Thursday, September 12, 2013

The sound of silence.

Tonight, the only feelings I have toward my children are: anger, frustration, disappointment and resentment.
The kids have not been cooperative when I'm home, to say the least, but I dealt with them extremely well - I shouted at them on the top of my lungs until my maid also dare not talk to me.

I made the kids cry, but at least it made them behave for 5 minutes. 
In the first place, if they'd behaved themselves and not need me to nag 482619 times/hr, I wouldn't have resorted to screaming and cussing.

They fight over anything and everything!
They fight over a peach cut in half - which half do they want??! The one that the other sibling is having, duhh!
They fight over toys and they fight over whatever item the opposition is holding. Even an ubiquitous piece of Lego brick.

When it came to time for bed, both of them start tossing and rolling, and suddenly one child starts wanting milk, so I exit the room, and both kids start following me all the way to kitchen. I make milk, and chase Adam back into room while carrying Ashton.
Only this time, the other child wants milk.
Cycle repeats.

It must be some universal Law of Physics that children don't sleep and get a kick of sucking every ounce of their parents' energy.

If they are gonna behave like this for the next 2 years, I think I might have to rehome them.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Megan's 1st Birthday

Wet weather has started here in Singapore which means our usual Sunday morning swimming lessons are shelved.
What to do with kids who are stuck indoors with ants in their pants?
Playing with bubbles! And staining the whole house with sticky bubbly soap in the process. Yay!

Until it's time for Megan's party of course!

At Megan's.

Ashton and Megan the birthday girl.

"I'd much rather inherit wealth than myopia"

It's getting harder to take a decent photo of Adam!

Thanks for having us, Adam and Ashton had a fantastic time playing with all your toys.

You know age is catching up on you when instead of being invited to weddings and hen nights, you get invited to babies' birthdays and showers.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ashton turned ONE!

Our last baby turned one. My baby is rockin' ONE year old!
When I first started producing my debut pink, squirmy little thing called a baby, I was only 25.
Now, I am 30 years old and my second born is ONE.

I remember when I had Adam, I was thrown into a world of uncertainty. Suddenly I was to become a Mom but I knew nuts about the world. I hadn't travelled the world enough. Heck, I hadn't even been out of Asia! I had to shelf my plan to do my Degree, we hadn't even applied for our first home, and among many other things, I was green in more ways than one.

I simply "went along with the flow" of things back then. Because my pregnancy with Adam was a complete surprise, I wasn't prepared at all.
When he was born, I was still staying with my in-laws because we only managed to apply for our own home somewhere in my last trimester when I was heavily pregnant and our home wouldn't be ready for the next few years.
So I delivered Adam, and did my confinement at my in-laws'.
My MIL cooked for me and did the washing and laundry. She had zero experience with using the steriliser, the correct way to hold a bottle, or how to use the bottle warmer. She had a thing about warming it too hot and made me paranoid about "killing the good stuff" because she said cold milk makes a baby colicky.
She thought my breastmilk was diluted and not feeding Adam enough.
She didn't allow me to bathe initially so I had to sneakily take a quick shower with the running tap when she was doing her marketing in the mornings.
She spent hours at the market on the day the cot was to be delivered (because Adam arrived at my Week-37 and we had to amend the delivery schedule ASAP as Andy spent the previous few nights sleeping on the floor. See, inexperience!). When the delivery man came to deliver our cot, I was breastfeeding a hungry Adam and was nearly naked on the top, fumbling with my latching techniques and a squirmy newborn, in front of a male stranger no less. The person who was supposed to help me with my confinement was nowhere in sight. Neither was the 50% shareholder who contributed his sperm to create our baby.
My in-laws' place is run-down and they don't have air-conditioning because they are afraid of rheumatism. I had to make do with a small rotating ceiling fan in Andy's room. 1 cot, 1 queen-sized bed, 2 dogs and 3 humans all in a tiny bedroom.
I had not washed my hair in 12 days. No wonder married couples with kids do not have sex.

Fast forward 3 years later, Ashton was born.
It was a much, much more pleasant experience this time round.
I was armed with experience and a "don't F with me I've been there, done that" attitude.
I specified that I did not appreciate visitors to my residence during my confinement as I wanted to recuperate after my 2nd-time Csect. If people had to visit, please arrange with us beforehand so we could anticipate them and make arrangements for my rest.
Most importantly, I also had my maid and MIL helping me out with the chores, cooking and child-minding.
This time round, I was treated like a Queen and it felt fabulous.
Everything went like clockwork - breakfast, rest, lunch, herbal bath, rest, dinner, rest.
I enjoyed my last birth very much and the pleasant experience made me enjoy my children to the max of my capacity.
It's not that I do not love Adam, I just did not enjoy the baby-bearing experience first time round since I was living with my in-laws till Adam was 2.

Ashton is my special baby.
With him, I take things very slowly because I just want to savour every parenting moment.
I'm not bothered about when he starts rolling over, teething, sitting etc. I know eventually he will get there.
I felt like he was meant to be in my life because he kind of balances everything.
He is the polar opposite of Adam! That is how the balance comes about.
As I said it before and will always say, Ashton is an easy baby. The type to feed and sleep and not fuss much.
He is extremely sticky to me.
He breastfed like a champ since Day 1.
He is quiet and reserved but he observes and is very much in tune.
He let everyone at his party carry him about and did not fuss or cry or even whine one bit. He is such a star.
He is our last baby and I want him to be a baby forever.


Ashton's awesome 3.5kg cake from Sweet Perfection.

We booked the entire of Peekaboo indoor playground at Kallang Leisure Park that evening and received about 80 guests.
Thanks to all our relatives and friends who made time to attend Ashton's birthday party, even though Kallang Leisure Park may be quite inaccessible to some.
Really appreciate all your time and effort!
P.S. Will share photos of Ashton's party when I get them from the photographer :)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Straits Times feature.

Hello peeps :) I was recently interviewed by Straits Times and featured on Sunday Life!.
The article talked about play and how parents viewed playing with children, as more and more parents are sucked into the notion of work-home-sleep-work and spending less time with their children.
Also, it is becoming a common thing that children as young as 3 years old or even 2.5 years old are sent to enrichment classes on weekends instead of doing stuff like building sandcastles on the beach, or simply just spending time playing with their siblings and parents. 

 Not long ago, a worried Mum posted on The New Age Parents board asking for advise on her child going for phonics enrichment classes. She asked whether enrichment classes would improve her child in terms of phonics and language skills.
I replied that what was her purpose of sending her child to enrichment class? Was he/she having problems in school? And to gauge a child's improvement, she should compare him or her knowledge level before attending enrichment classes VS after enrichment classes see if those enrichment classes are benefiting her child, and not compare Child A with Child B of the same age on their knowledge levels.

The topic of enrichment classes are discussed to death on every parenting board, and anyway, here's the article:

Interestingly, when I said I look for the brands of toys, I actually meant I prefer buying from established brands which are safe for my kids, ie. using toxic-free paint or will not have brittle parts which fall apart easily.
And yes, I am rather fussy in the selection of toys I buy for the kids (I'm actually fussy in many other aspects as well). They must be value for money (best if on sale), yet be reasonably good quality and preferably serve a purpose (teach hand-eye coordination and the above as I was quoted verbatim in the article).

That said, there are certainly some things which no toy can substitute in a child's life, such as bonding time with his or her family.

Playtimes like these do not cost a thing, are not "branded", but make family togetherness.

Would like to share an article written by another Mum, who blogs at A Magical Childhood:

What should a 4 year old know?
I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.
Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.
It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.
So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.
    1. She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
    2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
    3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.
    4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he couldn’t care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.
    5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.
But more important, here’s what parents need to know.
    1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
    2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
    3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.
    4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.
    5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.
And now back to those 4 year old skills lists…..
I know it’s human nature to want to know how our children compare to others and to want to make sure we’re doing all we can for them. Here is a list of what children are typically taught or should know by the end of each year of school, starting with preschool.
Since we homeschool, I occasionally print out the lists and check to see if there’s anything glaringly absent in what my kids know. So far there hasn’t been, but I get ideas sometimes for subjects to think up games about or books to check out from the library. Whether you homeschool or not, the lists can be useful to see what kids typically learn each year and can be reassuring that they really are doing fine.
If there are areas where it seems your child is lacking, realize that it’s not an indication of failure for either you or your child. You just haven’t happened to cover that. Kids will learn whatever they’re exposed to, and the idea that they all need to know these 15 things at this precise age is rather silly. Still, if you want him to have those subjects covered then just work it into life and play with the subject and he’ll naturally pick it up. Count to 60 when you’re mixing a cake and he’ll pick up his numbers. Get fun books from the library about space or the alphabet. Experiment with everything from backyard snow to celery stalks in food coloring. It’ll all happen naturally, with much more fun and much less pressure.
My favorite advice about preschoolers is on this site though.
What does a 4 year old need?
Much less than we realize, and much more.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

whadda Sunday.

Adam started limping yesterday, and God knows if it was from Ashton's birthday party, or from the previous evening when we dropped him off at Peekaboo indoor playground for 2 hours while we ran our party errands.
Whatever it is, it sure is worrying, so I asked my MIL to come over and bring us to the Chinese sinsei nearest to home.
At the Chinese sinsei, he palpated and rotated and pulled and kneaded but Adam was unable to verbalise what was wrong, so we were advised to go to the A&E department to have his leg checked out.
Went back to my in-law's place with the kids, and got Andy to come over and fetch Adam & I while Ashton was left in the care of my MIL.
At KKH A&E.....
Parents: People like us with nothing better to do on a Sunday noon and think there's no better way to spend it than waiting for hours at the A&E department.

3 hours, lots of questioning and several X-rays later.....

Poor boy now has his leg in a cast. We have to return to the hospital next week for his Orthopaedic appointment.
By the time we are done with appointments and meds, it was already 4PM.
I have spent the past 5 hours shuttling around in nothing but a raggedy T-shirt, shorts and messy hair.
Sans makeup and lunch.
What a major parenting milestone today. Plus 200 parenting points.

Friday, August 23, 2013

My mundane yet crazy days.

Early morning activity: waiting for the school bus with Adam.
Compared to his previous school, he is happy and enthusiastic to go to school every morning as there are different programs for the kids, and of course the shorter hours.

I'm carrying Ashton while waiting for the bus with Adam. Life of a mum - hands are always full.

Once back home, need to settle Ashton's breakfast and bath. After that, LAUNDRY.
After this pile gets folded and packed nicely into the cabinets, another pail is waiting in the utility kitchen. Gasp!

Play-room before: It looks like a toy shop exploded in here.
Toys strewn everywhere - living room, on the coffee table, in the balcony.........
Have to sort and keep the toys for easy finding.
Broken limbs need fixing and dead batteries need replacing.
The other night, I stepped on a Lego brick and almost slipped. ZzzzzZzz

Play-room after.
Other things on the list:
Ashton has a hacking cough, needs a trip to the paediatrician.
School bus drops Adam off at 12:30pm.
Lunch beckons.
Nap time for the kids.
Bottles to wash and sterilise before Ashton wakes up and takes another feed.
Mop floors otherwise baby crawls and eats hair or dirt from the ground.
Puts bucket of laundry into washer (clothes in my home are washed separately according to Hubby's / mine/ kids/ bedsheets).
Takes a much-warranted shower while waiting for laundry to be done.
Children wake up.
... the list goes on ....
So you see, 24 hours is hardly enough for SAHMs.
Doing this for short term or once in a while, I can handle... But if scrubbing and washing is all I do day in, day out, then I'd rather work.
I don't buy the "I work to spend time / I work for passion" bull-balls. 
If you really want to spend time, there are loads of stuff to do as a mum on any given time of the day.
If you are working for passion, I find it even harder to believe it.
I have passion for many things, be it bags, shopping, playing with the kids, photography, blogging, going to the library.... anything but work; anything but waking up to an alarm every morning; anything but having to deal with stupid people and workplace politics. I definitely do not have passion for such things related to w o r k.
Everyone works for $$$. Mums especially. Children are expensive to have.
If you would like to be able to afford holidays every year with your family, to buy nicer stuff for yourself and your kids, to afford enrichment classes, to eat at nicer places once in a while, then you have to work for it.
Just always remind yourself - nothing good in life comes easy.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Our family Hong Kong trip: Michelin-star eateries.

Ming Court: 2 Michelin-star Chinese restaurant.
Level 6, Langham Place Hotel Hong Kong, 555 Shanghai Street, Mong Kok.
If you are looking for a nice sit-down restaurant to try contemporary Chinese food, you may consider going to Ming Court.
The items on the menu are special, and not arm-breaking expensive.
For our table of 5 adults, we ordered 5 dishes with some complimentary dim sum, which amounted to about SGD$200.
For a Michelin-star experience, I think it is still Ok.

Tim Ho Wan
Shop G72A & B, Ground floor, Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Mong Kok.
+852 23322896
It is actually outside of the Olympian City building, so if you're at this main entrance, go into the mall, turn left (you will see G2000 and Mango), exit the door all the way straight, and turn right.

Only a short queue with fellow Singaporeans. We waited for only 20 minutes on a Sunday noon, compared to the 3-hour wait back in Singapore.
We never bothered queuing for Tim Ho Wan in Singapore, so I can't compare the food.

Tim Ho Wan is just a 10 minutes' walk away from our hotel.
If you're in HK, you have to stay at Langham Place! It is so convenient!
Leaf-wrapped glutinous rice with chicken.

Char siew bo lo pau. Soooooo nice that we ordered another serving.

Osmanthus jelly: a slightly sweet, light taste about it.

Other Tim Ho Wan branches:
Ground floor, 9-77 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po.
+852 27881226

Shop 12A, Level 1, Hong Kong Station, HK.
+852 23323078

Shop B, C, D, Ground floor, Sea View Building, No 2-8 Wharf Road, North Point, HK.
+852 29795608
 Ok this is the final instalment of our HK trip.
Hope you enjoyed reading it and found our guide useful if you plan on visiting HK :)