April the Tenth

April 2015

We brought the April 10th babies(Mummy, Ryan and Gillian)and Kimberly for an Easter Egg Hunt at Leeds Castle on their birthday. It was not our first time to Leeds; in fact, we liked it so much, we bought the annual family pass for 2015! Thankfully, the weather was glorious that Sunday. It was sunny yet cool, the start of spring. Flowers were blooming everywhere at Leeds Castle. Just picturesque! Ryan and Gillian enjoyed their first Easter Hunt session at Mudchute Farm and were looking forward to the one held at Leeds Castle.

Just like any other egg hunts, the children needed to look around for eggs or clues to answer the question on the Easter Egg Hunt sheet they were given. At the end of it, those with the correct answers will be given their sinful treats! So, you can imagine they started the day with strong enthusiasm. They did get rewarded at the end of out trip and our dear Ryan gobbled up his chocolate egg within minutes. Gillian’s chocolate egg went into Kimberly’s tummy though…because the birthday girl fell asleep. Heehee.

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The April 10th Babies! Baby M will not be an April 10th baby but she will be just as loved because I will share the same birthday month as her! Happy birthday to my three April Tenth loves! Three of you have brought so much joy and laughter to my life. God has blessed me so much with three of you.

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Me and my growing family!

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The Lee ladies!

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At this point in time, my camera battery died. Boohoo! The rest of the photos were taken by my camera phone before it died as well. No photos of birthday dinner as well!

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We had a picnic by the lake. The children definitely prefer having a picnic than to sit at some restaurant where we have to continually remind them of behaving well. (-_-)”’  Ryan and Gillian ran around at the playground with E. Mummy and I lazed under the sun. Kimberly tried the maze and got out in under 10 minutes. Before we knew it, it was getting late. We needed to rush to Smyth’s Toy Store to get the little ones their presents and grab a proper birthday dinner at Saikei.

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We bought two bubble guns for the birthday stars at £10 each from some vendor at Leeds Castle. I thought it was quite expensive till we saw that Hamleys was selling something similar at £18 each and two for £30. The bubble guns were quite a good investment as we used it throughout Spring and parts of Summer till one of it spoilt. The kids loved their bubble guns and they were such fun toys to bring to bring to parks and playgrounds.

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BIRTHDAY CAKE CUTTING!

Ryan and Gillian were spoilt with presents from Mama, Gong Gong, Kimberly, Leon and Bob. E and I got a bicycle for Ryan and a toy keyboard for Gillian from Smyth’s. Both of the children were entranced with the toy keyboard that came along with a microphone. They were fighting over it to sing Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’. It was quite a hilarious sight, if you asked me.

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Happy birthday to my April, the Tenth babies!
This blog post maybe a few months late but that does not mean you are lesser in any way.
May God bless all of you in ever way possible.
I love you babies so so so much!

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E’s myths about fatherhood

June 2014

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When I set out to write this article, it was hard to pin down exactly what is the point I want to carry across. Talking about fatherhood to the dads out there is like preaching to the converted. We’ll be like the war veterans trading battle stories and fond memories of the scars and knocks accumulated along the way. During new gatherings, I often veer closely to becoming terminally uncool once I start spurting my encyclopedic knowledge of diapers, playgroups, classes, health remedies only to see an animated glee in another dad’s eyes and a start of a surprisingly serious and mannish discussion about our differing opinions. Which by the way is utterly pointless since all decisions are made by the mothers.

Start telling daddy stories to the singles or the I-am-too-cool-to-have-kids married dudes and I can literally see their pupas dilate while they zone out and mentally wander off to their magical la la land where Victoria Secret angels frolic in their undergarments among the latest tech gizmos, cooing at their sports cars and gears for their ultra-manly hobbies like extreme dirt biking, deep-sea orca hunting and hot yoga.

That narrows the target audience down to those newlywed guys that are sitting on the edge and teetering back and forth on having kids, working out their pros and cons lists to find them at a deadlock. This hopefully serves as an totally biased, semi-fictional and part –autobiographical opinion on the daddy myths out there.

Some of this will also apply to the group of single guys who stupidly think the withdrawal method can prevent contraception and have received the scariest phone call from their betrothed, muse, girlfriend, the-girl-I-don’t-recall, marking the end to their short stud lives.

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Myth #1: Fatherhood changes everything

What a ridiculous statement really. Replace the word “Fatherhood” with “Zombie Apocalypse” and that will make more sense. Literally there are millions of new dads appearing every day around the world since the beginning of time. Whether you participate or not is completely a non-factor in the grander sense of things to come.

You will still be you, whether be it the stingy frugal single man morphed into the stingy frugal dad who thinks twice and thrice to buy a toothbrush for himself or his kids, or the carpe diem fella that changes from blowing their recent bonus on the latest 70” TV to blowing their retirement savings for their kid’s 5th birthday party extravaganza complete with real elephants. This goes for all kinds of changes in your life actually. If you can manage to stay true to yourself consistently along the way, you will be able to stay strong as the story lead in your adventure book of life with fatherhood as a mere chapter.

Of course there are bound to be changes to your lifestyle. You will be shocked at how much constant attention and behind-the-scenes preparation will be required for a small human being. Your night drinking sessions might be transformed into night feeds. Your groovy two-seater sports car might have to give way to the practical MPV to lug the baby equipment around. Get over it already and just soak in the change. Take pride at mastering the 10-sec diaper change or the 6-hourly milk bottle prep.

The one thing it definitely changes though, is perspective. You will become acutely aware that there is another human being new to this world that has you as the center of its universe ( or more correctly so, as the hovering moon around the real center of the children’s universe otherwise known as mums.) And that your love and affection will be returned multiple-fold by them, with no preconditions and ill intent. You are given the opportunity to start all over and create a newer and fresher impression on someone who will soak it all in and internalize the influence. In this time and age where everyone judges everyone instantly with their skewed biases, I find that completely refreshing and totally uplifting. Now I am not saying that every guy becomes a Superdad once their kid comes out, but I notice that the ones that do become Superdads, are the ones that treasure the new perspective the most and make the best of it.

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Myth #2: It is crazy expensive to have kids

Every now and then, you will find a scaremonger article appearing in the internet that quotes an average of a quarter million to raise a kid to adulthood. Pieces like this are actively disseminated by insurance brokers ( #whyyouneedendowmentplan) and condom makers ( #studs4life) to boost their sales, whilst inadvertently causing premature aging and balding for fathers and mass hysteria amongst the mothers. But when you drill down into the iffy details, you realize that a big portion of costs are attributed to education costs. Now this is a major bummer since tuition fees have been on a rise in recent years at a much higher and consistent rate than your paycheck, it will be like trying to climb a greasy ladder in high heels with an ever growing mob of crazed parents shoving you off your rung. And we are not even talking about university but nursery here. Truth be told, they do add up, even just with the basic options, so it is best to either make sure your bank account can take a regular bashing or go hippie style and raise the kids yourself with home schooling. Hopefully you can endure a few trying years where your bank account balances become as erratic as the heartbeat of a 70 year old getting a lap dance, but with none of the associated pleasures.

But that’s the ugly truth of the world in general, everything is costing more and you should be paid less. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle get squeezed. It is really up to you to decide how you want to live your family life and make it work. Stop looking and comparing against peers and just assess what each considered spending means to you. Everyone has different values to how they want to lead their lives, so just do what you feel it right. There is no cast-in-stone checklist of what you need to provide your child other than basic food, lodging and love. You can only hope to give what you can and hope your kid turns out to be the next big thing ( hopefully Zuckerberg and not Cyrus style…)

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Myth #3: You will have no time for yourself.

“Suck it up, recruit! You think this is your grandmother’s army? Just get in line and follow your orders. And why you are still here giving me the blur look? Move, move, MOVE!”

Referring back to an earlier article ( “Maternity Leave”), this will be inadvertently be true, and decidedly un-manly to even contemplate. However, if you take a step back, you will realize that you might have lost your “me” mentality but you also gained a new “we” insight into doing stuff. A true man cannot just live his life for himself. When you start to build your family foundation, your self-gratifying statue of yourself will be torn down to lay the brickwork for the monument to withstand the ages: your legacy. Of course along the way, if you can slip in some goodies for yourself to keep the motivation going, it always helps, like getting a PS4 to train your child’s psychomotor skills, or buying a LEGO Castle Set to teach him about dragons and knights. As I have always said, men are just kids with disposable income. Now you can quit the pretense and just be the cool game playing dad with your kids that you wished your dad was. And when all else fails and you need a breather for yourself, there is always contemplation time at the toilet bowl. ( gentle reminder to self to check Amazon for cushioned seats…)

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Gratitude Sunday: Independence vs Dependence

April 2014

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Leaving my extended family and job behind in Singapore, starting our lives almost anew and me taking on a new role as a stay at home mom are huge moves. I have my good days and bad days. Good days include managing to get some work done with children, bringing my associates(my children) out for at least an hour, the house being relatively clean and delicious dinner prepared by the time E returns from work. Bad days are me waking up with a bad headache(possibly due sleeping late the night before because I was watching shows with E), the children are sick with a fever/cough/runny nose, the house being in a mess despite cleaning for the umpteenth time, me feeling guilty/horrid for not giving sufficient attention to either of the children and dinner tasting nasty…

I think I have become much more independent in these 4 months, much more than I imagined that I could be. For the first few days at our place in January, E brought us around the area to familiarize. I thought in my head it was just impossible to bring the kids out at all. The preparation was simply too much work- like packing the diaper bag(the bottles, the hot water, the milk powder, the diapers, wet wipes, breastfeeding apron, snacks x2), dressing them up appropriately(two layers, one sweater, one coat, socks and shoes x2), bringing them out in the stroller and i-angel carrier. On top of all these logistics, I have to try to not get lost in the cold. The thought itself was daunting. However, when you see how the rest of the mothers around me are so independent, you learn. Fast.

Nowadays, I can easily plan any ad hoc outings with my fellow adorable associates. The diaper bag is much smaller and compact. I can easily dress both kids in 10 minutes. Max. The first time of doing anything with the kids is scary because I just never know what can possibly happen when I have two kids with me. Looking back, there have been many firsts- first time walking to school, first time going to Greenwich Park, first time bringing kids to see doctor/dentist, first time taking a train with them, first time visiting museums, first time meeting their Dad Dad for lunch, first time going to the farm….After we(the kids and I) crossed our “firsts” time, the subsequent times just gets relatively easier.

When we were in Singapore, E would accompany us to all trips to the pediatrician. If he could not make it, there was always my mother around to help out. Now, because of his work commitments, I will just have visit the doctor alone and pray that the kids don’t fuss in the waiting room. And THANK GOD, so far, nothing has been too bad and all pretty much manageable. Perhaps, my initial fears were all just all in my head. Anyways, E always tells me to take everything easy. All I needed was to ensure two things. 1. The kids are fed. 2. The kids are alive.
So much for his trust in me and my capabilities. (-_-)”’

Looking at the flip side of the coin, I am also becoming more dependent. Unexpectedly. On E. Back home in Singapore, I have my extended family and my network of friends. I have almost their immediate presence and support. On days when I needed some me-time, I could get my parents to baby sit the children. On days when I wanted some conversation or mindless chatter, I could meet up with my girlfriends or my supper friends. Now, E is my everything. I look forward to seeing him home every evening. When he returns from work, I get some time to do some idle net surfing on my phone. He is the one I can talk to about the children’s issues or just random stuff I chat with my mother/friends about earlier. Compared to just months ago, I feel much more dependent on him and I am not sure if I like that feeling. It is not a bad feeling. Perhaps just different.

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#yolo

October 2013

Like what I promised, I will be blogging on a big change for me and my family. Most of my close family members and friends would have already known what the news is going to be about.

Every October somewhat brings about change for us. In a good way. Just to recap:
October 2009: Paid out deposit for our first house in Telok Kurau
October 2010: Project Baby Ryan. Purchase of baby-friendly car, Jetta.
October 2011: Ended weeks of house-searching in Pasir Ris after selling our first house. Paid our deposit for our JLB place.
October 2012: Project Baby Gillian. E’s birthday present to me was Babymoon, Paris.
October 2013: ?

*drumroll….* We will be relocating to London for at least 2 years. It is a huge step but we are all in it together.

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When E sounded me out about his plans in September, I was torn between being happy and being worried. I was happy because I always wanted to have an experience of living abroad. Due to unforeseen circumstances during my university days, I was unable to go for my exchange and this has been one of my biggest regrets. The thought of being able to live and immerse myself in London for 2-3 years is exciting.

On the other hand, I realise that I am no longer the young and single lady with little commitments. Now, I am a mother of two very young kids. There are so many worries off my head. Will I be able to attend to their needs accordingly when I am in a foreign land. Will I be able to handle the household chores, the preparation of meals, the teaching of materials and play with the kids? There will be little no help as my parents will be in Singapore. On weekdays, E will be at work and I will be the sole care-giver for the children. I am not a stay at home mom(SAHM) in Singapore. So, this begets the question, will I be able to manage being a SAHM in London and will this experience be a potentially rewarding or depressing one.

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For years, I have been asking E to “retire” me so that I get a chance to be a SAHM. We almost have the same discussions daily on the way to my workplace. There are days when I sound serious(almost passionate) on being a SAHM. I suppose God heard my prayers and E decided to actualise my SAHM dream. The only difference would be the location. I would be in London, instead of Singapore. (-_-)”’ The opportunity of being a SAHM is in front of me, it is weird how I have so much reservations now. My qualms range from the brittle cold weather, Ryan’s pre-school education, the kids’ health, having no family support, being on a single income and so on.

After much discussion with family members and friends, I decided to be supportive towards this decision. A straw poll among the close ones indicated that almost 80% of the people think that it will be a positive and exciting change for me and the family especially when the kids are young and I will be able to home school both of them for the time being. The kids’s pediatrician, Dr Vasanthi thinks that the London air will be great for the kids’ health.

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There are so many things that I will miss. I will miss my family and our evenings talking about nothing and everything(Yes, we are THAT close!). The friends whom I have known for years and just made. The convenience of having help and E and I having date nights. The awesome food which always hit the sweet spot for my char kway teow and bak chor mee. Our home, albeit messy at times. The usual faces. The Singaporean accent that I love.

However, like my blog post title states, #yolo, you only live once. This opportunity of living overseas does not come anytime. If I were to reject this chance, I can never be sure that the opportunity will arise again. If it does, it might be even more of an inconvenience if the kids are of schooling age. I imagine it will be fun for the children to experience the four seasons in London, to be able to run around Hyde Park and not being too sweaty, to have Mummy being with them 24/7. For me, it will be a chance for me to be more independent, to fulfil my teenage dream of living abroad and to possibly have some inspiration to write. For E, this stint is going to be great for his work and he will have a greater chance to watch Ryan Gigg’s testimonial match in Old Trafford with Ryan (this is something he has been talking about for years!). For our family, being in UK alone allows us to grow as a family and it also means that it will be more convenient for us to travel in Europe vis-a-vis if we were in Singapore.

As of now, we have plenty on our to-do list. Selling away unused items. Buying winter clothes. Packing and more packing. Plan gatherings. Settle the administrative stuff- change address and also get my refund from the maid agency. Research more on London and children-friendly places. Learn some simple dishes from my mom. Blog about the process of the move…. and so much more.

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I will be positive and we will be happy, come what may. To end this post, I shall post one of my favourite poems by Robert Frost.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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And, Happy 29th to myself! Once again, an exciting year ahead!

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Gratitude Sunday- of being thankful for randoms.

October 2013

It was quite an eventful weekend. Not great but I am managing. There must be a reason why I married E. He is an optimist and he rarely gets flustered over many things. Because of this, he is always my anchor in many situations.

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I have been wanting to blog for some time. However, I am really swarmed with work and kids so much so that I have given up on my only pump session at work for a week. 😦

Most of the time, I will end up sleeping together with the kids while putting them to sleep. This arrangement leaves me with very little “me-time”. I am not exactly complaining as I know I need the extra hours of sleep.

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So for this post, I am just going to randomly share some pictures from my lost phone. I manage to get all these precious pictures as I have synced my old phone with the Facebook and here are some of the precious moments!

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I am still involving Ryan with some cooking.
I am quite impressed by how he is able to remember some of the preparation steps, vocabulary(e.g. “beat the eggs”, “pour the milk”) and ingredients of making French toast.

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Here are pictures of us celebrating National Day and Mid Autumn Festival along with Gillian’s month-sary celebration. We have this family practice of buying a small cake every 10th. It is a nice treat for the kids and us! In fact, it is just an excuse for me to indulge in my sweets and cakes. Heehee. As for the kids, I am sure they enjoy the celebratory mood! Ryan loves singing the birthday song and making his endless wishes!

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During of the days during my maternity leave, I went to Lady M with Mum, Kim and the kiddos.
Cakes were delicious but I expected much better at that price point.

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Baby Gillian got sticker bombed by Ryan while E and I left the room for a tiny while.
Ryan is still adjusting to Baby Gillian. Sometimes, he gets upset when I spend too much time with her. However, I observe that he loves his sister’s company. He is fiercely loyal to his sister- he insists vehemently on several occasions that Gillian returns home with us every evening even when my mom volunteers to care for her at night.

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Just two weeks ago, Baby Gillian went for her vaccination again. She surprised all of us this time by not even crying after her jab.

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I will be sharing something exciting this coming weekend! In fact, close family members and friends should know what it will be about. And if you are wondering, no, I am not pregnant. Heehee. So, just wait for it…. it is going to be… legendary!

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Gratitude Sunday- The end of my maternity leave.

September 2013

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Sunday marks the end of my 5 months of maternity leave. These 5 months have been quite eventful but, I am thankful because I get to spend so much time with my babies. There is just so much that I will miss about being on maternity leave especially the fact that I get to spend oodles amount of time with Baby Gillian and Ryan. I love being able to laze on the bed with them in the morning, having them cuddling up next to me, looking at their gorgeous eyes and inhaling the sweet sweet scent of babies.

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Beautiful Baby Gillian.

She is almost like my personal Barbie Doll. I love dressing her up and she is so adorable. At least to me.  5 months ago, Baby Gillian was this small little infant, swimming in all her infant clothes. Now, she is a beautiful baby who loves so gorgeous in anything that she wears. The best thing is that, she is so camera-friendly. She always have a smile for me when I am trying to get photos taken. 🙂

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Ryan, the charmer.

He is growing up really well. He is starting to more interested in reading. In fact, I am trying to make him sound words. He is able to do that, but it takes so much effort and usually, he gets bored after like 3-4 words. Bah. What is even more interesting is that he is learning how to negotiate. An example would be him asking for an extra 1 minute or 5 minute when it is time to turn off the television or when it is time for bedtime.

I am also very happy that I managed to get some activities done with Ryan. From someone who barely knows his Chinese name, he is able to sing a few mandarin songs now! Also, I discovered that he is very into beats and percussion and that he enjoys doing art with me. Health wise, not ideal but we are still trying to get him to eat more healthily.

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Kiddos having fun!

I think it is absolutely good for Ryan to have Baby Gillian. He is starting to learn how to share and realise that life does not revolve around his whims and demands. I can see that he is unsettled between loving his sister and being hostile at times. I suppose everything takes time.

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Unlike during my first maternity leave when I went out frequently with Ryan in his second month, I only started to be more adventurous to venture out of home with the two kiddos alone in July and September. This is partly because Baby Gillian is much older and I had the i-angel Hipseat and baby carrier, which is an excellent baby carrier. Our favourite new indoor playground is Hokey Pokey because it is really near to E’s workplace. We get to go home together after E knocks off.

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During this maternity leave, I also got to know a group of ladies better. All of us come from all walks of life but we have one thing in common, that is our babies are born in a few weeks before and after April 2013. With the help of technology, we accompanied each other through our pregnancy, child-birth and post-pregnancy journey. We shared snippets of of growing bubs everyday, spurred each other to press on breastfeeding, confided our worries and so on. So, preggie mummies, do join a group to help to walk this journey. This support will help so much for you and your baby. 🙂

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Looking forward, I can only imagine how exciting days ahead of us. There might be some changes, but as long as our family keep a positive mindset, everything can be good.

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Gratitude Sunday- On Mothers

August 2013

Sunday is coming in one hour’s time and I decided that I will just have a short post. Note to self- Always try to put in a Gratitude Sunday post so that I can count my blessings.

Ryan has been having fever without symptoms for the past 3 days. I tell you, it is really tiring to have a sick child. His fever is quite erratic like how it will suddenly spike up to 39.5 degree Celsius. We have seen two doctors- one GP and one pediatrician and both told us it is just a common viral fever. Ryan is the reason why I have been dabbling so much in the kitchen and will continue to do so in hope that he becomes healthier. After being a mother, I realise the importance of mothers in families. I recall how when I was young and having childhood asthma, my mother was the one who sat by my bedside, listening to my breathing, putting Vicks on my chest. She was the one who sponged me when I was having fever and prepared special meals for me when I was ill. Now that I am a mother, I am doing the same thing- the sponging his head, giving him suppositories when he refuses fever medicine and just sitting next to him, feeling his warm head and constantly taking his temperature. However, I am thankful because I am well enough to care for him.

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Once again, I am so so so thankful for my mother. If you do not already know, she actually resigned from her job to care for the kids. I mean, that is a huge sacrifice! She could choose to be one of those weekend grandparents but she chose to help me and E out. My mother is an extremely giving person, except she does not want to be so “showy” about it. Parenting is a difficult job but grandparenting is not easy as well. My mother’s friends are enjoying their retirement age, doing things that they enjoy. On the other hand, my mother has to take up the mantle of care giving and disciplining the kids, on top of the cooking and cleaning. I really don’t know how she does it. While my mother likes to always whine very loudly to me, “Wah! Why I marry my daughter off but I still see her and her whole family all the time!”, I know deep down she cares for me. Last Thursday, when she knew I was bringing the two kids out to Marina Square, she offered to come along with me so that she could help me out. Last afternoon, when we were at the Parent World Fair, she came along to help me with a feverish Ryan and Baby Gillian while I went about doing some blogging stuff. I mean, how awesome is my mother! God is good- He gave me a mother who has absolute unconditional love and care for me and my family. I know that once I return to work in two weeks, it will be quite an uphill battle for my mother. Please pray that our new helper will be good and be of help to my mother and the kids will go easy on my mother. (I love you, Mummy! And I mean it from the bottom of my heart!)

I am also thankful for some positive news these days and it is spurring me to work harder! I believe everything happens for a reason and I cannot wait for more positive energy!

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