Wednesday, 1 April 2020

WFM vs. HBL - round 1

The most common abbreviations these days: work from home vs. home-based learning.

And today, these two had their first showdown!

I think WFM kena KO-ed.

This is my week in office but I decided to WFM today to help Kai with his first HBL day. He was scheduled for 12 nn to 2 pm so I drew up a timetable for the morning to keep him occupied for the morning:

8 am: Read narrated picture books

I chanced upon these marvellous books yesterday and Kai likes it! He read two books yesterday evening. So I downloaded more last night in preparation for today. He read a few books and went on to an old Cat in the Hat app to read it. I was so happy that he was reading for over an hour!

Pulled out our old iPad and a stand that was almost never used

His brothers enjoy the narrated books too, especially Yang who even sat through an audiobook

My grand plan is to slowly move him to wordier books.. By force if I have to! Though that would mean I need physical books and my glasses - I should probably make proper glasses than rely on $2 versions... We'll see..

Anyway, next..

9 am: Play Rubik's cube

I got him a new 4x4 cube recently. But he was playing with it during breakfast so he didn't want to play again. He decided to skip to the next activity which was supposed to start at 9.30 am, since it was about 9.15 am by then.

9.30 am: Draw or paint

He chose to paint. I left it to him to get paper, paint, paintbrush and palette. I didn't notice how he was painting behind me on the dining table coz I was working. Then he showed me paint flecks on the floor, and he went to shower. I continued working until he finished showering and told me to look at the walls.

Goodness. There were spots of paint on the two walls facing the table!

I gave him wet wipes and had him wipe down the walls. He exclaimed that he was so tired! But nope, he had to deal with the consequences. Recapped this at bedtime just now - good, he now knows splattering paint about isn't so fun when cleaning is involved!

He went to lie down in bed to rest after that. Really tired!

11.30 am: Lunch

He took lunch a little earlier. He asked if we could have tea. I have stopped giving him afternoon on weekdays coz it was too much right after lunch which affected his dinner. But today he had an early lunch so I agreed to afternoon tea.

12.00 nn: HBL starts

Unlocked the laptop for him and help him log into the platform. He told me he got all his answers correct for his first assignment, which was Chinese. I praised him. Then I pretty much left it to him to do everything.

Of course there were questions and comments - how to spell this, how to draw (no need to draw!), how to get out of this (window), do I spell the number, oh I watched this before, ah so tired! This boy doesn't read instructions too carefully so I kept reminding him about that.

Starting on SLS

I also referred to the WhatsApp message on what to do. It mentioned to refer to two hardcopy thing. I had to dig his mess out of his school bag to help him find. Found the maths one which he did on his own. But I couldn't find the English one. He eventually finished all by 1.45 pm. I had him do five star jumps before I let him loose on his one hour of laptop games.

A short while in, he complained about a dialogue box on lack of space. I found that his lousy laptop has run out of storage! And someone had deleted some audio pen files I downloaded some time ago... Anyway, it's still good for e-learning.

Shortly after, he started to throw a tantrum and cry. I had to go calm him down. Of course that escalated pretty quickly and I had to threaten to take the laptop away if he didn't calm down. I mean, why play when it makes you unhappy?! He was still sulking when he went back to the game but after a while, he told me that ok, he had calmed down. Gosh. He tends to dis-regulate quite a bit. I just did a quick google and will go read more...

With games, I finally managed to finish work in peace!

At 3 pm, we left the house for afternoon tea. He wanted to stay in but hello, nothing to eat at home. And I think he could really do with going out after being cooped up at home for much of the day. And he deserved tea :)

He asked for Yakun, as expected. So we had that before I picked up some toiletries at Watson while he dashed about the shop - I brought Yu there before and seriously, I don't know who was the more difficult one!!

When we got back, I decided to teach him - once again - how to pack his bag properly. I found crumpled pieces of paper in his bag, and the nth broken book cover, sighs. I also repacked his comms book which I didn't dig out just now, and a good thing I did coz I found that he had written about Chinese homework which was not mentioned in WhatsApp or SLS!

One item couldn't be found. The other, he could do mostly on his own. And while he was doing, I keyed in my expenditure today and happened to check my emails. And lucky I did, for his form teacher had sent an email about him (and some others in bcc) forgetting to bring back his worksheet - ah, that missing English worksheet!

It is due tomorrow so I had to print it out. But our printer has an issue with black. I did a power clean and thankfully, it worked!

Now, we're doing HBL once a week. We're entering a new era of blended learning now, the pace made quicker and more urgent due to the COVID-19 situation. This means we are likely to have more HBL in future. SAHPs have no issue and welcome it coz safer for kids to stay at home. WFH vs. HBL is a problem of regular working parents.

But the group of parents who can't WFH and have no caregiving support, the children who need teachers' help to cope, the children who already have school attendance issues - would they be stranded somehow? Kai's school has support for parents who need help. But I know at least R's school doesn't and her student care would take the kids only from 1.30 pm onwards. Hope this won't end up with some children missing out on learning.

So there. Our first showdown; more to come. Maybe next time I just go to office and let him loose on the laptop. So tiring with kid at home while WFH, with laptop issues, with homework surprises!

I gave myself a facial mask just now. I deserved it.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Another water issue!!!

Kai's wall, Yang's wet parquet, and now Yang's window!

Two Sundays ago, 22 Mar 2020, I came back from grocery shopping to find Yu awake from his nap and everyone (except Sito) in Yang's room. A was drawing the curtains apart and we saw water coming in from the window! The curtain was damp and the floor was wet!

A got some cloths in but they weren't enough. I got Kai to bring me one of their sandplay pails and finally reduced the amount of water on the floor.

Not too clear but water was coming in from the window!

Went to the management office on Monday morning - one good thing about working from work that week! Sent the video I took to them and heard back from the contractor later. But the guy on motorbike got stuck in the rain and I had to go fetch Yang and Yu so it was rescheduled to Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, an Indian man greeted me in Mandarin at the door. My whole family can bow our heads in shame with our Mandarin :(

Anyway, he and his colleague drilled holes in the window frame to let out the water trapped in the hollow frame. Apparently the water went in through the drill holes for my window grilles. Sian, all the contractors kept saying it was my renovation!!  First two times definitely not! This time, I honestly can't tell coz I didn't stick my head out...

Sticking his head out of the window

So far so good. No more water coming in. But I'm still monitoring. Fear the next heavy downpour!

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Forced to work from home

This week, we started a trial on split teams. I happen to be on the team that is starting with working from home this week.

Monday, I sent Kai to school and came home to find Yang playing and having breakfast at the dining table, and Yu playing in GeGe's room. Took them some 30 minutes before they left the house.

Plenty of boy sounds

Tuesday, I came home just as they were wearing shoes - earlier than usual, yeah! And they hugged me while I was standing upright, which meant they felt my belly and told me they love Mama fat fat :)

Today, I came home to find them 3/4 dressed - Yang was still in his pyjamas top. Sent him to brush teeth and sent them off from the door. Looks like they're beginning to get used to me coming home though - not sure if it's a good thing...

And CCAs are cancelled for these two weeks so Kai came back earlier today. He had a pleasant surprise - Papa is home too!

What they're doing while I write - my work stuff had been swept to the sides

I have a nice setup at home - two screens plus internet laptop at my disposal! But I don't really like working from home - chair less comfy, no aircon without blasting half the house, lighting not as good. But not having to travel so much is good. I have been working through Kai's lunch so I end up working more *.* And I must say it's nice to sit near Sito who is working from home these three days :)

Let's see how long this trial would last. Or whether it would go beyond a trial...

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

My vanity cabinet, my love :)

One of my favourite corners at home is the vanity cabinet. I was very taken with CW&SY's one when I first saw it years back. So I made sure our ID made one in our second home :)

It has seven shelves. I use mostly the middle shelves on a daily basis for skincare and hair. With such a neat and user-friendly layout, even Sito uses the hairdryer sometimes! He has things in the cabinet too - shaver and nail clipper, and extra bottles of hair gel and facial cleanser.

The four most used shelves

It's such a joy and pleasure to be able to put on beauty products and makeup easily. And even my daily jewellery can be easily switched about coz I keep a few staples here - notice the white wall hooks with my necklaces and rings? - rather than in two jewellery boxes that won't fit here. If I had more time, I could imagine doing up my hair easily at the cabinet too. Everything is so well within reach!

The unfortunate thing is that things are also well within reach of little hands. Suffice to say plenty from the lower shelves have been dropped before...

The latest additions to the vanity case - excluding stores of regular toiletries - happened last week. We went for dinner at Mother's place, and as usual, she dug out some old stuff. This time, it was jewellery. I didn't recognise the grape pendant as mine but I took the earrings immediately - my old earrings from, what, upper primary?! No one remembers where they are from though or whether they're real!

Still so shiny after 30 years!

Then on Friday evening, while waiting for Sito, I made my usual pilgrimage to Miniso to look for cheap pressed powder. And this time, I found it! But they wouldn't let me buy that one compact coz it was five for $10. I ended up getting two compacts coz there were only two of this colour, and spent a long time trying to find three other things that I would use. Also swept two bottles of nail polish into my basket.

All for $13.90

Tried the nail polish - it's peel-off! Kai saw my toenails the next day and went, they're green! Yang knows about nail polish coz his friend, Cadence, told him about it. And this name was first heard in this house coz Yang wanted to marry her, hmmm...

I haven't opened the compact yet coz I'm not done with my current one but I opened up all the lip stain, tint and stick! The golden one can be used on the eyes - which is why I got it. I mean, I'm not about to put gold on my lips! The matt tint ended up on my cheeks this morning and worked well!

I was thinking if I had more time, I might start an Instagram - less work than a blog - on beauty on a budget. I personally don't know anyone who uses Miniso makeup but it's quite good!

Monday, 23 March 2020

Cooking Sunday!

I bought some puff pastry a while back to make sausage rolls but then I realised it would be tough to roll that block pastry into sheet pastry... I finally used the block to make egg tarts yesterday :)

But I forgot the sugar until I started to add the egg yolks! I just spooned some 10 big teaspoons of sugar into the hot milk mixture without measuring - I figure I used less than the one cup in the recipe!

And the mixture started to solidify more quickly than I expected so it was like scooping thick custard into the pastry.. And it was hard to get it to brown evenly. Oh well, taste is most important!

I'm ashamed to write down how many I had...

Baked pizza in the same morning so I was very very busy trying to juggle the preparation and timing!

Dinner time was easy. I only had to bake the pasta. The nuggets were frozen and fried with the airfryer.

Notice the sauces from Macs? :p

Two weeks ago, I fried some egg noodles and Sito pan-seared a few scallops. Both were yummy! We try to cook on Sundays when we're home - to let the kids eat what their parents like and pass down our tastebuds too! :p

Friday, 20 March 2020

To the zoo, a party and the bird park!

This school holiday week was not as expected.

We had intended to go to Legoland but cancelled it a while back due to COVID-19. A week ago, we kind of regretted the cancellation when we learnt from JY how empty it was. Then suddenly, Malaysia announced lock-down - on the day we were supposed to go! We were very lucky.

I was lucky in another way too. Balloted for zoo corporate pass on Wednesday and got it. So off to the zoo we went!

On the bus there

I like to take photos of us in the bus coz the kids were usually happy

Met JY at the entrance coz I had extra tickets - or so I thought. I had foolishly printed the pass wrongly! Instead of printing two passes which admitted four each, I printed the same pass twice!!! JY was very kind and decided not to go after all coz JD wasn't all for it in the first place, but I was completely mortified, and continued to feel so every so often that day :(

Well, the trip went on...

"Are they orang utan like ours?"

They were very interested in this big one!

Coz it was chewing on some nut!

But Papa was busy *.*

They rode a big tortoise!

Very game to pose for me and my camera haha!

Staring at lizards

And of course, they must go on the merry-go-round!

Yu was told the giraffe couldn't go up and down, but he still wondered why...

Queueing up to feed the giraffe

Yang didn't want to feed at first so when the zookeeper came to spritz our hands with sanitiser, he told him so and skipped the hand sanitiser. Then he changed his mind. I said he had to ask the zookeeper to give him a spritz too. Yu heard me, and went straight to the zookeeper, "My Yang Yang wants to feed the giraffe!" So the zookeeper walked back a bit to spritz Yang.

I love how Yu did that - just like how he gamely asked the staff at Legoland whether he could take the boat ride again. No chance to see Yang in action - not for lack of trying but he didn't have the chance coz Yu acted so fast this time!

I love this photo - they're holding hands! - and paid $25 for it *.*

They enjoyed watching the leopard pace to and fro; I think the leopard was angry :p

Lunch at KFC!

We just beat the lunch crowd, yeah! After lunch, both of them had to poop *.* Yu left the toilet too quickly and I was blocked by a wheelchair. Had a scare when I couldn't find him but he found me - he had run off to the side. And Yang almost didn't make it to the toilet - we had to dash to the one behind the water play area coz the KFC one was full.

Our navigator? :p

I couldn't help it!!!

We spent a lot of time there coz the boys were at the playground. Used ice cream to entice them to move on...

Sharing boys

Panda time!

They spent more time with fake pandas *.*

Papa took Yang on a boat ride

Yu was very sad. I told him that last time when we were there, he was in my arms and Yang couldn't make the height then. Only Kai went with AhYe and AhMa. Now Papa went with Yang. So next time, I would go with him!

Welcoming Papa and Yang with a roar??

Always happy to see divers

Happy with his baby monkey - finally one of his own! No need to steal his brothers' monkeys in the dead of the night!

Now where was Kai??

He got a birthday party invitation after I got the zoo pass. I let him choose which to go to and well, the answer was obvious. But it was a good split - he had a lot of fun at the party, and brought back a reusable science kit which he tried a few times already. We had a lot of fun too coz Yang and Yu were very well-behaved when their troublemaker brother was not with them!

Three of them together always spells trouble, E.g. I was very pissed off and tired yesterday when I brought them to Mother's place for dinner! It was ok when I brought Kai out for a movie in the morning - we watched Trolls World Tour!

And today, Mum and Dad brought Kai out while I went back to work.

Bird park!

I must say Kai's expressionless face can be quite funny in photos!!

And that's the end of school holidays!

Monday, 16 March 2020

Kai lost two milk teeth...

... last year!

I was going through photos when I realised I didn't write about this. Or at least I can't find in this blog!

While some of his friends already lost their upper front teeth in kindy, Kai found a loose tooth the week he turned seven. I remember he cut his first tooth very near his first birthday so I guess his milk teeth are taking their time to go too?

We were both excited about the loose tooth. Then on 23 Jul 2019, he PLUCKED it out after dinner *.*

After we cleaned up the blood in his moth

I had washed and dried it, and put it under his pillow before sending him to bed with dreams of the tooth fairy. When the boy found a coin in place of the tooth the next morning, he told me, “I think there’s no tooth fairy. It’s you.”

But he liked having the money in his piggy bank. So I hoped he would brush his teeth more regularly after that but that hope was shortlived. Now I have to use points to make him brush teeth - 10 points to watch (funny) videos in the evening.

He lost his second tooth on 22 Sep 2019. But this tooth fairy fell asleep without doing her job so Kai waved his tooth above my head before 6 am - you did not give me a coin!! Even though the cat was out of its bag, we still played this silly game coz he wanted to catch me at it! :p

I keep his milk teeth in this nice little box that I got some years (!) back. I got three of them hoho! Yesterday, I found a note I wrote back in September and showed it to him. I forgot that was meant to go into the box and given to him when he's grown! Silly old Mama!

Anyway, I showed him the box. He didn't like the cover much but wanted to look at his teeth - so tiny :)

Then I put the note together with the box and kept it away. Hope the third teeth won't keep us waiting for too long!

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Another attempt at exercising

Jo inspired me to exercise. Since Yang decided to stop going for Yamaha, I put on my old New Balance last Saturday but strain them I did not.

I walked across the junction and started a slow jog from BPP. The next junction stopped me - and I was grateful! - but after that, no junction until my destination. As expected, I couldn't go without stopping for a walk every so often. And the drains emitted a strange but not too nasty smell.

I was very glad to reach the hawker centre! In all, I moved for only some 10 min *.*

But no, I didn't go overcompensate.. I only wanted to get some cakes for tea later. With a bag in my hand, I didn't bother jogging back. Who am I kidding - I wouldn't jog back even without the bag, ha! I just did some arm exercises on the way back.

By evening time, I felt a developing soreness. By the next day, it got worse! My thighs were killing me!!!!! Yang and Yu helped by walking up and down the back of my thighs :) I used a massage stick to hit the muscles for a couple of nights, and developed bruises instead *.*

Those darn bruises

Yesterday, I went jogging again. This time, I took the other route to the hawker centre as I wanted to check out the other market. And this time, I went slow when I was tired instead of stopping. And I didn't actually hit the hawker centre - I turned back just before the junction and jogged a little until I hit the next corner. Like before, I did arm exercised after that.

This other market is nearer but smaller. But I think I can go there next time to pick up some yong tau foo, and even bring the kids for breakfast one day - they have toast and prata!

My route yesterday - yes, very slow pace!

Hope to keep this up! Really need to lose some weight and get healthier...

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Common side dishes for the kids

I have dinner blues.

Since we changed helpers, dinner time has become super stressful for both the kids and me. Previous helper used to either feed or poke them to keep feeding themselves, generally coaxing them to finish their food and quickly.

The kids still don't like this helper as much. Yu doesn't even want her to feed him unless I went to the toilet or shower. So I had to feed when Yu doesn't feel like feeding himself.

I'd much prefer to just watch them eat and chat with them or read books to them, and let someone else poke them to eat :(

Finally, this week, I decided to make a change to dinner.

We used to put all the meat and egg/tofu and vege onto individual bowls of rice for them. From Monday, I told A to put all the side dishes on a tray plate and told the kids to take side dishes for themselves.

1) They must try everything.
2) They decide how much or little of each dish they want.
3) One boy can't have all of one side dish; they must share unless the others decide they don't want any more of it.

First two days went better than expected. They helped themselves to the side dishes but of course, they didn't eat much vege - 20% of vege were taken at best. But I was already happy that they actually took a bit of vege!

We had fried rice yesterday and resumed the common side dishes today. For the first time, Yu didn't want any side dishes! I had him try some egg and fish, and he wanted them - yeah! No luck with the vege and tofu though...

Yang and Yu sat together on Tuesday

Feeding themselves very well!

There are still other woes at dinner time. Kai usually starts and finishes his dinner first. Then he would keep talking to his brothers, especially Yang. I had to stop him from asking Yang to play chess else Yang could not finish his food!

And of course, they continue to be slow. Have to work on that separately. For now, I'll focus on giving them some power over their dinner and introduce more varieties to them through A's cooking!

Yang was still eating; why can't Kai play quietly like Yu??

To change or not to change....Mama!

Some days ago, I was scolding them at dinner time (more on that separately) when Yang gave me a black face and said he wanted Papa to go back to when they were small and choose a different Mama coz Mama so fierce!!!

Sobs :(

Then I went nenenibubu! Haha! No, I didn't. I simply told him to go tell Papa that. Later that night, I added that if Papa had chosen a different Mama, they might not be Yang - gasp! But don't think he got that.

Well, that was sad for me :(

But tonight, as I stepped out of their room. He came down from his bed to hug me. Then he went, "Mama so warm, I like! So happy that when GeGe and me and Yu were young, Papa chose this Mama! Coz this Mama so warm!"

My silly boy :)

I made my kids cry :(

Just now, I made Yu cry.

He was going "I'll hit your face ah!" just before bedtime so I had to sit him down to talk it through. I even had to bring in the police - yes, 马达来抓 *.* We went all the way to jail and yet he wanted to be a bad guy! So I told him, ok go be a guy and go to jail, don't be my son anymore, and rolled him off my lap to the bed.

He rubbed his left eye. I thought, oh no. I asked him if he was sad and he burst out in tears!

Poor boy! Nasty Mama!

I cuddled him once again and assured him that he would always be my dear son!

This happened to Kai before as well. It was likely before Yu came. One night, when he should be in bed, he came over to our room. He stood in front of the bed, and started crying, saying "Don't tell me to go away coz I like you!" and pointing to me!

I still remember Sito and I were sitting in bed facing the door - that was our old house - and we were sitting there as he said that. Poor kid! We sayang-ed him and sent him back to bed.

This was still my fault coz I had this tendency to say "go away" kiddingly but babies, they don't know we're kidding!

Yang asked me to tell him the same thing - he smiled throughout and then said, "I never cry!" Gosh, psychopath in the making? Hoho!

The two boys I made cry

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Catching up with an old friend!

Took leave to catch up with Jo on Wednesday. Gosh, how long haven't we met?!

Dropped off at Far East Plaza after sending Kai to school. I wasn't sure if there were seats at Ion for me to wait until 7.45 am so I sat at Far East for a while. I intended to leave at 7.30 am but I took off when I heard a fart from the guy sitting in front of me - I looked up and even saw him adjusting his bum! So hilarious that I texted Sito this random incident :p

So I reached Yakun by 7.30 am. And Jo was there already! So good to start the day early :)

Friends of 26 years!

We chatted over and after breakfast, then walked around Ion n times as we chatted. And we set off for Central as we continued to chat. We popped into a few shops to see things but spent the most time in Uniqlo at Central.

This 损友 had me buy two pairs of shorts when I had wanted just one :p She bought a lot more to bring back. Uniqlo now charges for bags. I forgot my little bag but managed to squeeze my items into my bucket bag. Jo had a bag with her and squeezed over $300 worth of clothes into that. While she was packing, a memory came to me - Jo packing a pair of shoes into a ziplock bag! Gosh, that was secondary two, I think...!

Maccha dessert for lunch! Check out her bag of clothes on the seat

Went to fetch Kai after his CCA. We managed to convince him that Jo was sleeping over at our place - she went back with us, carrying her bag of clothes you know, haha! Kai was surprisingly chatty, maybe coz my dear friend could speak Nintendo!

Then we went to fetch Yang and Yu. They were surprised to see someone with me. But they were hardly shy at dinner time - they continued to refuse food as usual! In fact, Yu later told me that he didn't want to eat coz auntie was there!!

Sent Jo downstairs to wait for her friend who was putting her up. It was maybe 7 pm then so we spent some 11 hours chatting! No wonder I had an itchy throat the next day... But it was so nice to finally meet!

With work and kids, it's hard to go out much. Sito and I are lucky to have our weekly date night. But with friends, it's largely over WhatsApp now. To be able to catch up in person is such a luxury!

Childhood grooming

I started cutting nails for the kids again when we changed helpers in December. And more recently, I started filing Yu's nails coz he always has some scratch marks on his face. Now, Kai wants his nails filed as well coz he likes the feeling!

This morning, I was giving them a manicure when I suddenly thought about how we used to lie down on Mother's lap at the door when the light was better so she could dig our ear wax! That started after I had to go to a polyclinic to get ear wax out - that was quite shiok, with warm water and huge chunks of ear wax coming out, haha!

I don't dig their ears. So scary. Anyway, no issue of them not hearing me; if they don't respond to me, it's coz they are ignoring me or they are too distracted!

Anyway, I thought we should have some visible memories of such childhood grooming so I asked Sito to take a photo.

Three pairs of eyes on the TV, one pair on nails

I didn't expect that Kai and Yu were holding hands! Love :)

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