've always wanted to be able to take these pro looking shots with a clear subject and a blurry background. As I've learnt in the photography classes I'm taking with Meips and Puiming, this is known as a shallow depth of field. Cool. Here's Alicia taken with a shallow DoF.

The other thing I've realized about photography is that it can get expensive if you want to be a serious amateur (is that an oxymoron?). If that's not bad enough, I've recently picked up another hobby that's proving to burn some more holes in my pocket. Will blog about that in my next entry.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Three Christmases, Three Countries

It's that time of the year when we all get a little nostalgic and start lamenting on how quickly the year has passed and it's already the end of another year. (I also think time speeds up exponentially after you turn 30).

This is the third Christmas we've celebrated with Alicia and it gets better every year. Due to our rather itinerant lives, we've actually spent Christmas in three different locations over the past three years. The first was in New York, Alicia was just over a month old and it was the start of the bitter NY winter.

That was probably the worst Christmas we had. Saddled with the fear of Alicia catching a bad cold in sub-zero temperatures, we stayed home all day. To make matters worse, that was the start of Alicia's colicky phase as well which meant long (or what felt like a long time) periods of incessant crying.

Here's when she just woke up, still looking sleepy and grumpy. (She's still grumpy when she wakes up even now).

Last year, we braved the 8 hour flight (which is like eternity when you a have a restless toddler in tow) to Brisbane to join my in-laws for a nice big McGregor family Christmas. It was the first time Alicia got to meet all of her uncles and aunties and it was great to have so many babysitters around for when I wanted to go shopping :).

This year, we decided to stay and spend Christmas in Singapore. Ray's dad couldn't get too much time off so we didn't do our traditional Aussie family Christmas. Instead, Ray's two youngest brothers (he's got three plus one sister) are here for a two week visit.

At two, Alicia now understands the concept of the Christmas tree and of course, the presents that go under it! It was great fun opening presents with her on Christmas Day until she found one that she liked, got distracted and lost interest in opening the rest. I even managed to get her to pose for some shots.

So here's wishing everyone a very happy new year and more blogging in 2007!

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First Pet

My childhood never consisted of a 'real' pet. The closest I got to that was a weekend with the class-owned hamsters (remember Mark Anthony, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra?), a couple of months with a chick that eventually got big enough for my parents to see it as chicken soup potential and minding my aunt's poodle for a few days while she went on hols.

I was hoping to relive that part of my childhood through Alicia, get a pet, pretend it's for her when it's really to erase that bit of juvenile deprivation. Unfortunately, Alicia's innate timidness towards animals didn't make for good reasoning to get a pet that required more work for the maid and detraction from her main task of looking after Alicia.

After holding out for a few months (we even made a trip down to the SPCA to see if we could be tempted!), we settled on something that could amuse her yet was low maintenance. And voila! Alicia got this bird as a Christmas present from her Ah Kong! As with all new things that she deems exciting, she greeted it with shrieks and squeals.

My dad proudly declared that he chose this bird because the shopkeeper said this one was a "singer" but a whole two days passed and there was not a peep out of it which then promptly my mum to name it "Dumbbell". Sheesh...

Now that Alicia and Dumbbell are firm friends, we'll see if we can make room for more interactive furry buddies :)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Happy Birthday!

My little girl turns 2 today but ironically, there'll be no big celebrations or cake cutting for her, just hugs, kisses and well-wishes.

If you're thinking about how sad that is, don't. Alicia had not one but TWO birthday celebrations last weekend. One for friends and the other for the extended family. We couldn't do them today as venues were booked out, my cousin's getting married and god forbid we even contemplate the inauspicious thought of after-the-actual-day celebrations.

Most people wouldn't even have a celebration for a 2 year old's birthday - they're too young to understand, they say. But hey, given we only do this once a year and she'll have photos to look at when she gets older, we went for it.

We held the party at Raffles Town Club in one of their function rooms. The best part of this was that they had birthday party packages which includes decoration, party packs and games which really saved me the trouble of trawling through the Concourse party shops like I did last year to assemble the party packs.

Alicia had a blast even before the guests arrived checking out the balloons and playing with the decorative plastic hats that adorned the room.

As a sign that our parents network is growing, last year we had like 4 kids at Alicia's party, this year we had like 15! The thing with kids' parties is that you have to have something that entertains them, this in turn keeps the parents happy as well as they get to indulge in adult conversation with the other guests. So Ray decided to get a clown.

Not having much experience in clown selection, I simply searched for someone on the web and went on blind faith. The programme included a ventriloquist act, magic show and ballon sculpting for an hour and at the prices they charged, anyone would have been incentivised to put on a silly outfit and entertain children!

First up was his ventriloquist act with "Dodo" the duck. Not that I've seen many a ventriloquist in my time but it was so not what I expected from a pro. He was so unintelligble during his act that our friend's 4 year old son turned around and exclaimed "WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT DUCK?" Sheesh....

Fortunately, things got better from there (it couldn't have gotten much worse). His magic show was credible and he even pulled out a live bunny rabbit which of course, thrilled the kids to no end. And he ended it off with balloon sculptures for all the kids which was always a perennial favourite.

As all kids' parties experts would say, keep it short and sweet. The duration of the party usually corresponds with the age of the child. So in this case, it was slated for two hours and it was time to bring out the cake. The problem with cakes is that you always have to match or top what you had last year. And Alicia's cake last year looked like this...

So we went back to the same 3D cake makers, e-creative, and ordered another character that Alicia likes. She even had a say in which character she wanted. Here's what we ended up with.

This time around, I didn't hired a pro photographer to take the pictures which is why the cake might look less delectable. On hindsight, this was a mistake. It was so difficult to entertain the guests, watch the kid, keep the party going and try and take good quality pictures at the same time.

In any case, everyone seemed like they had a good time. The rest of Alicia's second birthday pics can be found here.

How quickly time flies....Alicia's already two and will actually be starting nursery class next year. Here's a look at how she looked like a year ago and now:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Such a girl

In less than two weeks, Alicia will be two years old.

And because we have friends and family that live overseas, the postman always surprises us with unexpected gifts that trickle in as the big day draws closer.

When I got home from work yesterday, there was a big Postpak lying on the table. Ripping open the wrapping paper with such fervour and mounting anticipation of its contents, it was as if the present was meant for me!

When I saw what was inside, I eagerly rushed over to where Alicia was playing in an attempt to get her to try it on. Surprisingly, she was more than happy to oblige and so I present to you....

Princess Alicia!

She then proceeded to spend the next 10 minutes (which is pretty long in toddler land) admiring herself in the mirror, giggling at how the earrings jingle jangled as her shook her head.

Why do I get the feeling playing dress-up will be coming up in the not too distant future....

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bike Tike

In my regular pursuit of activities to keep Alicia occupied, we stumbled upon one that kept everyone amused for almost an hour - hubby, kid and even our helper.

For most people living in Singapore, if you grew up as an eastie, you'll tend to want to live around the east when you get your own place. At least that theory holds true for Ray and I. So despite living in the central (we will move east when the lease is up!) at the moment, we still make our regular jaunts out east for walks with Alicia along East Coast Park and to get some good seafood.

Last Saturday, as we arrived at the East Coast hawker centre, Ray lamented that he wasn't hungry yet so we decided to take a walk around. As I surveyed the the streams of dog walkers, wobbly learner roller bladers and cyclists, I noticed a huge grin on the face of a kid on a child seat strapped to the front of a bike.

That's it! With newfound enthusiasm, I suggested we rent bikes and take Alicia for a ride. Given Alicia's hit-or-miss temperament when it comes to new things, we decided to let Ray take her for a quick spin first to test the waters.

(PS: I blame the haze for the fuzzy pic)

It was a hit! Despite the rather apprehensive look on her face in the photo, Alicia loved tearing along with the wind in her hair, waving to her mummy and ya-ya. When our hour was up, she seemed disappointed that it was over.

Now Ray's all gung-ho about getting a child seat attached to his bike at home and is even willing to turn his posh, rather expensive Trek mountain bike into an Ah-gong bike complete with un-glam rack and kick stand.

Oh, the sacrifices parents make.....:)