The decision in our new car project 2015 to replace our 8 year Nissan Latio came down to either the Toyota Corolla Altis Elegance, or the Mazda 3 Sedan Deluxe. While the Kia Forte K3 really had some nifty and unique features, we finally decided not to risk a South-Korean designed and built car. Possibly we were overly conservative since many reviewers note that the South Koreans have really caught up with the Japanese. The Nissan Sylphy that we liked a lot several days ago was a third choice, but for just a bit more, we could be considering alternatives that were better regarded along general vehicle reliabilities. Interestingly too, Nissan cars seem to fare badly in overall reliabilities, going with Consumer Reports, though our Latio didn’t give us issues during its 8 year span.

The toss-up between the Altis and Mazda 3 was very close. There was marginal difference in their overall packaged prices (just S$200) and apart from slight differences in performance, horsepower and rated fuel consumption, both otherwise had almost identical feature sets – with the feature differences between them nice to haves but not especially consequential (e.g. how doors are locked – by proximity or car movement). The decision was finally based largely on the country of manufacturing – Japan or Thailand. Many consumer level sedans are now manufactured in the latter, and there’s nothing to say that a vehicle made in Thailand will be less reliable than one made in Japan. The item could be manufactured in China and still be fabulous as long as there’s good quality control. But we were thinking of potential resale value down the road, and in this regards, we figured Japan-made vehicles might have the advantage. A quick check online among Singaporean car owners also showed favor for the Mazda 3. So, it was to be a Mazda to replace our Nissan.

The Mazda showroom was pretty crowded in our return visit though, and this part of the island was experiencing an uncharacteristic heavy early evening downpour. The salesperson who’d worked out a package for us during our noon-time visit was busy with other customers. We ended up waiting for more than an hour, and well past the showroom’s normal closing hours of 1800 hrs before we were served. It must had also been our salesperson’s lucky day, as ours was the third deal he closed today.

The Mazda 3 got Hannah's approval!

The Mazda 3 got Hannah’s approval!

Peter like a boss with his calculator. "No sir; I don't think you can afford this SUV. Can I interest you in a cheaper family sedan?"

Peter like a boss with his calculator. “No sir; I don’t think you can afford this SUV. Can I interest you in a cheaper family sedan?”

Lots of people were checking out the Mazda 3, so it wasn't easy trying to get a photo of this lovely without people in the backdrop.

Lots of people were checking out the Mazda 3, so it wasn’t easy trying to get a photo of this lovely without people in the backdrop.

This will be our first car with modern amenities - like GPS-enabled navigation, and info-entertainment decks.

This will be our first car with modern amenities – like GPS-enabled navigation, and info-entertainment decks.

We wouldn’t have bought the car without Hannah’s approval of course. She sat in for today’s test drives – alongside Peter who was too perplexed by the new surroundings – and at the end of each, we asked her for her opinion. She didn’t like the Altis for some reason that she couldn’t explained. As for the Mazda 3, at the end of the test drive, the very astute salesperson showed her the retractable sunroof – Hannah was sold on the spot.

We had a bit of time on the weekend morning, so continued our exploration of replacements for our family ride. We’d listed the Toyota Showroom to check out the Altis earlier on, but added in the Mazda showroom for their series 3 sedans at the last minute from neighbors’ recommendations. We didn’t initially have the best impressions of the Mazda 3 from 8 years back when we were shopping for the Honda Civic replacement (basically Ling banged her head on the door frame LOL), but the comparison this time round was interesting and very close!

Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6 Elegance

Very appealing exterior with a futuristic-looking front grill

Very roomy interior with lots of leg room, and almost as much headroom as the Latio

Large info-display panel

Feature set that’s almost to what the Forte K3 offered – including knockdown passenger seats, electrically-controlled driver seat, keyless entry/ignition etc. It was just missing the memory-retaining and cooled driver seat

Very cool keyless entry system that makes use of motion sensing

Auto-locking doors that kicks in after a few minutes

Good performance and handling in the limited test drive we had

On the other hand: I thought the glossy interior panels were rather cheapo-looking. And Ling thought the interior looked quite uncle-ish too and from our parents’ generation (I was alright with it).

Most seriously – Hannah said she didn’t like the car!

We were tended to by a pretty experienced salesperson, but oddly again – like the Nissan and Kia salespeople from earlier in the week – didn’t seem to know very much about the competing models within the same price and functional bracket.

Mazda 3 1.5 Sedan Deluxe

Sporty looking exterior – though also where Ling and I differed. I like the Altis’ exterior looks, while she preferred the Mazda 3

Placement of the info-display panel is closer to eye-level than the Altis

Doesn’t have Altis’ auto-locking doors upon driving off, but its auto-locking is proximity-based (which we thought would be more useful)

Made in Japan!

More luxurious and comfy cushioning than the Altis.

Keyless locking works on both front passenger and driver sides

Almost identical feature set otherwise to the Altis

She didn’t banged her head getting in and out of the car this time!

On the other hand; the interior was obviously more compact and not nearly as much legroom as the Altis or Sylphy.

Pretty noisy engine especially on start-up, and also when driving about

The attending salesperson was very helpful. He drove out additional models for us to check out features, and also brought us to their basement car storage to look at available colors as they are on actual cars (not just sample plates). He was also a little bit more informed about other manufacturers’ offerings too.

The Mazda 3 was a little bit more pricey, but was offering a slightly higher trade-in value for our Latio – which resulted in almost similar overall price packages between the two.

As it is, we think we’ve seen enough and will be deciding soon between the Sylphy, Forte K3, Altis, and the Mazda 3. For the moment: one of the only two pictures we took during our visits:

Peter especially interested in the driver's door off the Mazda 3 Deluxe.

Peter especially interested in the driver’s door off the Mazda 3 Deluxe.

 

We took the weekday afternoon to check out the first two car showrooms. Both showrooms were situated just opposite each other – or rather in fact, the Ubi Road stretch sees a row of car dealerships side by side and all eyeballing each other LOL – and were the authorized distributors for the Nissan Sylphy and Kia Forte K3 models we’d shortlisted. Business at both showrooms was fairly quiet for the afternoon, so we didn’t need to wait to be served. Like our purchase of the Nissan Latio 8 years ago, Ling did the test-drive honors and noted the more subjective handling and general performance parts of our evaluation, while I busied myself making mental notes as a passenger and looking at the more technical specifications side of things.

We checked out the Sylphy first, and our brief comments from our two visits.

Nissan Sylphy 1.6L Premium

Nice, modern looks and exterior styling – though we aren’t too bothered if it wasn’t. We lived with a car that looks like a brick for 8 years. Anything is an upgrade!

A few options for interior, though oddly not in the exterior/interior combo we preferred.

Has most of the key features we want: e.g. keyless ignition/entry, GPS, rear air-con vents, reverse camera, large LCD dashboard serving as a media player display panel too.

Doesn’t have a lot of features we’ve taken for granted from the Latio: foot brake, auto-sensing headlights. I quipped to the salesperson aren’t we then downgrading LOL.

Slightly better fuel-economy than the Forte K3.

The speed pick-up seemed about the same as the Latio, despite its higher rated engine power.

We can transfer our existing Latio maintenance plan to the new one since it’s the same dealership. hooray!

As an aside too; the attending salesperson knew the car and purchasing procedures very well and could rattle off details easily and confidently, but also struck us as someone who seemed a little disinterested. Nothing quite like the very warm and knowledgeable Nissan salesperson who sold us the Latio back then. He was so eager to get our sale maybe we should have squeezed him for a few complimentary cartons of abalone.

Kia Forte K3 1.6L SX

Slightly more sporty and even more modern looking exterior than the Sylphy.

Interior only comes in one color. Boo!

Has features up the wazoo, some of which are unique: electrically-controlled, memory and cooled driver seat (Kia clearly is pampering the driver in this model), auto-sensing headlights, knockdown passenger seats (useful for furniture shopping), different steering options.

A dashboard display that looks like a Star Trek command console. Super futuristic!

Doesn’t have a few default features from the Sylphy: reverse camera, GPS maps.

Slightly less good fuel economy than the Sylphy, but also showed visibly better speed pick-up on the other hand.

The attending salesperson was very enthusiastic and helpful, but from the get-go was also obviously new to the job.

Most seriously though was that the recent COE prices have led to revisions to both cars’ listed prices, and going with the recent published pricelists, the Forte K3 no longer has a price advantage over the Sylphy. In fact, it’s slightly even more expensive now. Duh.

We also wanted to check out the Toyota Corolla Altis too, but their showroom – situated on the same road – was closed because of a company event. Too bad. They didn’t get our business. Or maybe we’ll give them a second chance and try a different day again.

More to come soon.:)

There are many little annoyances about living in Singapore. Most of it people I think have learned to live with, but there’s a couple that really gets their goats. One of these is the price of car ownership, and the dreaded escalating prices of Certificates of Entitlement. The government here of course has been encouraging to make use of public transportation, but that’s – frankly – a non-starter for families with young kids like ours, nor does it help persuade current car owners to switch when the national transportation system has been experiencing unusually frequent occurrences of breakdowns of late.

Our almost 8 year old Nissan Latio has served us very well over the years now, and incredibly, aside from a minor scrape we got into on the first year, has not experienced a single other vehicular accident since then. OK; the car emitted white smoke one occasion 4 years ago while trying to get up the steep ramp leading into the Compass Point carpark, but that seemed to get rectified through servicing. The common opinion here also is that once your car is about the eighth year and you’re certain you are gonna continuing needing a car, you’ll need to seriously plan to get a replacement well-before the car hits the 10 year mark.

Unlike many other Singaporean men though, I (personally) have little interest in cars as toys and gadgets – not certainly to the same degree of enthusiasm I have with say photography or mobile computing. Cars for the both of us are essentially functional objects that will get us from one point to another and safely, and aside from the most obvious and basic of requirements – like fuel consumption, cost of maintenance, engine capacity, passenger space, body color, and price – we don’t really have any preference on the other aspects of the ride. We did especially like the keyless entry and ignition features on the Latio, and the unusually generous headroom and legspace in the cabin. The former seems to be a pretty common feature these days in family sedans – so here’s hoping that the new car will also have similarly spacious interior space.

As with just about everything I do and buy today, I fired up Excel and created columns for the above requirements. And within the budget of what we were willing to spend on it, our choices seem to be just one of a few models:

Nissan Almera/Latio or Nissan Sylphy

Kia Forte K3

Toyota Corolla Altis

Time to start making time too to schedule visits to the carshow rooms to see and experience the cars in-person too.

The difficulty in our New Car Project 2015 is finally though how much more expensive car ownership is now in 2015 compared to 2007, with our projected expenditure to be about 160% what we spent back then for about the same type of car. Outright scary.

More to follow soon.

Our best bud and family friend was going to be in the region for a tech event, so took the opportunity to visit and stay with us. This is his fifth visit to Singapore (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015) after his promise the last time round that he’d be in Singapore for SG50, and his first stay at Minton too. The period of travel while about the same as it would had been for most times of the year, would had been even better if it’d coincided with the children’s/Ling’s March school break, but oh well.

The stay at Minton this time round required a bit more logistics and planning, on account that despite the floor area of our Minton unit being significantly more than Rivervale’s, the bedrooms aren’t bigger. The +1 (study) room that is currently Peter’s room wouldn’t fit the mattress, and even if we could find a thin enough one, the door wouldn’t close. So, Peter retained his room, and we asked Hannah if she could relinquish her room for “Uncle Matt” – to which she happily consented. Not that it mattered very much, since she still waltzes into the room like it’s still her own!.

The arrival at Changi Airport was also smooth (though Matt will relate the story of pandemonium at the neighbouring gate at Houston International which he jokingly quipped that the pilot had called in sick), and touched down in Singapore from Moscow early even, and he settled in easily on early Saturday morning in time for us to bring Hannah for her weekend ballet classes, and Matt’s first roti-pratas for his stay. Hannah was like BFFs with Matt from the get-go, which is probably testament to our girl’s easily all-round affable nature.

Selected pictures from the first four days!

Settling into his room, with his two self-invited roommates!

Settling into his room, with his two self-invited roommates!

Pratas at Prata Raya @ Ang Mo Kio. Curry's pretty good but pratas-wise, we prefer the fare at Prata Wala.

Pratas at Prata Raya @ Ang Mo Kio. Curry’s pretty good but pratas-wise, we prefer the fare at Prata Wala.

Noon-time swim in the Minton pool. Weather was scorching hot - but nothing that a cool swim can't help.

Noon-time swim in the Minton pool. Weather was scorching hot – but perfect for a cooling swim.

Debating over the finer points of cuisine (maybe?) at Dian Xiao Er @ Nex.

Debating over the finer points of cuisine (maybe?) at Dian Xiao Er @ Nex.

Too much food - again - at Ichiban Sushi @ Hougang Mall.

Too much food – again – at Ichiban Sushi @ Hougang Mall.

Cosy fit in our Nissan Latio for our three rear-seat passengers.

Cosy fit in our Nissan Latio for our three rear-seat passengers.

Checking the city views at the top of The Pinnacle @ Duxton yesterday morning.

Checking the city views at the top of The Pinnacle @ Duxton yesterday morning.

And oh yeah. We’re putting together broad plans to reciprocate with a visit to the midwest, maybe around 2016-2017 when Peter’s a little older. And our Ang Mo friend’s first reaction was: “Why…? There’s nothing in St. Louis worth seeing!” LOL.

The battery cover door of my 2 year old Metz 50AF-1 flashgun broke over the Chinese New Year period – *groan*. The flashgun still otherwise works fine, though it still has that odd quirk about having to dial in a +0.7 to +1.0 EV flash output for me to get the appropriate amount of bounced lighting, but a broken battery door meant a struggle to close the battery compartment each time I had to recharge the batteries. Also, the flashgun was an extremely tight fit into the new LX100’s metallic hotshoe, and in-fact became stuck. I practically had to forcibly pry the flash loose from the hotshoe. Double bummer.

So, looking around for a replacement flashgun that would work for my existing m4/3 bodies and also the LX100, I found a ‘lil flash that looked like it’d meet my lighting needs, and then some too. Below is the Nissin i40, a third party flash unit for m4/3s and also compatible with the LX100. The i40 is sold cheaper here in Singapore than through online stores like Amazon – shocker indeed when the converse is usually more true. The pictures might not convey the real idea of how tiny is this flashgun – but it is. The flash body itself is barely just larger than the battery compartment holding 4 AA batteries!

Unlike the Metz 50AF-1, the i40 is a bit more barebones information screen-wise, featuring two command dials on the rear-panel. On the other hand, unlike the 50AF-1, the i40’s flash head can be reversed to point backwards, and also supports LED video light.

Oh really

Value for money. The package comes with everything: a metallic stand, soft-case, and even a Stofen-styled snap on diffuser. The bounce card and diffuser is built into the flash head.

Oh really

This is how small it is – compared to the Metz 50AF-1 it’s replacing.

Oh really

The Metz was already a little too physically large when sitting on-top of the E-M5, and much more so when mounted on the LX100. The Nissin i40 here is a relatively more balanced fit for the LX100.

Some of our children’s pictures using the Nissin i40. No output compensation required – hooray! All taken with the LX100 + i40.

Hannah on her evening drawing activities. Ikea warm-lights were just above her.

Hannah on her evening drawing activities. Ikea warm-lights were just above her.

Late afternoon shot on our balcony, with the flash gun's output pointing upwards and the bounce card engaged too.

Late afternoon shot on our balcony, with the flash gun’s output pointing upwards and the bounce card engaged too.

Peter's bedtime. Low ceiling, flash gun output upwards - and still correctly exposed!

Peter’s bedtime. Low ceiling, flash gun output upwards – and still correctly exposed!

In all, I’m very happy with this new purchase, and the flash pictures remind me of the kind of exposures I was getting off the old Nikon DSLRs with SB600 flash guns. The only oddity at this point is that the i40 seems a bit finicky with some of the rechargeable batteries I’ve got, and refusing to prime/ready the flash gun for firing unless the set of batteries is fully charged. Something to continue keeping an eye on for sure.

Continuing from my earlier post of what’s working well on the LX100!

The first LX100 that I picked up from the shop tested fine there. But barely 20 minutes later when I’d left the shop and was on my way home, the camera suffered a catastrophic sensor failure – similar to what at last one other Amazon owner had also reported. The shop changed the set immediately without question, thankfully – but that the first unit had failed so quickly left me feeling a little worried if the second one is going to suffer the same fault soon.

Sensor failure. This is what's seen on the viewfinder, and stored when the shutter is released.

Sensor failure. This is what’s seen on the viewfinder, and stored when the shutter is released.

The images the LX100 produces so far are good relative to small sensor compact cameras, but it’s also not near what the E-PL6 and E-M5 can produce, let alone cameras with even larger sensors than that. Not really a negative as I knew what the LX100’s limits are, but still.

Non-articulating and non-touch screen. These two were my biggest limitations of the LX100. I’ll have to count on some other camera for Daddy-Hannah selfie shots, and I’ve been spoiled by touchscreen AF too. I never figured I’d be a fan of touchscreen AF, but it’s incredibly useful on small and light cameras like my E-PL6. Heck – I use touchscreen AF on that more than I use spot or multi-point AF.

Start-up and shutting down is, ugh, s l o w. And the lens barrel protrudes an additional 4cm out as soon as it turns on. Zooming in to the uppermost focal length will extend the barrel by a few more cm.

Customization menus are comprehensive and deep but also perplexing! It’s somewhat better organized and visually more pleasing than Olympus’, but on a couple of occasions, I was scratching my head wondering why options I wanted were disabled. For instance; I was flummoxed why the panorama mode had been greyed out in one of the nested options, and the user manual was no help, nor the built-in help. It was only through checking online with other users who faced the same difficulty did I realize that the camera had been set to RAW, and had to be switched back to JPG before the panorama option would be enabled. Duh.

Alright; couple of pictures.

Hannah is hooked onto Tom & Jerry cartoons while Peter entertains himself.

Hannah is hooked onto Tom & Jerry cartoons while Peter entertains himself.

Peter making faces!

Peter making faces!

Waiting for her morning school bus at 0700 hrs. The bus-stop was actually quite dimly lit, but sufficient facial detail was retrieve through Adobe Camera Raw.

Waiting for her morning school bus at 0655 hrs. The bus-stop was actually quite dimly lit, but sufficient facial detail was retrieved through Adobe Camera Raw.

The Minton at late night. The blog photo here is too small to tell image details, but the shot was dialed at ISO400 and handheld at 1/5s - but the image is still sharp. Incredible optical stabilization at work.

The Minton at late night. The blog photo here is too small to tell image details, but the shot was dialed at ISO400 and handheld at 1/5s – but the image is still sharp. Incredible optical stabilization at work. I did another shot at ISO200 at 1/2s handheld – and it turned out just as great!

A polycarbonate screen is also on the way to protect the LX100’s rear monitor, alongside a cheapo third party lens cap – just so that the original one supplied with the camera can go right back into the box for safekeeping! :)

Almost five months ago I did a post on large-sensor compact cameras. And after a fairly long back-and-forth period of indecision since that point, I finally decided yesterday and picked up the LX100. The contenders alongside the LX100 were the Sony RX100 and Canon G7 X. Briefly:

The RX100 was priced about similarly to the LX100, while the Canon G7 X was much cheaper.

Interestingly, the G7 X scores higher than the LX100 on DXOMark. Not that I read too much into their sensor values though, but still.

Despite all the heaps of criticism laid on the Olympus m4/3 cameras’ menus, I like the large degree of customization possible on those cameras, and wanted the same for whichever camera I decided on. And between the three, the LX100 scores very high here.

It was a toss-up between how compact the camera I would tolerate. I did want it to be pocketable, but not at the expense of it being too small to handle.

Of the bunch of requirements, the LX100 won out in the end though it was really a very marginal win, and I had to give up a couple of features that the LX100 didn’t have by design. I did get a pretty good bargain for the camera though at our local camera stores at USD751 while Amazon is selling it at USD757 – and that’s not counting the large number of freebies that came with it that only further sweetened the deal. I had a friend which picked up the Leica equivalent of the camera – the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) – but that cost a lot more at USD1,130, and I wasn’t gonna pay that much more for a branded version of it.

The LX100 next to the similarly-sized E-PL6.

The LX100 next to the similarly-sized E-PL6.

The sexy-looking LX100.

Rear view of the LX100.

Rear view of the LX100.

So, about a day after playing around with it; my initial reactions.

The camera feels assuredly dense and well-built. There’s a lot of mass built into the body though and I count it slightly on the heavy side too at 393g. The front and back rubber grips help in guiding your hand to hold it steady, but I’ll still be getting a strap for it soon.

The Exposure Compensation Dial is satisfying click-y when rotated, and pretty useful when the default Multiple Metering has difficulties handling complex lighting situations. On the other hand, the dial is also positioned at the extreme right corner of the top plate, and is at risk getting snagged when I fish it out of the camera bag. Thankfully there’s some resistance on the dial itself, so it won’t turn as perilously easy as the mode dial on the E-PL6. Lost count of the number of times when the E-PL6’s Mode Dial got accidentally rotated from ‘A’ (Aperture-priority) to ‘S’ (Shuttle-priority) without my noticing until I wondered why my first picture taken was all under-exposed LOL.

The EVF is decent, and though not as bright as the E-M5’s, the image view when peering through it looks as big. This is one of the key features over its competitors that swayed me away from the G7 X and RX100. Unfortunately, possibly because of the size of the viewfinder window itself, how thick its rubber-cap is or heck maybe even because I wear glasses, the image does not fully fit within my eye perspective. Which leads to an odd sort of situation where I actually have to pan my eyeball around to get the whole super-imposed image in view.

The battery length’s about average at about 330 according to CIPA tests – but importantly, the package came with an extra battery (alongside a couple of 16GB Class 10 SDCards and a dedicated leather case). The battery normally costs around SGD55, and that the package supplied an extra one was a much appreciated complement!

AF is quick, and from the limited range of shots I’ve taken with the LX100 so far, it’s also been pretty spot-on.

The camera supports 4K resolution, though I don’t see myself recording home videos of our two kids at that setting. The Full HD setting on the other hand is at least producing nicely crisp video, though continuous AF still can’t match that of a dedicated camcorder.

Turning off the AF confirmation beep and also shutter sound, the camera is almost inaudible, only emitting a very quiet and soft ‘click’ (shutter curtain I assume) when the shutter is released. Totally discrete shooting!

Next post on the things that aren’t so great about the LX100.

 

2015 is one of those lucky years when the Lunar New Year falls just before the weekend, and extending the long holiday weekend for us too, and we got to enjoy a good 4.5 day stretch. Last year‘s family pictures taken over the festive season didn’t look so good on account that Peter was suffering from a bout of mosquitoes bites. We did better this year, since Peter was (slightly) more able to listen to instructions to look good for pictures, though not by too much still!

The Foo clan, 2015. Everybody in our small family was present this year.

The Foo clan, 2015. Everybody in our small family was present this year.

Us!

Us! Don’t mind the plant watering bottle on the top left corner LOL.

Lighting was a bit off for the first picture above – you can see that the right side of the frame looks a bit darker than the rest of the picture. The Metz flashgun wasn’t producing sufficient output. I guess that was because the flash head had not been fully turned to point upwards but at a slight off-angle, and that might have caused the flash gun to misunderstand how much light was required. The first picture had to be post-processed from the RAW file as a result. The flashgun was correctly adjusted for the second picture of the four of us at home, as it was taken an hour later.

One thing’s for sure. My next camera is gonna feature built-in wireless control capability. I’ve had enough mucking around with third party wireless remote-controllers for the old Nikon DSLRs and for the current Olympus E-M5. The wireless remote controller for the latter almost didn’t work on this occasion (I had to furiously jiggle the batteries a little). Otherwise, I would have been forced to use self-timers for the family pictures.

At play at our parents' home.

At play at our parents’ home.

Despite having a runny nose, Hannah is chirpy - as usual.

Despite having a runny nose, Hannah is chirpy – as usual.

The sippy cup is more tasty than water.

The sippy cup is more tasty than water.

Olympus has just released the next iteration of the E-M5, nearly named the Mark II of the model. The new E-M5 II is a little better-specced for the most part, including providing support for a very high-resolution mode, and an improved IBIS (In-body image stabilization) that now offers up to 5 buffer stops for sloppy handholding technique LOL. Unfortunately, the continuous AF support from the more professional but also older E-M1 model did not go over, which makes it a little harder for enthusiasts deciding between the two which to go for. Decisions to make, maybe later this year!

Monsoon has passed since the last week. The weather has been gradually warming up during the day alongside rain becoming an infrequent occurrence. And while nights remained quite cooling, it won’t be long before the island creeps into daily temperature highs of 33°C and beyond. The transition in weather has also made our two kids more vulnerable, and Peter experienced mild-temperatures on and off in the last fortnight, and Hannah is just recovering from a week long bout with skin rashes, possibly an allergic reaction to seafood at a family dinner we had a fortnight ago.

Ling was remarking that Peter doesn’t look like his age at all. At past 19 months now, he still has a baby-ish look about himself and were it not for the fact that he has a healthy pair of legs that let him run around, could be mistaken for an infant that’s just a year old. While he’s unable to say words beyond “jie jie” (“big sister”) and “daddy” and loud Homer Simpon-like “DOHs”, he’s better able to understand simple instructions we give him. Like:

“Peter, put that toy back on the table.”

“Peter, go to your jie jie.”; and of course…

“Peter, get your bu** over here NOW!!!”

He’s also less clingy to Mommy now too, after Daddy made a concerted effort to bond better with him, and will happily follow after me when he’s called to without the accompanying hollers and screaming from a couple months ago.

But then again, he’s also been doing quite a few stunts that’s been making us tear our hair out, including:

Upsetting Ling’s plants, and eating the soil that spill out.

Taking Hannah’s hair-clips and dropping them into the toilet bowl.

Taking an entire toilet roll, and also dropping it into the toilet bowl.

Taking Ling’s NASA stress ball, and biting pieces off it.

Ling was especially furious about the last one, since the stress ball was a beloved memento. We’re of course not to the point where we’ll punish Peter for misbehaving since he’s not fully cognizant of his actions, but it won’t be long now before he gets introduced to ‘time-outs’ for bad behavior.

All this said, Hannah has been a real help. As Ling put it on Facebook:

God gave us a healthy son albeit a very lively one. Sometimes I do fret over the stressful situations his liveliness brings and forget that he is a blessing. Over a peaceful dinner at home just now made me realised this and that God has also blessed us with a wonderful daughter who helped to keep Peter occupied so that the adults could eat ‘in peace’. Let me not forget that and be thankful!

Pictures.:)

Peter has de-stressed by taking out on the stress ball.

Peter has de-stressed by taking out on the stress ball.

Helping us keep an eye on Peter. After weekend brunch at Coffee Bean @ Greenwich Village.

Helping us keep an eye on Peter. After weekend brunch at Coffee Bean @ Greenwich Village.

Driving home at weekday's end. We love watching kids sleep; so peaceful and in their own world.

Driving home at weekday’s end. We love watching kids sleep; so peaceful and in their own world.

She doodles at least 2 pictures each 20 minute session on the SP3.

She doodles at least 2 pictures each 20 minute session on the SP3.

Hannah @ 5 years 8 months old, but looking older.:)

Hannah @ 5 years 8 months old, but looking older.:)

Looking cute now - but not so cute at home!

Looking cute now – but not so cute at home!