Wednesday, June 30, 2010 ;
10:55 PM
5 June
10am - 2pm

Carnival at ds2's school

They were having a carnival at ds2's kindy to raise funds for a children's charity.

We bought tickets to play games, eat popcorn and candy floss and the proceeds go to the charity. All the booths were manned by the school's teachers.

There were all the usual carnival games that were modified to suit kids aged 18months to 6 yrs old (the clientele of the school).

This one involves using chopsticks (kiddy ones) to pick marbles from a sand tray. ds2 is having a go. I think ds1 finished his turn already.

There was a sing-along session throughout the carnival so in between playing games, the kids could go sit and sing or even dance to the music. The teachers played guitars, sang and danced too.

Of course there was balloon sculpturing and face painting. My kids didn't want face paints this time, but they sure wanted balloons. Most of the kids were from their school but some were from other branches of the same umbrella school. Some teachers came from other branches too, to lend support.

I like how whenever there is some event, the teachers have some kind of colour for their dress code. This event, they all dressed in white top, beige or khaki bottom. I like seeing how the different teachers mix and match the styles. And some of them are so pretty. haha. I like seeing how the pregnant teachers wear their maternity clothes to the same colour combination too.


A video clip of the marimba session. The music teachers set up several self-made marimbas. And the kids could play along with their parents and teachers. It was a lot of fun. Dh took this at the start of the session. ds2 was still quite "blur" so I was showing him what to do.




rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
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;
12:53 AM
How ds1 helped and amused himself during the 1st week of June hols:

He helped entertain his sister:

I could do a lot on my own with ds1 around. An older sibling really helps. Dd can laugh and smile and be very entertained for a long period of time with ds1. So happy for that. Dd is very blessed. As she grows, she will have 2 older brothers taking care of her and protecting her and loving her.

See how the boys' bed is being overrun with stuff to make her happy?

ds1 borrowed many library books to read during the hols and suddenly I saw this:
I had to laugh. It was pretty funny. He surrounded her with his books and they could stand on the exersaucer on their own and he'd spin her around to let her read different books. He would tell her what's in the book too.

And then the darling was a great assistant in the kitchen as well, helping me to peel all the carrots and potatoes I needed for a soup.

It's nice to have holidays and it's nice to have school. Just make sure the duration of each is not too long. Ds1 doesn't have any homework, so he played very hard the whole of June. And it's just right, by the end of June he was missing school so much and raring to go back.


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


;
12:29 AM
My birthday with my side of the family was celebrated at the hotel. Kind of.

Then with Dh's side, it started on Tuesday, June 1.

We first paid a visit to Dh's grandma. Yup, that makes our kids her great-grandkids. She is very blessed to have so many greatgrandkids and still be healthy and sane enough to talk and enjoy them. Sometimes she has her forgetful state. She will not recognise my mil, as my mil tells me. But when we were there, she was in her normal state and she could recognise all of us and talk to us coherently.

She has lost a lot of weight though, since the years before we left for Utah. We thought we should take a pic together since it has been a long time since we did so.

Then we went to mil's for dinner. She cooked this especially for me, she said, for my birthday. Ok, the prawns are for Dh, of course. My mil said he's "so poor thing, one whole month in Europe, no prawns to eat". haha

I am quite blessed. She knows all my fav dishes cos I lived with her for 5 years before we left for Utah. So I got quite a good feast and enjoyed tucking in.

Then the next day, on the actual day itself. I got my "presents" from Dh and my mom. They asked what I really would like. Actually Angeling also asked me. I thought and thought. There was nothing I would like more than to be able to sleep uninterrupted for maybe a week.

But that's impossible since I breastfeed. So ok, what's next.

I told Angeling, I love to eat. Get me some nice stuff to eat. And she really did. Her hubby gave me a bag of goodies at night when we met for Bible class. And that's when her sister was lying in hospital fighting for her life. So I was really touched.

To Dh, I asked for time. Personal time. I haven't had a manicure and pedicure since the time I got married (for the wedding). I suddenly wished to do that. On a whim. So Dh took care of dd and ds1 (ds2 was in school) while I scooted off to JP.

I have short fingernails though. Cos I do housework, take care of baby and play the piano. So I chose to just buff and shine the fingernails. For the feet, I chose my colour, and then opted for some flowers and crystals. Yay!

While having the pedicure, I watched a movie. They played some B-grade flick, whose title I can't even remember now. But I still remember laughing while watching, so that was a good thing. I also chatted with the ladies and they say I am "so cute, haven't done a pedicure for 8 yrs". Very funny meh? You mean, I must do such things on a regular basis?

I have survived so long doing it myself.... Not that professional looking, but can do...

And this is the result. Maybe it'll be another 8 years till I do something that pretty on my toes again. So I better document it.

From my mom, I got her to babysit dd in the afternoon when Dh brought ds1 for piano class. I rushed to JP again. (Yup, you didn't read wrongly. I had to rush back home to nurse dd then I rushed back to JP again. Cos she doesn't even drink expressed bm.)

This time I went and got a hair cut. I felt so so good after that. Men should understand that too. Even after men get a haircut, they feel refreshed and happy, isn't it. And lighter and more cheerful?

It is so rare that I could run out and do things alone, have personal time to pamper myself... So I really appreciated it and had a fantastic birthday!

Got a Bakerzin strawberry shortcake birthday cake. Yum!! Oops, can tell my age from the pic!!! Oh no!

The kids were really sweet on my birthday. They've not reached the age where they can buy me stuff or cook me a meal, but they can tell me:
"Mom, you said before the thing you most wanted was for us to be good boys, right?"
"So today is your special day and we will be good boys today."

Ok... that's good enough, it's really difficult to have a whole day without them doing something that will increase my blood pressure, so I take that as a wonderful birthday present.


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


;
12:08 AM
31 May
Mon

Dh was due to arrive at almost midnight on that day. He was on the same UAE flight from Dubai, as the famous Singapore paddlers who won the gold. (Both he and they had to transit in Dubai.) So funny, first time he touched down at Changi Airport with so many people welcoming him back, cheering and with flowers. Ok, so they were cheering for the paddlers, but it sure felt good claiming your baggage and seeing so many people crowded there and waving towards your direction. haha

I made the kids nap in the afternoon so they might be able to wait for their daddy to return home after a month of not seeing him. They look so sweet sleeping together. They don't always have such wonderfully synchronised nap times, so this is a rare precious moment.

After dinner, I got them to write and colour some welcome notes and we pasted them around the home, at the main gate and even at the lift landing!

There, at the lift. Since the entire floor knows my family, we figured, no harm putting some signs out. I will clear them after Dh returns anyway.

(Why the entire floor knows us is not just because we are such friendly people who greet all our neighbours everyday. And it's not because I often bake extra stuff for them. It's not because we help water their plants either. And neither because I often chat with them. It is because the entire floor can hear me when I shout at my kids and when my kids fight amongst themselves. And when dd cries, yup, I think even the kids in the playground downstairs at the ground floor can hear.)

Dh is really on a business trip. All he brought back for the kids and me are: Haribo gummies.
And only these few packs.

My mom got some dates from Dubai and my mil got some olives from France. He had no time for shopping!!


We are really thankful and glad to have him back, even if it's just for 1+ short week.
And just so happen, our dear friend's wake and cremation was that week. And then something cropped up as well that required Dh's time to help out. So that was it, and he flew off again, for Ohio, USA, for another month.


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010 ;
6:25 PM
Several updates of dd in her 4th month:

This pic was taken on ML's birthday. It was a Mon (7 June) and was the 1st day of L's funeral wake. Angeling would be busy so I offered to "celebrate" ML's birthday for her. Initially Angeling was worried it'd be difficult for me to cope cos I have 3 of my own kids and plus her, it would be 4. And I usually interact much more with MX (her older sis) instead of ML, so we haven't gotten to know each other that well.

I am so glad I had the opportunity that day to get to know her better. She is usually quieter than her older sis (just like my ds1 and ds2) so at least that day I could talk to her alone. Her older sis went on a pre-planned trip to China with her dad and grandma.

Angeling dropped her off at about 10am in the morning? Can't quite remember, but we spent a short time in the house, warming up to each other, and me getting dd ready to go out. I promised ML to bring her out to pick a present from Kiddy Palace at JP and also have lunch out together.

ds1 was at camp and ds2 at school (sent them off in the morning), so it was kind of quiet. Everything went well, ML is very well-behaved, well-taught and trained by her parents.

After a long time at Kiddy Palace (choosing toys can be tough for a kid!), she looked tired, so I suggested buying the food back home to eat instead. She agreed and she chose to have fishball noodles. Great choice I said, very healthy. So I bought 2 sets and we walked home.

Ok, the journey home took some cajoling. I have gotten used to the speed of my boys, and they are older than her, so the walk took much much longer. Plus, she was also tired. Dd's weight was really breaking my shoulders, so glad to finally reach home. I was very happy that ML continued to soldier on despite her obvious exhaustion. I kept talking to her in a bright and cheery manner, and kept playing this game called "Spot the change in colour of floor tiles" with her, so she will just focus on the steps ahead of her and not at the distance she still had to walk.

(Cos there was no way I would be able to carry her, with dd on me, and carrying 2 piping hot noodle soups, plus a huge Kiddy Palace bag.)

She is made of strong stuff. Didn't cry at all, even as she dragged and shuffled her feet back to my home. Good girl!

She even played with dd for a while when I went to quickly get lunch ready in nice bowls.


Nap time was also a challenge. Any SAHM knows. A child who has always been tucked into bed by a SAHM and no one else (no maid, not much by the hubby, nor grandparents or other caregiver) will not easily sleep unless the mommy is there. Also she was fully breastfed as well. Fully breastfed kids (duration more than a year) tend to be very close to the mom and would reject most other people at times of nap/ sleep. Those are crucial times.

So I looked at her sleepy face, and she was full and contented now, and suggested she lie on the bed in the kids room, while I read a story to her.

"No" was her firm reply. She doesn't want to sleep. Ok, I said. No problem. Let's play for a while in the living room.

Then after some time, I mentioned maybe she can have a nap first, while waiting for ds1 and ds2 to return home. She started to scrunch up her face. Ok, I said the taboo word "nap", my bad. So forgetful. I remembered how my boys hated the word "nap".

I said, ok, ok, no need to nap if you don't want to. Just sit on the sofa here with the stuffed toys and we play together ok?

She said ok. I settled her with a pillow, some Ikea stuffed toys and I wanted to pat her. (Patting induces sleep easily, for my kids, so I thought I'd try that.) She shifted away. And then she started to scrunch up her face again, and said, "I want my mommy" and started to cry a little. Not very loud. So I quickly hugged her and said, "Oh, I understand. I know." Just kept repeating those words and some reassurance then I gingerly tried this "Mommy is preparing for the service tonight at the church building. We will wait for a while then mommy will come or I will bring you there to see mommy ok? In the mean time, let's play with the toys together first?"

I also switched on the TV (which was covered in dust, cos we have not watched for ages) and discovered that okto was showing Mickey Mouse. Very good, cos it is non-violent, funny and rather educational.

The TV was a good distraction. She allowed me to pat her, and then stroke her head. That did slowly lull her into a deep slumber. I switched off the TV and snapped a pic of her sleeping to send to Angeling. She was so sweet and adorable, with the stuffed toys around her and one hand holding on to a Yan Yan biscuit snack her dad gave her before he flew off to China. (She insisted on holding on to it and of course I obliged. Both my ds have held on to many weird things before, just cos it gave them comfort at that point in time.)

When ds2 returned home, he was so happy to see ML. When ML finally woke from her nap, they both played doctor and patient for a long time, and then they blew candles off a toy cake. So fun. When ds1 also returned, the 3 played happily till Angeling came to get ML. Ahh, with such a disciplined child like ML, having more kids is not a problem at all. Such a joy.

Ok, the rest of the pics are of dd.

At church: (now she has this bib on all the time cos her drool is produced at an alarming rate and in copious amounts)

My mom made this denim skirt for my niece Eva when she was 1 yr old. Since dd is getting too fat for it, I let her quickly have the chance to wear it once. I realised she doesn't look good in top/ skirt combi, cos she's got tummy folds that show up, and it just makes her hips look so big. No waist, some more... not nice.. She should stick to rompers, onesies and dresses.


She loves looking at her brothers play. Here they are playing "cafe world" and serving up food to her, the customer. I turned her chair to face me but she would rather strain to look at them. Her thighs are too fat to allow her skirt to settle properly, so it doesn't look good on her too.

On the hotel bed. She seems to be able to distinguish a higher thread count in the sheets too. So lovely. She enjoyed herself rolling around in them.



She's going to be 5 mth old in a few days' time. I have started letting her taste stuff like pumpkin, brown rice porridge, apple...

She doesn't eat them much now, just tastes them. It'll be a whole new ball game now, with the introduction of solids. It will be messy but it will be fun!


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Monday, June 28, 2010 ;
11:42 PM
This is Part 3 of the hotel stay/ Vesak Day weekend. (28-29 May)

After checking out of the hotel, we took a cab to the National Museum (didn't drive cos it was in the CBD).

The museums in Singapore were having this Children's Season and there were many interesting exhibits and activities for kids.

Here's one where many recycled or ordinary objects and stationery were made into strong magnets and can be arranged on a huge metal board. Very fun for all ages.

There were roving acts too, and this robot from Australia was one of them. The boys were very enthralled, naturally. Cos this robot talks and walks like a robot and that's very funny to them. I had to stop ds1 from harassing the robot though cos he was so curious he went to pat the robot on the bum, just to see what he's made of. But since there was a real person inside, I was so afraid it meant ds1 molested him!

Another area was so delightful and cheerful with the colourful and bright props. It's like a giant flannel storyboard and all the props have velcro on them so the kids can arrange the characters or items into pictures that tell stories.


Both ds were using a range of unlikely-to-come-together characters.

Then ds1 sat ds2 down and began telling his story. His voice was pretty loud and animated so it attracted the attention of kids around him as well. He sounded a lot like a teacher, haha.

There were many permanent exhibits and galleries but we only went into one where the opera and film scene in the past was showcased. Dd was so heavy, it was good my sis helped me with the German Didymos sling so her weight was more distributed across my shoulders and I could last longer, walking around for hours.

This other area was the most meaningful for me. The famous cartoon artist Miel drew this long long wall mural depicted the entire history of Singapore, from Sang Nila Utama to other important people, and with many iconic buildings represented. Very beautiful and also entertaining. The kids can really learn history in a fun way through this mural.

Best of all, they get the kids involved by asking them to draw what Singapore would be in future and they paste the kids' work up as well.

So the mural goes from left to right, with it ending here: you can see all the latest developments in Singapore - MBS, Flyer, Esplanade, even UFO and spaceships, haha.

Move further to the right, and the kids' works are featured, to show how Singapore will turn out beyond what Miel has drawn.

These are the boys' works that were pinned up. I felt it was a pity they didn't fully understand what they could do in a meaningful manner. They were just drawing what they fancied... This is ds1's.

And ds2's. I did ask him, there would be dinosaur-like robots in Singapore next time, is it? He just "uh-huh" and that's that. If I had the time, I would prefer going through the whole mural with them and then talk about various possibilities of Singapore in the future, before drawing anything. But then, I was with dd outside the arena. Next time then...

In the green square outside the museum, there was a carnival for the kids. Again, face painting, balloon sculpturing. All free. I wonder is it because I don't let the boys buy guns and swords so they always ask for such balloon sculptures... I would think animal or flower designs are so much prettier. I'll wait for dd to grow up, I am sure she'll ask for that. :-)

The cookie decorating was most fun for the boys cos they get to squirt a lot of colourful icing and then eat the cookie. They are taught how to do it as well. I was watching them being taught, when I noticed someone very familiar sitting with her daughter at the same table. Can you spot the girl with a butterfly face paint?


Turned out her mom was Dh and my NIE senior. She was in the batch before us, who organised our Freshmen Orientation Camp when we first entered NIE. Such a pleasant surprise! She's not in schools now, at MOE HQ. And the last time I saw her she wasn't even married yet. Look at her kids now. Of course, she was similarly surprised to see me and my kids! She also asked after Dh so I told her he is overseas and that he is not in MOE anymore as well.

Her son's tiger face paint was done very nicely. I wish I can do that!

ds1 done with his cookie. He chose a car. ds2 chose a bear.

ds2 took a much longer time with his cookie. He wanted icing of every colour, that's why!

Oh yes, a shot of ds2's wound on his foot. Remember Dh's brother gave us a ride to the hotel from my mil's place? When ds1 was entering the car, he opened the front passenger door and got in. My bil's car is the Mazda MPV with sliding doors behind. So there are no barriers between the front and back doors.

As ds1 was closing the front car door, ds2 was stepping up, getting ready to enter the middle aisle of the car. His left foot was on the step of the middle aisle, but at the spot where the front door will close!

I was right behind ds2 and had to watch it happen!!! Argh. It was too quick for me to do or say anything. I just saw ds1 slam the door close and right onto ds2's left foot. He didn't cry at once, but bent down and clutched his foot saying "ow ow ow".

I had to quickly open the front door. Fortunately it closed onto the part where his sandals had a strap across his foot. So his foot itself was just crushed a little. Still it caused quite some bleeding that took a while to subside and the bruise and scab itself took a whole week to disappear. Sigh.


That's not all. I said there was another long story when we reached home from the National Museum right?

We were all tired from the hotel stay and the museum trip, and were lugging big bags. We were also hungry and thirsty. We also took a long time to get a cab to bring us home.

When I finally opened the door, we realised there had been an electrical trip while we were away at the hotel (most probably due to lightning during thunderstorm)! Cos the lights and fans weren't working. A check at the mains showed that to be true. We got the electricity up and running again, but then I suddenly remembered! Oh man, the fridge!

Oh dear, my ice/ butter were all melted, the milk gone bad.... Fortunately I'd finished my Ben& Jerry's before leaving. There was some frozen beef and pork. It was a mess.

Sigh... Sometimes things happen... That day I was really frustrated with all the extra work clearing out the fridge, unpacking and washing dirty laundry. But now, when I post the pics and look back, it was not a big deal. The happy memories of the hotel stay and museum trip far outweigh this.

A great weekend overall!


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


;
11:30 PM
This is part 2, continued from the hotel stay. Forgot to add these pics.

At Prego, where we had dinner on Friday night (28 May).
The kids went to watch how the pizza chefs were making the wood-fired pizzas then decided to sit below the counter. Then they began striking silly poses. I took many pics but decided to post just this one.


Night view from the balcony of the room. I haven't gone on the Singapore Flyer and probably don't intend to, but I have to admit it does make the skyline more interesting.

The little princess asleep on the bed.

If Dh was around, the boys could go swim in the hotel pool. But since it was just me, and I didn't relish slinging dd and entering the swimming pool together with the boys then having to shower everyone (dd, boys and myself), so I told them to "swim" in the bath tub instead. They managed to have lots of fun, yet I could still let dd nap and watch TV. Sweet.

The MBS structure also made for a more diverse and interesting skyline.



rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


;
6:33 PM
A bit backdated:

May 28 was Vesak Day and it was a public hol.

So in the morning, my in laws wanted to walk the Dairy Farm Nature Reserve trail with the grandkids. Hence my bil, who lives nearby, swung by and picked me and kids up and we all went to my mil's.

Dd was already very heavy then, and if I were to sling her, we'd both be very hot (to the point of being heat stroke sometimes), so I told my in laws I'd stay in the house while they went for the walk. It was about 9am but extremely hot already.

Also, the walk was so long, no one would take turns carrying her since Dh is not around, so I wisely stayed home. True enough, it was 11+am when they walked back. All hot and sweaty and red in the face. Bil's dd even wanted him to carry her and she is already 5yo. I thought in my heart, if I went, I probably needed someone to carry me too. Haha.

Then we had lunch and when bil's family was leaving, he kindly gave me and kids a ride to Stamford hotel at Raffles City. (My sil and the eldest niece did not turn up for the family gathering cos she had too much work to do, hence there was space in the car for us.)

It was a day of family gatherings for sure. When we arrived, I met my other bil - my sis' hubby this time.

They were just about to check in, just nice!

My sis has some membership with the Raffles group of hotels so through her, I got a great big room at a discount. My parents also took a room, so all 3 families will be spending 2d1n there. Pity Dh is not around. We do this about annually, and he loves it too. I read in the papers they call it a "stay-cation" now. But we have done this since eons ago cos my dad likes to do it. He doesn't like travelling far away to have adventures, he likes to just spend time in the hotel, so we just book one in Singapore. (At his age, it is quite tiring to take long flights or road trips.)

The boys always shriek and holler and jump around the beds when we enter any hotel room. To them, somehow being away from home means the liberty to go wild. I don't know why they think like that. Even though we're still within Singapore, when I see the crisp clean sheets, the huge bathroom and the magnificent view, I also relax and try to impose less rules on the boys.

Another thing the boys love to do is to start writing notes and drawing on the hotel writing pad. Then they would want to watch TV. Why? Cos we don't have cable TV at home and hotels we go to usually have a whole range of cable channels, so they happily sit down and indulge themselves.

Here you can see ds2 glued to the screen and ds1 is happily channel surfing, in control of the remote.

I placed dd on the king-sized bed in the background.


I think she enjoyed the lovely white sheets too!

From our balcony, we could see the Marina Bay Sands. Such an iconic architecture. I read all about the SkyPark which will be at the top, and the infinity pool. But I am kind of afraid of heights, I wonder if I would dare to go up and walk around without the fear of falling off. :-)

Can see the Esplanade too. The view of that particular room I was given was superb. Also, there were 2 balconies. One facing the MBS and the other facing the other side (I don't know how to describe.)


This is the view of the other side.

Forgot to say their service is excellent too. Despite the hotel being fully booked that day (it was the start of the Great Singapore Sales) and the lobby was full of Singaporeans and tourists alike, waiting to check in at 2pm, they still had baby cots for both my sis and me.

The cots are done up with bright and colourful cot bumpers and sheets. They provide blankets, and a complimentary baby bath kit.

Although dd sleeps with me at night cos I bf, I do use the cot frequently in the day when I want her to sleep in peace while the boys jump around on the main bed.

In the evening, we enjoyed a fantastic meal at Prego. I love their pizzas. And there was free cake. It was kind of a pre-celebration of my birthday with my family.

We didn't manage to do much shopping even though it was the GSS. I saw throngs of people buying tons of stuff but cos I had the 3 kids and Dh wasn't around, it would be tough to lug the kids around shopping.

However, for a brief 1 hour when my mom babysat them in the room, I slipped out with my sis and we bought lots of cookies and biscuits at Marks and Spencers and we browsed the kids/ toy section at Robinsons. Yup, funny that I ended up with only food to show from the GSS. But I thoroughly enjoyed my Jam and Cream sandwich cookies. So so yummy.

The next day, after a sumptuous breakfast, we had late check out and then went to the National Museum for the Children's Season events before heading home.

I got a shock when I reached home but that's another story...

(this is pt 1, pt 2: hotel stay photos contd, pt 3: museum and home)


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Friday, June 25, 2010 ;
2:56 PM
It's been a while since I talked about being a teacher. I "left" that job 4 years ago to become a full-time mom.

Over the 4 years, I enjoyed being able to give all my attention to my family. I missed the interaction with my colleagues and students, but we managed to keep in contact and meet up regularly till now.

When I was a teacher, there are many chances or moments for me to feel a rush of pride. For example, when a student meets many obstacles, picks himself up and succeeds. Each year's Teachers' Day always leaves me very touched and overwhelmed by my students' cards and appreciation. Results day also make me very proud of them, whatever their results may be, because they have put in hard work and tried their best, and worked very well as a class.

Festivals and competitions too, when hordes of alumni will descend upon the school again, to celebrate together or cheer together. Those occasions never fail to make something in my heart flutter and I get a rush of adrenaline when I hear the songs, the cheers and see the mass dances.

Ok, so why this post? After a long time of endless diaper-changing and nursing, suddenly today I felt that pride again.

I was just reading the Straits Times during lunch, rushing through the headlines as usual, when I saw "Singaporeans shining in Ivy League". I glanced through the article, did a double take, went back to the first line, and this time read everything word by word.

Wow! Since 1999, when Chong Chan Vee (also from HC, if I remember correctly) was valedictorian in Princeton, it has been a few years apparently, for a Singaporean to be named valedictorian again. So now, another was crowned this glory in Dartmouth College. I don't know him...

But in the same article, it was stated that many Singaporeans do very well in the Ivy League colleges in the US and cited a few examples. Shawn Low just won a Hoopes prize in Harvard for outstanding scholarly achievement and research, while Justine Tay won the Merrill Scholarship in Cornell for being in the top 1% in the graduating batch.

Both were my students in HC. Shawn was technically half my student cos I shared the class with another tutor. Of course, both had been excellent in HC already. They had both topped the cohort in Biology in different tests/ exams.

I remember writing Justine's reference letter when she applied to colleges in the US. There were so many outstanding achievements I had to cram in, and so many personal accolades and anecdotes I wanted to include that I had to make the font size smaller and reduce the spacing so I could fit everything into an A4 printed piece of paper.

I am so happy for them. Congratulations.

My boys were with me when I was reading the papers and when I cut up the article and pinned it on the fridge, they asked me about it. And I told them. I felt like a mother when I told my boys how proud I felt.

Anyway, I have a 05S75 student who wished me Happy Mothers' Day this year, so I guess I qualify to be their mom. (Though it sounds so old... i thought i was more of a friend and counsellor. :-))

May all my students continue to succeed in whatever they are pursuing right now!


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Tuesday, June 22, 2010 ;
11:21 PM
The past 2 weeks or so were hectic. "tiring" would be an understatement.

My sis had some important things that cropped up and my mom was deployed to help her almost full time, staying overnight there too, and then there was the Chinese Bible lectureship last week which my mom had duties, and she needed to be there all 3 days. Besides that she was also host to one of the Taiwanese guests.

So with Dh away till July, and my most trusted help source unavailable, I have had to rely a lot on new and varied tactics to survive.

I am most grateful for the immediate support and help from the church. Dh and I have always made it a point to live near the church. In Utah, it proved really helpful. In Tianjin, the church met at our house. Here in Sg, we live just 5min away.

Because of that, there are many who live near me. Sab called me first to offer help. Asked me not to be shy to ask for help.

So I thought hard and I listed a few areas I would need help. For example I need help in getting to the church building since dd has cried till she vomitted when I drive.

So Lisa was deployed. She lived nearby, and was a grandma already. She usually goes with her hubby in their big European car to church. So I was grateful for her. She was supposed to come just to hold dd in the car while I drove to church. But she came over to my house earlier on Sun morning, to help carry Dd. Turned out very useful cos I was rushing to get the boys dressed and myself too. And I had to clear the breakfast table in a hurry.

Then she took care of the kids at the void deck while I scooted to the multi-storey carpark to get the car. And she entertained Dd all the way to the church. Phew, no crying, and for me, stress-free driving.

Phebe and Vicky volunteered themselves for this same duty too. So I got myself covered each time I needed to go to church, wonderful.

And then, once I reach the church building, I have more help. Many of them will carry dd for me, like when I need to go to the toilet, or just when they think I should have a break and get a snack or a drink. They will carry the car seat for me, the bag... like Lai Mui. She will without fail, carry everything for me from the car to the 2nd floor, and then once services end, she will pop up at the cradle roll to help get my stuff down to the car again.

The youth, have been so instrumental in taking care of my boys. They have been taking turns to sit between ds1 and ds2 during worship services cos I'd be in the cradle roll with dd. The boys sit outside themselves and ds1 has sermon sheets to fill in. People like Leon, ShihShih and Eunice have helped me take care of the boys.

Then there are countless other people who get the boys to the toilet, remind them to drink water, get them food, clean up for them, entertain them...

Even other families' helpers would help me. Very blessed indeed.

Then come my friends from outside the church.

My ex-colleagues and other friends managed to meet up with me over June. Most of them are still with MOE so they are usually more free in June. Knowing my circumstances (hard to travel far), they have all accomodated me and travelled all the way to Jurong to meet me, either at my place, or at Jurong Point, from breakfast/ lunch/ snacks, whatever.

I got to meet up with so many old friends this June, very very happy indeed. May blog about those later, cos no time to upload photos yet.

Today, my mom helped me (cooked dinner, carried dd while I showered, watched the boys etc), so I got this rare chance to blog.

dd was teething and so very cranky, clingy, so it was very difficult for me to sit down to check email or read the papers the past 2 weeks. I got a pile of unread papers now.

So today she was due for the polio/ diptheria/ tetanus/ Hib/ pertussis jab. She was measured and weighed first.

She's now 8.68kg, again beyond the 97th percentile. 63cm long, 50th percentile. Head circumference 43cm, can't remember which %tile but above 50th.

I was again asked what milk she takes. The nurse was very pleased with me when I told her I breastfed fully. She said my baby should be used as evidence that fully breastfed babies do very well. She said she counselled many moms who prefer to give formula milk, but they still expressed concern that bf kids don't thrive.

She said she breastfed all her 3 girls too, and the last 2 are twins! They are 19 mth old now and she bf them simultaneously. Wow... I think she is admirable. Bfg is already not easy, and she has to cope with 2...

I know it is possible cos I have read of many moms on the same parenting forum as me who bf kids in tandem, like older siblings and younger ones... But I just know it would be tougher than bfg one child. And I take my hat off to them.

Dd didn't cry much this time. Just a short wail when the needle went in. Her 2 big brothers being beside her helped I think? They were so interested and curious. Cos they totally can't recall their own vaccinations.

Have you noticed how babies like to look at children more than adults? Kids have higher pitched voices, and they're much more active, so babies are more interested in such creatures.

It's good that even though I am the only adult, the boys can serve as entertainment for dd as well.

My other tactics employed to survive include:

1. laying dd on the boys' bed when I dash off to take a shower every single day. (you never realise how showering or a bath can be such a luxury until you have kids under the age of 3 who need constant supervision)

The boys will just continue talking and playing and she will keep looking at them.

I realised I now need just 5min to shower. 6min if I wash my hair carefully, with conditioner and stuff.

2. Renting an exersaucer and using it when I need to eat or do some housework like washing the dishes or clothes and I don't feel like slinging dd. She is too heavy now!

3. When the boys need their shower and teeth brushed (usually Dh takes care of supervising such tasks), I will get the boys to take turns. One will play with dd on the bed first, and I get the other showered, etc. On days when dd is extremely cranky and crying away, then I will sling her and bark out my commands in the bathroom.

I realised one day that dd was watching everything intently. I was a little taken aback because I wonder if she'll learn all the shouting and then become a bossy little tyrant, thinking she can shout and order her brothers around too??

4. playing "musical chairs". shifting dd around the house so she keeps having a new environment to look around, while I am busy with my work or taking care of the boys. I shift her from bed to bed, exersaucer to mat on floor and so on.

5. I have gotten the boys to be much more helpful and independent now.
They have to be and thankfully they are willing and happy to be.

They now peel their own apples and eat them. So I need not worry about their fruit intake. Bananas also feature highly in their diet now since it is so easy for them to help themselves.

They can help me cook pretty well now. Ds1 can peel carrots, potatoes, etc. He can wash dishes.

Both can sort and fold laundry. Both take out the trash for me every evening/ night after I am done doing the dishes and wiping the table.

They have even mopped the floor for me (using damp rag, not a mop). They have of course swept and vacuumed as well.

When I go grocery shopping, the boys can carry the bags for me. When we reach home, they can sort out the groceries pretty well too. Sometimes I find a box of biscuits in the fridge but that's alright. At least the frozen stuff goes in the freezer, the milk goes at the door shelf, and the cheese and butter go to the dairy box in the fridge.

Many other little things, I have to get them to do. Like replenish tissue paper, arrange shoes properly, charge the phone or laptop...

When we go out, they can push the stroller too.

Sometimes they get too independent.

I mentioned the boys getting lost before right?

This time ds1 got lost in Jurong Point.

I was walking with dd in a sling. ds2 was slightly ahead, with the stroller. ds1 was carrying my bag and a drink behind me. He stopped to look at an Animal Kaiser machine but didn't inform me.

I got too used to them being very obedient and good, so I walked on without turning back until I got to the lift and realised ds1 was not behind anymore. So ds2 and I walked backwards and tried to look for him but didn't see him anywhere. We walked around the area some more and still did not find him.

I started to get a little bothered. Usually he was very good at not getting lost...

So I already started quickening my steps and forming a search plan. Was telling ds2 to stay near the lift area while I walked one round, when I spied ds1 further away, near the Kopitiam, talking to 2 teenage girls. They looked very concerned, and hovered over him.

I walked quickly up to them and they said he was asking them for help to look for his mommy. They were about to lend him their cell phones already.

I thanked them. And later found out from ds1 that after he looked up from the Animal Kaiser machines, he realised he had lost us, he walked around the area, and then saw the 2 girls who looked kind, and told them he was lost. They asked him what clothes I wore, and wanted to help him look for me but he said he didn't know (boys!!). However, he said I was with a baby, an orange stroller and another boy who is 5 yrs old.

And then he told them he knew my phone no. and asked if he could call me using their phones.

Phew... I once again had another talk with both of them, what to do if they got lost.

To think, I was even thinking of training ds1 to walk over to JP to help buy food in the near future. I was already getting both of them to lead the way from our home all the way to different places within JP, like Long John Silver, or Crystal Jade or Kopitiam. They already know how to get there via the sheltered walkway and via a different shortcut.

The only thing is, I don't know when I can fully trust them to cross the road safely and if they can really fend off strangers if the need arises. I guess I need to wait at least another year?

For now, I just wish Dh would return to Sg as soon as possible. I am soooo tired...


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Saturday, June 12, 2010 ;
4:03 PM
More records of milestones:
1. dd can lift up her head and shoulders (forgot to record this earlier, I think)
2. She just started turning over from front to back. Back to front - not yet.
3. She can sit in the middle of the bed (no support) for about 20-30s unassisted. I think it's cos her bum is very big and wide, lol. Usually after a short period of time, she will gradually tilt and loll to one side, or forward.

I read about the tree with rotten roots falling over and injuring an elderly lady, near the Istana. I remember posting not too long ago, about me and both ds playing there on our way to Plaza Singapura from Dh's office. Oh man, it could have been us! And I was almost going to pop then! So dangerous. Really, life is like a vapour, can die anytime.

This truth hit home again with the passing of my friend. We went for all her wake services, in English and Mandarin and then the cremation at Mandai Columbarium.

With each day, I am better able to accept her absence. So I was rather composed at the cremation, just tearing up a little in the eyes. However, when my friend's hubby told their almost 3 yr old son to "Say goodbye to mommy, come, quickly, tell mommy byebye" as the coffin was moving in to be turned into ashes, I couldn't take it anymore, and the tears just flowed. The same for everyone in there. Everyone was crying when the coffin entered the area and the sliding doors closed.


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Saturday, June 5, 2010 ;
3:27 PM
For the record: dd's 1st tooth - lower incisor - has emerged.

ds1 had his 1st tooth emerge at 4mth+ too, last time. ds2 about 4mth+, 5mth. now dd is on the dot at 4mth.

Perhaps has to do with the calcium content in the milk? Not sure, but kids today have too good nutrition..

She's drooling a lot and putting everything into her mouth. Not good for keeping hygienic. No wonder she caught her brother's cough, and is coughing a little now. The only consolation is her cough is not too serious because she is still nursing and getting all her antibodies from me.

Update to my previous post: my dear friend and sister has passed on. I received an sms this morning that the docs say her brain function has ceased and thus she was taken off life support.

I know she is going to a better place. I have to learn to accept that. I will pray for her family, for comfort and strength. And then on my part, I need to treat everyone around me with more concern, cherish them every minute. I am also going ahead with the Toy Story movie with her sister's family. That's what she would have wanted.


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Friday, June 4, 2010 ;
9:29 PM
I have a dear friend and sister-in-Christ. Her sister is also my dear friend and sister. Her parents have known my parents for years. Her son was born around the same time as my niece. Since we were young, we have seen each other around church, attended the same camps/ lectureships/ gospel meetings...

She also shared some similar interests, like music/ piano/ Biology. She graduated from Pharmacy at NUS. She is just a year older than I am. She used to love going to concerts and buying good classical music CDs. She bought me several great ones. She is very generous and I end up receiving many precious things from her. She always thinks of me when she goes shopping, it seems.

After she became a mom, we became even closer. She loves her food and often buys me treats. When I told her I loved the Thai iced tea at Thai Express, she told me there're even nicer ones and brought me to a really wonderful Thai restaurant downtown. It's unique and expensive, but she is just so nice to me.

Whenever we confide in each other, and sms and email about parenting issues, we'd always marvel how much our kids have in common, or rather, how the problems we have always seem so similar. We often explored solutions together, give each other advice, or just listen to each other.

Even while I was in Utah and Tianjin, the emails never stopped. She even sent parcels and letters, and beautifully decorated cards (all self-made) to me, across so many miles.

We've often talked about going out together with our kids. We seldom did because both of us were just too busy. She still works as a pharmacist at SGH, way too busy, and I just gave birth to yet another baby.

But she managed to come to ds2's birthday party. Even though she just found out she was sick then.

When we returned from Tianjin last sept, she still hasn't found out she was sick yet. That was only a few months ago! After she found out, we were all devastated but we thought we still had time. The doctor said up to 5-10yrs maybe?

We trawled the internet. I sent her links in an email. We talked about the treatments available. She asked me about this clinical trial. It would give her free treatment but she may not know which group she is in (double blinded) but she would be given free checkups all the time. And these medicines are not cheap. But there are side effects.

Yet she bravely went for it. We supported her. But it affected her appetite greatly. She lost so much weight in such a short time. She had gastric problems. She was so tired. Yet she still turned up week after week at church. She still came to my house for the birthday party.

She still wrote me a beautiful card, no reason, just cos she bought nice stock paper. I feel so bad about not making a card and writing at once back to her then. I smsed a reply then. I was "too busy". She told me how much fun she had at the birthday party and how much her son enjoyed it too.

Then her birthday came and I gave her a gift but I hadn't written a long nice card like she did.

And then my birthday came and in her extreme pain and suffering, she still remembered me and 2 weeks before the birthday, presented me with a package of Toy Story 3 tickets for me and my kids. Plus herself and her sis' family. She was excited over it (it would be on June 19th), and I was too. It has been so long since we last went to a movie together.

We smsed about it and talked and laughed over how the kids would enjoy it and we also laughed at the organiser's email reply (cos it was quite funny).

That was just 1+ week ago.

How did it happen so fast?

Since I received her last sms on Sat night telling me she feels really weak, she has not had any more chance to sms me. I am not sure if my reply to her on Sat was read by her. I only know on Sun, she did not turn up in church as usual, but she was still resting at home.

On Mon, I received an sms from her sis that she has been hospitalised. And then after that, the smses came one after another. Each one bearing worse and worse updates.

I heard from her mom that she was lamenting in the hospital (about the Toy Story movie) and at that time still hoping to go for it.

By Wed afternoon, she was unconscious and requiring machines to help her breathe. Evening, things looked up a little when they said she breathed on her own for a while. But then later the same night, I again received an sms saying she was back on the machine.

Thurs morning, they said her heart failed and then liver as well. So more tubes were required, more machines hooked up to help her perform all those functions.

I think I started crying Wed night. After that, every time I had a quiet moment (ie not talking to the kids or caring for them), most frequently when I was nursing dd, I found myself tearing up again. I can't help but keep thinking about the Toy Story movie.

How I wish to hear her wish me happy birthday. This year is the 1st yr in at least a decade that she didn't wish me. She always remembered my birthday every yr.

Initially I didn't go visit cos the family said not to visit. Then on Thurs my mom called her mom and her mom let my mom go just to keep her company outside the ICU. My mom said her condition didn't look good. So I knew I had to go. The family was ok with visits by that day.

So Fri morn (this morn), Dh took a day off and drove me, ds1 (on hol), dd, my friend's sis, and my mom to SGH. Kids below 12 are not allowed into the ICU area, so my mom stayed with ds1 and dd in the carpark area while we went up.

I met my student at the ICU but didn't talk to him. He's a doc there, and was rushing to get radiologists to do an urgent scan.

Then I saw her. They say her kidneys have also failed, and so an additional machine - for dialysis- has been hooked up.

I prayed as I looked at her. I know she is suffering but how can I pray for her to go in peace? I know heaven is a good place, but I can't bear to tell her that. Perhaps I am selfish, I just wish I had more time to treat her better. I just feel I haven't treated her as nice as I could, yet... I wish we can have many more outings together. I wish we can watch our kids grow up together...
So I prayed hard for her to come through.

I prayed and I talked to her in my heart... I asked her to wake up because she hasn't wished me happy birthday yet. I said "it's ok you are late, just wish me a belated one. And please, you have to get well soon cos our movie date is on the 19th".

And then she opened her eyes. Just for a sec.

The doc says the eyes can give mixed signals, according to her sis. That sometimes it can get dilated so it opens up involuntarily. However, the doc did say he noticed her straining to open her eyes when he called out her name.

Could it be a glimmer of hope?

The doc did tell her family members the scoring system for ICU. If 3 organs fail, then survival rate is 1%. She has 4 organs down now. And pupil dilation may be a sign of lower brain stem failure.

I don't know... I only know the doc says the machines will be on for 7 days. We can only pray, and wait...


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


Thursday, June 3, 2010 ;
11:11 PM
I was surprised to read in the papers that only 16 schools in Singapore had done away with the tests and exams for P1 and P2. I had the idea there were many more who took up MOE's recommendations from the high level study in 2008/9.

No wonder, when I talk with my friends, I felt that ds1's school is the odd one out. Other than his good church friend, Mx, who also doesn't have any tests or exams, most of my other friends with P1 and P2 kids were busy swotting for the mid-yr exams just a few weeks ago.

The most impact was felt with his cousins. His cousins study at a well known school in the Jurong West area. Apparently stress levels are high there and it is very competitive. His cousins are smart but their classmates are also very smart. So my sis in law has to keep them on their toes all yr round, it seems. She has 4 kids, and 3 are in the school already. The oldest one is taking PSLE this year.

Normally we meet every week at my mil's place for dinner. However, since the oldest one started P5, she had lots of homework and needed every minute for revision. She also had to spend a lot of time on her CCA. So my sil sometimes did not turn up, and stayed home with the oldest girl. My pils were very unhappy, they always grumble about it.

This yr, the situation was worse. However, my pils made their whole family come over a few times when there are important occasions like birthdays and so on. During these times, the cousins will bring their homework over to do and once dinner is done, they retreat to do homework with my sil. My pils were again not pleased. They also leave early because they have more homework to rush out.

As tests and the mid-yr exam approached, they stopped coming and my mil decided that meeting at her place will be 1x a month instead and the rest of the weeks she will come to our house and their house on separate days. This is to help my niece cut down travel time so she can spend more time on her revision.

So gradually we see them only 1x a month. Then my niece got even busier and she stopped turning up for the 1x month gathering as well, so we haven't seen her for some time now.

When I see this, I am glad MOE is lightening up and implementing all these new measures for kids to learn more optimally and spend less time mugging for exams.

ds1 enjoys his alternative modes of assessments by way of the portfolio, listening and oral quizzes (non exam format but more for practice and evaluation of how well the kids understood the lessons).

He also has poetry recitations for English and Chinese. The Chinese one involves actions and dancing too. Dh says it is so cheesy but it's just cos his teacher is from China and they do it like there that. It's fine if the kids find it fun, I think.

Next term, he will have show-and-tell as part of the ongoing assessments for language. For Math, it is like a checklist and the teacher will tick the appropriate level the child is at for us parents to be aware of their progress. Eg, able to write an addition story, or knows his number bonds up to 10... There are something like few levels corresponding to "very well", "somewhat well", "getting there" and "needs more effort".

Other than that, the marks the teachers show us refer to the past yr papers and quizzes they attempt. They are timed but they do not need to revise for it, nor do the teachers have to prepare them, so no lesson time is lost and the kids are not stressed over it. Since us parents don't even know they did those papers in school, like when or where, we don't stress over it too. These marks are not counted as well.

I thought since it was an MOE initiative following a study, many schools would have adopted it, so I was surprised the number is only 16. I hope more kids get to benefit from this, and also from the PAL programme as well.

(As for project work, so far, ds1 completes them in school. Every project has been a group effort so far, and he did not need any parental help. I hope it remains this way cos I heard and read that project work at upper primary level involve taking them home and requiring the parents' help.)

ds1 is enjoying his holiday immensely now. Reading, drawing, playing FB games via my account, playing board games, cycling, fooling around, taking care of his sister and helping me with housework. I've got pics of that. Will post soon. :-)


rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow
____________________________________________________________


about us ;
-{dear-hubby}- dh
-{dear-son}-ds1 T
-{dear-son}-ds2 J
-{dear-daughter}-dd E
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