E6H3 Birthday Celebration at the Movies!

August is a time when I become a busy bumblebee, my mind wrought with fanciful ideas that whip up recipes fit for a royal birthday party for our 2 princesses, whose birthdays are merely one month apart. Hence, J and I decided to throw them a combined party that will be held in between their actual birthdays!

After much consideration, we planned to organise the party at the Platinum Movie Suites in the Cineleisure Complex. This was our first time planning this, and as it was a combined party, close friends of both girls were invited to grace the event as they joined us in celebrating the joyous occasion. Mommy cum planner went straight to work by first booking the cinema on a date that falls between E&H birthdays. We booked the entire 20-seat platinum suite, and ordered a buffet menu for the occasion to make sure our guests would not only have a rollin’ good time, but also happy tummies to boot!

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When that was settled, I got my hands busy creating ticket invitations, that would be so apt for a cinematic experience at the movies! The girls received either pink Ariel or Aurora tickets, while the boys received either blue (Prince Eric) or green (Prince Philip) tickets.

We prepared all the goodie bags, making certain that the many interesting games and activities that are age-appropriate, as well as delectable snacks within will thrill their favourite friends! These bags were customised and hand-made with much love and tender care for each of our young guests.

Goody bags

Of course, the birthday cake was not to be neglected! To please both E & H, I especially custom-made a half-half cake that was half Ariel and half Aurora, since E wanted Princess Ariel, while H wanted Princess Aurora!

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The mommy cum baker was torn between pleasing either, so the indecisiveness yielded one half-half cake eventually! 😅

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One half of the 8″ cake had Princess Ariel the mermaid sitting on a dual-layer strawberry cake, hand-baked using premium French butter and fresh strawberries, and frosted with fresh French buttercream that is tinted with the most beautiful ocean blue. The cake was adorned with hand-rolled glistening pearls and seaweed made from fondant icing, as well as beautiful wafer daisies. The bottom of the cake was dusted with chocolate pebbles and cookie crumbs to mimic sand at the bottom of the ocean.

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The other half of the 8″ cake had Princess Aurora sitting on a bed of sugar-paste roses🌹 topping the 8-inch dual-layer strawberry 🍓 cake, made from premium fresh ingredients. Frosted with freshly churned buttercream, and circumferenced by strawberry pocky sticks, the final presentation was adorned with the glistening hand-rolled pearls around it to infuse an elegant feel. If you have also noticed, I had also custom-made a castle background for each half of the cake – an underwater scene for Ariel, and a rosy garden for Aurora!

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And of course, I didn’t forget the princess cupcakes with their towers, as well as the popular marshmallow sticks and rice crispy balls, that have proved to be essential at our previous birthday parties.

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There were lots of hype over the cake table, children goggling over the cupcakes and sweets, parents busy taking photos… It was a scene marked with every happy bit of happenstance! 🤗

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The children satisfied their cravings both at the buffet and dessert tables. More than that, after the cake-cutting and birthday song singing, our young guests were ushered into the theatre suites to watch The Lion King, each with a plush lounge chair that came with a blanket, a tall glass of lemon tea, one serving of either popcorn or nacho chips with cheese, and a bento of finger-licking snacks consisting of chicken karaage, fish & chips, seaweed chicken, potato wedges, etc.

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The children were, to say the least, satiated by the birthday fare! 😍 While the little ones were watching the movie in the movie suite, the adults were catching up with each other in the lounge just outside the suite. 👍🏻

It was a joyous day filled with jubilance and thanksgiving to our great God, who so graciously gifted us 2 awesome girls, though not without parenting challenges, but we are very very thankful to be their parents. May we be found worthy to care for them and nurture them into God-honouring, Christ-exalting, gospel-propelling girls who have transformed* hearts after God’s own heart. ❤️

*”And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

 

 

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Sydney Getaway Day 6 – Zoo

Day 06: Monday in Sydney – Sunny, cloudless blue sky. Max 16ºC – 9ºC.

We have planned to visit the Taronga Zoo on our last day in Sydney. But before that, we made sure that we have checked out of Meriton Suites @ Pitt St, as well as Intercontinental Hotel @ Macquarie St. The children had their last hurrah in both accommodations before we walked down towards the Harbour.

We bought zoo entry tickets from KLOOK while on our way to the designated No.6 Jetty at Circular Quay, where we redeemed our in-app voucher for physical entry tickets from the Captain Cook Cruises ticket office.

We didn’t have to wait long before boarding Captain Cook! Straight up to the top deck we climbed and found good seats for ourselves that offered us unblock views of the sparkling Harbour.

Onboard Captain Cook!

The ferry brought us so close to the icons of Sydney, and we managed to snap some postcard-worthy photos of the Sydney Opera House…

… and a not-too-bad picture of the Harbour Bridge. 😛

Onboard the comfortable sightseeing ferry, we treated ourselves to fresh berries which the girls absolutely loved! I sacrificed my portion and gulped down the sights of the surrounding wonders offered by the captivating Sydney Harbour instead. 😊

The Taronga Zoo in Sydney is located on the stunning shoreline of the Sydney Harbour, girdled by beautiful landscapes that drew our breaths away. This was our first time visiting a zoo that has such a unique location. Instead of arriving directly at the zoo, we arrived at the foothill of the zoo’s entrance where we had to embark on a skyride journey via the Sky Safari Cable Car to enter the zoo! We were thrilled by the experience and were excited to encounter the unique wildlife of Australia that awaits us at the end of the cable car ride. 🤗

Overlooking the Sydney Harbour, peering out from the cable car, it was difficult to imagine a view that better encompasses more of the city’s icons in one glimpse. And yet, take your eyes off the harbour and one will notice a flurry of activities taking place within this exceptional zoo.

As we emerged from the “lifting” Skyride and stepped foot onto the grounds, wandering through the entrance of this remarkable zoo, echoes of bird calls and rustling sounds coming from nearby enclosures greeted us in a welcoming manner that sweetened our arrival in every little way.

Amidst the scurrying footsteps of many visitors, we found ourselves hurrying along with curiosity and excitement mounting up within us, not wanting to miss out on any great encounters that we might not know yet!

The Australian Walkabout was the first attraction we came upon, which led us on a roundabout trail as cuddly koalas were seen snoozing within the cooling shades of the Eucalyptus foliage that filled the enclosure. There was so much to discover and experience within this zoo as we revel in the natural beauty of the bushland. The animals looked so peaceful as we watched them relaxing and at ease in this lush sanctuary where meerkats and echidnas roam, and platypus swim. Have I mentioned how pristine the pelicans are?! So beautiful that the purple “vein” shows through its luminescent pretty pink beak! 😃 I have never seen a pelican as clean as this! 😍

While looking for a toilet for the girls, we came upon a nice lookout point where the icons of Sydney provided a nice backdrop for a charming family photo! if only Little H was awake… 😅 She dozed off halfway through the trails we were trekking on.

We found a neat little cafe where we settled for lunch – 2 baskets of fish and chips to share amongst ourselves, and a warm little mug of soya hot chocolate for me to indulge in. 🥰

The last attraction we went to was the Seal Walk! This is by far the best enclosure I have ever seen that was designed for seals. The obvious joy in these animals was felt as they frequently took turns to demonstrate their aerial abilities in each leap into the open air out of the water!

Before we bid a fond farewell to the Taronga Zoo, we entered the gift shop near the exit that would lead us to the ferry, there sat a gigantic koala that seemed to beckon us to cuddle up close for a photo! Here I’ll share one lovely photo of our firstborn E who presented a sheepish smile on demand. 😊

Back to Circular Quay we went, on the return ferry with Captain Cook! With just the right time to spare, we retrieved our luggage which we left at the Intercontinental Hotel after checkout, took a cab to the airport and boarded our flight home in the nick of time. 🤩

Closing thoughts:

This trip down under, though was considered planned, was indeed a last-minute indulgence for me and the girls. Without J’s involvement in the DDU conference, and his generosity in love towards us, we wouldn’t have been able to experience so much in the past few days. Although we know there is bound to be much more to be explored and discovered in this awesome city, we are confident God will leave us an opportunity to return to Sydney to accomplish that.

There are no words that could describe the magnitude of gratitude I have towards the Lord, my God, who lavished such grace upon me and my family. I was left with a love-hate relationship with fond trips such as this. I love it because I had a great time bonding with my children in a foreign land, out of the mundane routine we were so comfortably accustomed to back home. I hate it because it disrupts the routine that was so productive, that I had to leave it behind so that I could rest and take a breather in new terrain. How glad I am to return to writing so that such precious moments can be documented, and not forgotten in the many flourishing years to come. So I thank God and learn to rejoice in Him for He is worth every praise and thanksgiving for being the Giver of great and wonderful things to those who loved Him, those who are called according to His purpose, so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be glorified in us, and us in Him, according to the grace of our God.

 

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Sydney Getaway Day 5 – Sydney Tower Eye, Harbour Bridge Walk, Kirribilli

Day 05: Sunday in Sydney – Sunny. Max 16ºC – 8ºC.

We have 2 more faithful days in Sydney to be enthralled by this vibrant city! The spine conference has wrapped up for the year, so we have J exploring with us the entire day! 🥰As the girls were yearning to show J the Children’s Department of David Jones, we definitely had to make a trip there in the morning, and let the vibe of that penthouse department spill its magic onto J. 🤣

We were hoping to see the Experience Curator in a different persona today, since we had already seen her as Minnie Mouse and Tinkerbell. In spite of feeling disappointed when our girls saw she was Tinkerbell again, the girls were just delighted to see her once more, and waited for their turns to have their hands painted by her. Again. 😜 You can certainly spot what they asked her to paint for them in the following collage of photos taken at lunch:

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We ordered dishes from various stalls for lunch today – Our girls most definitely wanted DTF only, I had Thai green curry tiger prawns and chicken with egg noodles, while J had to have Penang Char Kway Teow! 🤤 With our stomachs pleasantly filled to the brim, we left the food court in search for the entrance that will lead us up to the Sydney Tower Eye, of which we have taken a wefie with in the midst of our feasting. 😊

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Wefie with Sydney Tower Eye!

Set within the same compounds of Westfield Sydney, the tallest structure in Sydney (and second tallest in the Southern Hemisphere) at 309 metres high towers over the CBD of Sydney. Located at Level 5 of the shopping complex, the Tower Eye was easy to find. Moreover, KLOOK proved itself to be a handy app yet again, by ensuring an effortless purchase and retrieval of entry tickets at a discounted price. It was simply click and go!

Past the entrance, we wandered into an exhibition space where displays of structures resembling the iconic Sydney Tower Eye scatter along the meandering corridor, with interactive touch screens and information boards about Sydney, the tower and its construction. Much like the Sydney SEALiFE Aquarium, we were admitted into a chroma key photography green zone, with props hanging from the ceiling, and a professional photographer on standby greeting us as we turned the corner. Whenever an element of fun is injected into the photos, they do indefinitely bring to mind fond memories!

A box of cool pink 4D experience glasses awaits us as we emerged from the photography zone. Each of us took a pair and waited in line to enter a 4D cinema that has tiered platforms for a standing audience. The 5-min movie took us on a journey over and around Sydney through a bird’s eye view, with a lorikeet leading the way. We dipped and dived through the air along Sydney’s coastline, iconic beaches, through the harbour headlands and around all of Sydney’s most iconic structures ending with close-up views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

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We were then ushered to the lift that will whizz us straight up to the observation deck i.e. 250 metres above street level in a mere 40 seconds! When the lift door opened, it was WOW! WOW! WOW! wherever we looked. The panoramic view of Sydney we got to behold was spectacularly breathtaking.

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Besides enjoying the panoramic views, the girls were well entertained by the hop-scotch they found within the observatory deck, and there they were, literally hopping over the skyline of Sydney, with every leap accompanied by lots of laughter.

As for J and me, we settled for a wefie 🥰 on top of Sydney!

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One more panoramic view of Sydney before we descend the Tower Eye for our next adventure!

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Our eventful day continued to shine forth as we trotted to Town Hall station to board the triple-deck train towards Milsons Point via the track that runs along the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, arguably Sydney’s most iconic landmark. Connecting the CBD with Sydney’s north shore, the Harbour Bridge is both a popular tourist attraction as well as a crucially important piece of infrastructure that is steeped in rich history. The Sydney Harbour Bridge currently carries 1 highway with 8 road traffic lanes, 1 railway line (on which we were on), 1 cycle lane and 1 pedestrian walkway (which we were about to embark on)!

Upon alighting the train, we stumbled upon the bi-weekly Kirribilli Markets, which is one of Sydney’s oldest and most popular markets. It opened up like Pandora’s Box to assault our senses with the best intentions. Tactile, taste buds, visual, olfactory, auditory, yes! You read it right, all 5 senses were awoken and pleasantly aroused at this extensive market. Featuring over 220 stalls selling new and recycled fashion and accessories, apparels and homeware from emerging local fashion designers, arts and craft, jewellery and gifts, plants, gourmet foods and a whole lot more!

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Boasting a vibrant atmosphere with great live music and international food, I was particularly drawn to the Burton street tunnel (which is right under Milsons Point train station) where local artisans display exclusive handwoven textiles, quirky millinery, painted ceramics and leather goods.

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Turn me loose! Where to go first? Lemonade was high on the list! The wide range of ethnic food beckoned to us but that craving had to go unrequited (until next visit). Quenched and refreshed, the market was our oyster and off we went, looking for something so unique we need a hundred reasons not to buy it.

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So many things caught our attention, but I answered the call from a stall that sells vintage Australian postcards. What could I say? Right in my wheelhouse!

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The Kirribilli Markets is a goldmine for non-tacky Sydney souvenirs. This was a wonderful and totally unexpected adventure. I’d say, “Follow your nose, go by foot, and keep your options open!” You don’t always have to “color inside the lines” after all!

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We headed south towards the Harbour and crossed Bradfield Park underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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Both icons of Sydney in view from Bradfield Park.

This park extends to the Broughton St Lookout. With an astounding city skyline, several unique landmarks, and lots of beautiful natural sights, Sydney certainly has no shortage of scenic lookouts that offer breathtaking views, but the Broughton St Lookout, touted to be one of the most scenic lookout points in Sydney, is truly exceptional, for it offers an expansive view of the city skyline, the Sydney Harbour, Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, all within one’s visual fields. 👍

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Enjoying the stunning view from Broughton St Lookout.

Arriving at the Bridge Stairs on the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge, we arrived at our starting point of the 1.5 km Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk. Under the flocculent blanket of clouds, we embarked on the trek we had set out to accomplish today. Yes! You read that right again – we took the train that ran through the Bridge, just so we could walk back on it, to return to Circular Quay. 🤩

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Then off we treaded onto the pavement that leads us to the Harbour Bridge!

By walking across the bridge from north to south i.e. from Milsons Point instead of The Rocks, we got to enjoy the best views because we were walking towards the city, not away from it!

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A closer view of the iconic Sydney Opera House, from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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Our purposeful walk was completed in thirty-six minutes. Besides the experiential gain to behold the wonderful sights our eyes were blessedly treated to; the elements we were exposed to, such that it seemed we had to brave the gusts especially when we trudged between the pylons; I also encountered the loss of my faithful companion that saw me through many terrains when I first had it during a great family trip in the UK – the sole of my boots crocodiled and eventually was beyond repair by the time I finished the walk through the Sydney Harbour Bridge. An illustrious finish for a pair of beloved boots from Weymouth. 😍

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We reached the other end of the Harbour Bridge and came upon a flight of quaint looking stairs that brought us to The Rocks.

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The Rocks is a neighbourhood of historic laneways that sensationally lay in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Locals and tourists mingle at the open-air Rocks Markets, where fragrant street food, artisan wares, crafty creations and unique handicrafts spill out onto its cobblestone streets 🤩. The Rocks is also popularly known as the place where some of the oldest pubs in Sydney reside.

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Beaming with Pringles in her hand, our little one managed to convince us with her adorable demeanour, that chips serve as a delightful snack reward considering the distance we had walked together as one family through that famous Bridge! 🙄

We headed home to call it a day, an eventful day indeed… Exhausted, the whole family knocked out with no issue. 😴

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Sydney Getaway Day 4 – David Jones, DDU 2019

Day 04: Saturday in Sydney. Cloudy and windy. Max 16ºC – 9ºC.

Girls caught the cold in this chilly weather 🤒. We spent the morning “chilling out” at home, putting puzzle pieces 🧩 together 😀

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Poor E was still febrile and a general air of malaise surrounded her. Nonetheless, she was contented to rest on the couch fully dressed from head to toe.

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While we were having a restful morning within our cosy apartment suite, J’s morning was an eventful affair of learning and sharing of his expertise in the “Deformity Down Under” spine conference. The second day of the meeting had him spoke on “Management of rigid thoracic kyphosis” to the international delegates.

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By noon, we headed out! And the girls were asking me to bring them back to David Jones, of which I was more than happy to oblige! A trip to David Jones Children’s Department never fails to cheer them up! The space has been designed to deliver an inspiring and creative experience where we were able to explore different worlds and immerse ourselves in places of wonder and nostalgic familiarity hidden with surprises that draw people to revisit often.

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On the escalator in David Jones towards Level 9 where the Children’s Dept is located.

We arrived at the time when storytime just started, and were delighted to see that the same “Experience Curator” who impersonated “Minnie Mouse” the other day, had become “Tinkerbell” today! E was listening intently to the fun story, while H was getting herself really busy with doodling… 😅

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After the storytelling by Tinkerbell, we asked for a photo with their favourite fairy 🧚‍ for keepsakes, to remember the experience they were granted here in David Jones.

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Although it was not apparent to perceive E was feeling under the weather (thanks to the vibrant David Jones Children’s Department), E certainly needed a rainbow to brighten up her day and chase the cold virus away! I thank God that she contained her ill-bound melancholy, solely because her joy is rooted in something else – the sovereign God who is the Giver of all things good and perfect, who continues to build us up in the midst of diseases and sickness.

Our adorable H asked for Princess Ariel this time! Look at her glee! We simply love her bubbly personality! When you ask her who made her so happy and soooo cute? She would say, “Jesus, my Lord!” I praise the Lord indeed, for making this little one such a delight.

In the late afternoon, J sat in the panel discussion as the only Asian surgeon in the spine conference. The others were experts from U.S.A., Australia, Europe, etc. We were very proud of him and couldn’t stop praising God for giving him this opportunity to share his knowledge and experience in the conference, while simultaneously learning from others. And we were beneficiaries of the overflow of blessings he receives from God.

DDU 2019 panel

Being here in Sydney is a multifold gain in many aspects for us as a family – The physical gain J received through hands-on demonstrations and in the networking of like-minded surgeons in the region and in the world; the intellectual and mental gains through perceiving and sharing of knowledge; our physical gain in the expressions of joy and excitement through experiencing Sydney; and most importantly, the spiritual gains we received in acknowledging the Source of where all our blessings derive, that brings forth shouts of joy and ceaseless thanksgiving and praises to the Lord, in whom we choose to delight in. The blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the Living Fountain that He is.

J's 2nd talk at DDU 2019

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Is this not a question that cannot be answered in the affirmative? and it brings the lives that you and I are now living into very sharp focus. May I ask: What are you living for? What is the ultimate goal and purpose of your life? Are you like many who are mindlessly drifting through life from day to day with little thought of anything but the cares of that particular day? Or do you have a financial goal? Maybe your ultimate objective is to be wealthy or famous, or to achieve something great in the eyes of the world, thriving on the praises of man? Maybe your goal is to just make the most out of life and be happy, whatever that means to you? I pray that your mind be opened to perceive the Truth and believe in Jesus Christ, the Lord of all. For your soul will only be truly satisfied by the One and Only True Living God who made you for His glory, that you will only find total satisfaction in Christ when you give your all to make Him your supreme Treasure, far more valuable than anything or anyone in this world. And we thank God for calling us to be pilgrims on this journey, constantly seeking to glorify Him in all we do, by dying to our old selves, in order that we might gain Him, by belonging to Him (Romans 6:6, 7:4).

By evening, we headed to Woolworths to buy ingredients for a homecooked dinner! I pan-seared twin fillets of salmon and sautéed loose leaves of spinach before piling them onto a bed of egg fried rice. Then voila! That’s dinner for the girls!

Pan-seared salmon and sautéed spinach on a bed of egg fried rice.

Pan-seared salmon and sautéed spinach on a bed of egg fried rice.

For mine, I enjoyed the pan-seared salmon to its fullest, which was not difficult to do so, with its crispy skin and flaky exterior encasing the moist and succulent flesh within. Had it over a bed of fresh spinach and portobello mushroom slivers, my dinner was very satiating satisfying.

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Reflections:

I am fondly drawn to winter, a season for rest and reflection. Born on the day of the winter solstice (known in the Northern Hemisphere), I have learnt since young, instead of lamenting the shortest day of the year, I choose to celebrate it as a time for contemplation and renewal, rejoicing over the forthcoming days as they start growing longer again from the point of solstice i.e. from my birthday forth…

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View from our apartment by five in the evening.

Though days are short in Australia at this time of the year, and darkness seems to eagerly loom over us, we fear not even when its shadow lengthens over our lives. Being mindful of how sin lays claim over our bodies, committed to hold us captive unto death, shall we then lament the depravity and corruption of our nature? and denounce the saving power of all that the Lord has done for us? By no means! Do we not know and thus be reminded that the infinitude of good which resides in God alone becomes more apparent from our poverty. We are accordingly urged by our own evil proclivity to consider the goodness of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him earnestly until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being He is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence.” (quote from Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin) 

Therefore, I beseech my readers, to rejoice, for darkness will not doom us to an eternal winter. Instead, those who are in Christ, will be led by His Spirit to find the Light in the midst of darkness. I pray, may God exhibit His refulgence within you who wholly trust in Him alone. Acknowledging the depth of darkness, is one of the first critical steps to perceiving His glorious luminosity that kindles each flame of passion for Him. May we sparkle for Him as we tread our lives carefully upon the paths He leads us on, giving careful thought about how we ought to do so every minute of our living days.

“Finally, fellow believer of Christ, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8) When I think about these things, my thoughts are raised to God Almighty alone, who rivets my attention to focus on Christ alone, my Lord and my salvation. Amen.

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Sydney Getaway Day 3 – Darling Harbour, SeaLife Aquarium, Bondi, The Calyx.

Day 03: Friday in Sydney. Sunny and windy. Max 22ºC – min 8ºC.

We woke up slightly earlier than yesterday, and were back in our routine – A high protein breakfast for all of us, which included eggs done in different styles according to each person’s preference; followed by completing some brain-twister activities for the girls using stickers and game-based problem questions.

Today was Day 1 of the Deformity Down Under conference, and J would not be with us for the entire day because he was giving a lecture on “Navigation and Adult Deformity”.

J's 1st talk in DDU 2019

While J was busy, I have planned to bring the girls out by myself, once again, but this time we’ll go somewhere more touristy.

QVB in its glamour

We walked from our apartment towards the heritage QVB, a 121 year-old late 19th century building that is steeped in history and architecturally splendid. This grand building that was built in the 1890’s was erected as a Municipal Market on the scale of a Cathedral! The QVB was beautifully restored and re-opened in 1986, and quickly became Sydney’s most popular and prestigious shopping centre. Occupying an entire block along George Street, the QVB houses a vast array of Sydney’s finest fashion boutiques, jewellery shops and homewares, accompanied by a diverse range of delightful cafes and restaurants.

QVB running

The dominant feature is the distinguished centre dome, which we were told, during the Christmas period is occupied by a GIANT Christmas tree, a must see for any visitor! What captivated us were the glorious stained glass windows and the splendorous architecture that reflect the resplendent brilliance of the building.

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Walking along Druitt Street, we passed through Darling Park, a landmark commercial and retail complex located in Sydney’s popular Darling Harbour precinct. Hidden in a pretty garden oasis, Darling Park is one of Australia’s most unique developments, combining premium office space with first-class retail and F&B outlets.

A staircase marks the end of Druitt Street, where at its elevated platform we stood, captivated by the Darling Habour that laid before our eyes. Other than how darling it appears to be in its glamorous and glistening facade, this stunning harbour, which was originally known as Long Cove, but used to be widely known as Cockle Bay until 1826, gained its eventual amiable name from Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling, who was the Governor of New South Wales from 1825 to 1831, who named the harbour after himself!

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Loving sisters walking down the steps that led us to the Darling Harbour.

The sensational views offered by the harbour’s waterfront freed us from the confines and restraints of buildings after buildings in the concrete jungle of downtown Sydney. What a breather! to behold this splendid waterside location in the heart of Sydney that brings along some marvellous attractions such as the SEALIFE aquarium and diverse dining options!

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour

The girls were instantly refreshed by the enlivening dynamics of the Harbour. They found art installations that brought delight to their little souls. A prominent one that is worth mentioning was the Dancing Brolgas Fountain set in front of the Cockle Bay Wharf building, which is home to Sydney’s premier dining and entertainment venues. Created in cast stainless steel in 1998, and featuring silver statues of the Australian Crane species surrounding a fountain, this interesting fountain has its appeal amongst the little ones as well as the grown-ups, with a playful showcase of a flock of dancing Brolgas splashing in the waters of a spiral fountain designed and built by the artist, Terrance Plowright.

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Girls played at the Dancing Brolgas Fountain.

The girls had a great time running around the fountain and pretending to dance like they were one of those elegant, long-legged brolgas!

Pier 26 Sydney Darling Harbour

We sauntered towards Sydney’s leading family and tourist attraction – the SEA LiFE Sydney Aquarium! Besides housing over 12,000 animals from 650 species, including sharks, dugongs, turtles, stingrays, penguins, tropical fish and much, much more, the marvellous aquarium also offers interesting entertainment for young and old alike.

Purchasing tickets from my KLOOK phone app was probably the best experience I had gained when traveling overseas. There was absolutely no downtime from waiting in queues to buy tickets or gaining entry into the aquarium. We merely strolled past the queues as I clicked to buy the tickets from my phone instantly and within the same minute, we strolled into the gateway that grants us admission into the mysterious aquarium.

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Nemos swimming amongst their coral home.

The children and I had tons of interactive experiences and engaging opportunities to touch and gaze at beautiful sea creatures in wonder, all the while, thinking about the Hands and Mind that made them, and couldn’t resist praising the Lord for His originality and genuinity of His creative powers. We stand in awe often, of this great God who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and everything that is above, within and under it. Even at the sum of all His creatures gathered together in thought, there is no thorough understanding of His wisdom and might.

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We walked underwater through over 100 metres of glass viewing tunnels and came within inches of massive sharks and rays, and also saw some of the remarkable marine and freshwater animals that Australia is famous for, such as barramundi and the Little Penguins. As we ventured around in the well-guided tour through the seemingly never-ending aquarium, we felt like we were being taken on a journey through Australia’s wide and varied aquatic habitats, from the southern river systems that make up the Murray Darling Basin to the colossal Great Barrier Reef in the north!

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Upon exit, we were ushered to the photo kiosks to download our photos or to email the photos to our own email accounts.

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These photos were taken right after we entered the aquarium, where there was a green space with props placed at strategic places to capture our gazes, and a professional photographer with his “big gun” directed us to stand and pose for him to snap pictures of us!

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The three of us spent a total of 1.5 hours exploring the Aquarium. By the end of the magical journey through the underwater adventure, we were famished! I watched both E and Little H wolfed down their hot dog buns and munched on thick crispy fries with much pleasure. Australia is definitely more advanced than Singapore in eliminating plastic straws, and at this point in time, they were already into providing paper straws, which are much more multifarious in its offerings of colours and patterns to each one’s preference!

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Once refilled, we chased seagulls off the dock, and ran along the glistening harbour. It may have been sunny, but the strong winds certainly did its part in chilling us under our down-jackets and trench coat.

Running along Darling Harbour

It was a 1 km walk from the aquarium towards the thriving and burgeoning Darling Quarter. Halfway through my little one would run to me and cried out, “Mommy 抱抱?”

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“Mommy 抱抱?”

The Darling Quarter lies within the vibrant precinct of Darling Harbour, which plays a central role in the community, enticing people of all ages and from all walks of life to enjoy the variety of activities on offer, from ping-pong to yoga and of course the famous Children’s Playground! Touted to be a wonderland for kids and adults alike, the renowned playground is a bustling, colourful and exciting place to be that combines artful form with function. I could feel my heart racing as I tried to keep up with my girls. There were boundless opportunities for kids of all ages to slide down (a 3 m high and 8 m long slide), climb up (via rope), run around, scramble over, swing on, find and discover in this vibrant setting. The girls played with waterworks, explored motion, balance, attempted simple machines, while learning the workings behind it all. We even scaled up a ramp, counted to three, and then whizzed away through a grove of trees in a rush of air along the 21 m long flying fox! There were enough activities to tire out even the most energetic of children! 

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While there, we effortlessly soaked up the buzz on the Village Green, and wandered through the art exhibition space. After all, time spent playing and exploring is never wasted!

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As if all those adventures and discoveries were not enough to top the day, mommy took the girls on board the train towards Bondi Junction, which lies in the eastern suburb of Sydney. As the popular saying goes, no trip to Sydney is complete without visiting Bondi Beach!

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Wow! Those turquoise waters are beckoning me. But truth be told, the girls and I did not manage to get to the celebrated beach! What fun could we have gained without the hubby’s presence? And we were just not dressed for the beach! Merely shopping around in Bondi Junction sufficed to satisfy our claim to have been to Bondi. Seeing the hub that it is before our eyes, we weren’t really left with much time to explore. We went straight to Spotlight, since its Singapore franchise is one of our favourite stores for fancy art supplies.

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Little Sakura

We had a Japanese roll as a snack and headed back to town at around 4.30 pm. E appeared to be unwell on the train-ride, and we realised she was running a temperature 🤒. By five in the evening, we had went to Woolworths to buy some ingredients to cook for dinner.

As for my better half? He was blissfully dining at The Calyx in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. 🤗 Praise the Lord for His blessings and all-encompassing grace upon us, especially upon E as her body wrestles and overcomes the fever, to grant her recovery through rest-a-plenty and rehydration. I shall take heed to slow down for the next few days, and just dwell in the place God has so graciously given us. 🙏

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Sydney Getaway Day 2 – Westfield, Victoria Park, Broadway.

Day 02: Thursday in Sydney – Sunny and windy. Max 22ºC to 8ºC.

Due to the 3 hr time difference between Singapore and Sydney, we woke up close to 10 am this morning, and had a wholesome breakfast together as a family. We also did some home activities before heading out towards Westfield Sydney @ Market Street for us girls, while J headed for his conference.

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Walking along Pitt Street, Sydney.

We merely wanted to while our time away through exploring downtown Sydney. The most convenient way to do so was to enter Westfield Sydney, in search for jigsaw puzzles! Our aim today is to engage in a world of books, games and puzzles, and we kept our eyes especially peeled for Disney Princess puzzles, to buy some in order to occupy the girls’ free time while we are here in Sydney. We did find really excellent ones from Ravensburg in the flagship David Jones along Elizabeth Street.

The level 9 Children’s Department in David Jones is a delightful plethora of interactive experiences for little ones and the young-at-hearts! There was never a dull moment while we were meandering through the myriad sections and shelves of toys on display within this cheerful loft, not only because the endless showcase of dolls and apparels captivated our attention, but solely due to having the “experience curator” dressed up as Minnie Mouse, who approached our girls and offered them adorable stickers and face/hand-painting services, along with her amiable personality!

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Little H was beaming when she saw her favourite Princess Jasmine on sale!

The girls were thrilled when they were led by the Minnie persona to an exquisitely-framed magic mirror. They were asked to twirl in front of it, one person at a time, and the magic mirror will show you which Disney princess you are! You can imagine the astonishment in their facial expressions each and every time the mirror reveals a Disney princess, and shows a snippet of their lives through the mirror screen complete with sounds and music.

The girls were then enthralled by the palettes of paints and paintbrushes, and were shown a folder filled with pictures for them to choose a design that they would like to be painted onto the back of their hands. E chose Princess Belle while Little H chose Rapunzel.

We were as pleased as Punch for the enriching and engaging experience, but just when we were feeling contented and thankful, Minnie Mouse invited us to the Tree House for storytime! 😱

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An outstanding life-size replica of the 100-acre woods from the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, this space undoubtedly transported us to the world of Disney where we could effortlessly immerse ourselves into the stories that were about to be read and animated to us by the Experience Curator.

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As soon as the storytime was over, Little H was found to be very busy exploring pots of hunny within a little shack behind the Tree.

By 1:30 pm, we found ourselves slurping up oodles of soupy noodles and gulping down spoonfuls of egg fried rice from Din Tai Fung (DTF). Imagine how we revelled upon seeing DTF occupying a stall unit within the food court of Westfield Sydney! 🤩 Even though the menu differs from the Singapore franchise, we thanked God we didn’t have to look far and wide to taste a morsel of what we loved and are used to. God provides to the point that we have no excuse in doubting His omnipresence, even across continents and seas.

Westfield Sydney

Dining under a glass roof

I loved the lofty food court within Westfield Sydney. Housed within modern architecture that boasts of a glass roof to allow ample natural light and fantastic views all around, a smorgasbord of food offerings can be found in this sophisticated food court. We were spoilt for choice! We thanked God for providing us in such ways that always exceed our expectations and imagination.

Looking for pants, we entered H&M like moths to light on positive phototaxis. The girls had a mind of their own, they were drawn to adorable softies. Each one has a favourite of their own! 😍

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Wearing the hat of the adventurous mommy that I am, while piggybacking Little H and holding hands with E, I bought Opal cards for E and myself at a convenience store. With that, we dashed for bus 470 towards Broadway Sydney. 💨 While on the bus, the driver suddenly announced to all the passengers that he had forgotten to change the bus number when he took the shift! He was supposed to be driving Bus 438! Some passengers promptly alighted the bus, while many still remained on-board like us. This was a first for me, and I was most definitely caught off guard. I stayed calm and checked my GPS, and realised both buses go on the exact same way towards Broadway before they go separate ways thereafter. I couldn’t help thanking the Lord and praising Him for such light-hearted humour for us 🥰 when we were bent to figure out an adventure away from the city centre without J.

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Little did we expect Him to bring more. We alighted at Victoria Park, where excitement exploded out of the 2 girls like popcorns popping in a bag when they saw a multitude of winged creatures by the sidewalk as well as in the waters. Off they went chasing after them like all happy children do!

Birds in Victoria Park

God brought us to meet a Christian family right where He brought us to. David and Yasmin are from Christian Community (a Christian denomination). They come to Victoria park every Thursday to host a BBQ as an avenue to evangelise by talking to people about God and sharing the gospel of the living Christ. The kind couple provided the kids with feed for the animals and the children (1+ yo girl, 3 yo Little H, 4 yo Hezekiah and 5+ yo E) enjoyed the feeding session, much to the satisfaction of the sea gulls, ducks, pigeons and the Australian Ibis.

Pond fun

Joining the locals to feed the flocks was certainly not on our list of things to do, but God has purposed it in our journey, to anchor us in Him wherever we may be, by crossing the paths of His children in mysterious ways and in His perfect timing. I thanked God for the protected time I had to chat with Yasmin and David for long while the kids were busy with the animals. If Christ Jesus had not been in our minds at all times, we probably would have gone around being reserved and guarded, minding our own businesses. How then do we spread the fragrance of Christ to people whom God has placed in our paths?

Just as we were sharing about the goodness of the Lord in our lives, mutually encouraging each other’s faith, an outburst of wails came from E, who tripped and fell over while she was frantically chasing the birds. An abrasion peered through her ripped pants at the kneecap. This reminded us we do indeed needed to get new pants for the girls! Yasmin provided clean water to cleanse the wound, and a bandaid to dress it. David and Yasmin handed me a gospel tract before we parted ways, to illustrate and further explain what they do. This family was a blessing to us 🙏🏻. God is very good and gracious.

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A strawberry 🍓 ice-cream was called for in the unfortunate event of E’s minor injury, and that ice-cold delicacy sufficed to sweeten the day for the 2 loving sisters.

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We walked across the road from Victoria Park, in search for Target and K-mart within Broadway Sydney, and found ourselves under skylight-penetrating roofs once more, reminding us yet again, the mercies of our Heavenly Father.

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in the departmental stores here, we stumbled upon better items than what we could sniff out in the city centre! Cheaper Lego Friends sets, Disney Princess Jasmine puzzles and pants made out of attractive fabrics. I carefully packed all our purchases into my Thule backpack and hand-carried the rest. By 5 pm, the sky was already beginning to dim due to the early setting of the sun during this time of the year down under.

Post Office

We took Bus 437 back to Pitt Street and along the way, I just had to snap a picture of the iconic Parcels Post Office in the Central Square of Sydney. Although the heritage landmark building is now refurbished into the Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Central, it has retained its glamour through deliberate restoration efforts. I loved how the multistorey building with its colossal columns, arches, rusticated stonework and circular windows exudes an effortless old charm, which brings a serenity to the soul.

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Not far from it, the 75-metre tall dome-topped Central Station Clock Tower stands overlooking its surrounding establishments. And I found a monochrome postcard that depicts the 2 iconic buildings captured together in one photograph!! 🥰

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We came home filled with anticipation to try out the new puzzles. How gracious is our God for granting their hearts’ desire to be blessed with jigsaw puzzles, not only that, puzzles of the new movie hit “Aladdin” where both girls were smitten by the beauty and wits of Princess Jasmine, as well as her pet tiger, Rajah.

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Mommy had been preaching on the supreme value of God as our heart’s exclusive Treasure. With the abundance of grace, mercy, love and favour He had sprinkled over us throughout our day’s journey, how could it not be perceivable that this One and Only True and Living God of heaven and earth, watches over our every step (despite E’s little stumble) and slumbers not, for He solely preserves our existence, and enhances each experience that He grants in our way, to encounter Him no less than in immersing ourselves into His Word, until we meet Him and that our souls are satisfied by Him in our Lord Jesus Christ. We have much to thank for in little as well as in great circumstances. May we praise Him step by step till our hearts are filled with immeasurable thankfulness each day, and may He be glorified through us. In the blessed name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray these with all our heart. Amen.

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Sydney Getaway Day 1 – Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House

Day 01: Wednesday in Sydney – Sunny. Max 23ºC – min 7ºC.

We touched down in Sydney around noon, just when the sun was shining high in the mid-day cloudless sky of the gorgeous city. As we had chosen to have 2 accommodations booked throughout our stay to optimise J’s convenience, we decided to arrive at Meriton Suites @ Pitt Street first to drop off our luggage before making our way to Intercontinental Hotel later.

Perhaps I should explain a little about this arrangement: Intercontinental Hotel was the conference hotel where all the international delegates would be residing throughout their stay. Hence, it was doubtless that J’s accommodation was settled (by the company who sponsored his entire conference trip) – that he should stay in the Intercontinental Hotel, right where the conference is being held. However, we preferred to stay in a serviced suite, for the ease of cooking and bigger space because of our 2 children. Thus, we found Meriton Suites @ Pitt Street to be more ideal for the family. Therefore, we thank God for giving us the flexibility of staying in either one depending on our needs.

J wanted the flexibility to stay either here or there, whichever he finds it most convenient for him, considering the little time he has – having to attend the full-day conference as well as its accompanied dinners at lavish locations. J did not forfeit his free accommodation in Intercontinental Hotel, since during the days he has to deliver his talks, he can refresh himself or even choose to stay the night before to prepare and refine his presentations. For me, as a wife to him, and a mother to our children, I know and am already thankful that we could even be here in Sydney for the same time period! While J is busy at his conference, I have already set my mind to explore this city with E&H in tow.

We went straight to the Intercontinental Hotel for J to check in as well. Then we walked along Macquarie Street, which runs parallel to the Botanic Gardens, towards the Circular Quay. Along the way, we picked up beautiful fallen leaves for keepsakes.

We took in breaths of crisp fresh air as we treaded on the brick pathway towards the waterfront – until we came to a spot that opens up to allow a thin vista of Circular Quay, for us to peer through an otherwise impenetrable wall of buildings! The appeal of the cool blue waters was too irresistible an allurement to our tired bodies. With our eyes and mouths opened wide with anticipation to behold the vastness of what Circular Quay has to offer, our legs non-hesitantly heeded the beckon of the waters. We hurried down a flight of sandstone steps that proudly display the porosity of its nature, suggesting its age and history. Commonly known as the Moore Steps, this stairway links the Botanic Gardens with the Opera Forecourt at Circular Quay, and are well-worn from years of convicts, workers and tourists variously and continuously traipsing or trudging up and down them over the last century or so.

It led us to where all the action is. The vibrancy and life of the city centre was undeniably attractive and welcoming, especially for travellers like us who just alighted from a 9 hr-long flight. We were nonetheless overwhelmed by the sudden injection of sounds and sights from all around us, compared to the serenity just a moment ago that lay on the other side of the Moore Steps.

To taper our excitement, we thought the best thing to do was to sit down in one of the alfresco restaurants, where we could take in the busyness of the Quay while we lay back and chillaxed over platters of tantalising seafood.

Seafood Grill was the most prominent restaurant along the waterfront. We were ushered to our seat fairly quickly, and minutes later, the girls were preoccupied with colouring while J and I were still mulling over what to order for our lunch!

Our dining experience was heightened in a sense, by the ubiquitous presence of seagulls ☺️. Although not warmly welcomed by most of the diners, these relentless birds provided much entertainment for our girls. The following photos show how Little H was pretending to watch them with her imaginary binoculars – during the time when a group of them knocked over a glass of orange juice, which spilled over onto the dress of an elderly lady.

When lunch fare was over, we walked towards the Sydney Opera House, and its view along with the Harbour Bridge in one frame truly astounds. Known as the gateway to all the wonderful things that Sydney Harbour has to offer, Circular Quay is bordered by the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens on one side, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the other.

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The renowned Sydney Opera House is literally a hive of activity, with its white sails sparkling like scales under the glaring rays of the mid-day sun.

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We made a dash towards the glistening Opera House, and the girls had a ball of a time chasing each other, till they had to remove their jackets for they no longer felt chilly in the wintry winds! 🤣

We even challenged ourselves in a “guestimation” contest to guess the number of steps that lead up to the Opera House! It made it all worthwhile to race up the steps, before the girls collapsed onto the ground giggling away…

No trip to Sydney is complete without having a family photo taken at the Sydney Opera House!

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Time came for us to walk back to the Intercontinental Hotel to refresh ourselves for the remaining day! We walked through the Royal Botanic Garden and were very grateful to experience the tranquility we desired after the hubbub of activity back in the harbour. There is only so much that we as finite humans can take, praise the Lord for His goodness, for stimulating all our senses this morning since we touched down, yet, knowing what our soul needs most, provides in the abundance of His grace, the stillness that our souls crave for in the midst of myriad distractions that aim to purloin our attention away from the Giver of all good and perfect gifts.

We laid out the maple leaves we collected along the way back home, onto the bed, admiring the beauty of nature – wrought by the Hands that made them wonderful in any season, and talked about the different seasons, and why do leaves fall off the trees in autumn/winter.

By evening, we returned to George Street where Woolworths is located, to buy groceries that will last us a few days. Milk, brioche bread, eggs, butter, fruits, cheese, water are essentials…

Woolworths in George Street

… and vegetables especially for our Little H who is currently obsessed with broccoli!

Prayer:

Thank You so much Father in Heaven, for granting us journey mercies to reach Sydney safe and sound. The wonders of Your creation and power speaks volumes of Your existence and gracious love towards mankind. What a glorious first day in this vibrant city! We thank You for protecting us in our traveling to and fro places, and for providing us with great food to satisfy us while abroad in a foreign land. We bless Your name on high, and may we go to sleep, knowing that You watch over us, for You do not slumber. In the gracious name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we pray these with heartfelt thanks. Amen.

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Sydney Getaway – The Flight

The Flight: Singapore to Sydney on SQ231

J had a spine conference themed “Deformity Down Under” in Sydney, where he was invited to deliver 2 talks to share his knowledge and experience in what he does. I thank God for His grace in granting us this opportunity to travel with him to this part of Australia in which our family has not stepped foot on.

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Little H in her kungfu stance at the departure gate!

It has became a tradition for us to spend our National Day “glamping” in Ritz Carlton every year. It was kind of a bittersweet moment for us, since we are creatures of habit, and has always been looking forward to our annual staycation viewing the Red Lions and National Day Parade with its dazzling fireworks, from the viewing window of our suite. Nonetheless, we were also eager to explore Sydney and take in all that God has planned to reveal to us in this vacation! I consider it a blessing to break away from the normal routine once in a while. 🥰

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Waiting in the lounge and enjoying some refreshments.

We are very thankful to be allowed into the Krisflyer Gold Lounge under J’s PPS privilege, a place where the bustle of the airport simply fades into bliss. We thanked God for providing the much needed respite especially for our young children in preparation for the 8 hr flight ahead. While patiently waiting in comfort for our 1:20 am flight, we dozed off in the armchairs that so effortlessly enveloped us into its arms disguised as cozy cushions that are padded for our maximal comfort.

Although it was a night flight, which we usually dread, this particular flight was a breeze for both J and me. My very loving and generous husband was willing to give up his sponsored business class ticket, to be with us in the economy section. How could I, as his helpmeet given by God to bless him, allow that to happen? 😮 For J did not think it was his privilege to be better than us, neither do I think it was fair for him to do so. I thank God for His grace to allow me to persuade and convince J that he ought not to waste the ticket that could provide comfort and ensure adequate rest for him, as he was first called to Sydney for a purpose. Is it not, that the easiest way for a wife to show her love for her husband is to support him at all costs and assure him that the children would be well taken care of by herself, and that she is contented to be able to come along on the same trip? For that is exactly how I felt.

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Contented girls who just awoke from their sleep.

There were much to thank for 🙏🏻. The girls slept through the night, and ate well on the Airbus A380. When they awoke, they loved each other dearly, and took turns revealing pictures using their water pens. Hmmm… A night flight doesn’t seem to be that bad after all. 😍
Prayer:
Thank You Father in Heaven, for allowing us to be on this trip! To give us this opportunity to explore Sydney although J would be busy most of the days. I pray for protection for J, that You will keep him from harm and guard his heart from any sinful desire that is not pleasing in Your sight. May You also grant him confidence as he fulfils what You have set out for him to accomplish in this work trip – to glorify You in all that He does over the next few days. 
Thank You Father for loving us dearly, by giving us this opportunity to come along to Sydney with J. I pray that You will keep us safe throughout the trip and help us to be sensitive to all the things You want to teach us. Open our eyes to behold the wonderous works of Your hands, open our ears to listen to Your still small voice prompting us to do things Your way, open our minds to perceive the beauty of Your commandments, which are holy, righteous and good, and empower us to please You with all that we do, to the praise of Your glory. I pray all these in the beautiful name of Jesus, my Lord. Amen.
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H’s 3rd Birthday in NAFA APS

The Preparation

It was that time of the year when Mommy Oh would be buzzing around in the kitchen baking, creating and decorating cakes and cookies! How time flies! Our littlest one is turning 3! 🤗🤩

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Hand-crafted Princess Aurora themed birthday goodie bags for H’s classmates.

We always decide on the theme for the birthday before working around it for all the paraphernalia included – from the cake down to the goodie bags! H was undecided between Princess Aurora and Princess Jasmine, but eventually we stuck to the former since everything would be in pink and frilly! 😍

I love parties!🥳 and somehow this effervescent passion must have been contagious, infecting my little ones to their vivacious core. Parties provide an excellent avenue where my creativity is unleashed, and I hope that my children would glean from the experience of being innovative, being exciting, being opportunistic, being vibrant… and not to lose that inner child even as they grow.

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions” – Albert Einstein

I love to create and utterly enjoy the process of creating things that are totally new, because invention and improvement are prolific, and beget more of their kind – the more I create, the more I gain creativity. 🥰 This year’s planning included the conception and eventual materialisation of a princess cupcake tower, entirely made from scratch. The architect in me had me drawing and conceptualising the formation of the tower in mere minutes. I let the idea sink in, and drew a more realistic version of the tower the following day.

The princess cupcakes are the ones that would wow our little guests, so the baker-mom in me got to work, tirelessly lacing buttercream frills onto the 16 cupcakes that would fit my tower, in vibrant colours that correspond to each princess persona.

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The piping bags that were imbued with vibrant buttercream in colours that correspond to each princess persona.

We had the princesses printed and cut out, before sticking a satay stick onto the back of each, to make the cupcake toppers.

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Princess Belle cupcake in yellow buttercream frilly dress.

Invitation cards were also designed to the theme, and made into personalised tickets for Little H to distribute to her classmates and teachers, about one month ago in anticipation of the event. I love creating these stuff! And I didn’t stop there, goodie bag toppers as well as marshmallow stick toppers were all designed to the theme and personalised for Little H.

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Examples of the personalised birthday invitation tickets for boys and girls.

Upon organising so many parties by now, these have truly become a normalcy in my household. Hence, it didn’t take long for me to make these, since the templates were already in the “Birthdays” folder of my hard drives.

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And what about the birthday cake?! Ta-da! You may recall the trial birthday cake I made in July, which I gave to E’s class? Instead of fresh strawberries as the cake topper, I found the perfect adornment for Little H’s birthday cake – Princess Aurora holding a birthday cake! 🤩

H’s 3rd Birthday Celebration

The day arrived for the celebration in school – 2 days earlier than her actual birthday.

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You can see the evident joy and excitement in the faces of our girls! Little H hand-picked her own birthday dress, and I must say she picked well. That dress remains to be her favourite twirling dress, and I am sure she would remember it in years to come, if the Lord is willing to bless her to a ripe old age.

Family photo at H3There we were, posing with the birthday cake and the DIY 3-tier princess cupcake tower, now filled with homemade princess cupcakes 🧁 piped with fresh buttercream using a petal tip to mimic the frilly dresses of princesses 👸🏻

Princess cupcake tower close-up shotAdding to the colour-rich tableful of birthday paraphernalia are these marshmallow sticks lovingly made for the occasion. The ever-popular marshmallow crispy rice balls that we created ourselves made their appearance too! And the goodie bags full of activity books, stickers, puzzle 🧩, code cracker stuff…

A close-up shot of the Princess Aurora Birthday cake that Mommy Oh made especially for our beloved Little H. 😘 This 8″ cake was a dual-layer strawberry 🍓 cake made from premium ingredients, frosted with fresh buttercream, and circumferenced by strawberry Pocky sticks, and finally topped with Princess Aurora sitting on a bed of lychee-flavoured jellybeans. Oh yes, the number 3 topper was hand-made too. 😅

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We sang the birthday song for Little H and had her blow off the flames from the candles.

Birthday song at H3

All the pre-nursery children were then invited to the table to sing the Happy Birthday song in mandarin for Little H, who was beaming with joy. Even E couldn’t contain her excitement… Everyone just went wow wow wow as they came so near the tableful of goodies…

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We cut the cake thereafter, and had E&H dish them out to the birthday party guests.

Cutting cake at H3

Who was the first that our Little H served? Her best friend, Tong Ching! Of course!

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Showing pictures of the sliced cake!

The children were delighted, and enjoyed the cakes in mouthfuls. Some asked for a second serving too.

It was a jubilant celebration! I thank God it brought joy to everyone involved!

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Then came the time for Little H to give out the goodie bags topped with personalised name labels. The parents texted me after school, and thanked us for the bagful of interactive goodies inside the gorgeously hand-crafted carrier.

Prayer of Mommy: Dear Heavenly Father, who is the Lord of all, I pray for my little H that if You are willing, to continue blessing her out of Your abundance in grace, love, and mercy, so that she will come to know You early in her life, seeking You from her heart, and finding the strength she needs to overcome all that hinders her from knowing and trusting You as her Lord. I pray that she will find You and keep You as her most valued Treasure in her heart, far above anyone and all things that she could ever taste, perceive and even imagine. May You multiply her love for You and help her to live her life that is dependent on Your grace. Thank you so much for granting this little beloved one and trusting her in our care. We pray that we may be found to be worthy parents to her and we commit her in Your sovereign care. In the most precious and holy name of Jesus, we pray these. Amen. 

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The Little Things Cooking Studio

What a lovely cooking studio that is not only quaint in its own charming way, the essential skills they impart to little chefs (some are barely 3 years old!) prove to be a precious commodity in the development of a growing child.

We were very blessed to be invited to accompany our little ones in one of the field trips organised by NAFA Arts Preschool in Term 3 for the pre-nursery pupils! As Term 3 focused on the theme of cooking, the school has aptly arranged for their youngest students to experience making a Shepherd’s Pie from scratch! How easy is that?!! 😱 No! Don’t get me wrong, I can’t even churn out a proper, not to mention a pleasing delicious Shepherd’s Pie recipe, let alone make one from scratch!

The little chefs were asked to dice carrots that had already been cooked in advance. Using a plastic knife, H meticulously chopped up the softened carrots, being careful not to leave behind big chunks. She also mashed up the steamed potato and stirred in milk and salt using the correct measuring spoons.

Cooked minced chicken were also added by spoonfuls into the mixture and evenly stirred together before adding the ingredients into paper liners and topped with shredded cheese.

The paper liners were a good idea to hold the Shepherd’s Pie as a disposable cup, ideal for children’s parties or other events that may call for many small portions of home-baked wholesome goodness!

While everyone patiently waited for their Shepherd’s Pies (each child made two portions) to be ready, there was an area in the cooking studio where a shelf-ful of children’s books could be found. The parents helped ourselves to the books in hope that they would keep our children occupied and engaged in reading or listening to a story before the pies were dished out from the oven. 😅

Ding! went the oven, and all the pies were carefully distributed to the little children according to the named paper liners. Seeing the delightful satisfaction on her cheerful face, I was very proud of Little H who managed and baked her very first Shepherd’s Pie at the age of 2 yrs and 11 months old!

She ate up one and specifically wanted E to have the other one. When I asked her, “What about Mommy? who helped you a little here and there in the making of the pies?” She graciously answered, “Don’t worry Mommy, you have Jesus in your heart, and that is all enough!” What glorious truth spoken from the mouth of my little one. Indeed, Christ is enough. 🙌🥰

P.S.: We had been playing “Christ is Enough” in the car, and it is currently Little H’s earworm. Praise the Lord! 🙏

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