Easter At Leeds Castle

April 2016

Leeds Castle always have been one of our favourite places to go and it was inevitable that we head off to Leeds Castle for some Easter holiday fun. As  we did not do any grocery shopping that week, we could not pack any picnic lunch. Fish and Chips at castle, it shall be then!

They had the similar Easter puzzle from last year. Last year, this time, Ryan needed more help from me in solving the puzzle. This year, he was much more pro-active in going around the place, trying to get the various letters and solve the puzzle. What a lot of difference a year makes.

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We got the children to dress up in their medieval costumes that day as well. I wanted to get some photography done for both of them. It fell through as I was feeling under the weather. Boohoo. It was April then, and still so cold that Saturday when we were there. It did not help that Gillian was so grouchy after her morning nap.

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As usual, we bought them each of them one of those bubble guns that the shops were selling. That is the ultimate highlight of the day. In some way, I do think Ryan and Gillian are easily satisfied.

You know how there is this cool app on Facebook callled, ‘On This Day’, which basically reminds you of what you were doing on that particular day, last year and the year before… I really like this app as it gives me abit of perspective. London has given us so much in this two years. Ryan started proper school here. Gillian almost grew up in this city, considering how she was barely one when we first got here. And Megan, she is born here! In some way or another, unconsciously, I do feel that I am falling in love with this country. I like how weekends are just about spending time with the family and there is no pressure to attend tuition or enrichment classes(yet!). The kids are able to run around freely in parks, castles, farms, given the huge amount of green space…. Of course, nothing and no where is absolutely perfect. But for now, I am just thankful for this opportunity for our family to be here.

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E and his 3 amigoes. I am not sure if I have blogged about this before but I do prefer going out versus staying home as E tends to be a hundred folds more useful when we are out. He will be in charge of driving, bringing the kids to toilets, feeding them and also playing with them. If we were home, it would mainly be me doing almost everything else! So, yes to going out!

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We went about doing the same things with the children, exploring the playgrounds and realised that the smaller playground was too kiddy for Ryan. We tried the playground for older kids and it was too adventurous for Gillian. (-_-)”’ In the end, it was just alot of assistance from us to help Gillian on the more difficult parts of the the playground for older kids.

Started making out way home around 4ish as it began to drizzle. Ryan did get his chocolate treat at the end since he completed his puzzle. Ohwells… It was a lovely day for the little ones. Slept oh-so well again!

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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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Giving versus Giving up.

March 2015

Years ago, as a twenty-something teacher, I was dishing out advice to parents on their children. Then, I did not understand the complexities of parenting and thought poorly of some parents’ style of education. What goes around, comes around. Now that I am a mother of 3, I cannot be more stupefied by the amount of work that comes with being a parent. It is not just ensuring that healthy food is on the table. It is not just clothing the child. It is more than having a clean and safe environment at home.

Parenting goes more beyond the power of money. I think. Whenever we are in a toy shop or souvenir store, just like any other child, Ryan and Gillian will go excited over the toys and novel finds. Which child would not think having a colourful slinky is fun? Or having one more cool looking torchlight/magnifying glass is essential? Most of the time, these toys are not very expensive and thankfully, we are at the position to get them. Looking at the state of my living room, which holds boxes and boxes of toys, I dare say that we have indulged them too much. In fact, we have started saying no to them, unless the toy serves a learning purpose. Maybe in some sense, E and I bought so much toys for the children as we are over-compensating for the lack of in our childhood. Strangely, saying no is much more difficult than what I thought it would be. The children will get grumpy and my mind will go into overdrive, weighing the pros and cons of the getting the random toy. Looking at how both children treat their toys make me feel that they are taking what they have for granted. It is not a good feeling as that was never my intention for them. I want them to be happy. Not spoilt.

The television is another point of contention for our family. Ryan loves his television and he has his favourite shows. I do admit that he does learn a number of things from the television programmes. He knows about the Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Gaza, Eiffel Tower from Go Jetters. He is able to share with me new knowledge about planets and comets that he picked up from Messy Goes to Okido. Turning on the television as a way to keep children entertained is always an easy way out. That way, both parties win. The parents get to be doing mindless phone-surfing and the children are properly distracted by the colourful images on the box. I think E will attest to that but, just like all things, moderation is the key. I think last month, it has reached a breaking point when Ryan will throw a fit when the television is switched off. Not cool right. I might be exaggerating if I say that it looks like an addiction. But, let’s not wait till it reaches that stage of us applying to be on the show of Super Nanny. Once again, I have to take the role of the ‘bad parent’ by saying no to him again. These days, he is only allowed to watch two shows a day. The two children spend the rest of the time arguing with each other while trying to play together. #choiceofthelesserevils

Last night, I read this blog entry from a fellow mother and she articulated my feelings of being a parent so well. If the equation of loving one’s child is all about getting material things for them, going on expensive trips and just agreeing with them, it would be easy right? But loving a child is more of what we give up for them. Mostly time. In this time and age, where we have this insatiable need to be ‘connected’, we end up choosing to be disconnected from real life, from our children. I have to remind myself to take my eyes from my phone and choose to spend that 10 minutes listening to Ryan’s day in school, to spend a short time reading bedtime stories, to just have an engaged session with them.

When I look back at my childhood, I don’t remember having much. My family was not well-to-do. Yet, I can recall my childhood vividly because of the time my parents spent with us. They brought us to parks and playgrounds. We played board games. I remember evenings of me sitting on a high stool, talking to my Mum about my day in school while she cooked dinner. We did not dine out much. Sometimes, we shared a pot of canned chicken soup with french loaf from Delifrance. I can even recall my mother telling me how fortunate we were to have a baguette from Delifrance. I believed her. I thought we were one of those well-off ones.

What is my ideal good parenting then? Having the smarts would be a bonus. Ideally, if we we would want to prepare them for the future, to know that having everything that we want does not equate to happiness, to know that sharing does not mean that we have lesser but we have more. To have the wisdom to make good decisions in life. To have grit. To have the resilience to continue despite failures. To remember that he/she is always loved. To choose a Christ-centered life.

Dear Ryan, Gillian and Megan…
I love you. So much.

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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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Baby Megan- 2 Months

December 2015

Baby Megan has been with us for 2 months. She is such a joy to be with. In fact, she is the calming presence amidst the noisy two older siblings. At 2 months, she is able to lift her head up during tummy time. In fact, I think she likes her view better when she is on her tummy.

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Sometimes, I wonder if she is overwhelmed by her siblings’ presence. For now, she has Mama’s undivided attention! My dad video calls my mother everyday to check on Megan’s progress. You can see the obvious longing in his eyes to carry his youngest granddaughter in his hands. Ohwell, soon, soon.

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The littlest one is very loved by her older siblings. Sometimes, they will squabble over their turn to carry Baby Megan. Moments like these can be quite sweet. Heehee.

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She is starting to have this gorgeous smile, especially when we take time to engage and talk to her. Sometimes, after her nappy change, she will reward my efforts with her beaming toothless smile. She loves it when we talk to her. Interestingly, she will reply in her baby coos. Heehee. Very very cute!

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Grow well, my sweet baby girl.
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