2016 a year of growing up

September 29, 2016

2016 has been a year of awakening. It seems to herald the next stage of my growing up. I’m dedicating this blog to you, Nadia (6) and Timothy (3) because I’ve witnessed illnesses, near deaths and 2 deaths happen in our family this year. And though I’m 38 this year, I realised I’ve hardly matured in my thinking. Please don’t even get me started about my 20s. I hope to write more often so you could understand papa and mama more as we grow older. That we are not any different from you as we seek to grow and find meaning in this life.

Ah Chor left us at 103 years old today. I have never had a family member whom I had lived with for so long, died on me. We knew it was coming but we are never prepared emotionally. The space where she used to sit, watching our every movement, the nagging, the shuffling of her chair she uses as a support, is gone, When she left, part of the love in the house seem to have left with her.

When she was around, she’s the noisiest in the NEIGHBOURHOOD since she would be nagging everyone from the top (mother-in-law) to the bottom (kids). Shouting at the kids not to jump off the sofa. She was constantly worried about papa. Your papa was her priority in her life. This is a difficult year for your papa. The people who left this year were the ones who loved him so much. Through this all, he remained strong and never caved into darkness. He maintained his cool and dignity. That is discipline and this form is rare. Discipline in controlling your thoughts, your words and your temper. You will soon grow to realise that it is so much easier to hit, to scream, shout and cave in to your demons. But that just make you normal, like everyone else. Your papa does none of that. He has never raised his voice at anyone. He only has smiles for you both even after a long hard day. This I credit to the immense love he received from the people around him.

There will be a phase when wedding cards appear in your mail for the nth time and the next when you would be attending many first birthdays. Then there’ll be a stage when people you love start leaving. But this is nature. So this morning, I thought hard about how it is like when it’s my turn. To know that soon this is the last day you will see faces, blue skies, green fields, feel the wind and light, love and laughter around you. As I thought hard about it, I realise that is all I want. Only the happy memories – when I first met your papa, our wedding day, our stint in France, when the babies were born, the smiles and voices of people you truly love and loved you. How difficult it must be to leave all that behind. At the end of it all, the only things you desperately want to remember and hang on to are the things that make you happy.

Papa was watching this last night. He knew it was coming… Somewhere in this, papa could find her…

Timmy is one

October 29, 2014

Just too fast! I can’t seem to register what happened in the past year. During Timmy’s party, a parent asked how I was handling things with 2 kids. I replied that I am still trying to find a balance or a get a sense of things. To achieve an inner stability going within me. It is difficult.

We moved back to our in laws this year after the rental lease is up. Contrary to what people think about getting help. Its another area that requires balancing. You get help here and there (like lots of date nights) but you put more work somewhere else. And because there are so many people and things around, a simple task would require not a single step but multiples to get it done.

I am constantly trying to balance time between kids, balancing their needs with everybody else’s and time with the husband. It was mayhem. My memory is getting worse and our house is a constant mess! There are 1000 and one things I want to do with N but I am always distracted by the constant hum and buzz in the family!

Learning to deal with opinions from 1-100 year olds and maintaining a close relationship with everyone requires immense energy! The process of being happy or frustrated both drains me out. I work best in silent and organised environments so it’ll take a while to manage 2 increasingly boisterous kids in an equally boisterous household. Frankly, its fun but it is SO tiring! More so then when I was alone with the kids! Nevertheless, despite it all, I am happy to see everyone’s happy faces and hear their conversations during dinner or outings or family holidays. The children are happy with their grandparents and the grandparents find so much joy in having them around. There really is never a quiet moment in the house.

Enough of my ramblings and back to T. I am so happy that T is beginning to blurb out some words. Perhaps of the need to make his voice heard in the sea of his sister’s constant chatter. He is firm, intense and intent on getting what he wants. He cries, he screams and laughs when he is sad, angry and happy. So much happening in this little guy. Just last week, I thought I heard him ask ‘what is this’! His first sentence?! He is also trying to play the piano like his sister. instead of banging on it with his palms, he uses his fingers and plays a range of notes on the keyboard. Cute! He makes grunting noises and indicates his wants by pointing or when he wants us to do his bidding (out to the porch and the watertable) and he makes sure we are close behind by checking on us! He is increasingly cheeky and gives us a knowing grin when he knows the action is prohibited. He stares intently at strangers and doesn’t let go of his gaze. So most comments were ‘ so fierce so fierce!’. I hope that would change soon!

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As for N, I think 4 is a tricky phase for her. Her language is very strong and because of that she says things with big words which she thinks are funny but doesn’t make any sense to us! It gets frustrating sometimes but we are trying to correct that. Whining is up on high and tantrums in public are getting regular. This is definitely new to us and we are learning to change that without quelling the spark in her. Rude behaviour is common and changing the way she talks requires constant reminders. I truly hope all these will change soon!

Finally, I am happy to date that the 2 are snuggling and cuddling each other. N tries to entertain her brother and has been a big sister to him all these while. I’m hoping it’ll stay though I could foresee some fights coming up around the corner as T begins to assert his rights over his toys!

Fingers crossed!

 

2014

June 17, 2014

Wow the last post was dated way back in 2012!  I should blog more often because I had forgotten most of what had happened!

2013 had been an incredible year. T arrived end October and that made the last few months of 2013 pass in a blur. He was scheduled to arrive on 1 November 2013 but decided to drop by early. What happened was hilarious. I could not identity the contractions until 4am when the sight of blood made us rush to the hospital. By then, I was almost out of breathe with pain. The operating theaters were not ready until 8am but since I can’t do normal delivery, they had to prepare one early for me. Not long after, we welcomed little T to our family.

T had been an easy baby. He reached most milestones early. He was happy and sensitive to his surroundings and responded by smiling at people around him. He slept through by 2 months (takes cluster feeds in the evenings) and I was elated. But of course that was short lived. When he could turn over. He started waking and wanting a bottle of milk. I had to sleep train him because it would be too tiring to have interrupted sleep. Fortunately he responded after a week.

We brought N to Taiwan when T was just 5mths. He stayed behind with my mom. According to her,  he recognized our voices over the phone and began to cry a little!

On the day he turned 7mths, he pulled himself to sitting and standing. He hates crawling on the floor and moves very quickly on the bed. He also started calling out ‘mama…mama’ when he wants to be carried or needs a milk. It was really cute to hear and I would miss that dearly. We brought him to Perth and just last week, he called out ‘dada..dada’ and turned to his father to see if he was watching! He is pretty intense and likes to stare and study the things before him. A pretty serious baby. I’m glad we brought him along. Hopefully the change in setting would stimulate his senses. During the trip, 2 teeth sprouted which resulted in more than an hour’s worth of crying in a restaurant and refusal to sleep in the plane’s bassinet on the way home! Tough times but I was still happy!

Through this all, N had been an amazing sister. She was difficult in the 1st week when T came home but adjusted really quickly and warmed up to her little brother by showering lots of cuddles and kisses on him. She was so good that mummy feels guilty for not spending enough time with her!

There were definitely some behavioral issues but I would attribute that to the terrible 3s and separate from what others would think as the younger sibling effect (ie the need for attention).

N turns 4 this year and at a transition phase from being a toddler to a big child. It must have been tough for her. A period when you can’t decide if the behavior is cute or rude. Demanding for things without saying her ‘please’, interrupting conversations, being rude to elders and crying when things don’t go her way (eg losing at a game). Sometimes it happens so quick I can’t react! But I slowly begin to realize they don’t know what is right and they are still pretty self centered. So 2014 would be a year for practicing patience.

But we are so proud of her. She would tend to her brother when he is upset and entertain him when he is bored. She tells others what to do, to make her brother happy. She is also very patient when we had to tend to T’s crying and there were instances I felt bad because I had been inpatient with her. N! Mama must improve!

 

Nana @ 21 mths

May 5, 2012

Oh dear (nana’s favorite exclamation!), the last post was written more than 6 months ago! N’s routine had changed drastically but for the better. As she grew older, her naps were no longer the usual 40 mins-60mins nap, she would take 1.5 hour naps! Her development was on track and it was wonderful watching the milestones develop right before your eyes.

Her schedule up to 18 months were pretty similar to the earlier months and it goes like this.

7.00am Wakes up > 210ml of milk

7.30am Playtime

8.30am Morning nap and mummy gets breakfast, reads the papers and prepares N’s meals

9.30am Wakes up > Playtime or market time

10.30am Lunch

11.30am Playtime

2.30pm 120ml of milk and an afternoon nap. Mummy prepares N’s dinner or takes a short nap

3.30pm Wakes up > more playtime!

5.30pm Dinner

6.15pm Park

7.00pm Bath time

7.15pm Bedtime Stories, snuggle time and 210ml of milk (Enfa stage 2)

7.45pm Pat to sleep and N is asleep by 8pm

Her routine at 21 months is different and I am trying to keep up with her increased energy level! If N takes 1 nap in the day, she gets knocked out by 7.30pm but tends to wake up easily in the night. She seems to sleep better with 2 naps in the day.

Her meals had changed. I had to feed her ‘kaiseki’ style for the earlier months but her habits changed suddenly and she takes porridge now. Her routine at 21 months goes like this :-

7.00 am Wakes up and takes in 210ml of milk (Enfagrow 3)

8.00 am To the market where she gets her cheese bun from ‘uncle’ or breakfast of bread, butter, cheese, milk at home

8.30 am Playtime (if we are not at the market)

9.30 am Back from the market and this is where it gets tricky. If she is tired, I would let her sleep and I can prepare her meals for the day. But when she is wide awake it would be a constant battle of wills with her countless requests of ‘carry’, ‘hold hands’ and pulling me out of the kitchen. Otherwise, she starts taking out the food in the pantry and starts mixing things up!

11.30am Lunch time!

12.00pm Playtime

2.30pm Afternoon nap

3.30pm Wakes up and takes in 120ml of milk (would be doing away with this soon) > snack time in the porch > playtime

5.30pm Dinnertime!

6.00pm Park (interchangeable with dinner depending on weather or I just feed her in the park) > comes home and plays with her grandparents whilst I cook dinner for everyone.

7.00pm Bathtime

7.15pm Sits with us for dinner (interchangeable with the above as well)

7.45pm Bedtime stories, chit chats and snuggle time > 210ml of milk

8.15pm Sleep

She sleeps through the night though there were instances when she would wake before midnight or at 3am to ask for a milk especially when her molars were breaking out. Her routine is a little jumbled up these few months because her parents are taking advantage of her flexibility and adaptability. Having said that, I hope to put a routine back in place soon!

 

fussy eater?

September 15, 2011

It wasn’t easy getting Nadia to like her solids. I remember dreading the period when I had to establish 2 meals a day.

Like the books had advised, I fed her cereals, pureed vegetables and fruits at 6 months and her response was lukewarm. She would take it all in one day and reject the foods on another. It was difficult trying to find out what she likes. There were periods when I had to give up solids for a week or two just because it was a constant battle between the both of us which would invariably end up in tears (baby of course). Nevertheless, I kept trying and introducing different foods after the breaks.

When she got older, like most chinese parents, we feed our babies porridge. Bits of minced meats, vegetables chopped up and rice slow cooked to a smooth consistency. I was looking forward to this stage. Imagine the variety of foods we could try! However, more battles ensued and I lost. She refused to open her mouth!

This went on for some time until I noticed she wanted to eat our food. She went “mum, mum’ and pointed at the dishes. So I changed tack. Instead of throwing everything into a pot. Individual dishes were prepared like a mini kaiseki meal. She loved it. This went on for a while but again she started becoming less enthusiastic and turned away from the food. Until 10mths, she grabbed the spoon from my hands and started feeding herself. I went out immediately to get a set of cutlery for her. It was funny watching her practice her moves despite the colossal mess (lay papers on the floor). I was just happy watching my little girl grow and improve everyday.

To date, she loves her broccoli, cauliflowers, carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, eggplants, mushrooms, tomatoes, tofu, fish, chicken and eggs, yoghurt and fruits. She prefers pasta and rice to plain porridge and is recently taking in red meat like pork and beef (which she rejected because it was minced!).

Despite her big appetite, she is not growing at a faster rate and the pediatrician had advised more solids. I think she is lacking in the carbohydrates group which needs to be pumped up. Hopefully she gains more weight and go back up to her 75th percentile instead of the 50th she is in now!

Wish me luck!

my little Linus @ 13 months

September 5, 2011

You had been looking like this for the longest time. Yes. Thumb sucking and security blanket included.

Fortunately you chose the white cotton nappy cloth to be your security blankie so mummy wouldn’t have to spend a fortune replacing them. Blankies are easy to deal with. It’s the thumb sucking that is tough. Mummy couldn’t remember when it developed but the habit was hard to break. Mittens were used, only to have you end up in tears and screams. Maybe sewing up your shirt sleeves might work! Then again, maybe lazy mummy was not determined enough since you soothe yourself to sleep by sucking your thumb and cuddling your blankie. You did not require any patting at all (except for afternoon naps when you need help to wind down).

So. Mummy could only look on…

Mummy wasn’t confident you could break it.

But just 3 days ago, you decided to give up the thumb sucking. Mummy couldn’t believe it! It was even more surprising when ‘popo’ told me you just needed to be told and reminded. ‘What?! You just had to tell baby?!’ It was funny watching you go cold turkey. You were tossing and turning in discomfort but you were determined to break the habit and we were amazed by your resolution. It was funny watching you bring your thumb up before you stop short, let out a silly grin at us and retracted before tossing and turning in your cot again. It was all too cute although it was painful to watch. You didn’t give up and finally slept.

Mummy’s guess was you understood we were worried and you wanted us to be happy. Babies are amazing. Mummy had underestimated you!

Now, the next task is to break the habit WHILE you are asleep. Think mummy needs ‘popo’s golden advice again!

 

satoyama

August 21, 2011

Before I forget this, one of my favorite documentaries ever, narrated by David Attenborough. Somehow part 1/6 cannot be viewed anymore but managed to find a trailer with the soundtrack.

Start the video from here and follow up with the other episodes on youtube. Satoyama Part 2/6

If only we could live in balance.

On the actual day

August 8, 2011

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. But your daddy was concerned with the sugar and pecan nuts (yep mummy forgot!?) so we gave you only 1 mouthful despite you stretching out for more. Conclusion. You have no pecan nut allergy!

Happy 1st Birthday!

August 8, 2011

Time flies, you’re finally ONE and mummy had decided to bake/construct your birthday cake. The cake prices (elaborate ones at $1000!?) scared me. I figured it shouldn’t be tough conjuring up past experiences of play dough sessions some 25 years ago? On top of it, 6 years of model making in Archi School should refine my skills some more. Haha. Besides, it would be a chance for mummy to hone her baking skills so that you could bring some yummy cake to school for your birthday celebrations in future.

It all started like this. Mummy wanted to make some rainbows and googled for fondant rainbow cake decorations and guess what came up! Whisk kid’s rainbow cake via Martha Stewart’s show which included a video as well. The last time I baked was 4 years back when I made a carrot cake for your daddy. But the epic-ness of this all just blew me away and I decided I must must MUST make this. It should come in handy when you are older and want to impress your little friends. Haha. See. Mummy is bribing you already.

So I got my tools from Phoon Huat. Surfed youtube videos, read up on techniques and after 2 tries and and more visits to Phoon Huat, This is IT! Ok the rainbows are missing but there’s the surprise.

It was the thought that you would light up at the colors that kept mummy baking (and practicing on frosting techniques) until 3am!

PROCESS First attempt at the rainbow cake. An American buttercream recipe was used which didn’t fit our weather and ended up melting terribly. Also, the fondant was sweating because it was stored in the fridge. Big Mistake.

The 2nd attempt (above and below) was much better because a local buttercream recipe was used that would suit our weather. The cake was cut when chilled hence less mess was made. The sugar was reduced by 1/3 cup which didn’t alter the cake integrity greatly.

The problem with fondant covered cake is that it cannot be refrigerated . Condensation destroys the fondant. In the final cake (below), the buttercream softened in the humid weather and created a mess. Despite that, it was a huge success as it put a smile on everybody’s face.

The day before the party.

The Lion. The idea came only 2 days before the party. It was nadia’s ‘roaring’ that sparked the idea. She’s a Leo and loves to roar so a little lion would be great! She loved it indeed. When I showed this to her in the morning. She beamed and started roaring away! It was definitely worth the hard work.

The mock up which was done in 10minutes.

It was coloring the fondant that got me working till 4am!!! It should have been made 2 days earlier because the fondant didn’t dry up enough, so the lion’s mane was floppy and the tree was threatening to collapse!

I love doing this and wouldn’t mind making more of it! It just makes me so happy to see little children light up at the sight of the cake. Let me know if you are interested!


Party decorations to match the theme of the cake.

Butter cookies for guests to bring home. I forgot to take a picture of the favors I made! Argh!

A gift for you

August 7, 2011

Mummy had been thinking of what to write on this blog to mark your 1st birthday. Though it’s a little overdue, your papa showed me this and I was inspired. This is something I would wish for you and for ourselves too. Never cease to learn, to move and to try. The world is big and there is so much we don’t know. We must remember to keep an open mind, be humble and always treat others with respect and dignity no matter where you go.

Happy 1st Birthday Nadia!