an ode to summer

brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday brave 7th birthday These photos are from Brave’s birthday weekend, and I still haven’t finished recapping all the fun we had this summer, but we are back into the swing of things with school. Well, at least for a few weeks, until the girls are off with their grandparents on another vacation (I guess that means Ben and I get a sort of vacation too). Thus, we have a lot of work to do to make sure their school work is done before they go adventuring.

And while Southern California sort of lives in a perpetual back and forth between spring and summer, gone are the lazy days of play, no agendas, and meeting up with friends. Days are much more structured and homeschooling takes up most of it. I love the carefree days of summer, but I relish structure and can’t wait for the cozy warmth fall and winter bring (even if it is still about 90 degrees where we live).

If you’re stateside, Happy Labor Day friends. Have fun bidding summer farewell with one last hurrah!

 

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the hawker food culture of singapore

food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore food in singapore

We ate so much in Singapore! There are hawker centers all over the city, which are outdoor food courts of sorts, and they are filled with a wide array of food. Singapore’s cuisine is very diverse, a good mirror of the people and culture in Singapore. There’s a lot of Malay, Chinese, Indian influences (and plenty more cultural influences) in the cuisine and out of all the food we tried, there was just one dish we couldn’t go past one bite.

Each day in Singapore was basically a food tour of the various hawker centers. For one of our lunches there, we even hit up two different hawker centers! Of course, we did other tourist things (see here and here), but the highlight of it all was the food (and the people we became friends with). We went to hawker center after hawker center, and even within one hawker center, we would try a few dishes from one aisle, then move over and try more from the next aisle. I’m thankful that the ladies at Bloesem gave us good tips, and my friend Abby took us to all the best places to experience all the delicious dishes Singapore has to offer.

We learned about “chopping” that would happen at the food centers. “Chopping” is when people would leave a tissue (or a pack of tissue), and I’ve even seen someone leave their work badge, on the table to signify that the seat was taken, and people would respect that. It looked like this… you would enter the food center, find an open table or spot, place your tissue, then walk away to go order your food, and once you have your food, you come back to your tissue and sit down. Everyone knew that seat was spoken for and it was respected. By day 2 of our time at the food centers, we were participating in the seat “chopping” too.

Another thing we learned are meals are more of a community thing among friends. We’re used to each ordering our own dish, and eating our own dish, and maybe sharing a bite or two with each other if we ask. In Singapore, if you’re there with a group of friends, it’s more common to put the food in the middle and just share everything, no asking necessary. It’s not a “this is mine that is yours” kind of deal, but we all share the dishes together. Again, by day 2, we were totally participating in community meals with our friend Abby.

I have so much more to share about the food there, so there will be an entire post (and it will be really long!) dedicated to all the foods we ate there. Seriously, ever since Singapore, I’ve had a deeper appreciation and love for Asian food.

 

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more from the fair

OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 OC FAIR '14 Ben was ready to give up going, and he was ready to start a new tradition, but I insisted we absolutely had to go, and now he’s glad we went. I’m all for it because I love cramming all six of us in a photo booth to take a family picture. I think it makes the whole trip to the fair worthwhile.

The first thing we do is head to the photo booth. Fair food isn’t our thing, so we completely skip that (totally not dietian approved), but we do let the girls ride a couple rides. We only end up staying a couple hours, but it’s enough to have some fun together, and of course, we all go home excited about the newest photo booth strips we get to add to our collection. This visit did end up being extra special because I happen to run into Dana (from Made), it was so fun to have my real life and online world collide!

After seeing this series of photos again, Ben agreed it’s good to keep going as long as we’re able. And how cute are all my girls in that car in the last picture?! I feel like it’s a tiny glimpse of the future with True in the driver’s seat driving all her sisters around. I have a feeling that will be the same seating arrangement they will fall into later.

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it’s tradition

fair-years'14 Ben’s ready to give up going to the fair, but I won’t let him. It’s tradition to go, use the photo booth, and take this picture. Here are some things I noticed about this newest picture versus the rest…

True is actually smiling in this picture!

This is the first year I’m not carrying the baby (in my belly or my arms).

Ben broke the cycle of carrying Soul.

Ben’s wearing the same shorts as last year (and similar shirt). He’s a simple guy and rarely buys anything new for himself.

Read last year’s comparisons here. Another tidbit from these pictures… The one of 2007, Brave was born the very next day. All that walking at the fair helped get labor started because my water broke the very next morning (we were at the fair until late that night).

 

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traveling with four kids

travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids We’ve done a lot of traveling this summer, at least for us. Ben and I left for Singapore, then the whole family went to the East Coast, and we were off again for a few days this past weekend. There’s been a lot of packing, unpacking, and laundry set on repeat all summer long. When we left for our D.C. – Williamsburg trip, we wanted to pack as light as possible. We were flying into D.C., then taking Amtrak to Williamsburg, then flying out of Richmond with lots of taxis and shuttles in between, so we didn’t want to have to lug around a lot of stuff. Four kids going to and fro was already going to be a handful.

This was our first time flying with all four, while we have the whole road tripping thing with four kids down, flying with them is something we aren’t familiar with. Somehow, I managed to get 5 days worth of clothes (for all of us) in one carry-on suitcase. My mom was pretty surprised at how little we packed, and another mom on the flight who packed for the same amount of days (for a family of 5) was surprised how we were able to do it with no bags checked-in. I’m not an expert at all, since it was our first flight as a family of six, but we seemed to manage well enough, so I’m glad to share what worked well for us here with you all.

We took a red-eye, since it was the most economical and direct way to get to D.C., but I had no clue how the girls were going to do on that flight. Once the plans were in place, I tried to do a little training beforehand. For a couple months leading up to the trip, every time we saw a plane, I would ask Glow, “What are we going to do on the airplane?” And I trained her to respond, “We’re going to sleep!” So that’s what she said every time I asked. I hoped if she said it enough, she would do it when the day came.

Our flight left at 11:45pm (the kids are normally in bed by 7:30pm), so it was already a late night for them, and we didn’t let them sleep on the drive to the airport. I was thinking it was going to either backfire and she would be so tired and cranky that she would wail on the plane, or she would just fall asleep. All the girls were so excited about flying, and take-off was pretty exciting for them, and after take-off, Soul went to sleep and the big girls knocked out soon after. There were some kids sitting in front of us who were watching cartoons (and Glow could see the screen), so she would try to watch, I had to do some maneuvering to block her view between the seats, and after some tossing and turning, she fell asleep. Whew! Then, I fell asleep once I knew she was done for the night. Since it was a direct flight it was only about 4.5 hours, but the kids seemed to sleep well the entire time (it was a different story for Ben and me) and we woke up just a little bit before landing. Once we landed, the girls were so excited and ready to go. We had a shuttle pick us up, and thankfully, we were able to do early check-in at the hotel, so we spent about half an hour just reorienting ourselves with the area and plans for the day before we set off exploring with only about 5 hours of sleep in all our bodies.

The plane ride home was just as smooth, even though we had a layover, and all the girls fell asleep on the plane ride again. I’m thankful that they didn’t throw any plane tantrums and they all did a really good job on all the flights. You just never know with kids, so this first experience with all of them turned out really well.

Now for the packing tips, I packed the exact amount of clothes needed (no extras), one set of pajamas for each person (we bathed each night, so I figured they would stay clean), and I think what made the biggest difference in getting it all to fit into one carry-on suitcase is that I ironed everything. I ironed all the clothes to free them from wrinkles, then folded them to be put in the suitcase, and ironed them all again folded to flatten it even more. I totally think that did the trick! Everyone pretty much only had one pair of shoes and those were the shoes we wore on the plane, so we didn’t have to worry about packing any shoes in the suitcase (though I did throw one extra pair for the girls just in case). All our toiletries were travel size and Ben had them in his messenger bag (not in the suitcase), and I put enough diapers in the carry-on suitcase to last the 5 days we were gone. We didn’t bring any laptops, just an iPad, and I made each of the girls their own mini backpacks and in it were their books, crayons, and a light sweater. I had one backpack, and in it was my camera, wide angle lens, and wallet. We also brought our light umbrella stroller with us too, and that’s that for everything we brought along. Packing light made it really easy!

The girls knew they were each in charge of their own backpack, and since we only had one stroller, they knew their little legs had to do all the walking and complaining wasn’t going to get them very far. I’m pretty proud of them because they were such troopers the entire trip. Sure, we had to stop here and there to break up a fight or put one of them in time-out, but overall, they all did a fantastic job.

What are some of your tips and tricks for traveling with children?

 

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