That Special Place

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Somewhere in our lives... there's a place that we stash away all the bad things that happen. All of us have it - a few of us realize it.

Remember that bad dream you had?
That quarrel over a stupid little thing?
Hurt, Love, Tears and Pain.

Somehow we lock them away in that special place. Given the choice, we never want to remember them. The things that caused us pain, sorrow... and the people who made us cry.

But remembering sometimes is good. When we remember past events that have made us unhappy, we wouldn't want a repeat of those. We try to keep away from them as much as possible. We hope.

In that place where we lock away all the dark things in our life, it's cold. And dark... and damp. Not a very nice place to be. There's a certain sense of melancholy even before we step into that abyss, a certain sense of foreboding, almost. It's as though we never want to walk that way again. We never want to be reminded of what caused us grief.

Then again... what would life be without a bad event or two? Would we then be able to appreciate life? Would we be able to look at someone and be able to love him for who he is, all that he makes us feel... without ever knowing how it's like to be with someone who caused those tears? Would we be able to wake up and love life, sip the sweetness of the day - without knowing what it's like to have everything go awry in a day? Would another rainbow materialise without us casting a glance and being startled by its beauty... without knowing those dark and dreary days?

Memories are good. Even the bad memories are there for a reason, yet we still push them away so that we may never have to relive the way they made us feel - ever again. Once in a while, a bad memory escapes from that designated space. We ignore it, and cast it away.... beneath the deep, dark recesses of our mind.

Somewhere in our life there is that special place. A place that we stash away all the bad things that happen. A place where we choose not to visit, a place where we shrink away... a place where we keep our fears hidden and locked away.

There's a light beyond the shadows.

I'll walk toward that light instead of standing at the periphery of my special place. I choose to walk toward the sunlight - because I can.

8 things in my bag

This post is inspired by Emily over at Our Little Smarties

It's been said that we can almost always tell a person's character simply by looking into the items in their bags. Our bags can be extensions of ourselves, and reflect on our personalities and preferences, documented in the things we choose to carry. I've seen messy bags, organised ones, a mini pharmacy / office / stationery shop / cosmetics counter / convenience store in a bag carried by individuals who are true to form.

I've never liked to carry bags; be it handbags, sling bags, backpacks or pouches. I find it a hassle, and on weekends, I used to just bring some cash, one debit card (so that I can also withdraw cash in emergencies), mobile and my trusty Nivea Lip Balm in my pockets. If I'm wearing a dress without any pockets, my then boyfriend (now long suffering husband) will usually be tasked to carry the bare necessities.

When I really have to carry a bag, chances are it will be my 20cm x 15cm sling bag - which will conveniently be shoved into a shopping bag if I purchase anything. Needless to say, cocktail bags are practically useless to me, and I chose to not carry any since the one time when I forgot to retrieve it off the counter at the ladies!

Then I became a full-fledged Auntie Mummy. So... like it or not, carrying a bag became more a necessity than a requirement. However, I still managed to get away with not carrying a bag on weekends because everything goes into a backpack diaper bag, which of course the husband carries - since I carry the bub, and I'm of the weaker sex :)

I do carry an every day bag now, though - because I discovered that I suddenly needed to carry more 'necessities' daily (just in case!), which does not involve baby's stuff. My bag has also increased in size to accommodate these items, but I still don't carry a lot of things that most women have in their bags as their barest essentials.

8 Things in My Bag

(As Emily mentioned, the people who are featured in The Straits Times' Urban page '8 Things In His / Her Bag' are celebrities and models, and since I'm none of those - I'll just feature myself here.)

8 things in my bag.

The hubs purchased this "Frida" bag from Furla for me almost 2 years ago, to celebrate our pregnancy. I love that the hobo keeps its shape with 2 items or 20 items in it. It also goes with casual or semi-formal wear, and its' python skin design is unique. I don't really dig monogram bags - and prefer to have my bags very simple and understated.

8 Things in my bag, de-constructed.

1. James Patterson's "Now You See Her"

My current read, purchased last Saturday, which I have yet to start on because I am always busy drawing something during my free time now :D I've always been an avid reader, and would prefer getting books instead of toys. I still remember Mum refused to get me more books after the 3rd bookcase, nagging at me to go to the library instead. I hated library books in those days - because they were dog-eared, dirty, had pages missing, and always came with a funky, musty smell. She offered to buy me Barbie Dolls (!!!) instead, which I 'graciously' declined.

Parents!! There is no pleasing them. *looks at self furtively*

2. Pashmina wrap in choke cherry red

I get cold very easily, and this wrap comes in useful for chilly days or in cabs reminiscent of a mini walk-in freezer. It also doubles up as a light blanket for BabyMoo when the weather gets too cold, on our way to and fro my in-laws'.

3. Samsung Ace

Not a fan of the iPhone, so I got this instead. Battered and scratched, courtesy of BabyMoo practising his shot putting skills - but still works marvellously.

4. Furla wallet

5 years old, and none the worse for wear. Compact yet holds a great deal of things - from cash, credit cards, discount cards, membership cards, appointment cards and loose change. I don't like long wallets because it can be cumbersome and wouldn't fit into my other bags! Plus I have a tendency to need to equip long wallets with crisp notes... and would withdraw more cash (thus spending more) than necessary. Psychological issues!

5. House / Office keys with a de-constructed Mickey. 

I suspect I have the mind of a serial killer. I love Mickey's torso, head and legs hanging separately on the key chain. Mum bought this for me from Svarowski 7 years ago, when we moved to our new house. It holds the house / room keys, as well as my office key. 

6. Card reader

Purchased for $5.00 at an 'Ah-Boy' shop. They only have it in pink (and as much as I hate pink, it would have to do). I use it to transfer pics from the camera to my laptop / computer.

7. Sony DSC WX-7

The husband bought this when he thought he misplaced my previous Canon Ixus. We found the Ixus immediately after he got this for me. I use the camera to photograph BabyMoo antics and in various states of growing up. This camera goes everywhere with me... because I suddenly discovered I love to take photos of that one particular subject of mine! Most of the photos in this blog is taken using this camera.

8. Make-up pouch

This Kipling pouch is ten years old - and I love that it can be thrown into the washing machine as and when it gets dirty. It holds a lipstick, lip balm, mascara, compact powder, a butterfly clip and some Panadol.

Just realised that I don't have tissue packs or wet wipes in this bag. I don't know why... but every time I diligently put one in my bag, I will never remember to replace it once that pack's used up. On weekends, those items are in the diaper bag because they are essentials when we're out with the bub!

I also have this Sophie keychain won in some contest - hanging off my bag. BabyMoo loves to play tug with it, but he hates the original-sized Sophie teether. It always reminds me of him... and when I'm at work, I tend to look at it often as my source of comfort.



What's in YOUR bag?
Busybody me wants to know!
The Accidental Mom Blogger

He's being seduced to be "Lovin' it!"

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Most parents I know would try to delay the junk food culture for as long as is humanly possible, and we all know that the prospect of denying the kids junk food (read: McDonald's) is as exciting as watching nail polish dry. Especially if they are already at an age where they are aware and are attracted by happy vibes, bright places, continuous images of ice-cream swirls, salty fries and that Happy Meal toy.

BabyMoo had his first taste of semi-solids at 4 months, upon the advise on his PD. He started off with pureed apples, pears, bananas and pumpkin... and graduated to rice porridge at 5 months. When we first introduced food to him, the PD clinic gave us some Nestle rice cereals to try out, but BabyMoo loathed those. He will sputter, spit and basically regurgitate the cereal - whichever flavour was given to him. For the first time, I was worried for him, for he has always loved his milk and has never been known to reject feeds. In fact, he has such a voracious appetite that milk feeds were an absolute breeze. At 3 months, he was drinking 150ml every 4 hours, and finishes the bottle in about 5 minutes or less (I kid you not!). I timed him because it was the only time when he would allow me to be seated while carrying him - and I was chagrined because the time when I could sit down and 'relax' my arms and back felt so short! He weighed in at 7.5kg at 4 months, hated to be put down and was curious about everything around him - so my poor sore arms needed all the rest it could get!

DaddyMoo told me that it could just be that he didn't like the taste and texture of cereals (both of us don't like it, either) so upon my MIL's advice, we tried him out on double boiled porridge, mixed with pureed pumpkin. I remember vividly the first time I put the spoonful of porridge in his mouth. He was almost ready to spit it out (perhaps anticipating cereal) and just as we saw his little tongue dart out (with the porridge bit at the tip), it went back in as fast as lightning! Mummy was rewarded with a huge grin, and periodic yells when I didn't feed him fast enough.

From then on - there was no turning back. The world of different tastes and textures proved to be a happy one for BabyMoo... and my little baby ate everything as long as it's accompanied by porridge. Even now, although he wants everything that's on our plates, thankfully, he will still eat his home-made porridge as a staple.

As I've mentioned previously, we usually allow BabyMoo to eat practically everything that we do, within reason, and as long as we think it's suitable for a toddler with 6 teeth. There are some items which he tasted and didn't like, and never asked for it again. We draw the line on caffeine and alcohol laced products, Coke and fruits or vegetables that have sap or are overly acidic - choosing to not consume these in front of him rather than disallowing him a taste before he can fully understand explanations.

A week ago, I decided that we will introduce him to McDonald's. DaddyMoo and I agreed that we will not outright ban the consumption of so-called junk food for the boy, because we wouldn't want him to be overly curious about this culture, due to the the 'forbidden fruit' nature that has been imposed. Instead, we will attempt to give these foods in moderation, for living in an age where undoubtedly, he will be exposed to the fast food culture more often than we prefer, it is important that he is supervised on the consumption, rather than develop a yearning for foods that perhaps his future schoolmates have free reign to.

We went to the outlet at Clementi Mall for breakfast. Actually it was more of a split second decision as we were too late for the 11.00am mass at  Holy Cross, and therefore decided to attend the 12.30pm one at St Teresa's. While DaddyMoo was in the queue, BabyMoo and I waited at one of the tables - and was duly approached by a kindly middle-aged lady wearing a supervisor's uniform. She offered to get a high chair for us, and although I informed her that the hubs will do so once he's done ordering, she waved us off with a broad smile, and told us that she will gladly get one for us.

BabyMoo was in his carrier, strapped to me, and although I am perfectly able to release him on my own, she helped me undo the clasp and held on whilst I took Baby out. She asked if I minded her helping to seat him down, and faced with such graciousness, I was more than happy  for her to render help. BabyMoo was grinning and enjoying the extra person fussing over him (that's my little attention seeker for you!) and was more than happy to be helped to his high chair. She proceeded to entertain him, talking to him and playing peek-a-boo with him.

I asked her if she is the supervisor, and she mentioned that she's a 'goodwill ambassador', whose job is mainly to ensure that parents are helped with their children, the handicapped are given assistance, and generally to oversee that all her 'guests' are well cared for. I then saw her proceed to help a mother with two toddlers, as well as help place her food order at the counter.

She then came back to our table, and asked BabyMoo if he would like a balloon. BabyMoo flashed her his megawatt smile, and was rewarded by a blue and yellow balloon for him to choose. By this time, DaddyMoo was already back with our orders, and I was cutting up pancakes and scrambled eggs for the boy. Annie (that's her name) entertained BabyMoo throughout, and kept him giggly and occupied whilst we had our breakfast with minimal interruptions from the boy.

I gave him pancakes (which he ate but he didn't really take to) and scrambled eggs (which he absolutely loved!). He finished his meal in no time, thanks to his hungry stomach and Auntie Annie.

When we left, BabyMoo waved to her, and gave her flying kisses - holding on tightly to his blue balloon. We thanked Annie for her excellent service, with a promise to be back.

Happy boy at McDonald's!

Woo them from young - and you have a customer for life. BabyMoo's first experience at McDonald's, judging from his expression and the way he hummed to himself all the way to the carpark - was a very happy one. I suppose he will, from now on - associate it with a happy place, where salt is abundant and welcoming him round the clock in its comforting embrace. Every time we pass by that particular McD's (which is visible from the main road) - BabyMoo will excitedly point, and look for his blue balloon which is still next to his car seat.

Clever, clever marketing strategy, you people of the golden arches fame.
Very impressive.

Parking Cheat!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Children take in everything that goes on around them, observe, listen and learn even when we don't think that they are aware.

I remember talking to the bub in the tummy back then. When my gynae told me to start speaking to the foetus as soon as we knew for sure that he's there, I thought I would feel awkward 'talking to myself'. Surprisingly when the hubs and I started talking to the bub, it was almost as though he's physically already with us.

"Baby... don't make Mummy's nose swell, ok? Your vain Mummy is complaining so much to Daddy, and asking Daddy to tell you!" (The ground rules were set early, and the disciplinarian role was pushed to DaddyMoo, of course.)

I don't know if it was a stroke of luck or otherwise, but BabyMoo listened to Daddy.

From then on, it's always: "Good Morning Darling!" when I feel him stir in the mornings, and talking to him throughout the day was like having a tete-a-tete with a friend. This was the part I missed most about pregnancy - the feeling that I was never alone, even when I physically was. 

We've always spoken to BabyMoo the way we would to an adult. I am not a strong advocate of 'baby talk' and I find it rather silly to 'cootchie...cootchie coo..." a baby when their brains are conditioned to be able to absorb and process words, sounds and actions even from the womb. Furthermore, in the everyday development of the baby, he learns by listening and observing things around him, and as such, speaking in a language form that is contorted to supposedly make a baby understand things better (or perhaps meeting them at their own personal level) does not make sense to me.

I'm glad that everyone in the family is supportive of this, without me having to dish out any advice. 

BabyMoo has always been a very visual and tactile baby. He loves to observe birds flying, puppies cavorting, and fish swimming, always attempting to reach out to these. He is intrigued by how things work, and many times since he was able sit down on his own and choose his toys (at 6 months), I have caught him silently observing, and suddenly attempting to imitate an action. He wasn't attracted by toys on its own, he would turn the toy over and try to pry the battery cover open, or start poking the screws if they are present. He didn't like 'simple toys', and would much rather have a battered old plastic can which has a lid that he can attempt to open and close, rather than a spanking brand new object which has nothing that he can tinker with.

He doesn't like furry (and dirty!) stuff. No tissues, cloths, socks or stuffed toys. I admit I always push his buttons and irritate him numerous times by placing a sock or a wash cloth on his lap, which he would gingerly pick up using only his thumb and forefinger, and proceed to fling (over his shoulder, no less!) with gusto. Even now, at 14 months, he is extremely fussy about the material of his clothes, and obsessed with cleanliness and order. He would point at a stray rice/ crumb which dropped as I was feeding him, and would not eat another bite until I remove it. He would not touch the item at all - but demands that it be removed immediately. Slightly damp tee shirts courtesy of a dribble or water from his cup - need to be changed (otherwise he would keep tugging at it). He looks for his comb the moment he's out of the shower, and will try to comb his own hair. I have a fusspot in the making... and DaddyMoo isn't all too surprised, preferring to keep his comments to himself apart from: "Mummy's boy, through and through!"

Another thing that BabyMoo surprised us with is his memory. He gets distracted fast, but at the same time, he will remember where each toy is, and woe betide anyone who tries to take any toy away even when he seems to not be looking. When we teach him to do something once, he will remember how it's done, even though weeks or months have lapsed. He constantly amazes me with the ability to absorb things and small details which we would otherwise take no notice of.

Lately, he's been imitating us. Actually, more Daddy than any of us. Maybe because Daddy plays with him, acts all silly, and gives him horsey rides. BabyMoo looks for Daddy when he wants to watch videos on Youtube (just because maybe its more fun watching it on a Mac screen than on Mummy's battered lappy), but he's happiest when he watches football with Daddy. All's good - apart from the fact that Daddy is a noisy football fan. Sometimes I don't know if he realises that the referee / coach / players can't hear his directions from a million miles away. BabyMoo gets excited when Daddy's excited. He points at the TV when Daddy points. He shrieks when Daddy curses yells. Mummy just walks out of the room.

A week ago, I was having a conversation with my colleague who has a 2 year old. We spoke about parenting, children and the stuff that parents talk about when they get together. He told me that his son also loves to imitate him, and when it comes to TV or playtime, Daddy is always first choice. So they were watching a Premier League game on TV over the weekend, when he suddenly saw his son point to the TV, and shout: "Parking Cheat!" 

He did a double take, and asked: "S, what did you say?"
"Daadee... (points to TV) Parking Cheat! Parking Cheat!"*

Ok - I'm no prude, being guilty many times of swearing like a fishwife, but as long as it is still too hard to make BabyMoo understand and be aware of the concept and usage of good and bad words, we'd better watch what we say. I went home and told the husband, that from now on, either he watches football quietly - or enjoy the game at the kopi tiam down the road.



*curse words which rhyme with parking and cheat - please don't make me type it out here! :D

The sacred 'Elbow' and other things.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Monday - start of another week after a weekend of fun with my two favouritest boys.

BabyMoo and Daddy

Thank you to Dominique for the great start to the week... BabyMoo won a portable sterilizer!

We recently got a car. It was a decision made after a year of contemplation... when we've finally decided that getting our own set of wheels cannot be put off any longer. Pre baby days, having a car would be an unnecessary expense on our part, viewing that the husband and I need not drive for work related purposes. We work long hours, and that would only mean that the car would be sitting idle most of the time, incurring parking charges or just simply collecting dust. Going out on weekends is also easier with public transport... there is no need for parking woes, and given that we're mostly out in the evenings having drinks or at clubs, having a car does not make prudent sense.

When BabyMoo came along, my in laws were nice enough to offer to take care of him during the day on weekdays while we are at work; and we know that we are far luckier than most people in this aspect. There was only one slight problem.

My in laws stay in the East, while we stay in the West. Journey via AYE - ECP takes about 20 min during non-peak hours.

When I finished my maternity leave, we tried to take BabyMoo to and fro in the mornings and evenings, but I think the travelling took its toll on him. We finish work pretty late, and by the time we reach home, it will be about 9 in the evening. He fell ill after the 2nd week, and so we decided that we will only take him back on alternate days, as heartbreaking as the decision was. I shall not even start on the travel expenses via taxi, made worse by the recent fare hike.

DaddyMoo has just recently started on a new job, which is located in the East. Viewing that the company is located in a quite remote part of the island, we thought that getting a car would mean that BabyMoo can come home daily, and Daddy will not have to leave the house too early. He will drop Baby off and Grandpa will drive him to work. The car will then be parked at my in laws' place. This would also mean that Grandma and Grandpa can use the car for errands, rather than having it remain idle for the better part of the day.

BabyMoo's taxi.
Mama says: "fire engine red!" Mummy says: Valentino Red!" Daddy says: "It's red, lah."
BabyMoo points: "Unh!!"

So with a car, now we have to figure out a way to make BabyMoo sit by himself in his car seat at the back, without being too much of a distraction to Daddy. I start work at 10.30am - and my office is in town, so leaving with the boys would mean that I would be 2 hours too early.

BabyMoo has no need for transient items. He's so easily bored and distracted that there was never an opportunity for him to develop an attachment to a toy or object - but he needs an elbow when he's sleepy. Yes... an elbow. He needs to rub a dub dub the elbow, and that will send him off to la la land. Another thing about him is that he almost always falls asleep during car journeys, which obviously presents another headache for me. Seems that I would have to go with them for a few days, or risk having to chop off my arm in order for him to be quiet.

We tried to 'train' him to sit by himself over the weekend. He wasn't too happy initially, but the feeling of sitting on his own, in his 'big boy chair', won the day.

Grumpy baby!

He was all quiet... sometimes even humming to himself, until the habit of having to sleep - kicked in. He whimpered... yelled Mamamameemememe (or something that sounded like it), cried huge, ploppy tears - until I relented. I reached out my arm toward the back seat, stayed in that awkward position for the next 60 sec, and looked behind, to see him out like a light with the tears drying on his face.

Happened the same way this morning, too.
Looks like I'd have to sacrifice 2 hours of sleep every morning for the love of my life until further notice. The alternative, which is chopping off my arm - is a rather grim prospect.

In other news, BabyMoo enjoyed himself tremendously at Hokey Pokey last Saturday afternoon. He had a ball of a time (no pun intended!) exploring all the toys, playing with musical instruments and being exposed to many girly stuff that he would otherwise have not been privy to. A great place for toddlers of his age range. Glad that we made the decision to sign up last week!

Leaving you with the weekend in pictures...

Lovin' the Koi Pond at Suntec City

Peek-a-boo with mummy

"Mummy... there's no more food in the larder!"

Washing dishes! He got angry when he couldn't get water to flow from the tap.

My action-packed maestro performing for a make-believe audience...

Spoiled for choice by the array of toys available!

A cacophony of clashing cymbals, tinkling bells and xylophone.

Enraptured by the antics of Mickey and Daffy.
(this rare moment of quiet lasted all of 60 sec!)

"Wheeeeee!! I'm on the big slide!"

Ice-cream at Andersen's.
A sweet ending to a fun-filled Saturday!



A moment in my tummy...
and a lifetime in my heart.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Nothing really prepared me for the complete lifestyle overhaul which came along with becoming a mother. I suppose no matter how in-depth are the stories which other parents regale us with regarding their parenting experiences, we can't really know the true extent of it until we experience it ourselves.

I had BabyMoo at a later age as compared to many other women, and whilst there were of course, certain concerns of complications and difficulties which entail having a child after the so-called 'recommended age window', I was blessed with a very easy pregnancy and a healthy, happy baby. Passed the dreaded OSCAR test with flying colours - I remember the feeling of elation, which can never be compared to passing previous educational examinations in any form! I opted out of the amniocentesis test based on the results of the 20th week scans, and waited for the arrival of the baby with a smile.

On hindsight, I'm not sure if it was the bliss of ignorance or the fact that I did not think of asking or googling around regarding the do's and don'ts of pregnancy which made me think that growing a baby wasn't all too difficult after all. I ate what I wanted, I was still involved operationally at work (although my ground staff were more worried than I was - they refused to let me help out with menial stuff no matter how busy the situation was) and I sometimes forgot that I was pregnant during the first 6 months! Apart from the usual bloatedness and butterfly flutters, BabyMoo was perhaps content with getting used to the hullabaloo surrounding him constantly, for he did not bother to constantly remind me that he's in there. He didn't even bother protruding out too much until I was in my 25th week of pregnancy. I just looked and felt fat - which is good or bad, depending on how we choose to view it.

35 weeks

Perhaps it was also the constant activity at work that prevented me from feeling the fatigue of pregnancy. I know I slept earlier than usual after I come home from work, and I had aversions to foods which I previously loved. I ate burgers, potatoes (I couldn't get enough of potatoes in any form!), Subway sandwiches, steaks and pork. All meaty stuff, the husband's favourite, but not usual food options for me. No morning, afternoon or night sickness - and it took all of my willpower not to overeat. I went about my business as usual, apart from the slight adjustments which came about while I was growing the baby. The heels went down 2 inches, I ate my steaks medium instead of extremely rare, I went to Japanese restaurants and ordered cooked food! Those were pretty much the exceptions which I made, which came about due to the advice of my gynae, who mentioned that 'being pregnant is not something to dread, it is something to savour and enjoy. Eat what you want, whenever you feel like it, as long as its in moderation!'

Did I mention I love my gynaecologist? She is the only doctor which I went to (and I went to 4 before I felt comfortable!) who made me feel that there should be nothing to worry about, and the happier we are, the happier the bub will be. She did not tell me not to do this and that and watch the scales like a hawk, the way 2 of the previous doctors did (thinking about those made me angry all over again - they made me feel so upset and attempt to stop eating, which made my husband mad... but that's a story for another day)

Dr Choo with my Mum and MIL just after BabyMoo is out
(the Bottega is much cooler when carried with scrubs!)

I opted for elective C-Sect with GA because I'm such a wuss, and I'm truly glad that I have my entire family's support on this, including my in-laws. They mentioned to do what I feel comfortable with, and as long as baby and mummy is fine - that's all that matters. the husband and I don't think that parental bond is reduced or compromised should there be a change in delivery method, for we believe that parent-child relations are strengthened through love, care, communication and understanding on a daily basis. It was fortunate that we opted for this method of delivery, for after the entire procedure, Dr. Choo mentioned that there was no way BabyMoo would have been able to arrive safely through normal delivery. He was engaged, but he was way up high near my ribs, and since I have a long torso, she even had to use forceps via Caesarian! 

Horror stories abound regarding C-Sect deliveries... but I'm glad that I have none to contribute. I was off painkillers on the very night itself, and was walking around on the 2nd day. I even went downstairs to have BabyMoo's BC arranged. Everyone around me was more worried than I was, and although I did take extra care not to walk in my usual 'samseng' way - I didn't feel discomfort or pain at all. It was just like a healing wound, smarted a little with a dull ache at times.

Then came the sleep-deprived days and nights.
Then the waves of immeasurable love, the kind that I never knew existed.
...and Motherhood truly begins.

The 'Pragmatic' Me.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

When I found out I was expecting, one of the first people I shared the news with was my Operations Manager at work. We've been friends long before we were colleagues, and we've seen each other through crazy times, drunken ones, happy days, weddings and the births of his children.

I've been with the current company for the past 13 years. I have left the company twice during this period to pursue different job scopes, and have returned again to the same company - armed with additional knowledge, but with the realisation that I am happiest working with them.

I have never been an ambitious person, career wise. It was more important that I enjoy what I do, rather than the amount of money that a particular job would bring me. I basically had most aspects of the educational system covered. I opted to be in the Pure Science stream in Secondary School (I would have much preferred to be in the Arts stream, but chose the former because of the advice given: 'Once you're in the Science stream, you can choose to go into any other areas in college!'), did Econs / Accounts in college, and went on to do my heart's calling: Graphic Design! following that.

I've been pretty lucky in my working life so far. I've never had to start off bussing tables or carrying barrels back then. I've been handed opportunities and chances on a silver platter, and I made sure that I never let any of these people who helped me down. Knowledge is a powerful tool, and I made sure that I did not only work blindly, I learned as much as I could by observing everything that happened around me.

What I have been able to achieve thus far in this industry, I'm happy to say - is obtained through sheer grit, determination and hard work (plus lots of chances and opportunities!).

So there was no question in my mind that I will still continue to work even after baby is born. The difficulty lies in the juggling of work and family - and at the same time, the provision of a loving home for baby to grow up in.

The hubs and I spoke about this at length - and while he left the decision entirely up to me, he reminded me that I am a person who thrived most on challenges, and that I love what I do. Marketing, Advertising and Design has always been my primary interest, and it was what made working so enjoyable to me.

Him: "I leave it up to you, but I would rather you work. In fact, even if I'm a gazillionaire, it's better if you work."

Me: "Why?!" (thinking that it was so selfish of him to deny me the tai tai life!!)

Him: "Cos you'd be so bored, you'd be constantly calling me at work to tell me that you're bored!"

Pffffftt!!

...actually, he knows me best.

So I informed my Boss that I would like to continue working after the baby's had, if he'd have me (yes, we have a mutually respectful relationship that way) and that I'll try my best to not allow anything much to change in my attempts to strike a healthy work and family life balance.

He congratulated me, was genuinely happy about the decision and said (I quote):
"We try to employ a person to suit a job scope, but at the same time, we will also ensure that as much as an employee has given to us, we will try to give what we can as employers. We will see what we can do to ensure that the job now suits you, time-wise, and your life as a mother now."

That just reaffirms why the Higher Management (all 15 of us) have been with this company since Day 1.

So as difficult as it is to not be with BabyMoo most of the day, DaddyMoo and I are trying our best to be good parents, with the help of some invaluable people in our lives.

We are indeed very, very fortunate.

"Sweet and cute?"
No, thanks!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

If I see another store with cutesy baby / toddler clothes in all imaginable sweet pastel colours, I'll scream.

Powder blue for boys and cotton candy pink for girls... it's as though we have to enforce the gender identity thingie on our children the moment they are born.

Sometimes I think I'm one of the very few mums in Singapore who have problems finding 'funky' clothes for BabyMoo. I can't seem to find many stuff in black or dark colours for the boy. I'm not even asking for skeletons or skulls and crossbones as accents - just clothes without Doraemon / Thomas the Train / Barney (Ack!) / Lightning Mc Queen / Pooh / Spongebob / cartoony-stuff-that's-so-run-of-the-mill to adorn what he wears. There are polo tees and shirts without these, but do they have to come in stripes or patterns which will make the bub look like an Ah-Pek?

Seriously.

DaddyMoo has totally given up. He says just let BabyMoo wear what he has now till he grows out of it, doesn't matter that they will fade, fray and thin through wear and tear. Of course, he knows his wife wouldn't listen to him :D

I tried googling. Lots of sites which have clothes to my liking...and got me excited. I was even prepared to pay astronomical shipping costs to have these for the bub. These sites either only ship within the US, or everywhere else apart from Singapore. Emailed them, and only one site replied - they have stopped shipments to Singapore due to the large number of items which have gone missing.

(I can totally understand, because my Finance Dept at work has highlighted this fact due to the insane number of cheques which have gone missing in the mail as of last year.)

That would mean I have to find alternatives to shipping.

So... apart from these few tees that I managed to find via an online site which ships to Singapore, I may just have to be content with the not-so-cutesy stuff from Zara Kids or Chateu De Sable which sell them at pretty reasonable prices...

Love the Mummy and son Punisher tees!

Shopping at H & M - shirt from Zara Kids

Henley tee from Zara Kids

...OR just make the boy go topless.

My little hunk!

If you have any shopping sites that have funky clothes for tots to recommend... please let me know! I'm running out of ideas - and the mummy boy *needs* new clothes! :D


Let's do the Hokey Pokey!

Flurry of activities over the weekend, glad that BabyMoo was on his best behaviour.

Dropped by Suntec City yesterday afternoon... in the hope that the place will not be too swamped with bargain hunters from the IT fair. Needed to get some stuff from one of the shops there.

It wasn't too crowded, but I'd like to think that the hubs and I have kind of mastered the technique of manoeuvring stroller, baby and shopping bags through crowds in the most efficient way. 

Walking through the 3rd floor of the mall, we happened to stumble on a mini gym of sorts which was holding its soft opening yesterday afternoon itself. Now all parents will attest to this desire to check out any kid activity centre the moment we have a young one to entertain - and so, we decided to have a look at the place. (Actually BabyMoo was the one who alerted us to it, pointing excitedly at the balloons adorning the entrance)

"Hokey Pokey" - cute logo, albeit done in pastel colours.

It was a mini gym, complete with ball pools, playhouses, kitchenettes, tunnels and padded stairs. The staff explained that they have just opened on that very afternoon, and gave us a comprehensive explanation of the charges and usage of facilities. Very friendly young staff, enthusiastic, and made us feel totally at ease. Best of all - they are young Singaporeans who gave me a feeling that they genuinely love what they do.

I love the concept of the mini gym as they are targeted for kids from 6 mths - 6 years, unlike most which are catered to the older kids. At the risk of sounding like a pedantic, worrisome parent, I have yet to bring BabyMoo to Polliwogs, SingKids or the many activity centres as I would prefer him to be stable on his feet and thus be more prepared to play with the older children on the respective play stations. 

BabyMoo is a constant bundle of activity, and he absolutely loves to explore. He climbs up and down everything - and prefers to do so unaided. We signed him up for a term at The Little Gym when he was 7 mths old, and he thoroughly enjoyed his weekly play time there even though at that age, he was less mobile than he is now.

When BabyMoo saw the expanse of space and multitude of paraphernalia at Hokey Pokey, he was enthralled. He kept on wriggling and trying to squirm his way out of my arms, while we were still trying to find out about fees and facilities!

It was quite a good deal, so we signed up.
$15 for a 2-hr play on weekends, and $15 for unlimited time on weekdays (you can even stop halfway for lunch or dinner and come back after) with membership.




Temperature check, hand and feet check, socks worn - and DaddyMoo accompanied him in. He had an absolute blast for the 15 minutes trial session that we were there. He was free to explore, climb, and wandered around on his own trying out all the different toys lining the walls. We would have stayed longer if we weren't rushing for evening mass... but I was extremely pleased with the accidental find.



BabyMoo in his ball pool



Only snag is, they did not seem to have a proper system in place as yet. I would attribute it to them being new, and hope that a more fixed system will be incorporated to ensure that there is a clear distinction between signing up for a membership and otherwise. They did not issue any member cards or MemberID. All they did was take down the parent's particulars and take a Polaroid picture of baby. (huh? Baby's faces change faster than we can change their diapers!)

When DaddyMoo asked about the procedure for future visits, he was informed that he should just let them know of baby's name, and they would retrieve the membership accordingly. We were puzzled. 50 members, 500 members, maybe even up to a 1,000 members can be done this way - but we hope that they will be able to handle it when membership hits 5,000 or more! Perhaps a more sophisticated system lie in wait after the waters are tested?

We're looking forward to bringing BabyMoo there for play soon. They have a team of young, energetic staff who are pleasant. If it wasn't for this particular aspect of service, perhaps we may have thought twice about signing up. Moreover, the play area itself caters largely to kids of his age range, and we can leave him to his own devices in a 'safer' environment, at least until he's slightly older. 

BabyMoo had lots of fun, and was a happy, smiling baby. The nice people at Hokey Pokey gave him organic puffs and 2 sticker panels on top of a goody bag filled with organic raisins, lollypop, gummy bears and a box of crayons.

Goody bag filled with organic munchies

BabyMoo enjoyed flirting with all the jie-jies there, too... and was his more than usual charming self. 

UPDATE:

Hokey Pokey has moved to:

9 Raffles Boulevard, Millenia Walk #02-42/43/44/45
Singapore 039596


** DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated to the management of Hokey Pokey or have been paid to blog about this place. This is a blog mention in the hope that more parents will be made aware, and their children will then be able to enjoy its facilities. We paid for our own membership, too :)

Our little Fighter.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

BabyMoo wasn't planned. I was actually on The Pill when I realised that my my menses did not arrive as scheduled within that one-week window. I brushed it off initially, but for a nagging feeling that I could be pregnant. Now most mothers can attest to the fact that somehow they know, even before the missed period or the onset of morning sickness set in, that they are expecting. Call it mother's instincts, or whatever... but you just know.

Now - don't get me wrong. It's not that the husband and I weren't planning to start a family. We planned to have children only after we have settled on our living arrangements and have a semblance of family 'security' enforced before proceeding to provide a home for our children. We refused to get married just because our balloting exercise is successful, nor do we want to be dictated on when to get married for the same reason. We got married because we felt that we would be much happier as a unit. I wanted to stay with my Mum for the time being because I wanted to be close to her as she gets on in years... and we will get a house of our own when the right opportunity presents itself. My husband had no objections, and the ever practical him also mentioned that it would be much better to get a house in a preferred location if we were not bound by the need to do so just to seal the deal.

On my way to work, I dropped by the pharmacy (purely on the advice of that nagging feeling!) and bought a pregnancy test kit. Had the test done mid afternoon... and saw the two lines etched as clear as day in the few seconds as I held it in my hands. Even then - I couldn't believe it. The Pill is supposed to be 99.9% foolproof!

Until those two parallel lines presented itself.

I bought another 2 test kits. Of course... same results.

I called the husband at work.

Me: "I did the test. I think I'm pregnant."
Him: "What test?"
Me: "Pregnancy Test lah!!" "How?"
Him: "You got to stop smoking ah."
.......

I think he was as shell-shocked as I was. Cos a few minutes later - he called me again:

Him: "How are you feeling?"
Me: "Ok - how should I be feeling?"

Him: "If you're not well, go home, ok?"
(I have not complained of any discomfort or nausea, I don't know what brought that remark on)

Me: "Ya lah."
(in an effort to act nonchalant, and perhaps because the reality hasn't actually sunk in yet)

I texted my Mum next, expecting her to call me back screaming in joy, due to the fact that she (not my MIL!) has been bugging me for a grandchild.

No response.

Only an hour later, she called me from her office phone, and told me that she was in the Ladies when she read my message, and in her excitement and shock, dropped her phone into the bowl.
Of course... then she bombarded me with questions: How far along, Boy or Girl(!!!), How am I, Have I been eating properly, have I made a doctor's appointment, not to keep late nights, etc etc etc...

I was exhausted just listening to her :)

So... a week later, I made arrangements to see a gynae who is also a friend of Mum's (Mum works as a medical consultant at Mt Elizabeth Hospital, and so she is on a first name basis with most of the doctors there).

No fetal pole. No heart beat. Just a yawning, empty gestational sac.

Doc sat us down and explained to us about the possibility of me having  an anembryonic gestation (aka blighted ovum) whereby in the pregnancy, the embryo does not develop to become a foetus. However, since based on calculations, I was only 5 and a half weeks along, he would like me to return in 2 weeks for another check. In cases such as mine, there is a 30% chance that it will become a full fledged baby.

I didn't know what to feel, or how to feel. I was upset. Devastated... 2 weeks!! I want to stay positive, but its difficult not knowing for sure.

My husband, however, was so convinced that baby is inside, just playing hide and seek with us - before he decides to make his grand appearance. I even got angry with him for not showing the same reactions as I did. All he said was:

"Baby will be fine. Just you wait and see."
Me: "How you know?"
Him: "It's my kid. I just know." << claiming stake even before anything is confirmed!!

2 weeks later, it was with trepidation that I stepped into the clinic again. I couldn't sleep the entire night before, and truth be told, I've been having conversations with baby, disregarding the fact that it may, or may not be there to hear me.

The sac has grown an extra 7cm, and still no fetal pole or heartbeat.

Doc informed me that in cases of a blighted ovum, the gestational sac will have shrunk over these two weeks instead of enlarging. He said that he would like me to wait for another two weeks, so that we do not make a mistake, but he left the final decision up to us. My husband told him that we'd wait.

Another 2 weeks of nail biting days... and eating. My appetite was uncontrollable, to say the least. I told myself not to use the pregnancy excuse to eat more, but the hunger was a gnawing, persistent ache that would develop into a painful gastric if I did not eat. I crazed myself into thinking that I should be puking my guts out should this be an actual pregnancy - but no... I was putting on the pounds even though I was spreading out the amount I ate so that it won't be more than the usual.

At supposedly 9 weeks and 4 days (and on our 1st wedding Anniversary!), I returned not knowing what to expect. Saw the anaesthesiologist in the surgery room making preparations. My heart dropped to the pit of my (hungry) stomach.

Ultrasound check. Silence in the room. I was behind the curtain, Doc was checking, while Mum and the husband wait anxiously on the other side of the curtain.

Suddenly, Doc literally threw open the curtains (Yeah... ignoring me who was splayed spread eagled with legs on stirrups) and asked both of them to the monitor:

"Look! Tell me what you see!"
There it was, along with the numbers bleeping on the monitor... our baby.

So we decided that night, as we were enjoying each other's company and the new (confirmed!) addition between us, that if we were to have a boy, we would name our child "Caden" - for being the little fighter that he is. 




The meaning of the name Caden is Fighter
The origin of the name Caden is American


Mum's the word.

Friday, 9 March 2012

It used to be that I was totally nonchalant about how people view me on the whole. Of course, there was a period of angst when I had to be the total non-conformist, and I challenged myself through everything that I did (much to the consternation of my parents).

There was that time when I was slowly creating my own persona, my own identity, and coming to terms with my own characteristics. I didn't bother much about how people viewed me, I was unaffected by gossip, malicious stares, and whispers. I dressed to my comfort level, I partied hard, played hard and worked hard. I wasn't content with every day run-of-the-mill mundane incidences, I went through dramas, highlights and low points in my life... and I survived through sheer wit, with the help of a select few of my friends, and the unrivalled support of my Mum.

Like most teens going through the period of self discovery, I went against her. I cut curfews. I did things my way. I forgot about her when I was smiling... but she was always there when everything else seems dark. I met a guy whom she didn't approve of, left home, didn't bother to contact her or let her know where I was. I was unmoved when I saw her come by to a place where we worked (she must have tried to find out where I am without my knowledge). I didn't care.

Until of course, her warnings and disapproval about him came true.

I meekly came home, upset and alone. Was watching tv when she came home from work... and all she asked me was: "Have you eaten?"

She never asked me what happened. She didn't question. She just accepted me back in the folds of home.

You would think that I would have learnt my lesson. Nope... it happened another time over a span of a few years, and again she took me back.

In retrospect, I don't know how she did it. My father left us with a mountain of debts and creditors knocking on our door when I was barely ten, and my brother 6. We have just come from Indonesia (supposedly because my father was transferred here), we were in a foreign country, she did not speak a word of English (neither did we), we had just started Primary School in brand new surroundings, and she has never worked a day in her life.

She brought us up. Through sheer grit and determination... and every step of the way was motivated by the fact that we needed to survive. She wielded the cane when she needed to, and she tried her hardest to be both a mother and a father to two growing kids who were in a lot of ways affected by the sudden change in family life.

I don't know if I can be the mother that she has always been to my brother and I. I don't know if I can handle the heartache from seeing my child going to a beaten path with total disregard to my advice or feelings. I hope that if that time ever comes, I will have half the resilience that she has displayed for her children. I'm not sure about a lot of things when it comes to motherhood, as every day is still a learning process.

But I know that motherhood changes you. Not in the sense that we become a better / worse person than what we were... but just different, I suppose. It's instinctive, perhaps stemming from the desire to want the best for our kid(s), to protect them, and trying to grapple with the complete lifestyle overhaul in the meantime.

I know that I will always be there for BabyMoo, along with the fervent hope that he will be a much smarter person in facing life's challenges - than his mother ever was.


... in celebration of International Women's Day, 8 March 2012.

Contributing to:

PrincessDanaDiaries

One is a lonely number.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Lately many of my friends are expecting / have been blessed with a 2nd child.

I recall in the days following childbirth, waking up every two hours and having to take care of a mewling, crying, fussing newborn, the thought of it will be the furthest from their minds. Well - 'perhaps in a few years, we'll see how it goes.' seems the regular mantra.

Ask me then to get a sibling for BabyMoo. I bite.

It's weird now that a year later... the idea doesn't seem as far fetched as before. Or have I forgotten how physically tiring, emotionally draining, and completely depleting having a new baby, taking care of them and charting their developmental milestones can be? Maybe when I see siblings looking out for each other - I come to the realisation that I would be depriving BabyMoo of a chance to have someone whom he can look out for, take care of, play with and be a partner-in-crime to conspire with against Daddy and Mummy.

It doesn't help that my friends are busy extolling the benefits of having children who are close in age, and that putting off another child till a few years later will mean starting all over again when BabyMoo is already (half) independent as his own person. Have one now, they say - while we're still sterilizing milk bottles, dicing food, carrying diaper bags and pushing strollers, so that they younger one can capitalise on the ready existence of baby needs.

I totally agree with them.

Moreover, even my friends who are single are all for the fact of having more than one child. Just recently, one of them faced a disappointment. It so happened that she, being the youngest and farthest in age to her two older brothers, found herself in a situation whereby all seems hopeless. It was her brothers whom she turned to, and it was they who helped her through. She was pleasantly surprised at the onset of it, since she has always felt that her brothers seem to take her presence more of a nuisance as they were growing up.

When it came to the subject of the high costs of bringing up baby, we all agree that no matter what, even if we have to cut lots of corners, we will somehow manage - but once we have passed our prime, it will be even more difficult to have children, not to mention the complications that may come with age.

So I've been thinking about it. It will be nice for BabyMoo to have a permanent playmate, and it will be nice to be 4 instead of just 3.

My friend, JW has even proposed a 'method' to tweak the gender preference.

"90% Accurate! My Gynae's nurse taught us how!" << on one of her check ups for #2 boy.

Your age (during the year which conception is expected) and last menstrual cycle (Jan - 1, Feb - 2, etc).
Should both numbers be even / odd, a boy is likely. And should one is even and the other odd, a girl should be expected. 

We counted everyone in our circle (I was on WhatsApp with her, and laughing like a monkey to myself in the office). Amazingly... all the babies' genders are as per the calculations!

Since DaddyMoo and I have always joked that only IF it can be a confirmed girl would we even attempt another baby, JW told me this is the closest we could attempt to get one. Tikam tikam... but with night vision goggles!


DaddyMoo is just excited at the prospect of having a reason to get a phil&ted's inline™ buggy for 2 kids.


Seriously though, every child is a blessing. BabyMoo has been a god-send, and a constant reminder that I am truly blessed despite all the wrongs that I may have done in life.

It's definitely not easy being a parent. To have to watch what we say, what we do, and to ensure that our kids understand right and wrong without having to practise double standards (too much!). We have to find answers to questions which seem so simple yet is complex beyond a child's comprehension, and we have to provide valid reasons as to why certain things aren't done.

I get frustrated, I get angry, I remember times when I could just make spontaneous decisions to travel, eat and drink everything, anywhere.

Then BabyMoo smiles and holds me tight - and the world revolves around him again. Gladly.

It's been said that one smile makes two.
I think we can manage with two smiles.

My heart belongs to Baby.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

‎"BabyMoo, do you love Mummy?"

(puts his arms around my neck and lays his head on my shoulder)


"Unh!"



... moments like these make life worth living.

Cleansing and Rebirth

BabyMoo got baptised yesterday.

When I got married to DaddyMoo, I did so on the full awareness that should we have children, they will be brought up in the Catholic Christian Faith, which was part of the conditions stated upon marrying in Church.

I am not baptised as a Catholic, but I grew up amongst Aunts and Uncles who are staunch Catholics, so going to and being in Church is not a new thing for me. DaddyMoo has never forced me to go with him to Church throughout the entire time that we were going out (pre-marriage and post-marriage) but after some time, it seems entirely natural that I be with him for Mass on weekends.

When BabyMoo was born, I enquired about the Baptism ritual as required for newborns, but DaddyMoo told me that he would prefer that the rite be done only when the bub is slightly older, and would therefore understand more of its significance.

We will never try to impose any manner of lifestyle or religion on our kid, so in the fervent hope that he will grow up to be a morally aware (upright is too strong a word!) person, we will always try to educate and introduce, but the choice will be entirely up to him. Baptism does not equal conversion, it signifies it; it proclaims it, but it does not achieve it.

It was fine until of course, Grand Aunts, Grand Uncles, Aunts and Uncles started pressurising us to. Baby's grandparents leave the decision up to us, but after awhile, we decided that we will go ahead with the baptism because the ritual simply signifies cleansing and rebirth as a child of Christ, and a confirmation of going into the Faith will only take place much much later. Their questions did not have much bearing on our decision, we simply felt that since BabyMoo has gone with us to church every single week since he was 3 months old (except when he is unwell), we might as well go with the flow.

So at 14 months, BabyMoo has an Uncle that he will call Godpa from now on, and is welcomed in the Kingdom of God.

1st rite

2nd rite

3rd rite

Happy bub!

Guardianship candle

At the end of it all, what BabyMoo really wanted to do is explore the Church surroundings!

 

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