Sunday, 28 October 2018

Trip to the hawker centre

We finally made our way to the BP hawker centre today!

Sito and I had been there before but the kids had been missing their toast and milo breakfast at a hawker centre for a while. Though we've done this at Yakun before, it is just different...

And today, I discovered the difference is both in feeling and price point - two hot beverages, three cold, and three sets of toasts for $8.40!

We took the 7.10 am bus to the hawker centre. Yu remained in the stroller until I went to buy food - came back to find him sitting on N's lap.

Prata for baby and me

So Kai and Yang got extra toast! 

Yu showing angry face - for fun! :p

We changed seats coz he wanted "yellow"

He can also drink really well from cups, even such a big one! I've upgraded his water bottle to the same as his brothers' and phasing out his straw bottles. That means one less brush on the rack!

Anyway, we went walking around the bustling market area after breakfast. Bought two pairs of PJ pants for Sito and a pair of casual culottes for me. Think I need to phase out some old yoga pants - Mum pointed out the thinning fabric a few weeks ago, oops...

Also bought food - a pandan cake, some mini Thai pineapples and long grapes, little gems and our regular bread. And a broom. And a pair of silicon pads for heels - $12 per pair and $20 for two so a fellow auntie suggested sharing so I took it. Aunties...

Took a nice walk home. Or nice for all but Kai who was whining the entire time coz "this is so tiring!"

Having their little gems after a good shower for sticky hands and sweaty bums!

Bonus photos from the afternoon :p

Kai had fun ferrying Yang who enjoyed it!

Yu did a little greeting but it wasn't such a fun ride for him...

"I've got Yu covered!" - serious!

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Saturdays at home

Today is the second consecutive Saturday that the kids did not go to school. I think I can get used to this.

Last Saturday morning at breakfast, Kai asked me super nicely if he could stay at home instead of going to school. He even gave a suggestion of what he could do at home - watch Harry Potter :p

It must have been since the HFMD incident in July, when Kai realised that his friends were able to stay at home, especially Saturdays. There had been quite a lot of resistance about going to school on Saturdays since then.

I did plan to do a lot that Saturday morning. But this came in the midst of re-evaluating priorities so I decided that paid work could wait, and I could still do other work with them around. So I agreed. He was so happy!

But I refused to turn on the TV before 10 am. So they spent some time running amok. Yang got punched on the lips by Kai and bled a little; he still had dead skin hanging off his lip this morning. But other than that, it was quite alright.

I even caught hold of them along the way to check whether their seldom-worn long-sleeved shirts and pants could still fit. Yang helped me fold some pants. Yu came in here and there but thankfully he didn't try to pull the clothes off the bed! All these are lying in a bag on Kai's floor, waiting to be packed into suitcases on Friday for our Taiwan trip!

Confirmed - the kids have more clothes than the parents

Checking out the new camera during nap time

It felt ok during the day but it must have been quite an ordeal coz I dozed off with the kids, woke to go back to my bed, and continued sleeping! That wasn't all - I slept super early again on Sunday!

Today - I'm still awake!

Packed more clothes again but also did goofy things with the kids.

Handsome baby!

Handsome boy!

Coz Kai wasn't interested :p

Yu bullied me!

His concentrating look while putting pegs on my clothes

I had wanted to bring them to the library before lunch but they were watching How to Train Your Dragon (love my Tencent app!) so I went on my own and got some new books back along with lunch.

Yu went down for a nap soon after lunch and I took a nap too. Dozed off while Kai and Yang were hanging out with Sito next to me...

Woke to crying babies asking for Orea at 230 pm *.* I gave them some expensive cakes from Chateraise downstairs - Halloween theme since this school doesn't do Halloween - but none of them finished theirs! 

Main activity of the day was swimming! No swimming tomorrow coz coach wasn't available. It rained a little but thankfully the sun came up and we were able to go down!

My happy boys!

Now Yang is less afraid and can even jump right in

After dinner, all of us stayed in our bed to watch YouTube Kids and read books etc. At one point, I saw a big bird fly by and pointed out to them all. We used to spend more time on our bed in the evening back in Holland. I think I really missed that...

All eyes on one screen or another :p

I think we will spend Saturdays at home from now :) After all, once Kai goes to primary school, it will only be difficult to have to send Yang and Yu.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Fiesty baby Yu

Kai and Yang wanted to continue watching the first Harry Potter movie at Mum’s place. Yu was playing with trains in the room and came out to watch too. But when he saw the three-headed dog, he said he was scared and wanted to go back to the room. I brought him in and left him to play with AhYe. Who knows, he opened the door to look for me - come, Mama. Come, Mama.

So I sat down with him watching the train go round and round. He looked so cute. I don’t think either of his brothers did that - sitting quietly to watch the train. I looked at his royal roundness sitting there, a soft mound of human baby ball, and I felt so contented.

Later, when the scary parts were over

Recently he’s been into singing and videos. We sat facing each other at bedtime to sing wheels on the bus. I especially love his expression at the baby crying verse - need to find an opportunity to take a video of that. I also started him on the same video schedule as his brothers when he turned two. Not too consistent yet but he really enjoyed the videos! I let him watch on the TV next to his brothers coz no more phones :p But last night he watched on my phone coz his brothers had their privilege taken away for mischief.

I meant to write only about the train incident but I have more to say about Yu :)

He is the only baby to know how to blow his nose before two. Kai learnt about two but quite certainly not before his second birthday. Yang was cutest - he could only make a hnngh! sound until some time last year. My fault actually - I always said hnngh! when I wanted to wipe his nose.

Yu is also a feisty boy. He doesn’t take it lying down when his brothers bully him. Got punched? Punch back! And always go for the head or face! But he loses out due to size so he would usually end up in tears. When he cries, he pushes his lower lip to one side, awww....

He also had the most sensitive bum. Kai really had a golden bum - inert matter unaffected by anything. Yang had a bit but more like his skin dryness than anything else. Yu leh? He had rashes here and there. But during his birthday week, he had a couple of loose bowels and his bum turned fiery red! There was even a small spot that was bright pink - raw flesh :( Diaper change at night was painful. Cream hurt. Aloe vera hurt. But at least aloe vera healed him a bit. I wonder if it’s his new milk formula - will monitor. Hope this stage passes quickly.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Taking the first step

So I tried applying for a job for the first time since 2015. I thought it was 2003 but I found a cover letter for my current job in my CV folder. I also found an incomplete resume, dated 2012.

I didn't get far coz it was late at night. So I decided to call the recruiter the next morning. No experience, many applicants, thanks and bye. Oh well, at least I didn't waste too much time on it!

But I'm prepared to leave.

Last Friday after the depressing train ride, I told Sito about my work-family situation. He gave me a simple response - 做得不开心就不要做了!

I did not expect this response and was pleasantly surprised.

Previously, I would think of the need to contribute to family finances and continue to burn this candle at both ends. Now, with my financial responsibility towards the family now absolved, I am able to look at my work-family situation again but from a different perspective.

I've come to realise that neither work nor family is getting enough of me. And critically, I'm not indispensable at work but I'm my kids' only mama.

Just this afternoon, Yu hurt himself accidentally and chose to go to N instead of me. Kai rubbed it in, saying that he didn't want me coz he didn't love me. Ouch.

And Kai has been difficult recently. There is a lot of punching that has since spread to his brothers. Yes, even Yu. And he also started resisting going to school on Saturday - he noticed that his classmates don't go on Saturdays. If I let him stay at home, Yang would not go as well and Yu would be the only kid there. But if I keep Yu at home, I won't get to work. It is a matter of time though, coz Kai would have no child care centre to go to from next year.

But I'm feeling very... 纠结.. I do like my work. I just don't care for the load. Seems drastic to just up and go. So I had an idea yesterday - to do part-time and get someone in to fill in the other part. Need to see how to get it realised. Also need to have a timeline in mind - if this doesn't work out, bye bye!

Friday, 12 October 2018

Baby Yu turns two!

Yu likes the birthday song a lot. I told him about his birthday coming up, and he was happy about the song, the cake, the candle. This was the first time he was cognisant of his birthday celebration. His brothers still blew out his candles before he could do it himself - I had to relight his candles for him - but no more such thing from next year!

Celebrations started Saturday, 6 October. We bought the scooter some weeks or months ago but kept it hidden until now.

Papa opened the present for Yu

"My very own scooter!"

We went downstairs to scoot around and played a little at the playground. Then we kept the scooters and went to the BPP playground. But the slide was wet after the rain earlier so we left to go to the library.

We only had two books to return so of course Kai and Yang snatched them for the book drop, leaving Yu with nothing to return :( So we waited around until a family came by and I thickened my skin to ask one of the kids if Yu could help return a book for him. New job scope for this mama... Lesson learnt: Always borrow three books!

Dinner was at Swensen's. We thought it would be nice to get the baby an ice cream cake. And they have kids' meals.

Yu had fish and chips with sweet corn

Happy birthday, Yu!

The wait staff's photo-taking skills left much to be desired.... But since we don't bring N out much these days, we make do! And wow, check out the number of baby chairs behind us!

Yu liked the frozen apricot

And he shows strong signs of being a lefthander...

Kai and Yang had an ice cream treat too

We had fun on kiddy rides before going to the supermarket just before going home

We continued the celebrations on Sunday! Shared an iced Milo with Yu during his brothers' swimming lesson, and collected his cake. Mum they all came over after the swimming lesson with presents, and we went for lunch downstairs.

Paw Patrol cake!


He didn't like the cake much though *.*

Managed to settle Yu down for a nap but not his brothers. Ah well, I went to nap too :p Kai and Yang were playing on their own coz N was off. Turned out pretty well, except that Kai and Yang finished up nine mini bananas at tea time, leaving none for Yu! :(

On our way from one end of blue line to one end of puple line - with two changes *.*

I was surprised that Yu was able to sit on the train for quite a while. Good boy :)

Good boy with small hands compared to Papa's

We got to Punggol Waterway Point - so far!!! Grabbed a cake and took a cab over to YQ's.

Having fun feeding fish

The little elephant was comfy too!


So stately, this one...

Dinner was steamboat. Kai and Yang liked to scoop things inside.

Yang ate a lot of rice that day...

Of course they must jump on the soda...


Yu waited patiently for us to light the candles, sitting right there next to WaiPo - good boy!

On his actual birthday, Yu went to school :p But not before we had a little cake for him!

Singing for our little boy :)

Checking out the cupcake

Yu finally had the chance to play with this!

It was real fun watching those wheels move...

Kai and Yang took over the train set on Sunday while Yu was busy with his little tricycle. It was a couple of days later that Yu managed to play with it! Again, no such thing next year!

My baby is growing up!

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Ironies and contradictions

The ironies

My work is in improving marital outcome and child outcome for vulnerable families. But I found that I no longer do little things for Sito, and I snap at the children when their call for attention eat into my working time at night.

What does that spell for my marital outcome? What does that spell for my child outcome? I worry.

Luckily, Sito is pretty low maintenance. But still, I do want to do little things for him like I did when I was in my previous job. Gosh, I gave up all that work-life balance for job satisfaction and now I'm feeling strained.

The children are super high maintenance though. Every so often, I tried to be a better Mama, a happier Mama. But when it gets late and they are still not sleeping, which I worry is bad for them, and worse, they come out looking for me, I snap at them - go back to sleep or else, I count to three and the cane comes out... All that guilt.

I recall writing a speech back in 2016. I wrote something along the lines of how parents should be more involved with their children rather than relying on the digital nanny. I wrote that on a Sunday at home - maybe Mum they all were away - with Kai and Yang sitting on the sofa next to me, a phone in each of their laps. My eyes were rolling to the skies as I typed away...

And then:

The contradictions

These are more about general policies. Our system is not coherent.

1) Have more children (NPTD)
- We have three! (Though that has nothing to do with government policy.)

2) Children need to sleep (HPB)
- Our babies go to bed early, mostly by 8 pm for Yu and by 9 pm for Kai and Yang.

3) Encourage women to work (MOM and all that ECDA childcare subsidies)
- I work full-time!

4) Better work-life balance through flexible work arrangements (NPTD, MOM)
- I leave office at 5.30 pm every day to settle the kids so I bring fucking work home every Monday to Thursday and Saturday, else cannot finish. In fact, still cannot finish.

5) Family life is important (MSF)
- 2+3 = no time to play with them after work on work days + need helper else no dinner, no clean house
- I’m too tired to play properly with them for the rest of the weekend

Partially written on the train after the last post. Less tears. Just anger.

Depressing thoughts on the train

I suddenly thought of 千手观音 on my way out of office. If I cannot have 10 more hours every day, how about 998 more hands? Can hold kids and laptop, and can type!

Had two pretty bad weeks. A mild case of sinusitis aside, the work has been suffocating. I really feel like throwing in the towel - go no pay or just quit. But the mortgage. The bills. The children. Our retirement.

Responsibilities. They beckon the WHOLE FUCKING TIME.

In between work and child care, I have no time to be nice to my family. 1000 hands or not, I’m not really 观音 leh, with that stately smile and 慈悲-ness.

I even had to write this on the MRT. My family is not with me on the MRT. The MRT. Gosh, it’s my saviour, the only time I have time to be myself, no talking, no fear of neglecting / ignoring my dear little family. And now great, for the third time in my working life, I cried because of work. On the fucking train.

Swear words had not left my head, heart and mouth the whole damn day.

Tmd. 真当我三头六臂吗?

5 October, 6.12 pm.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Kai on his own errand

Yesterday, Kai complained of "vomiting pain" just before we left for school. I put some oil on his belly and shoved him out of the house. But he was still feeling the pain when we got to the school. I had my doubts but I relented - no more such things comes primary school!

I happened to have no meetings so I decided to teelcommute and watch over him. I sent him home with N while I grabbed breakfast. When I got back, I found him looking forlorn on the sofa so I let him watch Monster Hunt - he thought TV, I thought Chinese :p

Coz OKTO doesn't start until 9 am

I think he was all fine before it was 9 am *.* So he spent the rest of the day watching TV, jumping around, playing toys...

At first, we wanted to have Swensen's for lunch but when we got downstairs, we thought prata was a good idea! But then we would need his water bottle coz they don't give water.  So I asked him if he wanted to go get his bottle by himself. He looked at me for only a split second and asked me for the door access card :) As he was leaving the prata place, he made sure I would stay where I was.

I watched my boy go into the walkway leading to our block, just a few steps away from the prata place. I didn't feel as scared as I would be if he had to go through a lot of public walkways. When he came back clutching his bottle under his armpit and the card in the other hand, I thought that was the cutest thing I saw the whole day - he looked pleased. I was certainly pleased :)

He told me the security guard asked him where I was. I asked him what he said. He said nothing. Duh. He also told me N was surprised (he paused a little on the word coz he used to use it exclusively on Kinder Surprise!) when he got back. He also said no one else spoke with him - I think it was coz we told him to be careful about tricky persons who might strike up a conversation with children.

Enjoying his prata which came while he was away

And then we had ice cream but shhh, don't tell your brothers!

I was thinking about coaching him more on practical life skills. I want to co-opt him into housework for example :p But perhaps the more critical ones like going to places on his own, using money, etc first.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Revisiting our old neighbourhood

Yesterday was the first time we had dinner at Holland Village since we moved away six months ago. Gosh, time really flew!

Crystal Jade Kitchen had just renovated. The new shopping mall has been up for a while and Yakun is back in the neighbourhood. I took a quick look around the hawker centre area and other things seemed unchanged.

We still go to Mum's place almost weekly so we pass by Holland Village all the time. Kai and sometimes Yang would ask about our old house. Yesterday Kai even asked whether we could go have a look at our old house. Awww. I just said I had no keys and he said oh.

To be honest, I felt quite sad whenever I saw the empty house back in March as we were moving out and when I went back to settle loose ends. It’s so... empty. I could even hear my own echo. 有一点心酸……

I asked the boys sometimes whether they missed the old house. Yes, they said. About the long room where they all slept on the floor together - this coming from Yang who is the only one sleeping on a proper bed now that Kai sleeps on Yu's bed. I miss that room and the setup too. The Sunday mornings of playing guji guji in the room.

I would not expect Yu to have any memories about the old house. But I’m glad they all spent some of their early years there, that I would always remember bathing three infants in the little basin and then the kitchen basins, much as I would have loved to move earlier.

Holland will always be special to us, having been our first marital home, our first home where we spent crazy infant care days, our boys’ first home.

The windmill that is no longer there, just like us

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