Wednesday, January 27, 2010 ;
7:57 PM
26 Jan

Had an impromptu early bday celebration for ds1. It was totally not planned. My mom happened to buy more stuff from NTUC and the wet market that day. She offered to come to my place to cook.

Just so happened me and my sis arranged to go to Moms in Mind's showroom that day to browse and buy some nursing wear, and my bro-in-law took leave to take care of my niece and nephew and ferry my sis around. So they were invited to my place as well.

My dad's feet are painful so he didn't join, and Dh was informed and he was agreeable, so we turned it into ds1's bday dinner since so many people were available for dinner. haha.

I went to Jurong Point's Bakerzin to get an Oreo cheesecake and we're set.

Here's a pic with my sis and her family. It was tough to get a good pic with 4 squirmy active kids. This was the best I could do.

And my mom with her 4 grandkids and coming 5. Not too bad, she has 2 offspring but 5 and perhaps more (not from me though) grand-offspring.

Just the 4 of us. See ds2 not interested in posing, but already eyeing the cake. Btw, he had soooo much cake (even ate ds1's leftovers) till he had to sit in the toilet soon after that.

And the simple but heartwarming meal my mom prepared. Really looks very very simple. But it fed all of us and had so much leftovers.

Too many people have their birthdays in Jan and Feb, I think. Another cousin's birthday.
And then there is our 3rd, our baby in the family, also around this time. I hope it doesn't coincide with ds1's exact birthdate though, cos I think kids like to have their own special unique day. If they had to share bday celebrations every year, it might not be that special?

This cousin's bday was at my in laws' place. Ds1 will have a cake at my in laws' place this coming Sunday too. Is it this way with most Singaporean families too? A cake with the mom's side plus all the cousins from that side, a cake with the dad's side, a cake with church friends.... anymore?

Sometimes, one more within the own nuclear family? And one more in preschool or school?

I only know, when they grow bigger, it would be with many more friends. So right now, I'm just happy they like and want to celebrate it with us.

Right after this particular celebration at my in laws' place, I went home and started having intense contractions. It came regularly at night till about 3min apart, and that's when I thought, oh no, is it time? Fortunately I didn't wake my mom or the whole world, cos I thought I'd just wait.

It petered out in the morning, and then died down. Hmm, my first practice run...

And then these relatively more intense tightenings (more so that the Braxton-Hicks that I had experienced before) continued sometimes over Mon till now. But always never increasing past 5min interval, so I know it is not the real thing. However, it does affect my day somewhat.

I get tired, hot, sweaty, and have to stop what I am doing sometimes. So when I was walking to Jurong Point to run an errand, I would have to pretend to browse in the display window. While actually I was having a bad cramp, and I would lean against the pillar or window, cos the pelvis seemed very loose and painful. Weird, didn't experience it this bad for the previous 2 pregnancies. I just didn't want too much attention, so I had to keep acting like I was a normal browsing customer.

I can't walk too much or do too much without having to sit down and rest also. Really feel very old and clumsy.

My friend says all these practice runs may result in an easier actual labour. Let's hope and pray it is true!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Sunday, January 24, 2010 ;
2:31 PM
There is a 45min break between ds1's and ds2's school bus pick up in the morning. Since we subscribe to the Straits Times, I usually drink my morning cuppa hot beverage while reading the papers and waiting for ds2's turn to go to school.

He usually plays with his Lego while I read the papers. Now he likes to "follow" me and read the papers. But you know how the papers are structured right? Kids his age have difficulty turning the pages and the papers keep getting out of hand or dropping off his lap. He got pretty frustrated reading it after a while. Anyway, it seems he was busy reading the classified ads that day when I snapped this pic, haha.

Another random pic. I happened to change into this green polo tee and white tights that day to pick ds1 up from the school bus stop. After that, we walked to Jurong Point to get some stuff and meet with my sis and nephew/ niece, and walked back just in time to pick ds2 up. Then I realised that we happened to all in be in a green and white ensemble. So funny.

So my sis took a pic of the 3 of us, the gang in green and white.

I remember seeing a lot of car lifts/ elevators in land-scarce Kyoto city center. However, I hadn't actually used one in Sg yet. The other day, Dh and I went to the hospital that I was going to deliver in to complete the pre-admission registration procedures and encountered this in the multi-storey carpark. Quite amusing.

It's a much older system than the one I saw at Takashimaya in Kyoto though.

The carpark here at this Sg's private hospital is quite cramped and crowded. Dh and I miss KKH's easy parking and big spacious hospital. We also enjoyed the Private Suite service at KKH with both ds, and loved shopping at the Mothercare and other shops whenever we went for antenatal appts.

This time, because I am going to attempt VBA2C again, and KKH is not supportive of that, I changed obgyn and hospital. But we actually feel the standard of Sg's government or public restructured hospitals to be very good and it does not lose to any of the private hospitals. Only some of the policies tend to be more conservative, like the refusal to do VBA2C.

Playing with the steamer again.

Have tried using steamer to heat up edamame beans (those Japanese soy beans), and also find cooking and baking hard work nowadays. So my mom kindly buys the veg and fish for me, and prepares them nicely for me. I just have to assemble, and steam. (Moms are always great women.)

So we still get to have home cooked meals everyday. My mom doesn't eat with us, she may at most take some food back to share with my dad. So Dh and I will share in the cleaning up work after dinner. And I have so far not been too overworked. The Braxton-Hicks contractions have thus died down in intensity.

But I realise if I walk long distances and stand for a long time, like the other day, I walked long distances and still attempted to buy a lot of stuff at NTUC, including a 5kg sack of rice, I suddenly had bad leg cramps, in one foot then the other as well! It was such agony.

Fortunately I was with my sis and I sat down until it subsided then quickly went home. I cannot afford to go out alone too far and attempt strenuous things now, I think!

(This pic shows the silver pomfret. Very very delicious and sweet and fresh. Our whole family loves it. Before steaming. And oh yes, Phebe, if you are reading this, thanks for your Ikea glass plates, they fit well in the steamer and stood the steaming test well.)

So I put the fish at the bottom cos it will take the longest, and I put my other veg dishes in the 2nd and top tier, and steam. This pic below shows the veggie in the top tier. And this is the Tefal steamer I was talking about!

Very worth it, cos it functions as my "microwave oven" as well but it is so much cheaper!

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

2:15 PM
20 Jan

DH's sis' family were back from Perth for a couple of days to settle some admin matters. It was a very very short visit so we only met up 2x. Once was when they just arrived and brought Australian produce over to our house and we showed them around our newly renovated flat.

Then there is this whole extended clan dinner at the Science Center Sakura restaurant just before they left Sg for Perth again. The kids had a great time playing with each other. See ds2, either getting a ride on his Guzhang's feet or being piggy backed by his Aussie cousin brother.

All the cousins together.

Another group cousin pic.

Being hugged and loved by their Aussie cousin sis.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Wednesday, January 20, 2010 ;
9:22 PM
The kids caught a mild cold this past week. They resumed swim class, and they started school, and ds2 started having no naps...
I am not sure if they caught a cold due to being too cold at the swim class, or whether it is cos they were suddenly exposed to many other kids in school, or adjusting to a new and more tiring schedule... Whatever it is, it is adjustment time, so they got sick.... Sore throat, sniffling and a cough that occurs only at night.

However, they love school so much that they insist on going to school still, and since they don't have a fever and the only symptom they have in the morning is a sniffle, I let them go. But I cancelled their swim class last week and this week cos that, I figured, could aggravate the sniffles.

8 Jan

While the kids were in school, I managed to meet up with 2 Sec school classmates whom I haven't seen for about 15 years! Seriously!

They were back from the USA for the seasonal hols and we had recently gotten in touch again via FB. They were willing to travel to Jurong Point and so I waddled over to lunch with them at Crystal Jade (they said, no western food for them, cos they've been living in the USA for about 8-10 years).

We had a great time catching up. We started from after JC, cos I only know they went to RJC and then after that to Uni/ college in the USA and then we lost contact. One of them is in New York now, while the other is based in Silicon Valley.

They haven't changed much despite the long stay abroad. They were in fact trying to use their Mandarin as much as possible so they won't lose touch with it. They still speak fine, I feel, after all, we were from a SAP school that was steeped in the Chinese culture.

They were so hungry for Asian cuisine, it was funny. After Crystal Jade, I had to leave to pick ds1 up but they went for more prata, at Prata Wala within Jurong Point!

Singaporeans are all the same. No matter how long we have been abroad, the one thing we miss besides family and friends would be the food.

10 Jan

Celebrated the kids' cousin's bday at his house. Dh's brother's son. None of the pics came out proper, cos half of the kids were focussed on the computer game they were playing just before the cake cutting began. So every pic had at least one kid turning back to view the game in progress. Sigh.

The 1st weekend after a week of school, I showed ds1 the steps in washing his shoes. Including how much laundry detergent to use and how to brush the shoes properly inside and out.

This is the 2nd weekend, where he washed his school shoes all by himself. Showed him how to bring them outside to sun dry as well. I have this compelling need to train both boys how to do as many things by themselves as possible before I birth the baby and before Dh leaves us for France.

11 Jan

I was dead tired in the evening when Dh came home. I was rushing to finish dinner, and go for the free baking class Mayer offered at JP. I signed up to learn how to make almond cookies and pineapple rolls (CNY coming).

In the end, I decided it was not worth having an early labour in exchange for the baking class (cos I was having intense Braxton Hicks contractions by the time Dh was back, due to a lot of labour intensive work I undertook earlier in the day). But then I felt it was a waste to forego the class. Guess what? I pleaded with Dh to go on my behalf.

He baulked at the idea at first. He said surely the rest would be women. I said that's fine right? Show them you can bake as well as them! I talked and persuaded and convinced and begged. He finally agreed, after having a good dinner served to him... Phew...

He came back incredulous and related many hilarious stories about all the other 14 aunties in the same class as him. I laughed my head off. I was very glad he went. He didn't mind, but I know it would be hard getting him to do it again. haha.

Saturday mornings and evenings

We usually let the boys out for a run or some energy-releasing event.

One Sat, Dh brought them out kite-flying, just across our apt at the Jurong Central Park. Then this pic was another Sat where ds1 and Dh were roller blading, ds2 was cycling and I was toting the bag with water bottle, cell phone, tissue... yup, and walking behind them.

15 Jan
My previous obgyn appt. Doc says baby's head is 2/5 within the pelvis already. No wonder I feel so much pressure below, like baby's head would pop out anytime. She's supposedly 2.5kg now. But it's just an estimate. ds1 was that weight at birth (38th week) and ds2 was 2.68kg at birth (also 38th week). So this time, dd (dear darling daughter) would not be expected to be much bigger too, definitely no where near 3kg or more. :-)

16 Jan
My last doula prenatal. She brought another doula-in-training to introduce to us and asked if she can be present at my birth as well. We had no objections, one more person means more help to take pics and videos, then Dh can be fully at my side. haha.

Ok, now, it's just the wait... How much longer??

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

4:09 PM
I posted on the cooker hob not done yet earlier.
Once it was done, we couldn't wait to start cooking our own meals. Here's the very first meal cooked on the gas hob. :-)

I tried the Boeuf Bourguignon (adapted from Mastering the art of French cooking) recipe made famous by the movie Julie and Julia. Dh and I caught the movie together, and after watching Julie try Julia Child's recipe 2x, I was so tempted to try it myself. It looked so mouth-wateringly good.

But oh my, it was soooooo time consuming and requires so much effort. Furthermore it is expensive to assemble all those ingredients here. After doing it once and trying it, I think that'll be my only attempt for a long time to come. Already, with 2 kids, I found it such a hassle to get it out in time for dinner, and was losing my temper with the boys for "disturbing" me while I needed to concentrate on getting it done... Cannot imagine when the 3rd one arrives...

Dh also felt that the beef stews I made before this are comparable in taste anyway, and they require much less effort and time.

Ok, so the pic shows the beef dish on the left. Ladies' fingers with ikan bilis on the right. That was our one dinner. In contrast, the veggie dish took several minutes to put together compared to the few hours of the beef one!!

I have been slowly adding to my kitchen "collection". I love to bake, so I grabbed a good deal when Mayer at Jurong Point was having the year-end sales, and was throwing in many freebies and cooking classes to boot... Got a Kitchenaid Artisan Mixer. So happy with it.

Then when Courts and Harvey Norman were having a sale for steamers (both Philips and Tefal brands were on sale, thanks Phebe for alerting me!), I rushed and got myself the Tefal steamer at a steal! I don't have a microwave oven and don't intend to get one since I have read many articles warning about its use, so I needed something to heat up soups and dishes. A steamer works well in addition to the stove and oven (depending on whether it is a dry or liquid food).

And I was also inspired by Phebe's blog where she steamed many different dishes.

This is one of the first things I tried: steam fish.

Yummy... Clean and fast. Really easy. So we are very very satisfied with our buy. (only thing, I have to chop up my fish into 2 portions to fit the steamer tiers, so you see half of a pomfret here, hee).

So far, I have tried 2 kinds of pomfrets with it. The silver pomfret was really good.

I have since also cooked rice in it (for fun, cos mainly we use the rice cooker), steamed hard boiled and half boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, potatoes (for mashing), xiaobaicai, broccoli... and used it to heat up many things.

It is so wonderful to have my own kitchen!!!

Then the oven. I began baking my banana cakes, and various breads. Since breads are what we eat very often and what the kids love, I have mainly been making various kinds of breads, the most common of which is just the plain white variety we use for breakfast each morning.

Here's one early morning before the kids head off for school. They usually have bread with peanut butter, cheese or kaya or buttered toast.

Then I also made some milk bread and cheese bread. The cheese bread was so cheesy.... the kids loved it a lot but it was really too rich for frequent consumption: see the amount of cheese I had to put in it (foreground, compared to the milk bread in the background).... So I didn't bake it daily, so far, only once.

Oh yes, forgot, the steamer can be used to steam pumpkin also. Here's another meal, I think it was the 2nd or 3rd one. After taking the pic, I forgot. French beans with mushrooms, pumpkin and pork rib with carrot soup. My mom stir fried the pumpkin first and then I steamed it. ds1 loves pumpkin, but ds2 hates it. They are soooooo different.

These few days, I have slowed down my baking and cooking already. On one hand, I feel as if the birth is imminent so I shouldn't buy too much at the wet market, and hence I don't cook so much. And then, I feel very tired after all the wash up, so I cook less to minimise wash up.

Final reason is, I got a strong nesting instinct now to clear up stuff, and wash all the baby clothes and nappies. And I keep being irritated by mess and dust, so I spend a lot of time cleaning the house these few days. That means I should be birthing within 2 weeks, I guess.... haha

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

12:40 PM
A friend's been asking me to post photos of how my apt looks like now that we've moved in.

Try as I might, I cannot find a neat spot to take photos. Why? When we moved in, the reno was not completely done. Now that it is completed, we have been bringing back box after box of stuff from my in law's place back to ours. We go to my in laws at least once a week, sometimes more, for them to play with the grandkids and for the whole clan's dinner. Everytime we return, we have to load up the whole car with boxes, clothes, books, small furniture to bring home.

Naturally, everytime we reach our own place, we have to dump those boxes from USA and Tianjin, unpacked, around the living room, study room, bedroom and in the bomb shelter/ store room, since it would be late at night. Then I would slowly unpack them as the week goes by.

Well, it has been unrealistic to expect me to unpack them in time within a week before the next "shipment" arrives, so there are more and more boxes lying around in our house.

Furthermore, I have been trying to get baby's stuff ready. My sis passed me all of my niece's clothes and stuff so I haven't had to buy anything at all. Bath tub, crib, toys, car seat -- I had passed all of these to her before we left for Utah and I merely had to get them back.

Now that the birth is imminent, I need to be practical and realistic and realise that my initial plan of sorting and unpacking everything before baby comes is impossible. After baby comes, my place might look even messier. So I better just take some photos to show everyone before the situation is worse. :-) Note: there are very few "ground level" pics cos of the mess on the floor, hee.

This is one of the lights in our living room. Both are the same. Then you get a view of the curtains too. As for the window grills, they are a necessary evil cos of the kids. Must be safe rather than sorry. We are on one of the top floors!

We call the lights our "cow lamps" cos Dh feels they look like the cow skin. Since we have a very "nature and garden" theme and colour scheme, it fits in well.

This is the MBR's curtains. Our feature wall's colour is olive green or seaweed colour according to the Dulux Odourless paint swatch, so we really like these curtains as they match well.

This is the kids' room with the wall decal pasted. (My sis helped me to take these pics. We were being a little silly, and I just posed for fun.)

Just this wall decal alone was a prolonged joke. I started pasting from the bottom, and then had to stop cos of some reason (mundane things like the washine machine was done so I had to get the laundry first) and then I continued another day, and then was interrupted by the kids and so on. I think I took 2 weeks to complete it! You can have a glimpse of the curtains I chose for the kids' room as well. Their room is in green and yellow, so the curtains are multi-coloured stripes with green and yellow components.

It's the blackout kind of curtain so when it is hot and blazing outside in the afternoon, and the curtains are drawn shut, the room is very dark. Thus I can successfully recreate a night-time atmosphere for the kids to nap.

This is the wall on the bunk bed side of the room. There were some flowers and a cat sticker that came with the wall decal, and I didn't want too many flowers on the tree, so I put this there. It reminded the kids of their pet kitten they had in Tianjin, so it comforts them and makes them happy to have "Furry" sleep with them each night on the same bed.

This pic is a view of the living room from the doorway near the shoe cabinet. I'm standing in front of a mirror that we've been wanting to return my parents (it's theirs) but have no chance yet since it cannot fit into a normal sedan car. You can see Dh occupied with either the newspapers or internet-surfing hence I have to take the pic myself.

Not sure if you can spot the white TV console, the silvermink wall colour and part of the study room through the glass panel. We installed roller blinds for the glass panel so when anyone sleeps over and uses the study room, they can have privacy by lowering the blinds. It is the blackout kind as well.

This is the lamp the kids chose themselves, from Ikea. They like the "clouds in the sky" feeling. It's in their bedroom. Due to our apt being small and not having high ceilings, we stuck to ceiling lights instead of the popular, fashionable pendant lamps. We also tried to keep all our lamps small so the room wouldn't be overwhlemed by the lights.

I do have a very satisfying kitchen with tempered glass splashback at the sink, stainless steel splashback at the stove, a great fume hood and hob, a wonderful Kitchenaid mixer, oven, and other appliances. I also love the cabinet system with the Blum drawers and organizers within the drawers to store things more effectively. However, I cannot take pics of the kitchen.

It is something I use too frequently and is in a great horrible mess now. Not the dirty grimy kind of mess... It's just lots of plates, pots, and baking stuff lying around that I haven't decided where to keep yet!! Cos right now, if I keep them into the cabinets, out of sight, I will take a long time to get used to where I keep my rock sugar, black pepper, oats, flour, you know what I mean?

When I birth and my mom and mom in law take turns coming over to visit me and help me with baby, I think they will have a lot to say, or they might just faint. I better start work on the kitchen real soon. (And hide all the junk food as well, cos my mom will nag me non stop on why I shouldn't eat those unhealthy stuff.) :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Friday, January 15, 2010 ;
11:26 PM
Something went wrong with the background of the blog, and I checked the html in the template. When this blog was set up, HM helped me with the html. So I know nothing about it, but I saw the offending section and just tried deleting it. Now it looks ok again, at least to me. Let me know if there are problems again! Thanks to all those who alerted me to it.

Ok, an update after 2 weeks of school.

The boys seems to like school pretty much.

ds2 had a minor upset on Wed the first week, saying his friends did not want to play with him in school, which made him very sad. He cried and asked for his friends from nursery at IST! I think he just misses the old friends and realised it is not that easy breaking into the existing cliques at his current school, where the rest of the kids all moved up from Nursery together. (In fact, when one of the moms talked to me on the phone when I RSVPed to a bday invite, I learnt from her that all the parents know each other very well too. She said they always meet up, either in school or at kids' parties. So I had that "must break into the clique" feeling too. But of course, I didn't cry, haha.)

Anyway, I thought I should acknowledge his feelings and I talked about his 2 close friends from the school in Tianjin and the things they used to do together. He seemed cheered up by those memories and drifted off into his afternoon nap.

After that, I did write in the comm book to his teacher, asking if he had problems in class regarding making friends. She replied to say no. She said he was initially shy and quiet the first 2 days but had begun to speak up and play with the rest. In the 2nd week, she wrote that he often sat with one particular friend and would often hold her hand. hmmm... The teacher didn't mention names, and I didn't feel like asking, but I have some idea cos ds2 usually mention the same few names when talking about school. Will verify when I get to go to his school for any celebration. They say parents are invited for CNY celebrations (but I may be doing confinement then, will see how).

Apart from that, ds2 also talks non stop about what they learn in school, what his different teachers say, and even what the bus aunty does. Sometimes I have no idea if it really happened or he made it up, but the stuff about what he learns are all verified when the weekly report comes home with the comm book each Friday. It's the other accounts that I wouldn't know if they are true.

It is amusing to hear him speak in Mandarin too. I think his Chinese teacher really talks a lot to him, otherwise how come her influence is so great. Whatever it is, I am really happy that he is finally "opening up" in terms of Chinese. His pronunciation is still way off (sounds like ang moh) but at least he is using Chinese words in daily communication. Very interesting.

Does this system really work then? (They have a Chinese teacher follow the kids in the class throughout the day, and she comments, interacts and talks to the kids solely in Mandarin regarding the lessons and activities. She is not restricted to one "Chinese period" that kind of thing, but her interaction with them is integrated throughout the day.)

For ds1, he announced on the 2nd day of school that he was made monitor of the class and group leader for English and Math. But he said teacher said she will change monitor every day to give everyone a chance. So we felt it is no big deal and did not ask him about it much.

Then everyday after that, he would return from school to say he was still the monitor. My sis (who used to be P1 form teacher for several years) said probably he always finishes his work first so the teacher will ask him to collect stuff, keep classmates quiet etc, to occupy him. Indeed, ds1 said he would be asked to walk around the classroom, read his own book or put his head on the table to rest when he finished his work the first few days, then after that, teacher will give him duties to do as well.

So I told him to remember to listen to teacher's instructions, because I worry sometimes he is always in his own world.
I have friends who have kids in P1 this year too, as well as some parents on a parenting forum who commented on their kids having letters from teachers, or homework from school. ds1 always tell me there is no homework. Sometimes I wonder is it because he lost all the letters or forms and did not hear instructions about homework.

He did bring back a hanyu pinyin Tingxie list from school. It only had the hypy words on it to be tested. No date. So I asked him, when his Tingxie would be. He had no idea. Ok, so just learn it first then, I told him. He did. So ok, that's his homework that day.

So far then, everyday after school, he's been playing and playing the whole time after school till bedtime. Looks like P1 so far is still cushy for him.

Then this week, he said the Chinese teacher made him group leader also. Really? That is surprising. I asked him why, he said because his voice is very loud. I said, how does teacher know? He said teacher told the class to recite hanyu pinyin "ya1, ya2, ya3, ya4" and he recited the loudest, so teacher said he would make a good leader. Ok, that's funny.

Downside is, he keeps eating the same food in the canteen cos he's familiar with that stall now. And even though his buddy stopped eating with him, he still likes to do the familiar thing. I asked him to try other food and he is reluctant to. He eats alone now. The other Malay classmate in his class who ate with him the whole of the 1st week refuses to eat now, because the Malay buddy from P4 stopped eating with them. Maybe he doesn't want to buy food now that the buddy stopped buying with them.

I am glad ds1 is not like me in this aspect. Friends who know me know that I hate eating alone. I am more like his Malay classmate in that I'd rather not eat, if my friends are not eating with me. At least ds1 has no qualms buying his food and eating it alone. He said "I am hungry, so I eat lor". And oh yes, his Singlish is very very good now, inevitable result of living in Singapore.

He hasn't lost important things like money and his bag or spectacles but he has lost his water bottle twice. He did find it again the next day cos someone would find it and see the name on it and keep it for him. But I still feel concerned enough to let him use cheapo freebie bottles so far, just in case he loses them for good.

He is making many friends from the school bus, so he has a wide range of "friends", from other P1 classes as well as older ones. The upside is that he has people to talk to while waiting for the bus, and there are these 2 older girls who have guided him back to our block when I was either late or the bus dropped him off at the wrong block (yes it did happen). The downside is that he has been observing and has started to hear words that we don't use at home.

He will return home and ask me about words like "kick my a**" and so on other Hokkien or Chinese terms. Or hand signs. Or asking me a lot more about Animal Kaiser cards and other current craze that the older kids go for. He also started doing stuff like folding dollar notes and then flapping them out, saying the other kids did these things while waiting for the bus.

He seems to grow up much faster when he mixes with older kids. I don't know whether I am prepared for that or whether he himself is prepared for that. He sometimes reads his Horrible Science series books which he brings to school while waiting for the bus also, and he says the older kids will come and read together with him and share their comments on the books with him too.

I know there will be many other things that happen in school that he won't possibly be able to relate in entirety to me. I just hope I had taught him enough in his 6 years, and that he is mature enough to handle all the things in his stride.

With the growing intensity and frequency of the Braxton-Hicks contractions I experience now, I also increasingly feel that the impending arrival of the baby will cause me to have even less time and influence over their everyday life in school. I really hope and pray that they will still be happy, healthy and enjoy school and be able to cope with all the changes in school and at home.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 ;
9:54 PM
I put this in a separate post because it is a story by itself and it occurred after a break.
As in, I went to ds2's school then came back for recess time at ds1's school.

His recess time is awfully early at 9.30am. Apparently so for many other pri schools.

But wow, look at the scene in the canteen when I reached. Already full of P1 kids, their parents and their P4 buddies. I didn't spot ds1 anywhere and started to wonder if I was too late. He's small in size and would be so difficult to differentiate from the crowd.

After scanning the queues, I scanned the tables. See the PAPArazzi? Lots of papas taking photos too. Didn't see ds1.

After a long while, like 10min, I spotted him! And his wonderful buddy. I noticed his buddy was very protective and caring. He had his arms around ds1 almost all the time!

I was determined to be observing from afar, so I used zoom on my digicam and made sure ds1 did not see me. I wanted to see what he would do with his money and what he would buy.

From their body language, it seemed his buddy was asking him what he would like to eat, and he was scanning all the stalls.

See? His buddy still had his arm around ds1! So caring...
And I spotted this parent who cleverly had his son wear a colourful pullover so he can spot him in a huge crowd! It wasn't cold at all, so this must be his objective.

Finally ds1 must have decided on the chinese noodle stall. Unfortunately, look at the queue! And it was already 9.45am at that time. 10am signals the end of recess time.

Suddenly, they switched queue to the malay stall. Must be they were thinking of the same thing -shorter queue, more time to eat or play.

ds1 handled his money well, remembered to get his change and managed to order food for himself. Well done, only that, oops, when I saw what he took, I wondered - is he able to stomach that? We don't usually eat spicy things at home. This rice was fried with chilli. You can see chilli flakes all over the rice. Hmmm...
And notice his buddy's protective hands around him still? :-)

They found a seat and ds1 started eating. I could see him struggling to swallow each mouthful but he bravely soldiered on. I noticed he didn't bring his water bottle down for recess even though I reminded him to, in the morning!

Ah, as expected. He must've asked his buddy where to get a drink. He cannot stand it any further! So his buddy brought him to the drinks stall and I saw him get a Marigold packet juice. Fortunately he had enough money!

Dh had wanted to give him only 50cents pocket money in the morning. I said there's inflation now, how to buy anything with 50cents? Cos Dh insisted he has 20cents for pocket money in the past,so 50 cents is good enough now. Fortunately he couldn't find any spare change and had only a $2 dollar note. He gave ds1 that.

Guess what, I saw that the rice cost 80 cents and the drink 60 cents. You can see him getting his drink, and the school principal happened to walk right into the field of view as I snapped the photo. Yup, that's her.

In the end, I couldn't stand it and approached ds1 and his buddy. I told him to order something else the next day. I introduced myself to his buddy and thanked him for taking such good care of ds1, and asked if he could teach ds1 how to order other type of non-spicy food the next day, since I won't be coming to school anymore. His buddy was very shy and nodded his head, but said he will take good care of ds1.

After ds1 threw half of the rice away and drank all the water in MY waterbottle and his juice, his buddy brought him to the toilet.

Then the bell rang and he went back to class. He told me that in the morning, he got off his school bus and was lost in trying to find his classroom. He managed to find the General Office however, and a staff member got him to his class. Phew.

After that, I left the school and headed to Jurong Point for my own lunch. The canteen was too crowded, otherwise I might try the food and see if it's good.

2 more pics to show the cute P1s... See how the girls bought uniforms and skirts that reach to their ankles and socks??? Maybe the parents want the uniform to last 6 years. :-)

Another with some boys and their shorts that went below the knee. I couldn't do that for ds1 even if I wanted because his waist is too small. If I went any size bigger to get a longer length, his shorts would always drop and never stay on his waist. The formal shorts do not have elastic, only buttons and a hook.

And yes, by the way, the Straits Times reported the 2 case studies as having spent a lot on school uniforms. We paid much less as well. His shorts cost $5, the short $5.50. We bought 3 sets of full school uniforms in the end, and 2 sets of PE tees and shorts. Our total was easily half of some other schools'. Maybe they had designers to design their uniforms and different uniform suppliers.

The school buses were very late in sending the kids back though. I had a forty minute wait with ds1 and similar for ds2 so my feet were aching at the end of yesterday. The drivers and aunties said it was just the 1st week that would be chaotic.

Indeed, today was slightly better.

Both boys said their school day was fun and they had lots to relate to me. ds2 in particular, never was away from me for so long in a day, but he seemed really excited about everything he did in school.

He said he did cry when his friends all went for shower time, and it was only when his teachers told him he did not need to shower that he calmed down. His friends were on the full day programme and so had a bath in their schedule but ds1 returns at 3pm and doesn't shower. So funny.

He told me about art and craft, about music and dancing, sang me the songs he learnt, and told me about his Chinese teacher (he seems to really like her). He talked about the 5 senses and how his Ms M taught them to close their eyes to use their sense of touch etc... He sounded so much more grown up!

Then today, he was telling me all about the Chinese bihua (strokes) and he could remember all of them. I was so amazed cos I had taught him before in Tianjin and he didn't remember it so well! Either learning with friends helped, or I just am not well-trained in teaching Chinese. :-)

And Ms M taught them about all the planets. He could remember all the planets, and told me the sun and the moon are not planets, and how Pluto was "kicked out" several years ago cos it was too small, so now there are only 8 planets etc etc. Wah, he seems to be very attentive in class!

And I brought them for their dental appointments this afternoon at Jurong Point and both of them were so good! No fuss, full cooperation with the dentist. Either they've grown up, or the dentist is really great. She is very good with them, and after they were done (ds2 polishing teeth, and ds1 having an X-ray, and filling of 1 tooth), she blew up 2 latex gloves with her dental equipment, and her assistant used a marker to decorate it and they called it a silly balloon with fingers, and gave one each to each boy. They were so thrilled!

They've been playing with that "balloon" ever since and it's so fun to make the finger part become a gun, a mohawk, a Roman soldier and so on.

Ahhh, life is getting better! I look forward to a less hectic day tomorrow when I can get some marketing done.

Today my sis came over to my place with her 2 kids while my kids were in school, so it was still hectic.

Hopefully I get enough time to settle everything before no. 3 comes along! Time is running short! :-)

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

9:14 PM
ds2 has very different character and personality as ds1, so as parents, we have different worries and concerns for each of them.

ds2 never had any problems with changing schools, friends and situations. He had always looked forward to the start of school and he never cried at separations when going to school for the first time, even when the place and everything is new.

ds1 doesn't like change that much. He resists transitions and he liked getting used to and being familiar with something before he will like it. But with age and maturity, he has embraced school with a lot of excitement and eagerness as well.

ds2 may not seem extroverted like ds1 as in he doesn't talk so much, yet he's actually very sociable. I wonder if that's contradictory. But Mary mentioned the other day that someone who talks a lot and seems extroverted may actually be an introvert. People who don't talk that much may actually be very sociable. Does that make sense to you? It seems to be like that for our ds.

Anyway, so ds2 was wanting to go to school since forever, and after ds1 left for school, ds2 kept asking about him. Everything ds1 did, he would ask "what about me?". Everything down to having a watch, pencil box... For several things, we had to explain that Pr sch and preschool is different. For example, ds2's food is taken care of, but ds1 has to buy his own food. Hence ds1 will have pocket money while he doesn't need any. Stuff like that.

But he got his watch... He's been announcing the time to me every 5 min for the past few days and showing it off to everyone in church. He has already fell down because he was busy looking at his watch while walking (and tripped, of course).

This pic was taken when we were waiting for his school bus. His school doesn't need a uniform, which is a relief to us because we have heard how expensive some preschool uniforms are, and we can save so much by having ds2 wear his own clothes. Also, he'd feel more comfy in his own clothes, I think.

His school bus turned out to be a van. Small ratio of kids to adults. Good. It's much faster than the big bus ds1 takes too. Again, he went up so quickly that I could only get his school bag!

We followed him to school in the car. Saw him, even though as the only new student, behave as if he had been attending school there forever. He took off his sandals, placed it on his name card, took off his bag, placed in his named cubby hole, and took out his water bottle and placed it where the rest of the kids placed their water bottles.

ds1, with all his intelligence in certain specific areas, is actually very blur in a bigger environment. Often in his own world, he will let teachers' instructions float past his head, and many times, all his classmates would hear something and follow the instructions while he is still stoning away, in his dreamy state.

ds2 seems to watch and observe people around him all the time. And he follows them.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages of course.

But in this case of the 1st day of school, I think I actually worry more about ds1 than ds2.

So after peeking into his classroom and meeting his teacher for the first time, I saw that he was happy, and at once playing with friends. Hence, Dh and I left the school. ds2 didn't even look at us to say goodbye! He was so engrossed.

The principal told me he is the only new student because the rest have been with the school since nursery. It's true that the rest seemed very comfortable and friendly with each other, cos when we arrived, the rest are already playing together.

After we left, I had contemplated returning at 12pm during lunch time cos ds2 tended to be picky with food but I called the school at 12.30pm and they said he finished lunch happily and seemed to be having a lot of fun, so I didn't bother going to the school at all.

When he grows up, I wonder if he will say "mom, why are you so unfair, always being with gege in school on his first day but not with me"?

I guess my answer will be, "because mommy knows you can handle it yourself, and mommy doesn't need to worry about you at all". Will that be a compliment to him?

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

8:34 PM
Yesterday morning was 1st day of school for all the govt schools in Singapore.
It was raining rather heavily in the western part of Sg.

Resulted in the school buses being really late.

Both ds slept late (due to excitement?), and woke really early, especially for ds1. The moment he heard us get up from bed, he came over to our room and said, "I checked my watch, it's time to go to school!"

So we got ready in time, leisurely in fact... And I accompanied Dh and ds1 down to wait for his school bus, which was supposed to pick him up at 7am.
But the bus came at 7.15am.

Anyway, this is ds1 being really excited. (The P1 kids were instructed to wear their name tags for the entire 1st week of school. It has their bus info and class info on it, as well as their names.

Down at the void deck. Where there is a sheltered porch. At least, I don't have to walk far out like in Tianjin. Just down the elevator/ lift, and wait right there. ds1's uniform looks big on him, I felt, but wait till we see the other P1s. His shorts are at least still above his knee cap, although they're rather loose at the waist. His shoes look very big too. But it's actually just right.

Referring to the Straits Times report on Sunday regarding the expenses parents have to fork out for a P1 kid, I think it is much more costly than what most Sg parents spend. The average sum listed was $850 (just to start P1).

Let's see, the cost of P1 textbooks listed was more than $200. But we spent $114 and Dh was already so kiasu in buying all the books in the list. Yes, we bought even the Chinese character cards which Anna Wu wanted to pass me, argh. And all the Health Ed, Social Studies, Music and Art books. So I think it is pretty reasonable.

Then transport to school. I didn't understand why they needed $80 per month for the school bus and only one-way. I pay only $35 per month for ds1's school bus, and it's 2-way.

Other stuff like school shoes, pocket money etc, we spend much less as well. Our expenditure under assessment and enrichment books is $0, in fact. Anyway... I guess newspapers have to put up controversial examples to generate more discussion.

This is a pic of ds1 alone, with his waterbottle, watch, spects, everything new. I look at him with a funny undescribable feeling. Mixture of pride (at his independence), concern (at letting go and worry about his capability in managing money etc), reluctance (missing him already and wondering how did he grow up so fast?).....

It is a memorable milestone in his life and mine as well indeed.

He got up the school bus so quickly, he was so eager! He just said bye and went up, such that I had no time to take the photo properly. Can only see his school bag and one foot.

Dh followed the bus in his car. I went up to our apt where I had left ds2. ds2 was fine. I got him ready for his school bus. Dh checked out the school bus route. Since here in Sg, the school bus company doesn't inform us of their route, we wanted to check it out and see if it is justified that they pick ds1 up so early at 7am. The school is single session and starts at 7.45am. We don't live very far away, so I thought maybe 7.15am is more like it. (The bus came late at 7.15am anyway).

But turns out, Dh said there were still several more stops after ds1 and some stops had many kids, so sometimes they might factor in no. of kids = potentially more delay, hence ds1 has to board earlier.

After the bus reached school, Dh did not enter the school gates and came back to see ds2 up his school bus. Dh said the other cars following the bus (yes, other parents also have the same idea, naturally) did enter the school.

ds2's account will be in a separate post.

Anyway, after settling ds2 in his new school, I went back to ds1's school and took a pic of his classroom from afar. There were many parents standing right outside the classroom, some even right at the door, and some even going into the classroom to talk to the form teacher.

As a teacher myself, I didn't like the distractions, so as a parent now, I try not to do that. Seriously, if you are the child and your parents are hovering at the classroom door the whole time, can you concentrate on what the teacher is saying?

Many schools have a lot of restrictions for parents. Some cordon off an area in the lobby and canteen and parents cannot venture beyond those areas, but ds1's school seemed pretty relaxed. I saw parents wandering all over the school.

There are some pics in a later post showing parents following their kids all around the school as the teachers were bringing them from classroom to other places.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

Saturday, January 2, 2010 ;
1:36 PM
How did we spend the last part of December?

1. Moving, unpacking and decorating our new place.

Finally I can put up this beautiful painting done by PVW. He painted my boys even before we returned from Tianjin, from a photo. I consider it amazing to be able to paint people even without seeing them.

I think ds2's portrait really looks like him.

2. 24 Dec
Xmas eve was spent at my obgyn's office for a prenatal check up. Cos he was going on vacation after that till somewhere in Jan. He needs to see me otherwise I'd be in my 9th month of pregnancy when he returns.

Had lunch at Ion Orchard food court again (beef noodles!) so I can collect something from Muji. I bought a clothes stand from them. Their service is really wonderful. I think I will be their faithful and loyal customer because of their excellent service.

My clothes stand fell after we assembled it cos the wind was too strong. One of the pegs split apart and it was major heartache cos I just bought it and it was so beautiful. I love the wood. Dh consoled me by saying maybe he can whittle down one of his wood samples to make a new peg. But then the violin bow wood is different, it'll not match.

So I called them up. I didn't even need to explain how the peg split, no Qs asked. They said no problem, I can exchange the peg for a new one. They let me choose the outlet to bring my spoilt peg to exchange, and the date and time. I bought it from the Marina Sq branch and I said I wanted to collect from Ion Orchard. No problem, they called Ion to arrange it.

They then called back and said, if it is troublesome for me to bring the item back, no worries, just the receipt will do. That is really nice, even though they didn't know I was pregnant. Anyway, just a small peg. No worries.

So when I went down, straightway they went to get a brand new box with the entire clothes stand. They had to slit open the new box and retrieve just one peg for me. I think that's very nice of them. They'll have to go through the trouble of re-ordering new parts and in the meantime, they cannot sell that particular box. Customer first indeed. (and it wasn't even their fault that the peg split)

3. 25 Dec

Christmas day. We reached Ikea Alexandra at 9.30am to meet Mary and Edwina and kids for a breakfast/ brunch. Mainly to catch up since it has been like 8 yrs since I last saw Edwina.

Our kids played together in the playroom, while we chatted. The hubbies (Mary's and mine, Ed's didn't go, he was minding her ds2 at home. She only brought ds1) went browsing together.

It was lovely.

We bought a couple of things for the home and Dh left for work. Yes, when you work for yourself, and you love what you do so much, you'd want to work even on Xmas Day.

4. 26 Dec
Danny and Jessica had their housewarming. We went from 11am till about 2pm. They catered lunch. They have a lovely study room. The kitchen was similar in colour scheme as ours. They have a neat clothes hanging thing. Very nifty.

Met many LAP members, and enjoyed seeing all the old faces again, and the kids all grown. Got to view their wedding video and pictures too, since we missed their wedding while we were in Tianjin.

5. 28 Dec.
We were a little desperate. Cos ds1 has a school already and we started preparing his school bus, school shoes, socks, water bottle etc. ds2 kept asking "What about me?"
He dearly dearly missed school, his Ms Bridget and Ms Maureen and his friends. He kept mentioning Nursery class and the activities he did.

I called all those preschools he was on waitlist. I emailed the South West CDC, I contemplated going for the Meet the People session (by MP of my region) since it was nearby. I emailed PCF main webpage also.

I must say, the main email person always replies very quickly saying they are acting on my email and they have referred it to such and such a person who will get back to me. But then, after that it is a long wait.

Finally, when they call, they just tell me there is no vacancy. And there is nothing they can do. They didn't want to take my phone no. down and they were unwilling to put me on a wait list. Apparently there is no wait list.

I said ok, I can try again during the Open Registration in May 2010, and register ds2 for K2 in 2011 directly. No, was their reply. "Usually we reserved all the spaces for our K1 kids who will be promoted to K2 in 2011".

Fine, that gives returning Singaporeans no chance at all to support their govt/ public kindergartens.

Ok, I called SAFRA club's Little Skoolhouse. Much nicer attitude, told me I was no. 12 on the waitlist since I filled in the registration form in Oct. I asked how long would the wait be, they were honest to say they have no idea because it depends on parents who withdraw the existing kids. That was logical, I can understand. Ok, I will wait. At least there is a system. At least they are polite.

The PCF lady was sarcastic and impatient. I lived right there in that block. I heard there are parents travelling even from Chua Chu Kang to put their kids in that PCF kindy. There is no distance factor? Can't they open another class if there is huge demand for that kindy?

Ok nevermind, have to widen my search. The rest of the kindies in Jurong West are all full also. No point being on more waitlists. There was one with vacancy though. Not too far from my place, but ds2 will need to be on a schoolbus. Not a problem. PCf doesn't have schoolbus, at least this does.

Only catch, it is expensive. Hmm, to put him through 2 years of this would wipe out his CDA account. True, half of the money was given to us by the govt, that's really nice. But should we wipe out his CDA so quickly??

Dh reminded us that we have the 3rd baby's CDA. And 3rd bb's CDA is much higher in amount than ds2's. If in case ds1 or ds2 need the money in future, they can always take from dd's CDA. Hmm, ok... Siblings should share, huh? And mil stepped in timely to say she will give a huge ang pow this CNY to us. Help us out a bit.

Ok, take it as grandma-sponsored as well.
So I went to visit this preschool and ds2 approved of it. We signed up. But I had no money for the registration fee, and no cheque book. haha. So I went back the next day to complete registration. I think very few parents register their kids just a few days before school is due to start!

ds2 was overjoyed that now he gets to go to school together with ds1. I know he would surely cry and mope at home the whole day if ds1 goes on 4th Jan and he is at home with me. So both Dh and I were glad for this opportunity to be able to get him into a school at the last minute.

6. 29 Dec

Xizzy initiated a meet-up and I was glad she did, because I don't think I'd be free to meet up much when school reopened and it was good to see her and Law again.

Xizzy's back from Germany till Feb and she was willing to travel to Jurong Point for an early lunch. Really nice. We had Japanese teppanyaki. Law treated cos he recently inherited a windfall. haha.

So I said I'd treat dessert. Well, they must be thinking I am very poor and being very nice, they suggested McDonalds. So 3 of us shared this:

Seriously, you know. But we added more fudge. See the amount of fudge? So funny, I never saw so much before. It costs 70cents extra! It's artery-clogging man!

Then we popped over to my new place for drinks and a look-around. Law used his i-Phone (show off lah) GPS to find my place, yes, from Jurong Point car park. Walking would take faster maybe.

Then after they left, I had a prenatal with my doula at home, and then I went to get my kids back from my mom who kindly babysat them. Then my JC best friend cum financial analyst met me at home in the evening to update my portfolio. A whole day of meetings indeed.

7. 30 Dec

Busy busy end of Dec.
Went to pick mom up and we drove to Phoon Huat. The Jurong East branch had closed down since I left for Tianjin, so now we have to go to Clementi. After buying essentials for baking (since my mixer is being delivered this very day!), and getting some invaluable advice from my mom, we ate a yummy lunch at the Clementi hawker center. I always like the food at that particular FC. Thanks Linda for giving me sms directions!

This week, I was due to teach both Wed night Bible class and Sunday school (3 lessons back to back). I must say teaching young kids with a big belly is rather inconvenient. I sit on a low chair to be at their height.

Teaching young kids involve a lot of action songs, a lot of animation, and craft work. So I have to lean forward a lot and it's very tiring. Somehow my back ache is pretty bad this pregnancy.

Very glad this is the last lesson. This pic shows ds2 with his craft work and his friend, who made 2 animal puppets. This particular Bible class is conducted in Chinese, so ds2 is very quiet cos he doesn't have enough vocab to talk much. haha. He only came alive during craft time.

8. 31 Dec
YF big bash, countdown
9am on 31st till 9am on 1st.

Dh conducted a singing workshop for them in the day. We didn't go. I don't think I'd be able to last so long.

Dh returned in the afternoon and after the kids' nap, we set off for the church building at 6.30pm for the BBQ.

Besides the usual BBQ fare, a lot of the moms prepared their own food and contributed too, so we got really stuffed.

Then the boys played Magic Cards with some of the youth. So I got the chance to chat with many different people. Yay.

After that there was a short lesson and singing, then the countdown began. There was more rousing singing right after the stroke of midnight.

Then the kids and I left for home, and Dh returned to have a late or rather early 2010 dawn supper with the church friends and then played Big Taboo with them till 4am. I know cos when he returned home, I woke up. I don't sleep very well in my last trimester anyway.

9. 1 Jan 2010

We still woke early and did some unpacking (still have many boxes from Tianjin unpacked). Then for lunch, we had a New Year's Lunch with my extended clan (my parents, sis' family, our family). At Jack's Place.

For dinner, we had it with Dh's side of the family. At mil's house.

10. 2 Jan
My curtains finally arrived! I am so happy for the additional privacy, the blackout effect making a hot afternoon a dark and cool "night" and just the beautiful fabric...

I promise photos soon.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

about us ;
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