Thursday, 30 April 2009

Lucas' school photos

Finally we got Lucas' school photos too today, about a week after the others.
I must say, I will probably complain though, because the quality of the photos are so poor and whoever has done the photo editing had no clue what they were doing! Some of the kids (including Lucas!) look all wrong and their heads look distorted and strange; plus the colours and contrasts are very harsh.
Well, here it is anyway, Lucas' Reception school photo:



His individual one was a lot better, even though he too, just like Linnea - look far too cute and orderly!

UNO!

I loved playing cards and especially board games when I was a child. Problem was, as an only child I had to force my parents to play with me all the time and they were not always as keen as I was...
I still love playing games, I have made sure the kids have lots of games, and we play them quite often. The latest addition is this Ben10-themed UNO-card game I got for Lucas a while back.



UNO is a classic that I used to play lots (I remember the Christmas I got it, the whole family sat up half the night because we couldn't stop playing!) so I was thrilled when Lucas actually seemed to get the hang of it quite quickly.
We have been playing it over and over again the past few days, and even Linnea has proved to be a bit of a shark - she keeps winning and winning, even though the rest of us aren't even "loosing"!

Valborgsmässoafton

Tonight it's Walpurgis Eve, another holiday when I become a bit extra homesick. I know I say this about nearly every holiday (...) but some really are closer to my heart.

At Walpurgis Eve we light bonfires and gather together, usually there is a choir that will entertain with songs to welcome spring. I have quite a few very nice memories of Walpurgis Eve celebrations I have attended here and there through the years, but this year I will have to enjoy it via the internet. This is my favourite spring song:

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Ay, que calor!

"Brunei has been hit by a heat wave" can be read in the local news today. Well yes, it's HOT!
The temperatures at the moment are certainly higher than normal. It's been around 34-35 degrees, every day since the beginning of the month.
No wonder I've been feeling extra tired and mushy these past few weeks, and no wonder exercising around my nine hills has felt extra hard... Hot, hot, hot...

{365:119} Art Gallery


Art Gallery.
I love how at school they showcase almost every piece of art the kids create. At the moment they are displaying creations around the "water & sand"-theme they are having. You can see Lucas' painting of the beach in the bottom right corner just above the pink bag, and his whale fin (he's so into whales, sharks and other sea creatures at the moment!) is the bottom left one of the whale paintings.
Quite impressive work actually!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

{365:118} Wall of visitors


Wall of visitors.
Today we initialized a little project I've had in my mind for a while. We started a wall of photos in the guest room, of everybody who has been to visit us from overseas. Until date, there are only five frames - next week we can add one more when Nathan's sister & family are coming to see us (which is a first actually, they have never come to stay before, ever!).

Still, I really hope for a lot more visitors before we leave Brunei. It's such a different and special place, and you will never get a chance to visit it the way you will if you come and stay with someone who actually lives here.
It's also so nice to have guests in your home. (And, I've seen flights from Europe are cheap at the moment!)
Come on and make it onto our wall - I want to fill it!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Our acrobat

This afternoon was actually spent at school, even though it was a Sunday! I'm part of the PLG (Parent Liason Group) committee at school, and we had arranged a "Poolside BBQ" today. Unfortunately not many people wanted to take part, but those who were there had a good time.
There were hot dogs and burgers on the bbq, and the kids found friends right away to splash around with for a few hours, working up their appetite.

I had no idea, but Lucas is a real little acrobat in the water! Today he showed off these two tricks, over and over again:

video

Saturday, 25 April 2009

An evening at Jerudong Park

We actually do have a superb attraction here in Brunei, for kids our kids age, that we often forget about - Jerudong Park.
We had only been there once before today, and I really don't get why we don't go there more often? This afternoon we went together with the Turners and the Roses, who also had some family visiting. The kids were playing and we had a little picnic (thank you Misuzu!).
Yes, it is a bit of a ghost place though. At least early in the evening when we go - but, it's fantastic! The kids just LOVE it!




There are not many rides, but just enough, and enough scary for our kids. They had loads of fun today!



The bumper cars were the big hit tonight. First we had a turn with kids, and then one without kids... It was GREAT fun!
The only reason we got the kids to leave today was promising they would come back soon, and luckily we already had a trip here planned for Friday, with some school friends. Yay!

Friday, 24 April 2009

{365:114} Grumpy


Grumpy.
This is so Linnea, when she doesn't want to do something. She can really look so grumpy. She's still so cute though, haha!

Year 5 readers

Yesterday in Unicorn, they had a visit from a class of Year 5 students, who came to read the little ones some stories.
They paired up, and Linnea got Adrian (not quite sure who picked who, but she was sure pleased!) who read her not only one, but two funny stories. She was all cuddled up to him when I came to get her, and wasn't interested in going home at all. :)

Book Week Parade 2009

Yes, today it was the big parade that marked the end of Book Week for this year. The Book Week Parade seems to be a favourite amongst the kids, who gets to dress as a character from a favourite book. Lucas wanted to reuse his successful "outfit" from last year, and be "Little Kiwi" again. This time he brought in the book "Little Kiwi kicks for goal". Here he is showing off his beak:



I made it easy for myself and actually only gave Linnea two choices, she could either be Pippi Långstrump or Tinkerbell (= Outfits we already had!). She chose Tinkerbell this time:



There were quite a lot of parents there for the parade, which was also bigger this year than last year. All the classes took turns to do a little walk in front of their friends. Here they are walking, especially Lucas looks so grown-up in his photo. He really took this parading seriously:




They were all so patient and well behaved while waiting for their turn. Lucas sitting next to "Where's Wallie?"-Nick, and Linnea next to "Bob the Builder"-Daniel.




Here's one of my favourites today, our neighbour Sofia as "Cat in the hat". Isn't she adorable?



There were many super outfits actually, a really enjoyable morning!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Linnea's first school photos

Today we received Linnea's first school photos, aaahhwww..!
She is looking very nice and smiley in the group school photo (she's 3rd from the right in the bottom row, sitting between her best friends, Daniel and Ben!):



But a bit hesitant in the individual one, not as sparky or cheaky as we normally know her:



Plus, I'm glad they managed to get a hair clip in her hair (helps people see it's actually a girl. Yes, she still gets mistaken for a boy!), she doesn't want to wear one very often. But - it's not her hair clip!
I wouldn't mind really, if it wasn't that this hair clip is very cutsy and girly-girly. Not really Linnea's style (nor mine). In hindsight, I would have been happier if she had just had her normal, fluffy strains-of-hair-in-all-directions do.
Ah well. She's still gorgeous!

Book Week

It's Book Week again, and today they had a slumber party in Lucas' class. They were all in their pj's all day, and had been allowed to bring in their favourite teddies and pillows. It was a very cuddly and soft environment in their classroom today.
They started the day by having breakfast together, green (!) pancakes and cereals; a very cosy day all together.

As a lead in their celebration of Book Week, they have invited parents in as "Mystery Readers" all week, and today I had booked myself in. I was reading this book:



It's a cute story from NZ (set on a rugby field..!) about making new friends. Everybody seemed to like it.
I couldn't get a slot in Linnea's class as they had so many volunteers, but I will go in next week and read them a story too. It's lovely to be able to interact at school!

What a great afternoon!

After we picked up Lucas from school today, we had decided with two other families to go down to a beach for a couple of hours, to have a picnic.
It was a fab way to spend an afternoon - the kids were playing in and out of the waves and in the sand, and some of us parents went for a dip too, played some rugby and enjoyed some healthy (and not so healthy...) snacks.

We looked like we were moving in with all our things:



The kids:






And the big kids too:


(Thanks to Anne who took all the pictures, as I, yet again, forgot my camera. What's wrong with me?)

We should really, really do this more often!

This made me happy today!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

{365:111} St George has slain the dragon


St George has slain the dragon.
Tuesday = hash day. Today we had the St George's Hash where we hashed "English style". In stead of a normal run, we had to go in search of English-themed clues to get us around the route; we took part in games and did a musical quiz, all dressed up in red and white colours. The food of the night was of course, fish-and-chips, yum!
I didn't have my camera (shame on me!), so this photo is the only one I took (with my phone), of the hens looking for clues.
Another great hash night!

Slow down

It's been in the newspapers today that they have detained someone, suspected for driving the car that killed our friend. Good news I guess, even if it wont bring her back.

I pass the accident site every day on my way to school, and since the accident, there has been flowers lying at the side of the road as a tribute.
Today I spotted a new addition, a hand made sign saying "Slow down". I must admit I got chills all over my body, and immediately took my foot off the accelerator. It hit right home.

It made me consider my own driving, and I've decided there is no better time than right now to really change my behavior behind the wheel, which if I'm honest - hasn't always been the best.
From now on I will be more careful and more cautious, be more vigilant and alert - and I will slow down.

Always at the beginning

After yet another tough hike around Bukit Shabandar yesterday morning, I met a friend in the changing rooms who took one look at my totally exhausted self and said: "It's always hardest in the beginning!".
Well, my problem is and has always been (apart from during the training for the mountain climb, when I manage to get the buzz) - that I'm always at the beginning.

I try to get fit. I try to loose weight. I try and try, and it is hard in the beginning. So I give up.
Back to square one. I try again, and try and try - and give up... and that's how it continues. Same old story, over and over again.

If someone would have told me 2 years ago, that a year later I would climb a mountain - I would have laughed really hard and been it total disbelief. But I did climb that mountain!
Today, when I think back a year, I think to myself I must be imagining it all. It couldn't have happened? I laugh and am in total disbelief and think how on earth did I do that?!?

Yesterday I stopped in the middle of what used to be my favourite hill (Bukit Shabandar is a forestry recreational park made up of nine hills) and had a little cry.
I cried because everything feels too hard at the moment, and I'm sick of always being at the beginning.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

JH3 Easter Hash

Today it was that Sunday of the month again - Junior Hash time! An event eagerly anticipated by the whole family. It's always a really nice outing, with lots of friends around for the kids to get muddy with, and lots of parents to catch up with for us.
Lucas and I took the long run today:



And Linnea and Nathan did the toddler run, still hard work, requires a lot of water:



This months hash was the Easter Hash, so after the usual shout-up it was time for egg throwing! Always a lot of fun! (This same Easter hash was the kids ever first hash actually last year.) Lucas threw some eggs with his mate Luke, and Linnea and her friend Keira did their best too.




Then Lucas and Nathan gave it a go:



(As usual, you wouldn't know I was ever there - cause no one ever takes pictures of me... boo-hoo.)

Saturday, 18 April 2009

{365:108} Chocolate mouth


Chocolate mouth.
Back in the Abode, it was time for a swim today after a week of school for some - and sightseeing for others. We went up to the Yacht Club this afternoon and relaxed, the kids were playing with their friends and Nathan and I could catch up with some of our friends too.
Ice cream of course, is always on the cards up there.

Meanwhile, back home

Yesterday Nathan had to come and pick us up from our flight in the middle of the night, at 00.40. He and Lucas had spent the whole afternoon with the Dehlis, first biking at Muara beach, then swimming in their pool, and having dinner together at their place.

Oh no, end of the road!



When it was time to go home, Lucas himself got the bright idea he could just stay there instead of going home "alone". Well, to him, he has been home alone when Nathan has been at work two nights this week. Even though the amah has been there of course, I guess that's the feeling you get as a 5-year old.

So, that's how his first sleepover happened! A little bit impromptu, but none the less successful!




When we picked him up this morning, we got told that they had all been really good and they had slept all night. (They had woken up at 06.00 though...) Lucas said he wanted to stay there for another 100 days! I have a feeling this will become a re-ocurring happening!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Kuala Lumpur Day 4

Today was our last day in KL for this time. Another busy day!
Linnea and I started out with a visit to the KLCC Aquaria. It was really nice and clean, and all the animals were well-kept, but - it was slightly smaller than I had expected, and only took us 45 mins to walk through.

Here is Linnea and the pirahnas:



One of the impressive fish tank displays, a two-storey tower full of fish:



They did have a cool walk-through tunnel though. You didn't actually have to walk, but got transported by a conveyor belt. We saw big sharks, beautiful sting rays (I just love to watch them "fly"!) and lots of the fish out of Nemo:



The sea horses were funny:



In front of the big fish tank in the end, very peaceful to look at:



Me in the car, photo by Linnea again:



We then met up with one of Linnea's class mates from school, and her mum. We went for a little last-minute shopping together, and grabbed some lunch on the go.



This afternoon we went up in the Twin Towers, Petronas Towers (remember the movie "Entrapment with Catherine Zeta-Jones?). First to the sky bridge on 42nd floor, that connects the two towers...



... and then on to the 86th (!) floor - what a view!! The KL Tower all of a sudden looked small!



Yes Linnea, we were ALL the way to the top!



My friend Zoë and me:



Now it's time to pack our bags and get ready to go home. I think we have been a bit missed by the rest of the family, and we have surely missed them! Bye KL for this time!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

{365:106} Swedish fika


Swedish fika.
Evenings at the hotel room ain't that bad actually, when you remember what you have packed in the suitcase!

Kuala Lumpur Day 3

There is actually quite a lot to see and do here in KL. Today we started with a trip to the Twin Towers, to visit the science center there - Petrosains. It's supposed to be really good for kids, and yes indeed - it was full of school children, and us.
Linnea didn't really get much of all the fantastic displays and different interactive attractions, but she did enjoy it in her own way, pushing all the buttons and playing:




After our visit there it was already lunch time, so we stopped in for some sushi just next door. Not as good as in Excapade though!



After lunch Linnea took a nap, and I had time to myself to do some browsing around in the many shops. Didn't buy anything else than a Starbucks coffee though! There was so many people.



Then we went to the KL Tower, Menara Kuala Lumpur. We went up to the observation deck, from which we enjoyed stunning views over the whole of KL, near and far.



The tower stands 412 m tall, and on top of a hill, so it rises above even the Twin Towers. Linnea got some free binoculars:



And free water, in the shape of the tower (!):



Here we are:



Linnea is not very photogenic nor very cooperative when it comes to taking pictures...



It was really price worthy though, I was surprised actually. Normally at tourist attractions like this, they always try to suck as many dollars as they can out of you. Here it was the opposite, kind of. I only paid for me, and only RM38. Not only did we get up to see the view (with free water and free binoculars and a free audio-tour!), we also got a free pony ride:



And even a free photo of Linnea as a cowboy:



We got to go into the Winter Garden (which in itself wasn't very impressive, but hey, it was free!):



And finally, we got to enter a zoological display, with loads of snakes...



... monkeys, lizards, crocs and other animals. And Swiper the Fox!



To end our outing today, I took Linnea to the Lake Gardens to have a play in the Dinosaur Playground:




I was actually planning to do the famous Bird Park there too (the worlds largest walk-in-free-aviary) today, but we were too tired by then and needed ice cream.

After ice cream, we had a rest at the hotel before going out for dinner. Our hotel is situated right next door to the new, fancy Pavilions Shopping Mall - and there they had a TGIF restaurant! Mmm, gave me Dubai-flashbacks!

This is Linnea's meal:



And this is mine - and yes, that IS a huge Frozen Strawberry Margarita, mmm!