Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My week as a SAHM: Adam's new Nursery and maid updates.

I'm on leave this week - Yay!
Adam starts Nursery in his new school this month, so I decided to be with him the first couple of days.
This is our daily routine:
6AM: Wake up and get myself ready for the day.

6:30M: Ashton wakes up for milk.

7:30AM: Wakes sleepyhead Adam up to wash up and get changed into his uniform.
 7:50AM: Waits for school bus downstairs. Needs to hold Mummy's hand before boarding bus.
Love my Mama's boy so much!
8:15AM: The kids reach school. I arrived early on my own to wait for him since I'm not allowed onto the kiddy bus.
This is the canteen where the kids have tea break at 9:15AM - 9:30AM.
 8:30AM: Assembly and into their classrooms they go. This is their courtyard and classroom area.
Different classes take turns at the playground.
They have such large premises!
Surprise, surprise!! From my Facebook status, I found out my cousin's daughter, Noelle, is studying in the same school! But in another class in Pre-N.
Such coincidence! These are my cousin's lovely girls Noelle(3) and Nellie(2).

And since she's not working at the moment, we went for breakfast at Changi City Point la kopi and chatted for hours about our maids/ husbands/ children, while I whatsapped my Aunt about it.
Aunty-ism runs in my family.

My pretty cousin and my niece Nellie!
After school, Adam reaches home at 12:30PM. He has his lunch, drinks milk and watches his iPad, then naps for 2-3 hours.
During this time, if I'm lucky, both kids are asleep and I get to do my blogging / reading etc.
In the evening, we go to the nearby playground:
Ashton #likeaboss. Dig ears and kar-kui kui, watching his brother play.

Back home, at about 9PM, the kids play a bit before bed. By 10PM, I chase them into their room as I'm quite ready to collapse.
By the way, as I was telling you about the topic of my Indonesian maid in the previous post, she dropped the bombshell that she does not intend to extend her work permit and that she would like to go back.
Her WP is due to expire by 31st July 2013.
That leaves us less than a month to have the admin sorted out - closing her bank account and getting them to stop sending her statements to our residence, booking her flight, cancelling her WP, asking our agent to find a replacement maid, etc.
Andy & I browsed through several Biodata but have yet to come across anyone suitable (1 Burmese is a Bach of Arts holder but English is rated poor; the others are either asking too much or do not fit our criteria).
All new candidates request for 2 days off per month. Weekends are the busiest period for us and without the help on 2 out of 4 weekends, it defeats the purpose of my hiring a maid really.
Bottom line: It's hard to get good help these days!

So here I am, stranded with 2 under 5 and still very much holding my full-time job.
Thankfully, Andy & I are alike in many ways. We share the same attitudes toward finances, holiday choices, and most other things in life.
He's Ok with me either decision I make - and I intend to go maid-less for the time being and enjoy some of the privacy we lost over the past year. Until we throw in the towel, that is.
It sure feels great not having an extra mouth to feed/ person to clothe/ pay $600 per month for.
The only downside is: we get no babysitter when out for meals with family & friends. A bit overwhelming when both kids demand attention at the same time!
Let's see how long we can go maid-less.
To all the working Mums out there managing your household without a helper, you rock!
I would also love to hear tips from you.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Doing our share to preserve our Earth for our children.

When you're a Mom and you keep reading about pollution, man-made disasters, war and animals nearing extinction due to over-hunting for ignorant use of their parts, you start worrying for your children's future.
Recently, the Indonesian forest fires sent our Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) soaring to 400, sending our people into a mask-buying frenzy.
My family & I walked around in masks and I was worried how long the haze would last.
Relatives and friends approached us for masks because firstly, pharmacies and shops ran out of them, then there were unethical people hoarding masks and re-selling them at atrocious prices. Which made me realise, in times of adversity, you know how strong a nation is by the way her people react.
Countless animals died and their homes were destroyed forever.
This photo made me want to cry.
Did you know that in our home, only food waste and diapers make up our trash?

Everything else is recycled - boxes, empty cartons, plastic, paper, glass bottles, so on and so forth.

We also use biodegradable and natural products as much as possible, from washing liquids to our shampoo and bath soap.

We also do not subscribe to any newspaper or magazine subscription because we are seldom home and we prefer to read the news online.
Here are a list of other things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint:
- Switch off the power mains of whatever electronic device you are not using. By doing this, you are also saving on your electricity bills.
- Bring your own reusable bags when you do your marketing/ shopping. Nowadays, many places sell reusable bags which fold up nicely like these that I have, so you can easily dump them into your bag.
- Use recycled plastic bottles and paper.
- Look out for the sign when you purchase things from the supermarket:
- Choose energy-saving light bulbs and electric appliances such as air-conditioner, refrigerator, and washing-machine. Use LED bulbs and look for the number of ticks on your appliances:

- Use a napkin and fabric bib at meal times instead of tissue paper and wet wipes to clean up after your children.
- Don't leave the shower running when you are applying soap or shampoo.
- Adjust the temperature to about 18-degrees when you turn on the air-con, otherwise, use a fan.
- Do you know that vinegar and sodium bicarbonate is an effective and natural way of cleaning stains in your home, as compared to harsh chemicals and detergents?
I've used this home-made formula ever since I had a Sheltie with chronic skin problems.

- This is a simple but important principle which I learned from Nursing school: Clean to dirty.
Always do the clean things followed by the dirty things is not only hygienic but also reduces the need for excess use of soap and water.
Eg. Clean the mouth after feeding, then change a diaper. Clean the milk bottles (clean) then use the detergent to wash pots/plates/utensils (dirty).
Mop the cleaner part of a house first and any dust or spills last: this way you don't have to wash and re-wash your mop or cloth several times as in if you cleaned the dirty parts first.
My aim of using organic and earth-friendly products is very simple: I love our Mother Earth for all she has given me and want to preserve her for our future generations to enjoy.
Do your part today and do not destroy our children's future.



Cousin Sebastian's 1st Birthday!

 If you live in a huge family like ours, birthdays and gatherings are a big thing!
Hubby's nephew (Hub's cousin's son) celebrated his 1st birthday last Sunday at NSRCC.
Mickey Mouse themed party, much to the delight of Adam!

So much effort in the party set-up.

Birthday boy Sebastian with Cousin Cindy and her Hubby.

Difficult to get a decent photo with children! They either don't smile or don't look at the camera.

My rascals with the life-sized Mickey balloon.

Self-made gift favours. I love DIY favours, adds a personal touch for the guests!

Having thrown countless parties for my own kids, I know how tiring it is to put a party together: the guest list, the venue, the caterer, small but important details like will the guests have enough seats, general age group of guests, most importantly,who bakes the CAKE! Geez...
I'm now having mental checklists about Ashton's party already! Stress.
Thanks for inviting us, Cindy!
May Sebastian be blessed with good health and always be a joy to your lives.

Friday, June 28, 2013

VIP Private launch of VW GTI + Magazine feature.

Heya everyone! Hubby & I were among the first in Singapore and the whole of Asia Pacific to experience the launch of the all NEW Volkswagen mk7 GTI.

Come join us in the experience!
The guests had complimentary car wash service while having our dinners.

A fiercer, more powerful little machine with lots of new technology!

Who can resist the smell of leather in a new car!

The VIP launch dinner.

Buffet by The Regent hotel with their Italian Chef.

The husband chatting with Ting (one of the event staff) about the differences of mk6 and mk7 GTI.

Afterward, there was a talk and movie about the new GTI before dinner proper.

We were extremely privileged to be seated with Mr Steffen Schwarz, MD of VW.

Grand Turismo Injection.

My outfit for the night:
White CELINE tee from
Boyfriend jeans from Levis
Alexander McQueen scarf
Ferragamo black patent Varinas
Hermes Lindy 34.

By the way, I was photographed by the talented Joel Tam and will be featured in the July issue of Volks Mag.

Behind the scenes.

The magazine feature:

To read the full article, click HERE.

Thanks to VW Singapore for the magnificent experience. Special thanks to Dawn, Ting, Colin and the entire staff who took such great care of us during the event.

It has been such a privilege.

Do hop on to any of the Volkswagen Centre in Alexandra or MacPherson to test drive the new GTI this weekend :)

Indonesian maid passport and work permit renewal

It's been a year since our helper, Dwi, has been with us. How time flies!
I recently had her Work Permit and passport renewed, so if your Indonesian maid's passport needs renewal, here are the steps you need to undertake:

1) Prepare photocopies of the following: your NRIC front & back, your maid's WP front & back, and her current passport's first and last 2 pages.

2) Go to Indonesian Embassy at Chatsworth Road near Gleneagles Hospital.
Embassy opening hours: 09:00AM - 12:00PM Mondays to Fridays.
You must be dressed in proper attire: no flip flops, no singlet or camisole, no shorts and bermudas.

3) Take Q number inside the embassy first, the rest can wait.
Then fill up the Passport renewal form while waiting for your turn. If you forgot items in Point 1, take this waiting time to go and get these photocopied at SGD$1.
We arrived at 9:30am and our Q was already 40. The counter was serving Q12.

4) After you have submitted the necessary documents at the counter, you will be issued a payment slip of $35 for your maid's passport renewal.

5) Your maid will then be called by name into their office to take her photograph.

6) Proceed to Level 2 for an interview (you and your helper will be interviewed by one of the Embassy staff) where you will talk about her new contract terms. According to MOM and the Indonesian Embassy, wef Jan 2013, all Indonesian helpers must be entitled 1 day off per week.
After discussion at the interview, Dwi's new contract states her salary as $450 per month (up from $420), and 1 day off a month (as per her current contract).

7) Your helper's new passport will be ready in 3 days' time.

We arrived at 9:30AM and was done at 11:30AM.

Dwi came to us as a transfer maid so although the standard contract states 2 years, hers was only 1 year. That is the reason why we have to get her documents renewed after her working 1 year with us.
Work-wise, I think Dwi is still considered above-average.
- She is clean in her work and honest.
- We can put our wallets lying around the tables and not worry that our money will go missing.
- She washes her hands before handling the kids.
- She can cook and follows instructions well.

However, according to my MIL, whenever they go to the market (when Andy & I are at work), when she speaks to other helpers or people they meet at the market, she would tell them she's going home next year (at the end of her 2 years contract with us).
I think she misses her home because by the end of her contract with me, she would have been working in Singapore for close to 4 years without any home leave (because of her Transfer status).
So if she wants to go home, I have to let her go. And my problem of maid-searching and shortlisting will begin.
Maids. Most of us can't stand them, but more of us can't do without them either.

By the way, *someone* woke up bright and early and insisted on putting on his gawky Angry Birds YELLOW cap with his Spiderman sunnies and his matching BLUE Mickey Mouse slippers (all accessories bought by different Grandparents. Dohh).

 When we got to the Embassy, it became apparent that he must've heard me mentioning to Dwi and Andy in passing about "passport", because he kept asking if we are boarding the plane yet.
Are we boarding the plane yet?? Er hello dear son, why you so cute one?!