Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Post from Seattle

10 July marks the first day that I am away from my boys alone, on a morning flight flying 18 hrs to Seattle to attend a 2 week course on Bioethics. I am filled with guilt with leaving baby Br, knowing very well that he is still a nursing baby but am also seriously hoping that I will be able wean off nursing from my trip this time.

Seattle is a nice little city and I arrived on the day where it is fulled of sunshine and temperature hovering above 31 deg C. The first thing I did after I checked in was to visit the Pike's Market, which was about 15 minutes walk away from the hotel. It is a really busy Farmer's Market which sold lots of fresh stuff but I did not see the "flying fish" though. After that, I walked around downtown, did some shopping and went to the Seattle Center on the monorail. There was this big amusement park there with a big fountain. Many kids and adults were playing in the fountain since it was a relatively hot Sat afternoon. This made me really homesick. I was really hoping Ry and Br were there with me. They would probably enjoyed the carousel, the rides and playing in the big fountain too.

I checked out the hotel on Sunday, 11 July. The director of NWABR organisation, JC was really nice and she kindly offered to pick me up from the hotel and drove to Pack Forest together. I would then be staying at a cabin in the Pack Forest, which was pretty near Mount Rainer for the entire week to learn about Bioethics. There were about 30 participants for the course and I had a really nice roommate, Ad, who is a half-American half-English lady. We clicked really well and we had a good time together for the whole week. The course took place from 8.30 - 5 pm from Mon to Friday, with snack breaks at 10 am and 3 pm and lunch at 12 pm. I must say I benefitted and learnt a lot about Bioethics from the course. The packed timetable helped to take away my homesickness. We also had to write a case-study during the week and so I was really stressed too since Bioethics is still a relatively new subject to me. As I had limited access to internet, I could only call home to K once a day and had no chance to skype / video chat with my boys. K was handling really well and little Br did not fuss at night and did not really look for me. So, I guess he only wants to nurse when he sees me. I'm glad both boys did really well without me around them and K could handle them alone.

We checked out of the cabins on Friday afternoon and moved back to Seattle where I stayed at the University of Washington dorm. I was really thrilled as I could access to internet and could skype with my boys, which was the first thing I did when I went to the room. Ry seemed extremely happy to see me and he chatted with me for quite a while. Baby Br seemed clueless about what was happening when he saw me on the screen but he still sweetly called me "Mummy". That was really sweet and I teared up immediately.

In my conversation with K, I asked him how was he coping in the past week. He said it was really tiring and it was really difficult to be a single parent. In the morning, he has to carry both boys to the double stroller (cos the boys were still sleeping), pushed the stroller down to the carpark, carry the boys to their car seats, drove the car over to my mil's place, carry them out of the seats into the double stroller and pushed them up to my mil's place. The whole process took him at least 25 minutes, by which we usually take about 10 minutes to finish the job together every morning. Ry was also getting cranky and a little rebellious / naughty towards the end of the week. K think that he was feeling neglected cos K was still working late most of the days and had little time to spend with him. By the time he got the boys home from my mil's place, it is almost bed time for them too. So, K was commenting that it is no wonder that there are so many problems for kids with single parent by their side only. This statement made me feel really sad. However, in the good sense, I think this short separation made K and I more appreciative of each other's contribution in our parenting process and made us treasure our family more.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ryan's first PTM session

Phew, it's been so long that I've updated my blog. Have been really busy the last two months as I got to help out my mil since she has no maid. Will update that month of May and rest of June in another separate post - hopefully not too far away.

19 June 2010, Saturday, 10 am @ Safra Tampines

We went for Ryan's first parents meet teachers session last Saturday at his pre-school / child care. It was an exciting moment for us and we were really eager to hear what the teachers got to say about Ryan. We brought the two boys there and we got to meet the English teacher, Ms L and his Chinese teacher, Ms G that morning together after about waiting for 20 mins. Both of them were very patient teachers and we know that Ms G seems to like Ry a lot. Surprising though, since Ry could hardly speak and understand Mandarin.

Both teachers commented that Ry is a very well-behaved and obedient boy. They also said that he is very independent and citing examples like that he will take off and put on his clothes himself before and after bath. Ry will also know the routine very well like looking for his sippy cup of fresh milk and finish it quietly at the table, returning the cup then went to look for his mattress and pillow before plopping himself down for nap after his bath. Ms G also says that Ry is very gentleman and will hardly throw tantrums or snatch toys from his classmates. Most of the time, he will rather give up his toys when someone else want it. Whereas, K and I both interpreted it as Ry is a good target to bully since he was just bitten by his classmate a week ago only. Ms G also gave a funny recount of how Ry and the other Eurasian girl often dozed off during Chinese lessons initally as they could not understand what she was teaching but now, they have become more alert. I could totally imagine the bored and sleepy face of Ryan when she said that :>

Both the teachers say that they were extremely pleased with Ry's improvement over the months. From a quiet boy who hardly speaks till now he can express his ideas clearly in sentences. Most importantly, he will eat any food that the lunch provides as compared to the first few months, he will rather starve and go hungry than to touch the mee and bee hoon the centre provides . We are really happy about it and we think that Ry does enjoy Kinderland a lot.

Most importantly, I find that the teachers have been very encouraging and do not overly stressed on academic performance, unlike the story I heard about a good friend, Dan and her son. Also, we are rather pleased with their accomodation and patience for Ry who has slight speech delay in the early months and we have also seen how they have accomodated other special needs kids like autistic kids in other classes as well. Most of these special needs kids stay in Kinderland for a short while until they can get a place in the special school and the principal told us that the parents usually beg them to let them enrol the kids into the childcare first while waiting for their places . The principal says she will try to accomodate less severe cases if possible. This probably explains why the teachers are less fazed about each child's progress or a child's active behaviour.

We are also given a whole file to bring back that tracks Ry's progress and perfomances in schools complete with rubrics, comments and pictures / photos of Ry. The rubric was categorised as W, P, C where W stands for "working on it", P stands for " progressing well" and C stands for "competent". As a teacher, my first instinct when I saw W, P , C was "weak", "passed" and "competent". But I guess the new definitions did make it sound better and less worrying for me as a parent like Ry does not know count well but the assessment given by his teacher was "progressing well" in his report card. In a way, I feel less pressured and worried, knowing that he is progressing well. There were few ticks in the column of "compentent" in his report card but his teachers did not make a big fuss. What was even funnier was that a good number of ticks in the column of "competent" were found in his Chinese section. K and I think that Ms G really likes Ry so that she gave him such good comments and assessment even though we all knew that Ry could not speak Chinese well at all. We were also given a file full of Ry's work and art and craft in the school. I must say I was really impressed with the wide variety and amount of work done.

I will try to update more in my blog in the coming two weeks, probably when I am in Seattle and have all the time to write.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Life in April!

This is my favorite photo of the month! Such a rare chance that I can get them to pose properly for me!

After almost a month long of cough and cold, baby Br slowly regained his health after the first week of April. This means that we can bring him to the swimming pool. It has been almost two months that we have brought baby Br to swim. On the other hand, KP has always brought Ry to swim almost every weekend. I'm glad that both boys love playing in the water and baby Br actually walked around the whole pool on his own even though he refused to walk on solid ground. Maybe, the buoyancy in the water made him less afraid of falling flat on his bum and hurting himself!

I just realised how much Ry has grown when I went swimming with him! He even know how to take a shower first before going into the pool and he has no qualms about jumping into the pool!

I think baby Br look much more handsome with his hair gelled up!

3 April, Saturday

In March, we happened to chance upon a dance studio at Suntec City for kids and they have a hip-hop dance class for kids from 3 - 6 years old. Since Ry likes dancing so much, we decided to sign him for a trial class on the Saturday morning. He was initially very happy to go for the trial class and kept saying he wanted to go "hip hip hop hop". However, he did not enjoy the class at all as he was clueless about real dancing. To make matters worse, the class did not allow parents to accompany the kids and we could only observe outside the glass window. After standing around for 30 minutes, Ry decided to call it quits and refused to join in the class anymore. In retrospect, maybe we should not have brought him to the trial class too and should have let him observe the class from the outside first. Fortunately, Ry did not lose his interest in dancing!

Ry had no idea what the instructor is doing!

Ry just stood still when the instructors were teaching them how to do catwalk!

Ry happily dancing to music!

11 April, Sunday

We finally brought the boys to Jacob Ballas garden, partly because we wanted to find a place where Ry can play with his baseball bat. Jacob Ballas is a quaint little garden in the old NUS or NIE location at Bukit Timah where only kids and parents can visit. There was a nice sandpit and water-play area for little ones. However, there was little shade in those areas and it really made it very hard for us to enjoy the park on a hot and humid morning. We nearly melted in the mid-morning sun there so we hastily left the place seeking for comfort in an air-conditioned place an hour later after we were there. Such a pity! I wished we have cooler weather so that the kids can enjoy one of the rare outdoor nature areas in Singapore!

18 April, Sunday

We also brought the boys to Changi airport last Sunday morning when most travellers were stranded and unable to travel because of the volcanic ash in the Europe skys. Terminal 2 was surprisingly quiet the morning we went there so that Ry had so much space to run around. We brought him to the viewing gallery to see the aeroplanes and I was quite surprised to see there were interactive exhibits around for kids to meddle with. After that, we had our lunch at Swensens before the boys fell asleep on our trip back. We fathomed that this was a nice and comfy way to spend our weekend morning, provided that the airport is not packed with people.

24 April, Saturday

We spent our morning at Pasir Ris park again where Ry engaged in some sand play at the beach. It was the first time that KP brought baby Br to cycling. I almost laughed till my tears came out when I saw Br's clueless yet serious face, putting his two chubby arms on the handlebars, with a Harley Davidson pose.

The si beh buay song face!

versus the

The smily cheeky face!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Backlog of March events

1 March 2010, Monday @ Kinderland Safra Tampines

I have already arranged with Ry's preschool teacher to have his birthday celebration on this day even though his actual birthday is supposed to be four days later because this was the only day in the first week of March that I could take leave. However, 1 March this year happens to be his lunar birthday, 正月十六, which later then I found out from my mil that it is the Monkey God's (孙悟空) birthday too. Btw, baby Br's lunar birthday on 二月初二 is 大伯公's birthday. So I got teased by my mil for being so lucky in choosing the days.

I ordered a 0.5 kg Mickey Mouse cake from Bengawan Solo and I picked it up at 930 am then went straight to the preschool. Ry was already waiting anxiously for me at the school and he even told his teacher that I'm going to bring him a Ben 10 cake. I have no idea why he kept having the idea that I am going to bring him a Ben 10 cake.
The teacher was asking Ry what was the picture on the cake.

When I reached the preschool, the teachers had already arranged the table and chairs and had the kids seated properly. I distributed the party hats and the teachers got the cake ready. It was really interesting how teacher L prep the class for the birthday celebration. She asked the class questions like "Whose birthday are we celebrating today?", "Who can blow the candle only?" I guessed this was in anticipation that kids are fascintaed by blowing candles and the teachers do not want other kids to spoil the fun of the birthday child. And I must say the prepping was done wonderfully that all the kids did not try to blow the candles so Ry has all the attention he could get as a birthday boy.

It was funny to see Ry trying to defend his cake by surrounding the cake with his arms so that other kids would not touch the cake.

Ry and his classmates. The boy standing right behind him is his best friend, Paco as they are the only two kids in the Pre-Nursery class that take school bus to school. The teachers commented that they were the most independent kids in the class.

14 March 2010, Saturday @ PeekaBoo

We decided to bring the boys to Kallang Leisurepark where there is an indoor playground known as "Peek - a - Boo". The admission fees are pretty reasonable as compared to the one at Downtown East. For Ryan, the charge is $12 and for baby Brendan, the charge is $8 and no admission charges for parents. For twenty bucks, we spent a whole morning at the playground. The happiest chap was definitely Ry. I guessed he missed indoor playground sorely as we have always visited My Gym when we were in Boston. He loved jumping at the trampoline and diving into the ball pool. There were not many kids there but there was a birthday party thrown by one of the Australian International School kids and so there were many Caucasian kids there. I guessed Ry must have felt the familiarity too seeing so many Caucasian kids, just like his days in Boston.

Ry missed the ball pool so much that he jumped straight into it.

The air-con was pretty strong there, so decided to let baby Br put on a jacket. But Ry is all sweaty and hot from the jumping and running.

Some friend commented that Ry has grown a lot!

7 March 2010, Sunday - Potty Training!

We have been planning to potty train Ry for quite some time but to no success. On Sunday, I decided to try again. I did not let Ry wear diapers after he woke up from his afternoon nap. I was constantly looking out to see whether he need to go to pee. Around 5 pm, he suddenly told me he wanted to go "shee, shee" so I quickly brought him to the toilet. I made him stand at the bathroom area to pee and he managed to do it. He was so happy and proud when I praised him. I rewarded him with some cookies and constantly reminded him to do the same again. He repeated three more times throughout the evening. I'm surprised at how the potty training happened so suddenly without any struggles and any accidents. Throughout the following week, he went without diapers after he got back home from childcare and he managed to go to the toilet to pee. There was no single accident even up till today. I'm so amazed by him, so I'm going to let him go diaperless for child care from April onwards.

21 March 2010, Sunday

We went to the zoo early in the morning at 830 am partly because K got to rush back home in the afternoon for his work. We had already decided to keep such visit short partly because the boys are small and they need their afternoon nap and partly also because SG weather is just too hot and humid for us to stay outdoor for prolonged periods of time. So for this visit, we have already decided to see the elephants which we have missed out in our previous trip and probably catch one show before moving on to the Rainforest Kidzworld where Ry could indulge in waterplay. It was a morning well-spent at the zoo. Needless to say, Ry and Br fell asleep in the car on our way back. They almost slept through the whole afternoon and I must admit I'm the happiest person because then I could catch up on doing the much neglected housework around the apt.
Ry was trying to show us the V-sign that he learnt from his teacher.

At the elephant display area.

While waiting for the show to begin.

Baby Br trying to sign to me "eat, eat, eat". He's getting better at signing and speaking. He can now call "daddy" very clearly!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Month of March just flew by....

Coming to the last day of March, I just realised that I have not entered a single blog of any events in the whole month, which included Ry's third birthday celebration at my mum's place and his little celebration at his preschool with his fellow friends. Till now, I have not yet have the time to upload any of the photos and videos from my Canon camera yet. Here I am, fiercely vowing to myself that I'll definitely do so by this long weekend. So please look out for a backdated log of events sometime next week in my blog.

This month has been a really hectic and tiring month for K and me. First, we had the birthday celebrations of our two boys at the start of the month followed swiftly by them falling sick after that. Till now, Brendan is still coughing away. Doctor said we had to monitor him for asthma which could be triggered by his allery to the Singapore dusty air since he has had a few episodes of prolonged coughing since the day he stepped onto the Singapore land. We really miss the cool, clean air in Boston where baby Br was a healthy, plump baby for the first 7 months. Br has lost so much weight since we are back for 6 months.

Ryan on the other has flourished and is a happy, energetic chap with all the stimulations from his preschool, friends and loving extended family. He is undergoing a second phase of language explosion now and I'm constantly amazed by his ability to pick up grammar and new vacabulary that we never expose him to. He is also speaking in longer and complete sentences. Definitely, he is picking up Singlish bits like "this one, that one". We are also constantly amused by his theatrical "Oh man!" and his "I want don't want!" which simply just means "I don't want", by which his "don't want" convienently becomes the noun after the verb.

It is really hard and tiring to be a working mum and I'm constantly saying to my colleagues and friends how much I miss my life as a SaHM. Most nights I'm so tired that I just fell asleep while still nursing baby Br. Nowadays, we even ordered the tingkat for our dinner so that I do not have to worry about where to get dinner for K and me. Fortunately, the tingkat company that I ordered from provides quite a tasty and edible meal because I have heard of horror stories how bad can the food be.

Thinking back now, we have more or less settled into a routine after K started working in January. So, our routine runs like waking up around 545 am then leaving the house with our two boys around 630 am to bring them to my mil's place and on the road for work ten minutes later. K and I will reach Ghim Moh around 710 am followed by breakfast together. The morning ride and breakfast thus becomes our only personal time together to catch up and talk. I will usually take the train home after work around 530 pm while K will drive home much later after work at around 730 or 8 pm. Sometimes, I drive instead especially when I'm out of the office in the afternoon, which means that I could usually get home much earlier and K will then take the train home. Our rationale of working out this way is to allow me to get home asap and also to avoid the traffic jam in the evening. I will usually go straight home to cook the rice and bathe before crossing over to my mil's place to pick up the boys. By 745 pm, I will be already back home with the boys and waiting for K to come home to have dinner together. After dinner, it is almost time for the boys to be tucked into bed. Sigh! Each day, we only have about 1 - 1.5 hr of interaction time with our boys. Now, I'm beginning to wonder how this will change once I go back to school.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Baby Brendan's 1st Birthday!

Last Saturday evening after a tiring day of cleaning up our own apartment so that it is ready to be leased out again to a new tenant, we decided to have a mini celebration of baby Brendan's 1st birthday. His actual birthday was supposed to be this Friday, 26 Feb but we decided to bring the celebration forward so that the extended family members can be around too. Also, we might be having a second celebration at my mum's side this coming weekend.

I have been shopping and thinking what to buy for his birthday present a few weeks ago and have absolutely no idea what to get him as we already have loads of toddler toys at home. Most of the toddler toys are identical like blocks, shapes and musical instruments which come in all sorts of different designs. So, we decided not to buy him any toy but to get him a book only. More importantly, we realised that baby Br is not so into reading as his brother, Ry. He is more restless when it comes to reading time and refuses to sit still. Hopefully, he will be "inspired" by the book we bought him. It is the same scenario for my mil and brother-in-law. In the end, both ended up buying new clothes for him.

Ry kept saying this is his birthday and is happily humming away the birthday song. We'll be having an actual celebration for him soon next week at his preschool.

Baby Br modelling in his new set of clothes bought by my mil - his birthday present from her.

Ry looking bored as he can't wait to have the cake and Baby Br absolutely clueless over his birthday!

Cutting the cake! Br is officially one year old!

I am really happy and amazed at how quickly Br's first year has passed. It was an eventful year with the birth, moving back from US and me becoming a full time working mum again. K and I have since learnt a lot more about our kids and how each can be so different. Most importantly, we feel blessed to have 2 healthy, energetic boys.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

CNY picture updates!

Today marks the 8th day of Lunar New year by which most Hokkiens would 拜天公 at the strike of twelve in the midnight. Having 2 young kids, I'm spared from the praying so that I can stay at home to take care of them and tuck them into bed but dear hubby would have to go over to my mil's place to pray for the whole family instead, which is usually followed by a sumptuous supper of the offerings after the elaborate praying. So, I thus have the time to upload some photos taken during CNY, which I promised in my previous post. You will probably notice that all the photos are of my husband's family side because during CNY, my parents went to Hokaiddo for vacation.

Ryan and my nephew, Charles goofing around before the dishes were served at our early reunion dinner on 12th Feb, Friday evening.

The first complete family portrait of my hubby's family, which is a rare occasion as my sister-in -law and her family (i.e. the family of 3 standing besides me) stays in Hong Kong.
My mil, baby Brendan and my baby niece, Jaslyn on the first day of Lunar New Year. Remember that I said in the earlier post, Br was feeling insecure during this period as he felt the threat from the other baby.

We were supposed to dress the boys in the traditional Chinese costumes together with my nephew, by which my mum already tailored and altered the 2 suits for them from a "mian ao" that I orignially bought for Ry 2 years ago from HK. However, we decided against it after waking up in the morning in sweltering heat, so decided to dress the boys in bright orange instead. My hubby even joked that we brought 3 oranges to "bai nian" when we carry Br, as he looked like a round mandarin orange.

Ryan putting on the traditional hat with a pigtail that belongs to my nephew and demonstrating a "wong fei hong" stance. I thought Ry has the little emperor look with the hat on. Wonder anyone agree with me?

The first picture of the four cousins together. Don't think we'll have any more additional children in our family in the near future, unless one day, I decided to try again for a girl, which is highly unlikely looking at the circumstances now.

The second family portrait at my brother-in-law's home on the second day of CNY. I love this series of photos because they are really well-taken with the mini-tripod stand, and every kid in the family is paying attention due to the blinking light from the self-timer.