Moved to May Lee Homes!
See y’all there!
Moved to May Lee Homes!
See y’all there!
Ryan will be starting his formal schooling in Singapore in a couple more days. There is this strange feeling within me and I cannot exactly pin-point how I feel. It is a mixture of anxiety, hopeful-ness, weary and anticipation. It is funny how when he started Reception in London, I did not even have much thoughts or worries about it. Yet, this time round, I feel like I may break into tears just looking at him wearing his school uniform.
Yesterday, we brought him shopping for his school essentials- the schoolbag, white canvas shoes, socks and whatnots. He looked happy.
‘How do you feel about going to Primary One?’
‘I am happy! I cannot wait!’
‘You must remember to wake me up for school!’
‘How much do you think I should get for my pocket money?’
He is such an excitable, positive child. I wonder if I had such enthusiasm when I started Primary One. Sometimes, when I take some time to look at Ryan when he plays or sleeps, I am often amazed at how much he has grown over the past 6-ish years. He is much taller, stronger. He is vocal(too vocal), cheeky and inquisitive. More often than not, he is generous with his hugs and kisses with me. I don’t know if I am a worrier or not, but sometimes when he hugs, kisses and tells me that he loves me me, I feel sad. I wonder if that may be the last time he wants to kiss, hug me or tell me that he loves me anymore.
Ever since we returned from London, I realised how much Ryan needed to catch up in his studies, especially with regards to his Chinese and probably his learning attitude. It is with trepidation that I am sending him to Primary One. My dread is possibly due to the knowledge of how I did not prepare him well for the start of school life in Singapore. One of my friends who saw Ryan’s handwriting kindly advised me to start helping him improve on it lest he face difficulties in school. The comment was well-intentioned but somehow it is the start of many, many advice that I have been receiving.
‘He should be doing this…’
‘He can be attending this class because…’
‘He should try to…’
Of course, there is always a part of me that feels slighted for my parenting style. But the truth is Ryan gets the main bulk of the ‘feedback’ that I receive. I tell him that he should be trying to improve his writing. He should spend time on his Chinese. He should follow the instructions as closely as possible and not disrupt the class. Don’t whine. Don’t moan. Don’t complain.
Sometimes, he looks okay. Sometimes, I do notice that his face falls. And it breaks my heart.
Yet, as a parent, I have to stand my ground and tell him as it is. A couple of months ago, he was having a rather carefree school life. Fast forward to now, he have to adjust to a more structured way of learning. There is no good or bad to these styles. Sometimes, I do feel bad for him. I tell myself that kids are all resilient creatures, he will adapt. He can adapt to any environment.
There is something about first-born. There are parents like me who have no clue what is going to happen and what would be the best way to nurture them. Being in the education line previously, I know of many cases of parents and children drifting apart because of different expectations about studies and results. I am scared. I want to control the outcome. I want Ryan to be happy. I want him to love learning. I want him to have friends. I want him to always feel loved.
But the truth is- I cannot control all these variables. It is just impossible. I mean, my own parents loved me alot but they too, can’t control the external variables in life. All I knew was that family would be there for me no matter what happened. This is what I hope Ryan will know of this as well. At the end of the day, most of us learn through experience, we adjust ourselves and hope for better results for the next opportunity given.
All these needless worrying is just taking up a big space in my brain and time. While running this morning, I realised that I needed to trust in the Lord, to let go of this burden in my heart, to pray that God will be with Ryan, to help him want to lead a life after Christ. Everything else will come later, in His time.
It has been 6 months since we returned. And surprise, surprise! We still have not bought a car. At this point in time, we are still travelling around with 3 little ones on public transport. The question of us getting an ownership of a car always pops up during family/friends gathering. So, I suppose there may be some sort of expectation that we will get one because:
(a) we have 3 kids?
(b) we are in our 30s and owing a car is like the ‘norm’ among my social circle?
(c) maybe both?
For starters, the reason for not getting a family car is not because we are going green. Hahaha. I(I speak for myself and not E) don’t mind having a car. Scratch that. I mean, owning a car would be nice- convenient and all. However, having just returned from London(where we bought our Renault Grand Scenic for just £8,000/SGD15,000), I cannot tune myself to fork out SGD 100,000 for a car that will last us only 10 years. I don’t really know the sums of having a car very well but I can imagine the monthly running costs(insurance, road tax, car park, petrol, car wash, the ERPs and God forbids, the fines!) add up. This sum of money- a cool extra $1,000 monthly will go a long way for our family(with 3 young children) and the occasional inconvenience that we face is surely worth lesser than $1,000?
Ride Hailing Platforms- Grab/Uber
Erhm… so this begs the next question- how do you travel in Singapore with 3 young children? Public transport? In Singapore, public transport consists of bus, train(MRT) and taxis. E uses the bus and train to work. As for me and the children, we use GrabTaxi for majority of the time. Grab is is this ride hailing platform for cars and taxis in Singapore. With the little ones, we will always go for GrabTaxi because of insurance purposes. If E and I were travelling by ourselves, we will go for JustGrab or GrabShare. Currently, we are sticking to the Grab platform because of the attractive weekly promotional codes that are given to loyal/frequent members like us. According to E, our Grab usage is less that $500 per month. There are many occasions when I do my weekly grocery shopping and I will get a GrabShare. The fare can be a mere $0.50 after my promotional code deduction! That is just obscenely cheap! And on a couple of occasions, the drivers even help me with my heavy groceries to the door! That is like so nice of them! Bless them!
What about your rolls of toilet paper? The detergent? The canned drinks?
For the cumbersome, bulky groceries, I leave it to RedMart or go for the NTUC delivery option. So, like once a month, I will order from RedMart and the orders will usually be up to $100-ish(free delivery!) and I don’t really know why. There is just so many things that I like from the RedMart brand. The pricing is competitive and there is good range of products, in case you are wondering. That settles the heavy lifting. With no car, I suppose we tend to be as resourceful as possible within our means?
Are you absolutely sure it is manageable with 3 kids and no car?
Hmm… so far, it has been a neutral experience. I don’t have a bad experience. Neither do I have much to rave about having no car. Everything is reasonably all right. Being lazy and having a preference of a light load, we don’t even bother with bringing a stroller out when we go shopping. At most malls or tourist attractions in Singapore, one would easily be able to rent for free or just a small token. So should we need to hop onto a train or bus with the little ones, there is not much that we need to lug along with us anyways.
In fact, the last time when we travelled to Legoland, Malaysia, we hired a private car and driver for the entire trip. Price wise, it was like reasonable- the driver drove us to Legoland, picked us up the next day to a dinner option in Johor Bahru before sending us back to our doorsteps in Singapore. In my opinion, I would highly recommend that option for families with young kids like us. As we are unfamiliar with the roads in Malaysia, it certainly took that stressful aspect out of the trip. (E actually slept throughout both legs of the trip. I would think he was very relaxed throughout the trip!) So, my point is- there is a way to travel without owning a car.
With no private transport, we also tend to plan in advance what we would like to do with the kids on weekends and how we would be travelling there. There is rarely any impromptu trips to the playgrounds or parks. (Given the weather in Singapore, I do wonder if we would actually do much impromptu outdoor activities even with the accessibility of a car.) I am also thankful that we live in an estate where many things are easily accessible by foot- the playground is 10 seconds away and the pool is 1 minute away. Hahaha.
What do I like about owning a car in Singapore then? Other than the sheer convenience, I appreciate how the car ownership seem to tick one of the boxes for social expectations of me(and E!). I am a total social validation sort of person. So yes, these constant questioning of us getting a car does sometimes get to me. I think.
At this point in time…
Here’s the big question- so do I see us owning a car in the near future? Maybe. As with many things in my life, I stay by my mantra- Never say never. It is possible but for now, I am not grousing over our no-car life as well. I got to say that adaptability is one of my strong forte. Ha!
Okay, I am out! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! x
Two Saturdays ago, I was invited to a lunch appreciation event at Life Edu Services(LES) to understand more about what the center does for the community. To be honest, I have not been doing any active form of volunteering since my university days. Hence, I did not know what to expect with regards to this area. However, through my interaction with the volunteers and beneficiaries for the morning, I was overwhelmed and touched by the giving spirit that was alive and infectious.
LES is a registered voluntary welfare organisation was started in response to the needs of the disadvantaged and needy families in MacPherson Community. Uncle Richard, who manages the daily operations at the center shared on how the initial years have been difficult; the volunteers had distribute flyers from HDB block to block, informing them of the services available at LES. It is only at present, LES is a more visible and known among residents. Currently, LES serves more than 100 children, youths and elderly a year through their free educational programmes such as the weekly Math tuition, Kidz Life Club, holiday programmes and workshops for the elderly.
Life Edu Services(LES) is situated in a HDB block in the MacPherson community. It conducts free weekly Math tuition programmes as well as the Kidz Life Club so to benefit children from low-income families. Attending tuition for academic subjects such as Math is almost a norm for many Singaporean students. Yet, this is not so for many students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In cases like that, LES is able to fill in the gap by providing free quality Math tuition to support these students. I have spoken to some of the beneficiaries over lunch and understand that over the years,they, along with their siblings have benefitted from the dedicated coaching and mentoring from the tutors from LES and have continued to do well in their studies.
Sarah(not her real name) is a sprightly and bright Primary Six student whom I have spoken to during the event. She has been with Life Edu Services for 7 years. Her younger brother, aged seven will be also joining her at Life Edu Services in the following year. She shared with me on how she found the tuition and enrichment classes to be useful and fun. On her Math tuition lessons on Friday, she was able to get the needed help from the tutors and clarify any doubts about topics that she had. Through the consistent help that she received, she was able to improve her results from a C to a B+. During her holidays,she attended creative writing classes that was conducted by the volunteers and she found the time spent learning at the center to be meaningful.
Miranda(not her real name) who is a Secondary One student has been getting tuition at Life Edu Services since 2013. She stumbled upon Life Edu Services one afternoon when she was cycling around the block of shops. Uncle Richard invited her and her siblings to attend the free classes provided at the center. Since then, she and her siblings has been going for regular tuition at the center. Her Math results has improved from a B to an A. From our conversation, I found her to be a sensible and diligent individual. Miranda shared on how she was rather introverted when she first joined the center. Over the years of learning and mentoring from the tutors at Life Edu Services, she became more outgoing and focused in her studies. Currently, Miranda is working towards her ambition to be a doctor and would want to volunteer in the center in the future so as to pay the kindness forward.
In 2017, there are about 40 volunteers at LES working with the students and elderly. Just like the quote from Robert Heinlein,‘When one teaches, two learns’. This is an apt description of how the volunteers share their experience and sentiments about their time spent at LES.
Meng Long, an ACS(I) student is a volunteer at LES and has spent the whole year, dedicating his Friday nights to helping the Primary Six students in their Mathematics. While it started off as a short class project for him, he continued to volunteer his time for the entire year even though he has completed his project as it found the experience to be meaningful. He shared on how working with the students has made him learn more about himself and to be more aware of the need for empathy and patience. Even though he lives in the West Coast, his parents are encouraging of his volunteering efforts and take time to send him to the center on Fridays.
There is also a group from Sociology students from National University of Singapore(NUS) who volunteered for a whole semester with the center, helping with the Math tuition as well as conducting a creative writing holiday programme for the Primary Six. They shared with me their sentiments of how organisations like LES are important as they make a significant positive impact in the community, especially when they are able to motivate and assist students from lower-income background to achieve more academically. From their observations, they feel that the services provided in LES helps to bridge the gaps in the communities.
BOTS, otherwise known as Bio Medical Outreach to Society is a group of students from Temasek Polytechnic who have been spending their Saturday mornings reading to the pre-schoolers in MacPherson since 2014. The students shared on how they enjoyed spending their time with the little ones and seeing the smiles on their faces during the sessions. While the students share their knowledge, they also learn simple lessons from the young ones- to treasure the present and not over worry about the future. It is certainly heartening to know how members of the society want to help and better each other.
(The elderly toasting the Lo Hei for a prosperous new year.)
The elderly tends to be a rather neglected group in the society and aging can be a lonely journey. LES aims to engage the older folks, befriend them as well as enrich their lives.
The good people at LES serves the elderly in MacPherson by getting them involved in weekly activities and educational workshops are being held on a quarterly basis. Activities such as karaoke, games and handicraft sessions are being held in the centre. On top of these, LES plans educational workshops that are meaningful to elderly such as will writing and LPA. When possible, LES would have outings for the older folks and these small events would bring much joy and cheer in their lives.
To keep Life Edu Services going…
Life Edu Services(LES) is a charitable organisation that is solely dependent on donations and financial support from the public. In order to keep the center running efficiently, funds have to be raised to keep up with the operational costs and to provide more opportunities for LES to reach out to more people in the MacPherson communities effectively.
’84 was the year that I was born and so that makes me 33 this year. When I was a young girl, I would have thought 33 was ancient. Now, I am 33. I wonder where had those years gone to.
A few years back, I wrote a blog post called The Murtaugh List when I turned 29. It has only been 4 years. While most points hold true for me, I feel different about some of them. Likewise, I would still pop that occasional Panadol when a headache comes. Metabolism is getting slower and hence, I am more selective of the food I eat. Just like before, I believe in ‘Now is always Better’. This mentality has been good in pushing me to look forward and reminisce less. But, today, for the sake of this blog post, I will be allowing myself some time to reflect, and look back.
Not sure if it is just age or me, I find myself becoming more introverted. I would imagine some of my friends scoffing at the thought of me proclaiming myself as an introvert. These days, I do appreciate spending time all by myself. On most days, I am so overwhelmed by the little ones, I hardly can hear myself think. Quiet is some sort of rare commodity. I like to eat alone. Shop alone. Read alone Basically, do things alone. As much as it is a zero-value activity, there is something therapeutic of being alone and watching people and time go by.
At 33, I feel the burden of a grown-up, of trying to be and look the part of a responsible parent. It feels hard. In my Murtaugh List, I mentioned in my last point that I am too old to pretend to be someone I am not. On hindsight, if I were to be left to be ‘me’, I would most likely to be a irresponsible person and parent. (Like just run off to the Caribbeans because I need a break. Haha. I am kidding, or not.) In some odd way or another, a certain level of social expectations can good. Because of all these ‘invisible rules’, I try to do the minimum so as not to be branded as a rogue mom- ensuring some sort of learning is taking place weekly for the children, getting the little ones eat as healthily by sneaking in some greens here and there. I try not to indulge in my emotions and be the cheerleader for the family. The children are missing their lives in London so much. I feel the same. But, we cannot have everyone throwing a pity party. Someone needs to take up this role as a grown up role and tell them, ‘It is better in Singapore!’, complete with the chirpy voice. So, some pretence is necessary in life, to move on.
If you have been following my Instagram, you would have noticed that I started running since returning to Singapore. As of today, I am at my 75th run and I am trying to get myself to eat smart and better? It is quite unlike me as I am a quite the sloth. My group of #fitmummy friends to managed to encourage me into changing my Ben and Jerry’s lifestyle- to be more active and be more conscious of the meals I have. (I am careful of using the ‘clean eating’ term since I realise it has some negative connotations.) So, I am not as fixated in mentality as I thought previously.
These days, because I am spending more time on Instagram than blogging, I do take more photos using the phone. The photos are less curated but meant more for documenting purposes. So unlike 3 years ago, I am more trigger-happy.
Happy 33rd Birthday, May Lee. It will be better! The best is yet to be!
Here’s to love, life and God!
Before checking into our caravan in Devon, E decided that we should drive a bit further to check out the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway, which is the highest and steepest completely water-powered railway. We stopped by the Cliff Top Cafe for a tea break. 2 hot chocolates, 1 latte and a slice of cake while our eyes savored the spectacular views across Lynmouth Bay.
The kids were excited to be on the railway, it looked impressive and exciting. This historic Victorian railway opened in 1890 and has connected the twin towns of Lynton & Lynmouth ever since. It is a fully working listed heritage monument it is cost £3.80 per adult and £2.30 for children.
We walked about the historical towns, picked up pebbles at the beach, went to the playground, allowed the kids to run around and enjoyed what was left of the semi-good weather.
We visited the Lynmouth Flood Memorial Hall which is a free exhibition showing a scale model of the village pre-flood, along with images of the buildings which were destroyed and how to identify their sites.
Playing with the pebbles that they picked up from the beach.
Lunch was at Esplanade Fish Bar, and the fish and chips was one of the best I had in the UK. Granted, the weather was cold and we were starving as it was our first proper meal of the day.
A little more sight-seeing around the town before we headed off to the car.
Before we left the UK, E planned a short road trip for our family. It was lovely. When my mind goes back to how we spent that entire week as a family, I feel nostalgic. It was truly an adventure, complete with how our hardy Renault stalled at a remote part of the mountains in the bizarrely cold and wet weather. Yes, things like that do happen to us. And when such things happens, I get real anxious. Then, I had to leave the car and take a short walk while E stayed with the sleeping children, waiting for help. My eyes were teary and I literally felt like puking- not sure if it did felt like a panic attack. (I don’t say this enough but these are times when I am thankful for E’s calm and collected nature.)
I find blogging getting harder these days because when I share about what we left behind in the UK, it feels bittersweet. In Chinese, we call it 心酸. In some way, I believe time will make the feelings less intense. But there is also a part of me that don’t want to forget what a wonderful and magical experience that our family had. Okay, instead of griping about my life, I wish to continue blogging with a thankful heart. x
The caravan park at Devon is a good 7ish hour drive away from London. We had a stop over at Bristol for the night before continuing. One can imagine the drive to Devon was long and painful. We do not own any iPads and so the kids had to either chat among themselves or just nap.
Our caravan was at the John Fowler Holiday Park in Devon. E booked the platinum caravan(which is supposedly the best, but was sure a small space) with two bedrooms and a cosy living area. Our time in the caravan was quiet for the initial two days as it was raining. The wet weather called for indoor activities- we played card games, drew, watched television and cooked. Because I have forgotten to bring out Uno cards, the little ones had to improvise and make their card games. Poor them. In the evenings, the kids took out the light sticks and went into their bedrooms to rehearse for a ‘performance’ for the grown ups.
Those few days were simple but our view from the caravan was nothing near ordinary though. It was just gorgeous and too many a times, I saw the kids just staring out the window. I wonder what were in their minds. Maybe just Pokemon. Or maybe something bigger and more amazing?
I am so thankful for these memories and being able to blog these down. Perhaps when these babies are older, we can embark on another caravan adventure soon? Hopefully, the future versions of them will still love us as much- and we will be able to play board games competitively(#competitiveboardgameplayer) then.
Will try to blog more about our Devon/Paris/Barcelona trip in the next couple of days before everything gets busy again. Okay, I am out!