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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Mom-esteem

March 2016

Self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. So in the same line, mom-esteem would be how I judge myself as mother. My mom-esteem varies, depending on the time of the day, the time of the year. It varies from child to child. It is rarely constant. My good days would be like me, making time to teach the kids something(reading, math or Chinese) and knowing that they have learnt something out of it. My good days would be me taking the children out to the park and being able to see them laugh and smile while they play.  My good days would be having a clean house, well-cooked meals and possibly some bakes done.

The truth is that it is really hard to hit all three aspects on entire day. Looking at my Key Performance Indicators and how I am faring against it, I would consider that my mom-esteem is pretty low. Often, I feel horrid when I see Ryan and Gillian at it again over some random useless toy. When some other mother tells me of how they only make meals from scratch, using only organic ingredients, I can feel that my mom-esteem tanking by the second. My mom-esteem truly takes a beating when my kids fall ill. That literally takes the cake.

Still, there are always small bursts of light that keeps me going. Like how Ryan ran to me before he went to bed last night, holding a Mother’s Day card that he made in school. There is a picture of him on the card, along with some pink, red and blue  paper. On the paper, he wrote: ‘I love my Mummy because she tick(tickle) me.’ With that, Ryan wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and told me that he loved me. It was one of those Fridays where I felt boned-tired and maybe just emotional. I asked him if he loved me all the time, even when I am a bad mother?

‘Mummy, I love you all the time. Even when you are bad,’ he said to me, stroking my face.

‘Hmm… when is Mummy bad?’

‘When you don’t let me watch my television…. You watch too much TV(referring to the Great Interior Designer and The Voice) and I want to watch my dinosaur shows. But I still love you.’

It is nice to know that my only failings as a mother to Ryan is letting him watch his ‘Dinosaur’ shows and not the countless of lectures and scoldings that I give him on how sharing is important and  how he should strive to be a good boy. It is not the boring lunch boxes that I prepare for him. Neither is it of me having to give him less attention as he has two other sisters. It is nice to know that kids are always so forgiving, so ready to love.

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Mother of 3

February 2016

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Lately, one of my friends asked me lately if I expected to be a mother of three at 32. Erhm…. no? I thought I would be a successful author by 30. That did not materialise. *awkward laughter* Anyways, I have been getting comments that I must be crazy to have 3 kids. And that I am brave…. or something along those lines.

Crazy? … yes.

Brave? … yes.

Happy? … yes.

Would I have given up one of them for an awesome career? Definitely no. Apparently, I do enjoy wiping snots of children’s faces. I love feeding them the food that I cook. Watching them sleep is my secret pleasure. Hearing their laughter makes my heart sing. Smelling them after their bath intoxicates me. Having them hug me after an exhausting day makes everything all right. Doing school work… not so much though. 😛

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My alarm goes off at 6.20 every morning. I will have a lie in bed for 10 minutes or so, feelin so shattered after a night of nursing. Thereafter, it would be breakfast and Ryan’s lunchbox’s preparation while eating my breakfast. Breakfast will usually eggs, ham or cereal. Ryan’s lunchbox is slightly trickier as I would have to jazz things up a little- noodles, potatoes, maybe pasta, in hopes that something different everyday would encourage him to eat more.

After the meal preparation, it would be to get everyone to wake up and have their first meal of the day, before rushing the children to wash their faces and brush their teeth. In between that, Ryan and Gillian may have some squabbling going on over something very trivial and I would try to feed Baby Megan some milk. All these chaos would come to an end when school run begins.

Normally, I would feel more at peace when two of the older ones are in school. Mornings would be more of my administrative time- maybe do my online shopping, reply emails/whatsapp, Tango my folks who are in Singapore, bath the little baby, take some nice photos for Baby Megan for my Instagram #babymeganyap… I try my best to NOT do any household chores in the morning. Honestly, once I start, it would be hard to stop. Household chores is an activity which is endless and time-consuming. Really. I can’t even.

When afternoon starts, it would be time to get Gillian home. We would have some quiet playtime, a bath and then she will head off for her nap. While she gets her rest, I would have to start on dinner preparation. Just to prep the ingredients. Not actually cook. I have no idea how time passes so quickly for this segment of my day. Before I know it, we would have to get Ryan from school. When the weather permits, we will have some time in the park. The older ones really enjoys this time when they get to run around. Not sure if other mums agree, but I always feel better when I know that the little ones have their daily outdoor play. In some way, all these running and being on the merry go round(which they love!) would make their sleep even better at night.

Once we get home, it would be cooking, dinner, bath time, homework, television, play, household chores…All of these activities squeezed into 4 hours or less before the kids turn in for bed. Then it would be one hour of my sacred television time. Depending on the days, I would be watching different things. Every Thursdays, I will be catching up on Suits. On Saturdays, it would be The Voice. In between, I have my other television series such as Younger, Elementary, The Great Interior Design Challenge, Phone Shop Idol and whatnots. When I was younger like in my teens and 20s, I hated television. I felt that people who dedicate so much of their time watching television were wasting their precious time away. Just like many things that I thought I knew better then, I ended up eating my words now. I like television because it numbs my brain, it gives me an escape from real life which can be physically tiring… That being said, I cannot wait for Empire to start again in March! Woohoo!

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Like what I mentioned above, being a SAHM is really mostly doing the same thing over and over again. My world is alot smaller. But, the opportunity to be one is not always given to all. As much as I gripe about the unpaid, mind numbing job, it is still so so so overwhelmingly awesome to be part of these 3 little ones’ lives. I highly doubt they will remember anything since I don’t remember any part of my life when I was 3 years old. Still, the privilege is mine to know them when they are so young, so innocent and so unconditionally loving.

Last night, I asked E if he could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be. He could not answer me as there are so many cool/fabulous/interesting personalities that we would love to have their time with. Earlier in the evening, I asked Ryan the exact same question and he told me in his baby-ish boy’s voice, ‘Mummy and Daddy. And Megan. Gillian. Yiyi. Mama. Gong Gong. Family! I want to have dinner with family. Family is the most important!’

Yea. Family is the most important. So nice to know that he feel this way at 5. I am hoping that he will feel the same in 10 years, 20 years time as well.

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Ryan’s Nativity Performance

November 2015

The Autumn term has finally come to an end. Last week, Ryan and his fellow schoolmates had a Nativity Performance in school. Prior to the actual day, Ryan practised the songs in school as well as at home. He asked me some Christian-related questions like, ‘Who is Mary?‘ and ‘Who are the three Kings?‘ In this light, I feel very blessed that my son have an opportunity to be in a faith-based school so that he have a chance to learn about Jesus and the gospel.

E took time off work that day to attend the concert. Everyone at home was excited to see Ryan on stage. We were not disappointed as everything from the costumes, to the songs performed were marvelous. There was moment while watching Ryan and his friends sang to the song, ‘Little Donkey’, I felt so moved. ‘My Baby Ryan is no longer a baby!‘, I thought.

It is a strange feeling, sort of bittersweet, maybe. Is that what people mean why they say the days are long but the years are short. There are so many times when I wonder why did I jump into motherhood so quickly and wished that I could be doing more carefree activities, thinking more for myself instead of the family. On the other hand, when witnessing small milestones of my little ones, I cannot help but wonder where did all these time go and why are they growing up so fast?

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Ryan is our first born. With the first child, there will be many firsts and experiences of trials and errors. He can be mischievous at times, whiny during meals, often negotiating for more television time. Still, very small actions of his can make me very happy and proud. Like when he comes home with a Principal Award sticker(We have Principal Award 4 stickers this term!). Like when he asks me questions about God and the world. It was just last month when he told me that everything is made up of atoms. Quite impressive for a 4.5 year old. Like when he tells me that he loves me even after a scolding from me. Like when he is very loyal to his sister even though they fight over toys everyday. Just really small stuff.

Ryan, maybe there will be a day when you will be reading my blog. No matter what happens in the future, our love for you is unconditional, just like God’s love for all of us. This Christmas, I pray that our family will slowly move towards more Christ-centered lives.

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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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