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Kallos – (Empowering teen girls to live out their faith in a relevant way): Dinner With Dad

When was the last time you had a relaxed dinner alone with your teen daughter? Come, go on a fun dinner date with your teen daughter.

Kallos’ means beauty in Greek.

1 Sam 16:7

 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

Hope to get hold of this lovely T-shirt soon for Big and Small M, as a reminder that they are beautiful inside.

And that’s all that matters.

Everyone had a taste of the popular Nasi Lemak, served in local buffet style at Old School Delights.

Organised by Kallos, which mission is to help young girls to live out God’s purpose in their lives, I thought this would be a meaningful occasion to have a personal dinner with Big M.

There’s more to life than grade.

Very often, we as parents are guilty of letting grades to define our kids.  It is a timely reminder not to allow our children to define their worth solely in terms of academic achievement.

This simple box of memories.

It is personal, old school, childlike, and will not break the bank. Everyone took a walk down memory lane as we shared stories about our school days.

As fathers, we have been shown the brutal truth of how life operates on in many occasions.

Life can be tough when the rubber meets the road. But each time, we try our best to take the lessons we are being taught, dust ourselves off and stand back up as tall as we can.

Sometimes we have been successful, sometimes we have not been, but isn’t that just a part of life?

What was your biggest reality check when you became a father or daughter?

Jason Wong, founder of the Dads for Life movement, sharing with us on ways to build up our daughters’ self-worth and how to support them during stressful times.

Create regular conversations with them make parents aware of what they are experiencing in school and their lives. This is not just about asking their grades or whether they have done their homework.

When parents create an environment where our children can share his/her successes, failures and anxieties, they will be a step closer to fulfilling their calling.

One memorable sharing by Jason was when he was sharing about his late father. When it came to the end of his life, he would make sure there were two books near to him every day – the bible and photo album.

The bible would draw him closer to God (knowing he would be meeting his Creator soon) while the photo album would bring back beautiful memories of how he had spent his life with his family.

Shiwei Quek, Director of Kallos, shared about the undeniable salience of fathering. The role that a father assume can be trying and challenging.

As father, we learn to celebrate the good days and venting about the tough ones – the throwing up by our little ones, tantrums they are creating, and disapproving of the boys they are going out with, amongst others.

Create happy memories for our daughters, that they will internalise and grow up to be healthy adults who are able to deal with life’s curveballs.

Continue to give them the reassurance, to let them have a sense of self worth.

As daughters, tribute our love for our fathers by way of words and actions. It can even be a simple phone call.

This means even after my father has placed my hand into the groom’s hand and I am no longer staying with my parents.

My best bud.

Affirmation time through writing letters for each other before we closed with prayers.

Kallos

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California Travelogue – (Part 1): San Francisco Cable Car, Powell Street and Fisherman Wharf

After our New York trip, we took a 6.5 hour flight to San Francisco.

San Francisco, in northern California, is a hilly city on the tip of a peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. It’s known for its year-round fog, iconic Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and colorful Victorian houses.

Our first impression of San Francisco was its cleaniness. The tram was really clean and a big contrast to NYC in which it was not crowded.

Thanks to our friends staying in California, we were recommended to take the BART train to Powell Street.

So clean and fresh!

We would be staying at Axiom Hotel, which was just located above the Powell Station. It took about 2 to 3 mins walk to the hotel.

The reason we chose Axiom Hotel was it’s close proximity to the train station. The place was centralised to every tourist activities but we were cautioned that it was near to the Tenderlion neighbourhood where the streets were shady and you wouldn’t want to bump onto people you wouldn’t want to meet. Glad that there was a right soul who walked up and told us not to cross the street, else we would be venturing into the neighbourhood. Yes, the google map did fail us at times.

Cute robot to attend to our needs.

Burger King was beside our hotel.

We were glad that the cable car station was outside our hotel. During peak hour, the queue could linger till late into the night. The ticket cost $7 each.

We are going to the Fisherman’s Wharf. Fisherman’s Wharf, on the northern waterfront, is one of the city’s busiest tourist areas. Souvenir shops and stalls selling crab and clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls appear at every turn.

The streets of San Francisco was just amazing. It would take a lot of energy just to walk up the slopes and they were appearing at every junction we stopped.

Slopes again. How to survive without owning cars here?

No experience is more uniquely San Francisco than a ride on a cable car. A must-try experience here!

It’s convenient to travel here and we don’t really need to drive.

The Ross store is a great place to find cheap stuff.  

Love these laundry buckets so much (only $13) but how to bring back home 😦

The crab meat and prawns were very juicy. It cost about US$70.

Spent the afternoon exploring the streets.

If In-N-Out Burger comes to Singapore, it will beat all the fast food restaurants hands down.

Our favourite pasttime. Buying a loaf of cheap bread when visiting the harbour to feed the birds.

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All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.

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New York Travelogue – (Part 3): The High Line, Chelsea Market, Subway, Brooklyn Bridge and Times Square

This was our final day at New York City. Our main goal was to cover two attractions. Some say The High Line is a must-go attraction and we shouldn’t give it a miss.

The High Line is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.

Saved from demolition by neighborhood residents and the City of New York, the High Line opened in 2009 as a hybrid public space where visitors experience nature, art, and design.

Elevated 30 feet in the air, this former railroad has taken in a form of a beautiful stretch of pathway.  The walk is about a mile and a half in length and takes you from Gansevoort Street up to 34th. We arrived just when the sun was setting and took some beautiful shots.

The Chelsea Market was near to The High Line. An indoor food hall, most of the shops in Chelsea Market were food related.

A suitable place for cafe hoppers also, not to mention there was a variety of shops selling gifts, spirits, groceries and more. The building was formerly used to be a biscuit factory, which was why much of the interior and aesthetic was a reminiscence of its past.

Intrigued to see the Youtube office here..

Not surprising to see the Google’s office here as Manhattan’s Chelsea Market building was bought over by them.

So, that wrapped up our New York vacation. We hope to have more time to visit Pennsylvania and Washington DC. Maybe we will do it next time 🙂

Ending our Big Apple vacation with some memorable pictures.

Definitely not to our liking, we were still figuring out how to take the subway in NYC before we left. Absolutely confusing.

Big M at the vibrant Manhattan’s Chinatown, where when you are in food hunt, you know you will never go wrong with dumplings, pork buns and hand-pulled noodles.

You have all the reasons to walk the famous Brooklyn Bridge. It is likely to be crowded but hey, who cares? We are talking about the epitome of Big Apple.

 Who says you can’t find pockets of spaces to connect with others in one of the most densest cities in the world?

Dazzling with lights all day long, there’s a magnetic pull about Times Square. One of the most visited places in the world with over 360,000 pedestrians daily, we just loathe this place, wondering why Singapore can’t replicate it. This little adventurer was totally mesmerised. The next part of our journey would see us at the west coast of America – California where we would see San Francisco, Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

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New York Travelogue – (Part 1): 9/11 Tribute Museum and Memorial, Manhattan Chinatown and Little Italy

An experience like no other, we took an 8 hour flight and headed to the Big Apple. We were looking forward to bunches of cool attractions at the amazing NYC!

We heard it would cost about $70 to take taxi from JFK International Airport to World Trade Center. It was the peak hour when we arrived and it took us about 1.5 hr just to clear the customs which everyone had to undergo stringent checks. Nonetheless, we opt to take the airtrain.

Strangers to NYC, we were trying to figure out how to buy the airtrain tickets.

Using our Traveler Wifi Router, we googled how to make our way to World Trade Center.

Our stay in New York City – Club Quarters Hotel at the World Trade Center.

This was the Standard Room that we booked which was rather squeezy but we had to manage our expectations as hotel lodging did not come cheap.

One of the most important stops in NYC was none other than the 9/11 Tribute Museum. Before this trip, we had educated Big and Small M on the history of 911 and why it was such a big thing to visit NYC.

The 911 Tribute Museum was near to our hotel and it became our first stop naturally. Visitors could get to experience the events of 911 from artifacts to personal stories. A big plus over here was that we could also purchase ferry tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty.

The Museum offers visitors the ability to learn factual information about the events of 9/11, the unprecedented rescue and recovery operation and the rebuilding of both Lower Manhattan and of people’s lives.

Video clips of the terrorist attacks.

The day when the whole NYC come to a standstill. Many stories were left untold.

Down the streets was the National September 11 Memorial Museum. The Museum occupied about 110,000 square feet of exhibition space, telling the story of 9/11 through multimedia displays, archives, narratives and a collection of monumental and authentic artifacts. The ticket prices were $26/Adults and $20/Young Adult. We did not enter though as we thought the exhibits were more or less the same.

The 9/11 Memorial is free of charge and open to the public daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Honoring the lives of those who were lost. Occupying eight of the 16 acres at the World Trade Center, the Memorial is a tribute to the past and a place of hope for the future.

The two reflecting pools are the center piece of the 9/11 Memorial’s design, a work titled “Reflecting Absence” by Michael Arad. The pools cover the exact footprints of the original Twin Towers. Each is about an acre in size and together they make the largest man-made waterfall in North America.

The names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001 are inscribed in bronze around the twin memorial pools.

We took a stroll down the streets of New York City.

This was our first day at the Big Apple and we seemed to have lost way.

We spent the evening visiting Manhattan Chinatown. This was the neighbourhood where Chinese immigrants brought their traditions and culture to the lower east side of New York City.

Manhattan Chinatown is a densely populated neighborhood that draws foodies and tourists to its many Chinese and Southeast Asian restaurants for dumplings, pork buns and hand-pulled noodles.

We really loved the peanut dumplings and soya bean milk here that we patronised twice.

Passed by this noodle house and we gave it a try.

Clearly, their noodles wasn’t disappointing. The bone broth soup filled with dumplings. Every dumping was meaty and packed with salty goodness to make it a homey meal in this winter day.

Always remember to include tips when dining in the States.

After our dinner, we headed down to explore Little Italy. Little Italy’s streets are lined with restaurants serving Italian staples on red-and-white checkered tablecloths.

It was pretty small and we covered the place within 15 mins. It was a long day but our hearts were full!

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London Travelogue – (Part 5): Stevenage and Emirates Stadium

We were greeted with light rain on our final day in London. The sky was cloudy but we were determined to end the day fruitfully.

With most of the main attractions covered, we took it easy today and googled for nearby places to explore.

The rain started to pelt and we took shelter at a train station.

Hopping onto the train with our Oyster cards, we had no idea where to go. Since we were not driving, taking a train ride to see the surroundings might be a good idea.

Thanks to the rain, the weather were freezingly cold and we were loving it!

The train took us into the countryside and we passed by hills, seen cattle grazing and lovely houses.

We were kind of lost and didn’t know where to alight. The train captain was surprised we had no destination in mind and recommended that we visit a little town by the name of Stevenage. Stevenage is a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, 28 miles north of London.

Alas, oyster card is not valid here and we had to pay a fine of about $50. The staff was friendly and chatted with us while he prepared tickets for us to exit.

A lovely little town to explore. Maybe not that fantastic for sightseeing but it was an ideal place to buy cheap loots.

Stevenage was pretty much like Bedok neighbourhood where you could find rows of shophouses.

Delicious germany sausages..nice to try in such a cold weather.

Yes, everything’s $1!

A haven for shopping.

The Iceland store. Wait till we see how cheap the items were.

How we wished we were living over here. It’s near impossible to find such prices over in Singapore. These items were not junk qualities either.

At the other end of the town, there were restaurants and a large Cineplex.

Had our dinner here. The chicken looked kind of dry.

We headed back to our Airbnb but before that we suddenly realised our place was near to Emirates Stadium! And so we alighted from the train and followed the signs to Arsenal.

It took about 15 mins to walk from the train stadium. Along the way, we came across houses and they were so beautifully lighted and decorated with Christmas props.

The residents living in these houses were probably the most blessed of all. Just 20m in front of the Emirates Stadium, they could attend EPL match at their convenience every week!

They might not appreciate soccer but it was a worthwhile visit to the famous soccer club.

This capped off our London trip and we booked a Blackberry Car to the airport at 1am. No hidden cost and the driver was professional. The next time we visit London, we will definitely book with them again. Next up, we will travel over 3500 miles or 8 hours of flight time to New York City!

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London Travelogue – (Part 4): Camden Market, Stables Market, Oxford Street, Hamleys and Harrods

When searching for quality markets to visit in London, the name of Camden Market will inevitably appear in the most recommended places to explore. We heard there were few hundred stores here and thought it would be a nice place to have our breakfast in the morning.

We walked about 15 mins from the London Tube to reach Camden Market.

Anything that is colourful and bright will capture the kids’ attention. Camden High Street is lined with shoe stores, leather shops and vintage clothing and vintage vinyl.

Being a tourist attraction, do not expect to find cheap stuff here.

Finally reached the market!

The labyrinth of shops led us to various food vendors.

Craving for Asian food, Thai delicacies were just so yummy.

It didn’t take long before these furry friends were in front of us yearning for little treats. Bad idea to toss some crumbs, only to invite more of them to come.

Next to Camden Market lies the Stables Market. Over here, there were many boutiques and pop up shops.

Venturing into the narrow alleys was fun in itself as we browse through the apparels and home goods.

An interesting spot for photo-taking. We had a hard time waiting for the right moment to take pictures 🙂

The popular Pret A Manger sandwich chain that are scattered all over London. This time trying it and we ended up dining there for at least three times during our stay.

We found ourselves at Oxford Street, a major road in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch via Oxford Circus. It is the Ochard Road of Singapore and jam-packed with people everywhere we went.

Where you can find the sleek lines of Apple’s products here.

Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world and one of the world’s best-known retailers of toys. With Christmas round the corner, they were showcasing all performance to bring in the crowds.

The streets were awashed with buskers singing or playing musical instruments.

Finally we had the opportunity to take a photo here at the main Oxford street.

As night fell, we were treated to a magnificent Christmas lights extravaganza with a dazzling array of fairy lights and decorations. Everyone was soaked in the joyous mood, holiday spirit of London.

London underground station Marble ArchBond Street & Oxford Circus, Central Line, Zone 1
At Oxford Circus station you can also use Bakerloo Line and Victoria Line.

Next, we explored the Harrods. This is a department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London. It is owned by the state of Qatar and no wonder everything here was so, so expensive!

Our favourite section was the food halls on the ground floor which were the most popular departments at Harrods. This is where you can find a wide range of fine delicacies is offered in 4 huge halls.

Although items were way too expensive, the effects of Brexit weren’t felt at all. The mall was filled with so many shoppers that one would not see any spirit of recession.

To get here, look out for London underground station Knightsbridge, Piccadilly Line, Zone 1.

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London Travelogue – (Part 2): London Bridge, Borough Market and Tower Bridge

We were on the road for about 17 hours and jet lag made us woke up on and off. Not to mention our Airbnb was next to the main road and we heard at least 7 ambulance or police sirens the whole night, causing us to wonder about the safety of the neighbourhood. Taking a breather before hitting the streets.

A quiet park near our Airbnb. Will remember to collect some dry sycamore leaves back home next time to use as bookmarks.

The florists were getting already for Christmas – unboarding fresh Christmas trees.

London has an efficient bus transportation system where we could use the oyster card to hop on a straight bus to the London Bridge, our first stop of the day. Each trip is based on flat rate of $1.50. The weather was cooling at around 10 degrees but our visit to London was marred by drizzle almost everyday.

London Bridge & Tower Bridge

Both bridges are situated next to each other. A stop here would mean hitting two birds with a stone. To reach London Bridge, you should take the Tube to either London Bridge or Monument Tube Stations. Our bus ride stopped at the London Bridge terminal.

A random pop-up cafe serving brekkie.

London Bridge has actually been replaced numerous times during the history of the crossing. It doesn’t just refer to the current bridge over the River Thames joining the City of London with Southwark, it refers to all of the bridges throughout history that have spanned the Thames in this location.

The weather was erratic and we were praying that it wouldn’t rain today!

Borough Market

Borough Market is diagionally located from the London Bridge. A walk across the junction brought us to this popular market where its layout reflects its rich history, with a warren of passageways and open spaces providing atmosphere and offering shoppers some of the best bites in London.

It would be more convenient to visit Borough Market before Tower Bridge.

From Monday 4th December to the New Year, Borough Market is open seven days a week. For the rest of the year we’re open Monday to Saturday. The Market is located next to London Bridge station, which is serviced by the Jubilee and Northern lines on the London Underground and by mainline trains from all over London and the south of England.

We were surprised that the market was pretty huge. There were so many stalls and we couldn’t help but to pause now and then to try the pastries and local delicacies.

Three Crown Square, the Market’s largest trading area, is devoted to produce, including fruit and veg, meat, fish and cheese, while the spaces around the periphery offer a colourful and eclectic blend of foodstuffs from all over the world.

And so we gave in to temptation, trying out their delectable beef piled on some tasty bread. A delicious treat? Maybe. But we were cautious not to indulge too much, lest we come across other selections.

Surprising cheap finds in UK.

There’s a good argument to head over here for fish and chip. This award winning outlet has been revered for serving classic fish and chip dishes.

Just the way it should be – good, fresh ‘fish and chips food’ done right.

Who says busking is a pursuit of the down and out? This busker challenged the notion as he sang his heart out. A small tip would be well appreciated. Your trip to London will not be complete without a gluttonous trip to Borough Market.

Address: 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, UK

Tower Bridge

The iconic Tower Bridge and River Thames at the backdrop. The sight of the majestic Victorian Gothic style towers made Small M such a happy girl.

There can be no better time than to luck out at Tower Bridge in the chilly, crisp December period. Just as I was meddling with the focus, this friendly seagull hopped right up in front of my lens, clamouring for a shot!

We meandered our way past Tower Bridge and there were quirky cafes serving some of the best all-day English Breakfast with avacado and scrambled eggs on toast.

Often, we remind ourselves that we can feel a pair of sturdy reins in our hands, but at some point the horses dragging us along will scatter. We appreciate what we have while we have it. This is our first trip to London and we are loving it.

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All photos, information and opinions, unless otherwise stated, in this post belong to Katong Kids Inc. Reproducing or copying them for use on third party sites without our written permission are strictly prohibited. All rights reserved.