Parenting Doesn’t Get Easier, Does It?

No matter how much literature and advice you can find out there on parenting, nothing prepares us fully.  Not even when you have gone through the same thing before. Of course it helps being a second time parent but no kids are identical, even when they are from the same “factory”!

Well, here are the most noticeable differences between my two boys up to this point:

  • Gor Gor J did not go through any terrible two (ok, maybe he had a not-so-terrible five?) but it turned out that this terrible two thingy is not an urban legend at all!  Baby J is showing me everything he has up his sleeves and I finally get a taste of it.
  • Eczema!!! That is right on top of my stress list right now.  Gor Gor J has flawless skin (almost) from toddlerhood till now. Poor Baby J is not as blessed.  More on that in separate posts as that is complicated business I must say.
  • TV time was a rare treat for Gor Gor J through toddlerhood and I wouldn’t even call it a treat because he didn’t quite enjoy it, save for a couple of Thomas and Friends DVD episodes.  And so I don’t remember him asking for any screen time and most often than not, we had to “convince” him to watch something so that we can go about our chores without having to entertain him!  Well, it is quite the opposite for Baby J as he thrives on his daily dose of YouTube videos on TV.  Gor Gor J seems to be a late boomer and has recently because of his younger brother, fallen in love with the same.  Every night, we would witness two crazy boys singing and dancing (more like hopping) to some very queer children songs.
  • I am beginning to suspect a lose link between bowel movements and personality.  Gor Gor J has always been a shy and reserved kid (he still is) and up till he was around 4 years old, he rarely pooped. And by rarely, I mean once every 4-5 days and on a few occasions, it was declared as a family crisis when we saw no signs of poo-ing for the entire week!  On the other hand, Baby J is a relatively talkative and sociable fellow who is generous with his words and hugs. The thing is… he poops daily. And should he missed doing so one day, he will pay it back twice the next day.  Someone should seriously consider conducting a clinical study on this relationship.
  • Bedtime used to be just putting one kid to sleep with a few lullaby and some cuddling, even if it might take a while.  Now, it is like going to war in semi darkness every night.  Both boys will be fighting for:
    • which book/s to be read
    • my hands to hold (thank goodness I have two)
    • the same pillow/s
    • who do I turn to face
    • which lullaby to sing or NOT to sing

And just when I sensed silence and a glimpse of hope to escape back into my room, one of them might just make a sound and many things have to start all over.

No, parenting doesn’t get easier.

It does get more interesting though 🙂

Writing Hiatus

I knew I haven’t been here for a while but didn’t realise it was for such a long while until!
When one is preoccupied with stuff, hours turned into days and days into weeks and weeks into months. Just like that.
I am back not because those preoccupations vanished. I am back because I nearly forgotten how this space served as my sanctuary.
Yes, I am back for some much needed sanity.

How Has Motherhood Changed Me

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Just the other day when I was driving both my boys, the typical squabbling and whining started building up.  It didn’t help that we were crawling through super slow traffic under the glaring afternoon sun.  It sounded like the entire car was going to explode and so did my head.  Instead of screaming at the top of my lungs, I decided against it at the last moment (maybe some of the parenting tips that flood the social media finally got to me?) and took a deep breath instead.

Moments after that, the unbearable noise suddenly sound distant in the background and I was locked in my own thoughts… how has becoming a mother changed me?  For better or worse, I think I have sensed the following changes in me.

I curse and swear less

Yes, at least I believe so. I used to do that quite a lot especially when faced with idiotic drivers on the road.  Or… unless idiotic drivers have dwindled in numbers over the years miraculously??

Driving Behaviour 

While we are on the topic of driving. I drive much slower (or rather more careful) now. I used to love getting ahead on the fastest lane on the expressway but now I feel more secured being in the middle lane.  And I am now indifferent to dirty looks when I take my own sweet time to load kids AND bags into the car.  I used to be the one giving dirty looks to others 🙂

My Skin

Motherhood or not, we women would always pay attention to our skin as we age.  Before kids, I had mainly makeup on my face.  These days, sunblock dominate my face.  With all the hours spent at the pool and driving around in this crazy weather, sunblock has become my new best friend.  In fact, I have just started applying them on my arms now before heading out everyday.

My Shoes

Anyone would have guessed.  Like many other mummies, killer heels and stilettos are a thing of the past, unless your life revolves around red carpets.  Flats and wedges are now a no-brainer for me.  So what if I no longer have seemingly longer legs and appealing posture. The last thing I want is to twist my ankles while chasing after my toddler or while wrestling with him.

The above are just a few superficial stuff that came to my mind but really, I find myself wanting to be a better person on the whole.  Because of my boys, I am eating better, speaking better and behaving better. Don’t misunderstand, I am not a delinquent! By behaving better, I mean I am striving to be more civic-minded and kind.  Most of all, I am constantly reminding myself to have more positive energy around my boys.

Being a mother is a magical thing isn’t it 🙂

 

Danang, Vietnam (Part 1) – An Educational and Fun Trip for The Family

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All our previous overseas trips with the boys so far involved moving around in trains, domestic flights, checking in and out of accommodations, long days packed with visits to places of interest.  In short, demanding itineraries for kids (and even more so for us parents!)

So when my girlfriend suggested we go for a “relaxing” short trip with the kids this March holiday, I was all for it.

Just exactly how “relaxing” was it?

Well, first of all it was a short flight of less than 3 hours.  So just when Baby J was about to start getting really restless, it was time to land.

Then, it was a short ride to the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa where we happily checked into a huge suite (came with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms!).  The view was just so peaceful that even the screaming kids around us didn’t bother us much 🙂

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For this 5-day trip, we only planned for three half-day activities (which I would cover in a while) and we just spent the rest of our time chilling and fooling around at the pool, the kids club, the beach and even just in the suite!  The pace turned out well that the kids didn’t have to be rushed from one thing to another.

The highlight of the trip would have to be the Rice Farming Trip which was booked through Jack Trans Eco Tour. It offered us an amazing half day experience, learning about and trying out for ourselves every step of rice farming.  The morning started with us biking from the meeting point right to the paddy fields.  It was a shame that I couldn’t get started with the bike with Gor Gor J behind… I guess I lacked the practice and confidence of a 20KG human load on the roads 😦  The blessing in disguise was that both of us ended up on a scooter which sort of made it up for Gor Gor J’s initial disappointment.

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So here was us right at the end of the pack, relaxing while poor daddy and my girlfriend paddled really hard for a few Kilometers.  I felt very much like part of some old time Taiwanese movie at the back of a scooter with wind in my hair and face looking on to a countryside scenery like this.

Along the way, some very cute ducklings were spotted.  Yes, I have seen full grown ducks before but these little cuties were something else. They were so fun to watch.

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And here comes the star of the day – Mr Buffalo!  We all took turns to ride on it and I must say I felt like a child all over again.  All the kids were slightly apprehensive at first but ended up loving every part of it!

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Once we were warmed up to Mr Buffalo and the sloshy and squanchy mud, it was an intensive hands on experience of rice farming from ploughing and water irrigation to harvesting and threshing.  It even ended with some cooking and a fantastic lunch.

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This photo reminded me of a song I learnt when I was little. “Planting rice is never fun, bent from morn till the set of sun, cannot stand cannot sit, cannot rest for a little bit…” How true after understanding more about all the hard work rice farmers need to go through… but at least for this morning of valuable learning experience, it definitely spelt fun for all of us. You can tell from the beaming smiles!

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For the rest of the trip when we were not out and about, the kids still managed to have many fun moments within the resort itself.

Each day we passed by this rock wall, the kids must have a go at it and I must say they always outdo themselves, dong better than their last attempts.  Look at these little climbers!

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Oh… and the pool was a gem with a spiral slide and an area of sand play.  Many hours were spent soaking in the sun and amusing ourselves with silly little acts and games. Here is one of our favourite shot of Gor Gor J splashing in action.

danang_8And one of the mornings, we decided to explore the beach.  We were drawn by the rhythmic waves and peaceful coastline.  The kids had so much fun attempting many different stunts and sand structures that when it was time to leave, everyone was feeling reluctant to do so.

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Danang is definitely a worthy destination for a short family trip or even a getaway with friends. It offers a good balance of “chillax”, educational and cultural experience and also tantalising local cuisine! I shall cover the yummy food we had in a separate post.

Till then.

Cảm ơn

Our Kids Can Be Our Best Teachers

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It was a disappointing night at the pool after Gor Gor J missed his upgrading timing by a mere 2 seconds.

He was unusually quiet after a typical time trial, barely touched his dinner and only wanted to hit the bed the moment we reached home although it was a Friday night.  Friday nights are always about plants vs zombies and chit chats.  None of that happened.  I guess besides being upset  with himself, it didn’t help that we failed to hide our own emotions well.  He could sense our disappointment too.  He is after all, our sensitive son.

To be honest, I was slightly mad initially.  He trained hard and had a fantastic chance of making the timing according to his coach.  However, he forgot to tighten his swimming trunks after going to the toilet just before his event.  And so the moment he dived in, his trucks slipped to his thighs, revealing his butt.

After he went to bed, I started to reflect and felt so ashamed of how I felt and handled the situation.

I kept harping on the fact that he should have been more self aware and took care of simple and intuitive things like tying back his trunks after taking a pee.   I totally failed to see how he remained so committed to complete the race while dragging his trucks along.  He knew that should he pull or so much as to touch his trunks during the race, he would have been disqualified.  And so he bore with the heavy burden,  both physically and mentally, and finished what he set out to do.

My disappointment turned into pride.  I realised I am actually very proud that my son, not even 7 yet, managed to stay resilient in the face of adversity.

I then wrote him a little love note to praise and encourage him for his positive attitude.  I pasted that on his bathroom mirror so that he could see it first thing the next morning.

And the next day, he started to smile again 🙂

I have learnt a very important lesson from you Gor Gor J.

Love you always…

 

 

 

 

Turning 40

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It took me longer than usual to get started and to complete this particular post.  And it is not even a lengthy one.

Somehow I felt that since I am trying to pen down my thoughts on turning 40, I might as well use this opportunity to take stock of my life so far and envision where it might go from this point on.  While attempting to do so, I unknowingly slipped into reminiscence, giving rise to many long pauses in between and constantly wondering if my life would have turned out better or worse if I had made certain decisions differently along the way.

To a large extent, it reminds me of a movie long time ago titled “Sliding Doors” by Gyyneth Paltrow, where even an apparently trivia event that took place might have altered the path for us in a way which we would never expect or discover.  The ending scene, however, suggested that regardless the path that was taken, life has a magical way of taking care of itself to bring us back to where we rightfully belong.

I am sure many would agree that such thoughts are pointless since what’s done cannot be undone and furthermore, there is no way to find out.  However, indulging in such thoughts at a time like this actually makes me realise even more how much I appreciate and treasure what I have now.

Looking back, I do think I deserve a little pat on my back for always wanting to put my best foot forward in all that I do.  Perhaps the bits of regrets I have here and there are not doing the things I have wanted to do earlier enough. In another words, I used to procrastinate a fair bit, especially in my teens and early twenties.  If I ask myself why that was so,  I can honestly say that it was due to a lack of confidence to take on bigger and more challenging things.  I guess I had an underlying fear of failure and the opinions of others mattered too much for my own good.

That slowly changed as I get to see more, know more and do more.  People around me played a big part in shaping who I am and I feel lucky to have them in my life.  It is not about how many friends you have or how popular you are.  It is really about how much you matter in one another’s life and how positively you influence one another.  For that, I count my blessings.

The big 4 is a scary term. No matter what everyone says about 40s being the new 30s (I think it is probably the only nice thing you can utter to someone turning 40), I can’t deny that four decades have passed and that IS a long time in human life. If I am lucky, I am still about half way there. Otherwise, most of my years have gone by already.  Negative it may sound but a fact IS a fact 🙂

I recently told my eldest son that TIME is the only thing that cannot be recovered in this world so don’t waste it.  Living life to the fullest can easily be the only motto we need in life! While this is so true no matter which stage of life we are in, it becomes even more so as my biological clock is clicking away silently in the background.

The past month have been full of celebrations when we cheered to the new year and to birthdays. Once the merry making slows down, I must not forget what I have promised myself to do, which is to never stop trying to be a better mother, a better wife, a better daughter, a better friend and a better person!

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An Eventful Week

The past week felt like one of the longest one in my life.  Not because it was dreadful or anything like that.  It was one that exploded with excitement … alongside with exhaustion.

Both my boys embarked on their major schooling milestones.

Gor Gor J began his Primary School journey which was what many of us joked about as “starting real school” 🙂  Back in K2 days we could sashay into the school gate anytime before 9am and sashay home without any homework.  Now, waking up while the sky is still dark is no fun at all… for BOTH of us!

Baby J joined in the “fun” and started with Pre-School this week, spending a full day there.  We are still adjusting to the quiet mornings around the house.  Not being toilet trained yet and with an extremely limited vocabulary, coupled with a highly stubborn character, I can only wish the teachers in his toddlers’ class best of luck.

Here are my two happy troopers.

This one couldn’t be happier to be going home finally after a long day in school.

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This one was just plain exhilarated to discover school provides several meals a day!

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And as if waking up in the dark and spending a good part of my day chauffeuring around (easily 6 to 8 times up and down the expressways) was not enough, this past week also marked my own birthday and my best friend’s birthday.  Birthdays are usually not much of a deal but this year we turn 40!  Yes, BIG 4-0!

There was much to be prepared for a surprise 40 birthday bash for my pal and the party had to be on the FIRST school night!  It was extremely fun and memorable, except that many of us (parents!) had to deal with eye bags and dark circles the next morning.  Then came the LAST school night that I could finally just plop into bed after a long week of sleep deprivation. Alas! The same pal decided to take her “revenge”.   She appeared at my doorsteps at midnight with hubby and cake in toll when I was already in bed.  Needless to say, that night ended at close to 3am

And finally over the weekend, in between Gor Gor J’s classes, I survived one birthday lunch and two birthday dinners before a new school week landed on my heavy eyelids once again.

Don’t be mistaken.  I am not complaining. How can I? If only every week can be so eventful and filled with so many wonderful moments.  I am feeling so blessed.

I just need to get more tea and… perhaps a power nap today 🙂

 

 

WhatsApp Gets Emotional

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This past week has been crazy on WhatsApp.

I don’t think I have received as many messages in a month as last week alone.  My phone was flooded, or rather, I was.

As I switched between the various chat groups, I realised it was very tricky to toggle my emotions accordingly… to a point of having to type and re-type many of my responses in the most unnatural manner.

Of course there were the many chats discussing about dates, venue, food and presents for parties after parties during this festive season. These were typical happy chats in a joyous mood.

And there were farewell chats among parents from the pre-school which were sweet goodbyes.

Then there were chats among parents from the Primary school whom I have not even met about everything from book wrappers, pocket money to school bus schedules.  Interesting and intensive exchange of information that built up the anticipation for the Primary school journey about to be embarked on.

On the other end of the spectrum, chats about an old friend being in and out of hospital and going through operations and pain got me worried and  I hope for her speedy recovery.

And the most unexpected and unwelcome chats were about an even older friend from school.  Her sudden departure from this world shocked each and everyone of us on boxing day morning. She couldn’t make it for a class gathering last month (a much anticipated one after almost 23 years) and even promised to make it for the next round.  Sadly, it was not meant to be.  What made it worse was that her once happy nuclear family is now left with only her younger son, who was barely 5.

Although we have not met for decades, it still feels like I just saw your bubbly and cheerful face at the back of the classroom chatting and giggling away.

Goodbye my friend.

And no, I do not want another of such WhatsApp chat coming my way.  Not this kind.

 

 

Christmas Wonderland @ Gardens By The Bay

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On a weekend two weeks ago, we decided to head down to the much talked about Christmas Wonderland at Gardens By The Bay to soak it all up.  Initially, I had some reservations about being part of the potentially crazy crowd with two boys in tow.  It was a good thing we arrived just before long lines started forming outside car parks.

What is Christmas without a little carolling against such festive backdrop.  To me this was the best way to get into the festive mood.

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In every corner, we were delighted by all sorts of festive displays and decorations.

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Not just at eye level but if you looked closer, Christmas was in the air too!

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The evening actually turned out slightly different from what I expected.  It was better.

We did not get to the Christmas attractions like the rides, the Santa Cottage, the carnival games and so on (which was probably the whole point of why the rest of the crowd was there) but the boys had real simple fun just by running about freely and getting all sweaty around the park.

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As usual, it was a daunting task to get Baby J to keep still for photos.  Even Gor Gor J tried his best but failed.

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As night fell, the whole park lit up to another kind of beauty.  I loved how the super trees were glowing in such gorgeous colours.

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However, what my favourite shot of the evening got to be this “not-at-all-christmasy” looking super tree.  For some reason, it reminded me of Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree.  There is just something mystical about it, don’t you think?

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For the disappointing lack of useful information about this event itself, here is where you can find out more 🙂

K2 Graduation

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What remained of my own K2 (Kindergarten two) graduation was just a tiny faded photograph of me in a mortar board looking all serious yet awkward. I remembered it was taken in a small setup under a block of HDB flats and I had to go back again for a re-shoot as my collar was found to be turned up after the first photograph was developed.  Oh… those shoes 🙂

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Ah, those were the days of films where you only have one take. It is unimaginable in today’s context where we can take countless shots for our Facebook and Instagram posts before deleting and selecting until we are happy with them.

It was such a simple affair back in my time.

Fast forward 33 years later, the whole K2 graduation for Gor Gor J was such a big deal.    Graduation photos were taken months in advance with professional photographers.  The end product was a seven-pager photo album (think hard cover wedding coffee table book!) plus a framed up portrait.

Any resemblance? 🙂

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Anyway, that was only the beginning. The icing on the cake was their graduation concert – two full blown English and Chinese musicals after the march in ceremony.

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Rehearsals and recordings started as yearly as mid year.  It was not just a great show put up by the six-year-olds but a display of hard work, team work, commitment and true joy thrown into a stunning performance.  Some might not see the need for such extensive amount of time thrown into a one-night concert but after witnessing the journey of how the teachers worked with the kids and how the kids worked with one another, I personally feel this is real education.  The confidence, the friendships forged and the little life lessons they picked up along the way were not things that the classrooms or worksheets could offer.

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Everything from the concert tickets, program booklets, costumes, backdrops, location were nothing short of grand and elaborate.  It was a memorable experience for all on and off stage.  As with all K2 graduation ceremonies or concerts, regardless of their scale and location, it is a recognition of our children’s development milestone and a celebration of love and friendships.

I quote from one of my instagram photo:

“You cried during your first stage performance 4 years ago. 4 years later, it was my turn to cry”

I hope you will continue to grow and learn and be happy always.

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