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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Science Museum!

March 2016

Visiting museums is one of our favourite wet/cold weather activity. We went to Science Museum last Saturday and I thought the activities at the place were pretty child-centric. Both Ryan and Gillian loved it so much that they asked to return!

We got to Science Museum around 11-ish in the morning via public transport. The children love to be on buses and tubes. Ryan always get motion-sickness in the car but never on public transport. *sigh* We started the  day by browsing through some exhibitions. The children enjoyed playing on those interactive touch-screens. That Saturday, the museum also had some hands-on activities going on. Ryan and Gillian spent a good half hour with E making their paper telescopes.

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It wasn’t long before the kids got hungry. We left the museum to grab lunch at Comptoir Libanais. It was one of those recommended places to eat near the Science Museum and I am glad that we went there. Food was fantastic. It was my first time trying out Lebanese cuisine and yes, I am a fan now. Very interesting and refreshing flavours. My favourite would be the baklava dessert. In fact, I have stocked up my kitchen with boxes of baklava from Waitrose. So decadent!

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After lunch, we returned to the Science Museum for the second part of play. We went to the basement, which is also known as The Garden. The entire basement is a  dedicated floor just for children, aged 3-6. As you can see from the pictures, Ryan and Gillian were very occupied with water-play. In that same space, there are also a few others interactive areas that explore the concept of light, sound and construction. The children were all so engaged in their play.

They also went for a 30 minutes bubble show with E. I have to admit that when we head out, E is a much more dedicated and involved father than when we stay indoors. He is the one who takes them to toilets, sits with them during activities. I would usually be sitting somewhere, breastfeeding Baby Megan. So, 10 points for Lao Gong!

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We went for a coffee break at Pret before we headed home. Children were so worn out on the way home. Thankfully, not much fuss. That night, everyone slept really well.

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Father Christmas’ Grotto @ Greenwich Market

December 2015

This Christmas, we are pretty much stuck in London since Megan’s passport is still not done and E is very busy with his new job. Ryan has been asking me about Santa and meeting him. Initially, I planned to bring the kids to the Santa’s Grotto at Canary Wharf but for the two times when we were there, there was a long queue of children, along with their parents. I highly doubt the little ones would have the patience to wait.

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In the end, Kimberly and I brought the kids to Father Christmas’ Grotto at the Greenwich Market. Each child’s ticket to see Santa is £4. It includes like probably 1-2 minutes of interaction with Santa, photo-taking as well as a small gift for the child.

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It was a short wait before we could meet Santa. The kids were entertained with some paper and colour pencils at the corner of the room. Ryan and Gillian were busy drawing pictures of Santa.

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Ryan and Gillian did have their first encounter with Santa. While Ryan warmed up to the man in red pretty quickly, Gillian was much more reserved. They liked the small gifts(1 ginger reindeer biscuit and two small novelty toy) that Santa gave them at the end of the session.

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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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The Hop Shop- Apple Plucking

September 2015

The Hop Shop is based on Castle Farm in North Kent. The farm’s own beef, apples, apple juice, hops, dried flowers, Kentish lavender and honey are all sold through the unique and pretty looking farm shop. What The Hop Shop is famous for is their beautiful lavender fields which bloom in the months of May, June and July which we missed entirely. Ohwells, there is always next year and for now, we will just make do with apple plucking in autumn.

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It was a lovely Sunday and the kids had a good time running around the farm. It was unfortunate that we did not take many photos as the family photographer(aka me) is really feeling the strain of being a pregnant mother in Week 37. Such farm trips are always fun and educational for the children, especially for Ryan since he is always asking about the whys and hows.

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There are two types of apples grown on the farm- the Norfolk Royal Apples as well as the Cox Apples. I think it was unanimous among us  that the Norfolk Royal Apples was the preferred apple. They are sweet, juicy and full of flavour! The main bulk of our PYO was from the Norfolk Royal Apple trees.

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Here’s our princess with her doting Mama and Gong Gong.

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We spent about 2 hours at the farm, just idling around, plucking apples and enjoying the gorgeous weather. Ryan and Gillian exhausted a good amount of energy running up and down the rows of apple trees.

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Lullingstone Country Park

After the apple plucking, we went off to the Lullingstone Country Park for a short toilet break as well as a 15 minutes playground time for the kids. Just fyi, there are no toilets at The Hop Shop. The nearest toilets are located at the country park which is like a 5-10 minutes drive away.

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Lunch/Dinner at 5 Guys

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The last stop for Sunday was a Bluewater Shopping Centre where E and I(and Baby M) got our 5 Guys cravings satisfied. The day ended really soon since it was a Sunday and malls usually close at 5.30pm. We will definitely be putting The Hop Shop in our calendar next year for touring lavender fields!

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Click here to read about our strawberries picking trips at Hewitts Farm. (Post 1, Post 2)

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Time for Big School!

September 2015

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It was finally time for Ryan to start on his new school journey. We said farewell to his nursery two months ago and had a slow summer break. Prior to his first day, as parents, we semi-prepared him by bringing him to get his uniforms, showing him his school and sharing with him what are some possible activities he can expect when he attends school. The first day was especially nice that Gong Gong and MaMa were present to share this special day with him, other than just me, E and Gillian.

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Now that my parents are here, the morning breakfast routine is much more leisurely for me. It used to be a mad rush, with me waking up much earlier than everyone to ensure that breakfast is on the time. With my mom(who is a great chef) and my Papa(who is fastidious about cleanliness), life cannot be more relaxing. And I totally need to go slower at 36 weeks +1 day. As of now, my mom is in charge of preparing Ryan’s snack and lunch box. The best thing about it is that he always finishes everything MaMa prepares! Ryan loves her cooking, just like me! I should post a picture of his 愛心 lunch. Probably do that tomorrow on the blog!

So far, Ryan has been sharing with me mostly positive things about this experience in big school. He likes his teacher(Ryan thinks his teacher is hilarious!) and the activities they do in school. He tells me about the things he does with his classmates and friends as well. He also expressed how much he missed me and Gillian throughout the day which is really sweet of him. In fact, Gillian and Ryan always have his tender-sweet moments when Ryan returns from school. They would greet each other with such excitement, followed by kisses all over each other faces and a huge bear hug at the end of it. It always melts my heart whenever I see them behave in such a loving manner.

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There would be even more ‘firsts’ for E and myself as parents in the future. While I am always the concerned and nervous one, I have to be thankful for having E, as my ever-optimist to remind me that things are actually progressing normally. As Ryan starts on his new school journey, I pray that he will develop the love for learning, to be able to make good friends and to grow to be more God-centered.

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Click here to read about Ryan’s first day in Nursery! He have changed so much in just one year!

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Ryan’s Big School: Buying of School Uniforms/Shoes

August 2015

My eldest, Ryan will be attending formal school in September. Yes, I know time flies right! Just 4 years ago, he was a young baby waiting anxiously for Mummy to finish work so that we were able to drive to pick Daddy up before heading home. Now, Ryan is a young boy, with very good negotiation skills when it comes to getting his Peter Rabbit shows; he is becoming more dexterous in his playground play and he has a fixation with cars, fire engines, trucks as well as work tools.

Just a few weeks ago, we went to purchase the the school necessities for him, ala the tops, the school trousers, track pants, the fleece jacket, the jumpers, the cardigans, black shoes, black trainers the book bag, PE kit, and a school bag. Compared to Singapore, Ryan needed more items because of the cold weather. Honestly, E and I were shocked when the bill came. After talking to fellow parents, E and I realised we only needed to get specific items from that shop while the rest could be bought in the supermarkets. Lesson learnt. Read the school leaflet properly and check online before just going ahead blindly.

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We had Mac’s breakfast before we went to the uniform shop. Ryan also got his black Dr Martens school shoes at £32, which we thought was a steal. Heehee. The pending item was to get those name labels/stickers to put on the school items because apparently kids lose their things all the time. After checking with one of my NIE friends who is quite a lobang(deal) queen, Jessica recommended me to Stickers Garden. The response from the owner was really quick and I thought the variety of stickers were good and prices were quite reasonable. The items were sent to my mother’s address and they will be bringing over to London for the children!

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Gillian loves shoes. Hmm… yes. Not exactly a good habit. Actually. she likes anything girly. She is the typical ‘I like pink and anything princess-y’. Unfortunately, we seldom indulge her in these purchases as often as she would like to. She still have to wear Ryan’s hand-me-downs at home but she will always pair it with her pink ballerina tutu skirt. Hahaha. Ohwells. Having three children on a single income means we have to be more conscious of purchases. Let’s hope the kids will understand.

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After the finishing our uniform shopping, it was the Ryan and Gillian’s turn to have fun! Since it was a nice warm Saturday, we went off to a Weavers Field Park to exhaust the their energies.

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