the hawker food culture of singapore

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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.



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.


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).



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?



more family fun in colonial williamsburg revolutionary city

colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg We are very thankful for this chance to experience Colonial Williamsburg Revolutionary City. When the opportunity first presented itself to me, I was shocked and ecstatic: (1) I love history. (2) The kids would love this experience. We were given a budget to work with, and when it’s a family of 6, you still have to be creative to make it all work (e.g., find the best price taking a red eye… I know, kinda crazy), and it was completely up to us what we wanted to do, see, and eat when we got there. We stayed at Colonial Wiliamsburg Woodlands hotel, since that was suggested to be the most family friendly option, but there are plenty of other accommodations to choose from.

As I was booking, I noticed they had a “Kids Play, Stay, and Eat Free” package and so that’s what I went with. It includes all the admission tickets to the museums, most buildings, and tours (there a couple things like carriage rides or ghost tours that would be an additional expense if you want to do that), the hotel had a new water park (we’re not talking theme-park huge here, just to give you some perspective, but more than enough for the kids to love). Regarding meals, there was what I considered to be a higher-end continental breakfast (it had many options, to include a DIY waffle-maker, sausage, eggs, fresh-cut fruit, yogurts, hot/cold cereals… just your basic as bagels and pastries) and kids get to eat free for dinner (we appreciate little perks like that)! I think it is the best option for families, just for the tour tickets alone. We were able to get in to see show/tours that would typically require an extra fee, but with our package, that was already included! Extra things that we had to pay additional for were the carriage ride and the meals during lunchtime for the kids.

colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg The whole place is really family-friendly. One spot in particular we spent a lot of time at was the Colonial Garden. Ben was marveling at the 18-century methods they used to care for it; he was mesmerized as he walked around observing the various plants and vegetables. The girls were able to help out with the watering, and I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over how that is exactly how I want my garden to look like. I love the look of overgrown bushes and flowers tumbling into each other, and while I try to mimic that at home, mine looks more like an overgrown mess.

colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg One request the girls had was to ride a carriage, but for this you need to make sure you’re at a ticketing office right at 9am because they sell out quickly, especially in the hot summer months because they don’t let the horses ride past noon on hotter days. We rode an open carriage because that is what fit our family of six, and it also happens to be the same carriage Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip rode when they visited here in 2007. Though it’s a short ride (fifteen minutes), the girls faces told us it was well worth it.

colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg There are shuttles that can take you from one area to the next, but we also found it quite easy to maneuver about on foot. Sure, it was hot and humid, as we were all sweating cats and dogs, but the fun and excitement of roaming the streets and interacting with different characters really distracted us from the hot conditions.

colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg For lunch, we ate at the taverns since we were usually exploring the historic area; Chowning Tavern was our favorite. Dinners we spent at Huzzah! (adjacent to our hotel) and Traditions (adjacent to the Williamsburg Lodge). Huzzah was super family-friendly and the kids got to make their own pizzas. Traditions was a little more formal, and I got to indulge in crab cake and the girls got dishes that were equally as fancy, but just kid size. With the package we signed up for, the kids were able to eat free at both places for dinner (and also the taverns, but we never went to the taverns for dinner). I think deals like that for families are much appreciated.

colonial williamsburg colonial williamsb Another thing we read about was the brickyard. Brave was commenting how much she wanted to come back in October to see the bricks fired up, since that’s what she read in the book. Though, we didn’t get to see that, the girls did get to take part in treading the mud to make brick. They were really hesitant at first, but eventually (with a lot of coaxing), they went in. Go figure, at home they don’t hesitate to play in the mud, but here when they are encouraged to, they hesitate.

colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg colonial williamsburg There’s so much we saw and did that I’m sure the girls probably weren’t able to keep track of it all. We plan to continue studying the American Revolution and Colonial Times, so I think reading more books after the visit will allow us to continue building upon their knowledge. We let them indulge in some costumes to commemorate their time there (Brave chose coloring books however), so that will get added to their dress-up box and we will recreate our own scenes of the Revolution at home. My mind is already spinning with learning activities we could do to dive deeper into this time period, and we are all very thankful for the opportunity to experience this living history museum in-person and for all the memories we created together as a family.

Brought to you by Colonial Williamsburg. With so much to do, stay and make some history. Book your trip at I‘m super thankful for this opportunity, and this is able to happen thanks to all of you. As always, all opinions and thoughts are always my own. 




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