The Need for Quiet

April 2016

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“In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child’s need for quietness is the same today as it has always been–it may even be greater–for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.”

I saw a quote posted on the Gillian’s school Facebook page and I liked it a lot. It is by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Mr Moon.  As a mother, I do feel better knowing that my child(ren) is constantly occupied, doing something productive. I like knowing that they are in classes, they are learning something and not wasting their time. There was a point in my SAHM life when I planned both morning and afternoon activities for Ryan and Gillian. Everyday. It exhausted me out and it sure did tire them. After dinner, both kids would be knocked out.

Now, at 3 and 5 year old, both of them have pretty restless personalities. They always want something to do and are constantly wanting my attention. After reading some materials and comparing parenting styles between me and my peers, I am not sure but I surmised that I could have over stimulated Ryan and Gillian when they were younger? Or even when they were just in my womb? Think of those prenatal programs… Yea. I was one of those consumers. (-_-) ” ‘ Then, I possibly just cared about them having a head-start. Now, 5 years on, I think maybe the process of learning is more important.

This Easter holidays, I got to know both of my older ones better. We spent the first week, negotiating and renegotiating about television time. Most of the time, I win. I mean, I am the adult and the mother. So, it is now that I get to win. Both of my 10 April babies would concede, albeit unhappily. They take out their toys from the Ikea black boxes and start to play randomly. Sometimes, they play alone. Ryan with his trucks and cars. Gillian with her dolls or musical box. Sometimes, they make believe together. Both pretend to own a cafe or a clinic together. Sometimes, I don’t even know what they are playing because the place just looks like a huge mess. Unstructured play? Is that the correct term for it?

The idle play the kids go about with in the afternoon and evening is very therapeutic. It is very interesting and even somewhat amusing to listen in their conversations while they play. There will be alot of persuasion going on to get the other party agree to something. Every so often, it would result in a fight or perhaps a reassessment of a deal lest Mummy takes away everything. A few evenings ago, E and I saw Ryan, lounging on the sofa, reading the Children’s Bible. Reading might be an exaggeration but he was definitely flipping pages and focusing on his read. As a mother, I feel good seeing them concentrated and entertained by their quiet play. The ipads and smartphones will come eventually. I suspect that these intelligent devices are so intuitive that learning how to use them is a no-brainer.

My observation is that when they are left with no choice, no TV, no technology, they seem to be less angry. For my children, at least. I cannot explain why but I noticed that Ryan rarely throws a fit when he knows that television is no longer an expectation but a very precious reward when he finishes his homework or after he helps with the household chores.

‘Mom…. How did the weasels take over the world?’ Ryan asks after reading the book that we borrowed from the library this morning.

Yea… Quiet play also comes with the price of answering strange questions like that. To Ryan’s question, I have no answer. I got him to just think about it while he help me with Megan’s laundry load.

Disclaimer: Erhm… This is just a Facebook note for myself to look back upon. Not a parenting advice for anyone. (I am not a fan of any sort of parenting advice. I believe every child, every parent is different. Family dynamics and financial situation different. I really don’t think there can be a absolute in parenting given the number of variables.)

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Easter at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo

March 2016

As forecasted on BBC weather, Good Friday was going to be sunny. Hence, we planned to have an outdoor activity with the children. We were deciding between London Zoo and Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo. In the end, we went for the latter as we felt that the place would be more children-friendly and there was some Easter activities happening.

It was a good 45 minutes of car ride before we reached the zoo. It was around 11 when we finally got to the zoo. Kids had a short morning nap and they were raring to go!

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The children putting in animal snacks into the Easter eggs for the meerkats’ feeding time.

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It was not long before the children spotted the huge playground and ran towards it excitedly. We also decided to settle on one pf the picnic tables for lunch. Lunch was food items that we grabbed from Waitrose before we got to the zoo. I did not have time to prepare sandwiches and all that morning. (-_-)”’ Waitrose sandwiches were not too bad anyways.

What impressed me would be the play area at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo and not so much of the animals. The playground was filled with so many fun stuff that most of the children were there instead of checking out the animals.

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We lasted a good 4 hours at the zoo before we decided to head back home. Parking for anything above 4 hours is £23. We decided that we are good for 4 hours which cost us £9.20. It was a pretty nice experience at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo but I don’t think we will be returning. Not many animals types in the zoo and not as interactive as Africa Alive, the one that we went last year in Norfolk. The playground at Battlesea Park Children’s Zoo is fantastic though. Both Ryan and Gillian loved every inch of the huge playground.

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A picture at the Peace Pagoda, one of the major landmarks at the Battlesea Park.

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V&A Museum of Childhood

March 2016

Last Saturday morning, we headed off to the V&A Museum of Childhood after we dropped Ryan off for his school. Surprisingly, it exceeded out expectations as the place was pretty decent. Our stay at the museum started with a Children’s reading/singing session and Gillian enjoyed it so much.

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V&A Museum of Childhood is home to one of the world’s finest collections of children’s toys, doll’s houses, games and costumes. It has the largest collection of childhood objects in the United Kingdom. The museum has been amassing childhood-related objects since 1872 and continues to do so with ‘Incredibles’ figures complimenting bonkers 1970s puppets, Barbie Dolls and Victorian praxinoscopes. In fact, E found some toys(He-Man!?!, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…) from his era in the museum and he looked really pleased about his find.

I particularly like the iron structure cage looking thing in the building. Upon research, I found out that the iron structure reused a prefabricated building from Albertopolis which was replaced with some early sections of the modern V&A complex. (Read here to find out more about the interesting story behind the architecture of the museum.)

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The museum has lots of hand-on stuff for kids dotted about the many cases of historic artefacts. I think Ryan would have so much fun at the museum should we bring him there for our next visit.

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If you were to ask me, I would suggest skipping the cafe as I found that it pricey(you might not since money is relative). There are plenty of cafes in Bethnal Green(go check out the restaurants and ratings at Trip Advisor) to check out anyways. We went to Macs for a quick nip before picking Ryan up from his class. 2 hours at this museum is far too short. V&A Museum of Childhood is definitely worth a second visit for us. 🙂

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Gillian, my budding ballerina.

December 2015

Gillian, our young daughter is now budding ballerina. Ask her what she is and she will reply,’I am a Princess Ballerina’. Hmm…whatever it means, it probably is along the lines of pink, rainbow, pretty skirts. We started her on her ballet classes in October. It is a way for her to be more active due to a health condition that she has at the moment. The medications that she has to be on had caused her to gained so much weight! 😦

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As of now, she has attended 6 lessons. Her experience with the dance has been nothing but positive. She loves her pink! And being able to don on her pink ball ballet outfit is just the icing on top of the cake. After her first lesson, she was intrigued by everything about ballet. She looks forward to her weekly lessons, she tries to teach Ryan and me movements that she learnt from her classes and her favourite television programme is Angelina Ballerina.

With her strong enthusiasm in the dance, E and I are pretty sure of what we will be getting for her this Christmas!

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3 weeks with Gong Gong

September 2015

My parents arrived in September and the children were so happy after months of missing them. E and Ryan went to pick them up on a Friday evening. By the time they got home, it was already late at night. Gillian was so surprised to see her grandparents at home the next morning. The little ones were showered with so many gifts from home!

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We went to Malaysian Deli at Lewisham the next day for lunch followed by Brompton bike shopping. Food at Malaysian Deli was pretty average(which means that I will not intentionally  head there for food). They have a buffet lunch for £8.99 on weekends but we settled for the ala-carte menu, ordering the usual suspects like Murtabak, Tahu Goreng, Chicken Satay and whatnots. And yes, Papa did buy his Brompton bike on his first weekend of being in London. He used it to cycle locally as well as to London Bridge. Garang much.

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Greenwich Park

As it was the start of Autumn, the weather was just right. The children enjoyed their outings with the grandparents while Mummy hibernated at home.

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Eltham Palace and Gardens

We packed a small picnic and headed off to Eltham Palace and Gardens. It is one of our favourite places to go to as the playground is quieter and the children always had fun when they were there! I wanted to bring Papa to Leeds Castle though but we never found time to go there.

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Millwall Park and Playground

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I did not take many photos over Papa’s 3 weeks of visit as I was heavily pregnant and mainly lying on my bed. Despite that, the children were properly entertained by their grandparents. Papa and Mummy were able to be there for Ryan’s first day of school which is a pretty important milestone for the little boy. We also managed to go apple picking at The Hop Shop which was a pretty enjoyable activity for everyone.

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Gong Gong’s last day in London 😦

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Here’s Ryan and his Gong Gong. Ryan received a number of work tools from my father as presents this visit. Ryan was majorly pleased about these gifts. Even till now, he enjoys playing with them. In fact, on multiple occasions, out little boy has told us that he wants to be a mechanic. Hmm… Somehow along the way, despite the distance, Ryan managed to pick up the same interest as his grandfather. Naturally, Papa is happy about Ryan’s passion in fixing and inventing things.

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Papa’s 3 weeks of holiday ended real soon and he had to return to work in Singapore. We will definitely be looking forward visiting him in July!

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Here’s your Baby Sister, Megan.

October 2015

The thought of having a new sibling can be quite daunting for some children. When my mother brought home my younger brother, Leon from the hospital, I did not feel too kind towards him. I felt that he was going to steal all the attention from me. Sibling rivalry between me and Leon lasted more than just months. We fought till I turned 12/13. That is like almost 7 years of constant bickering and real street-fighter fighting. No kidding.

Of course, when we grew older, we start to appreciate the joys of having siblings around. Like someone to count on to talk rubbish and make faces at even though we are all adults. Like having someone to reminisce the past and vouch for parents’ cray-cray behavior in 1995. Like having someone to share life’s good and bad. Hence, E and I always wanted have more than one child so that each and everyone of them will be able to experience these beautiful aspects of life.

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(Here’s our first night as a family of 5!)

Ryan and Gillian are at the age whereby they are able to understand the meaning of having a new sibling into the family. Months before Megan popped, we sort of prepped them for Megan’s coming. Both little ones were equally excited. They spent time helping with the stretch mark cream nightly, talked and sang to Megan.

The day when E and I brought Baby Megan back, Ryan was still in school and Gillian was having her afternoon nap. We woke Gillian up and she looked rather shocked to see a tiny little pink bundle next to her. Very quickly, like fish to water, she started behaving like an older sister,’ Hello Megan. I am your Jie Jie’, before planting her with many small kisses. She tried to talk more to Megan but being a baby, Megan responded exactly like how a 1 day old baby would. Before we knew it, Gillian started crying, hurt by how her baby sister refused to ‘play with her’. It took us some time to explain to her how it would probably take some time before Megan can play with her. After the explanation, she went back to the ‘Elder Sister’ mode, wanting care for her sister again. On Baby Megan’s first night at home, Gillian was the one who woke up(for at least twice) with us for the diaper duties. She was very excited to help us to get the wet wipes, Megan’s new diapers as well as the changing mat. The novelty of waking up in the middle night went off one week later and Gillian is able to sleep through any cries at night.

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Ryan, on the hand, seemed to be rather nonchalant on Baby Megan’s first night home. He came home from school and we showed him our latest addition to the family. He acknowledged her happily before wanting to turn on the television for his favourite programme. It took him some time before warming up to Baby Megan and wanting to play more with her. These days, both kids find Baby Megan irresistible. E and I find it hard to stop from from touching and kissing Baby Megan’s face.

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The siblings gift-exchange. 

Like what was done before for the birth of Gillian, we also had some sort of gift exchange for between the siblings as well. Guess what did Ryan and Gillian got from Megan?
Ryan got a Lego set and Gillian got a lovely musical box from Hamley’s.

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As of now, Ryan and Gillian have not bought their presents for Megan yet. But it is likely that we will be getting the IKEA toy kitchen for her as a welcome gift! Will update about it soon! x

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thirty plus one.

October 2015

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I turned 31 on the week of 12 October 2015. The Monday started with me delivering my third baby, precious Baby Megan. The week ended with me celebrating my birthday. There was no fancy dinner or yummy lobster yee-mien because I have only started my confinement month. E got me a delish chocolate cake from Pattisserie Valerie to make up for it though. We will probably head to Hawksmoor for a makeup steak dinner in November. If E’s schedule allows…

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For my whole 31 years, I never thought so much about my mother when it came to my birthdays. When I was younger, I would consider myself to be quite self-centered. It seemed like I really like to just talk about myself, my feelings and mostly about me. (Surprise! Surprise!) Growing up, birthdays seems to be like a social validation of the person that I am. If there is a big celebration and cool presents, it means that people like me- my family members care for me, my friends appreciate our relationships and my boyfriend/husband loves me. On a side note, I don’t think I am like that anymore. #justsaying

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(Us, at Gege’s wedding. December 2014)

Strangely, it was with the birth of Baby Megan, where I experienced real birthing pains(and possibly having my mother in the labour room with me), did I think of my mother’s pains while she was bearing me, giving birth to me and also guiding me through the years. My mother is one amazing woman. God-sent for my family! She is not just someone who is capable of holding down the household, but she always prioritize everyone else in the family above hers. She is a woman of simple taste(in fact, I can safely say she has no indulgences) and she rarely puts herself first. In many instances, she would rather her children have what they want and sacrifice what she needs. In her case, she could be spending my dad’s salary on luxury bags, pampering facial sessions and nice clothes. However, she chose to live as frugally as possible and ensuring that the family had adequate savings for rainy days. My dad finally managed to persuade her to buy a Prada bag years ago when they were in Italy, much to the chagrin of my mom. 😛

Looking back, I suppose she has her heart tested over and over again through the years. I can imagine those PSLE(Primary School Leaving Examination) years and teenage angst years are the toughest. Having 4 children meant that she had to go through these phases multiplied by 4. She did share with me the challenges of each of us are different at every stage. Sometimes, I do wonder how she(and my dad) are able face all these obstacles and yet go about doing the daily grind. It must be with God’s grace that they came out, relatively unflustered.

So, thank you, Mummy for believing in everyone of us, against the odds! You are the best!

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As of now, my mother is in London helping me with the confinement month. Anyone who knows my mother will know that she does not like long haul flights and cold countries. It is unfortunate that she always ends up travelling to Europe/UK during the winter time because of the school holiday schedules, and now because of the birth of Baby Megan. She chose to come over despite her discomfort to ensure that my pregnancy goes through smoothly and that I have a health-boosting confinement period. After 2 years of being a Stay-at-home-mother, it is really nice to be taken care of like a child by my mother for now. Having my mom around meant that I am definitely well-fed and relaxed. Heehee.

I always feel that there is a special bond between my siblings, myself and my mother. In my case, I don’t really need to tell her how I feel and she rarely judges me. Whenever I go through a difficult time in life, my mother is someone who encourages me, reminds me of God in my life and prays for me. Growing up with a mother who knows my heart is God’s blessing and I pray that I will be as dedicated a mother and do the same for all my children.

In some way or another, I am really happy that Ryan and Gillian are able to share the same birthday as Mummy. This time round, to have my mother being in the room with me on Monday, witnessing the birth of Baby Megan just equally just as meaningful to me.

Happy birthday to me! For this year, I did get my best birthday present ever and it is the latest addition to our family, Baby Megan. On top of all these, a huge thank you to the most amazing, beautiful and selfless Mummy. I love you to the moon and back. May God always keep and bless you in every way.

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