MOSIN 2017

So over the weekend, we had our annual staycation at Mandarin Oriental Singapore (MOSIN) to celebrate our wedding anniversary a bit earlier due to our work schedules. It was also a much-needed break after working late for a few consecutive nights. This year was so much better than the last because Nat was out and about on the floor and I was no longer heavily pregnant and immobile! 

So once again, MOSIN displayed impeccable service standards. 

We have gone back to stay at MOSIN every year since our wedding in November, 2014. For the past 2 years, they would treat us to some form of a room upgrade and/or late check-out. 

This year, there was initially a hiccup that didn’t quite meet our expectations of MOSIN but it was rectified very quickly. 

  • We were given a room that had just received a fresh coat of lacquer or vanish on its door so the smell was quite overpowering and I tend to be very sensitive to such things. As such, I developed a headache after spending just 30 minutes in the room so I did not feel comfortable having Nat sleep in the room, smelling the lacquer. 
  • HJ called the reception to see if anything can be done and within 15 minutes, they allowed us to switch rooms. The second room was a bit smaller in size to the first room they gave us but it had a much better view so I was very happy with the room swap. 
  • Later on at 530pm, a manager visited us in the new room and offered to make up for the earlier unpleasant incident by giving us a 4pm late check-out option the next day! 
  • Their excellent service was demonstrated again when we went for Martini happy hour. As we had Nat with us, we were brought to the Morton’s restaurant as they had more comfortable table seating arrangements as opposed to the high tables at the bar. I actually had no issue with the high tables because we were carrying Nat in the carrier but seating at tables made it easier to feed Nat his dinner while we enjoyed our Martinis. 

In view of the above and more, there will never be a place in Singapore that can replace MOSIN 🙂


Now, it’s back to the reality of work and more work…
– CK 

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Complicated

Really? This weekend has been quite a thought-provoking and uncomfortable one. Simply because, the end of the year is here and it’s the season to think about what happens in the next few years. That is very tough for me because I’ve not been one to move my own chess pieces or rock the boat. 

The questions do seem very complicated. 

Do I/we want to further our studies?

If we get a scholarship or didn’t have to pay the entire tuition fee on our own – why not? I’m not entirely closed to the idea but I’ve also not given much serious thought to it.  

Then the question is what do I/we want to study? 

Something related to our individual areas of expertise – Chemistry and History? Or something related to Education? The latter makes sense to me if I am going to be in education for a while, which is what I want anyway. 

Should we look for local or overseas Uni options? 

HJ has no qualms studying and living overseas – kid or not kid but I am paralyzed with fear when I think about it. I have no idea where to begin thinking. 

What about childcare options? My mom?

Can both of us study at the same time? 

What is going to happen financially? 

And after all the above is said, am I even cut out for it? 

Clearly I don’t have the answers to all my questions above yet.

I probably need to think really carefully about what happens after my current stint. 

Previously in 2013, I did consider doing a Masters in Asian Studies at a local Uni but before I could submit my application, I was given a posting to where I am now. What was originally a 2 year stint has become a 4 year one (ending in 2018). 

At that time, it was quite clear that God had other plans for me even though I thought I had a plan – the Asian Studies Masters. 

However, I am really not so sure what to think now. 

Somedays, I can’t help but think that a lot of decisions would have been easier without Nat in the picture. Want to go overseas to study? Sure. 

However, there’s no point having such thoughts because Nat is a reality. Having my mum retire early to take care of him is another reality. The fact that both our parents are getting on in years is also a reality. 

The only straightforward thing I’m getting out of all these is that there is never really a good time to do anything. 

– CK

Kong Kong’s Birthday

Tomorrow’s my Grandfather’s 83rd birthday. We had a family dinner yesterday and cake back at my place. Having Nat around of course brings a smile to people’s faces but I can’t help but think about what’s missing in this photo – Mama, next to Kong Kong. Sigh. 

Somedays I wish she was still here, to know Nat or at least know he existed. 

In March 2016, when we found out I was expecting Nat, who was just 6 weeks+ then, I would definitely have told her. 

She passed a month before in Feb 2016. 

Anyhow, like what HJ said, we must tell Nat about the kind of person Mama was. He also says that he wishes for Nat to be more like her, because she was really a God-loving and fearing woman. 

I couldn’t agree more. 

I guess going through Mama’s illness in 2015 and eventual passing in 2016 is the main reason why I am extremely lousy at dealing with my loved ones falling sick and or passing on. 

In terms of my personal beliefs, I know that it’s for the better and that my outlook should be one of eternity. So that’s how I am trying to deal with such morbid topics – look towards eternity and not just the here and now. 

It’s extremely hard but I just have to keep trying. 

Like someone told me before, I cannot control everything and/or be certain of anything. The only thing that I can be certain of if that we will all die eventually. 

So so morbid… maybe it’s Monday. 

– CK 

One less day with Nat

So last month I made the decision to return to work 4x a week, instead of my current 3x a week. This transition to a 4/5 workload will commence next week until the end of the year. That would mean having one less day to spend with Nat but even as I return to office from Tue-Fri, I still have Mondays with him. So why this change when I could continue to enjoy spending more time with him? 

  1. Childcare arrangements – We are very fortunate that my mom, who has retired can look after Nat when I go into office. Next year, when I return to work full-time, she will be the one who’s going take care of him full-time too. So I figured that I shld gradually transit back to a normal work week by going into office 4 days a week in the last quarter of this year. I also felt that it was a bit ‘excessive’ to have my mum, myself and helper all present on Mon and Tue to take care of Nat. 
  2. Personal preference – This may sound out of this world but I feel more at ease returning to my previous work routines. I can’t really explain why but when everything else pertaining to the house and/or baby gets a bit too chaotic, I am more zen when dealing with work matters. I guess it could be because I approach it in a very systemic manner i.e. is there some issue to resolve? how can we solve it? There’s not much emotions involved whereas family and kid-related matters are always messier. I think I’ve always been the kind of person who compartmentalises my life – so when it’s time to work, I try not to let family or personal issues creep in. In the same way, when it’s family and/or me-time, I’ve started to mindfully keep work out of the picture. 
  3. Income – Being on a 3/5 load since May meant that my income and everything else like vacation leave, childcare leave etc. were prorated to reflect my part-time load. I started to feel the pinch when certain things and my lifestyle was not adjusted accordingly. Debit items such as monthly car loans and insurance premiums had to be maintained but I also didn’t really cut down my expenditure that much. What I had to reduce slightly was savings but now that I’ll be converting to a 4/5 workload, I can resume my previous saving habits. 
  4. Long-term – Looking forward, what I enjoyed over the past 4 months is really a privilege. Yet, I know that it’s unsustainable in the long run. Whether I have 1 kid or 2 kids eventually, I am 100% sure that I need to work full-time. I guess it’s really for my personal sanity purposes. So this part-time arrangement is a temporary stint that I cannot become too comfortable with else adjusting back to full-time work in 2018 is going to be more difficult. 

It’s not easy but necessary. 

It also helps knowing that even if I am not physically with Nat, he’s being well taken care of and that’s all that matters. 

– CK 

Happy 5 

We turn 5! #tbt to the swing at Awfully Chocolate, Sembawang Hills, where HJ proposed. From then on, we celebrate our anniversary by going back to the same place for ice cream and to take a photo at the swing. This year was special because there’s now a new addition – Nat, but the whole cafe closed down and the swing was no more …. or so we thought 😉 

Picture of the swing and our ‘dancing’ ring


HJ went to the Facebook page of Awfully Chocolate to find out when it closed and shared a summary of our story. The manager reached out to us and informed us that the swing is now outside their main office at Joo Chiat! Yay! 

Anyhow, I have to credit HJ for this because he was the one who commented on the Facebook page… who would have thought that a harmless attempt to find out what happened to the cafe and swing would actually give us a happy ending. 

Between the two of us, HJ is definitely the more sentimental one whereas I would probably have sulked for a while and moved on. 

This is from his email reply to the manager who reached out to us: 

So, the story. 
The reason for our annual “pilgrimage” to the spot is this. At some point of our courtship, I came across this video on TED.com (https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_addis_a_father_daughter_bond_one_photo_at_a_time) and thought of creating deliberate memories with my wife, rather than letting them come happenstance. 

Therefore I suggested to her the idea to go there to take the photos together annually, and that also became the ruse by which I was able to get her to the same spot to surprise-propose to her. We continued to go there after that because we wanted to be deliberate in making the memories between us.

Thank you for reaching out and for giving us another chance to take a photo at the swing. This year is particularly special because it was to be our son’s first photo in the series. Thank you for granting us that opportunity.

So what happened to the cafe? It turns out that the owner of the shophouse unit passed on and the new tenants have other plans for the place. Sigh… but at least we get a chance to sit on the swing again 🙂 

– CK 

#tbt

Can’t believe that Nat will be turning 1 in slightly less than 2 months. It’s like SO many things have happened between 2016 and now. As I reminiscent about the past, I’m in bed with Nat, who’s asleep and will need to be put in his crib soon. I know there’s always work to clear but I’ll deal with that later or tomorrow because he’ll only be a baby once.

The above is one of my favorite photos.

3 months old.

On maternity leave.

Not much care in the world.

Such a happy and smiley baby.

Time really flies.

– CK

Choices

When you have an Asahi at 1100, you know are already lamenting the pending end of the vacation. A friend said, I can’t keep traveling and enjoying life. True that. This is the last getaway before I start a 4-day workweek (another post for that). Raw truth – I have no qualms working. I like what I do. It’s the other obligations, people and emotions that I suck at. 

Is it so hard to just do nothing on weekends? There seems to always be errands to run and/or people to visit. 

Weekdays are much preferred because it’s predominantly work and then home. People and things don’t get in the way because it’s largely operational. We have dinner, go home to wash Nat up, he goes to bed and we have time to ourselves to Netflix or finish up urgent work. 

So strangely, it’s the weekends that I wish I didn’t have because of the multitude of things that happen unless it’s just the 3 of us, then I’m okay. 

The same friend also said that for most things and decisions, I always have a choice. 

True that again, so I am going to be more conscious in exercising that choice and do what makes me happy. 

Adulthood (and some obligations that come attached) is tiring. 

– CK 

Dream Away 

I came across this photograph in a shophouse along Love Lane, Penang and bought it because there was a plethora of thoughts that came to mind. I thought of HJ’s dream(s), thought of my previous dream or fantasy to study and live in Germany. I wanted to walk away but I kept thinking about it so now I get to bring this home and then maybe, be reminded that it’s never too late to make things happen. 

The shop lady then told us that this was previously along Stewart Lane, but has since been painted over. What a pity. 

So back to this idea of dreams. 

There is no way I have any regrets when I look at how blessed we are, especially now with Nat. 

Maybe my only regret is not going for a student exchange in University?

Some days I also think about how things could have been if we didn’t have a family of our own yet – could we both be overseas studying and living for a year? 

Or maybe we won’t even have done that because of other commitments like our jobs and families? 

Technically, even with a family of our own, that can still happen but I’m always hampered by fear. 

Fear of losing security, fear of the unknown, fear of being lonely, fear of getting out there and being vulnerable. This then rubs off on HJ as well because whatever he does, also takes into consideration how I feel. 

Maybe what I need is a long vacation in Europe? Long enough to see the bulk of the places I yearn to visit e.g. Eastern Europe, Italy… Maybe this can still happen but just not now? 

Owell, for now I shall just bring the photograph home and be reminded of my dreams. Hopefully, I will be able to actualise some of them. 

– CK

Kent Vale 

Last weekend we brought Nat for a rather unusual staycation at a University campus residence – Kent Vale @ the National University of Singapore (NUS). It was a good break because we’re seldom at the western side of Singapore and it was sooooo peaceful since it wasn’t a typical hotel with crowds. 

All refreshed …

 

We booked a 1 bedroom apartment for $160 (nett) as part of a deal my sister enjoys as she’s currently working at NUS. 

The moment we entered, HJ exclaimed, “can we move out of our place and into here!” haha because everything here looks so neat! The best part was the fully-equipped kitchette, which we used to prep Nat’s meals. 

  •  On a side note, this made us realize that going anywhere with a baby isn’t a walk in the park thanks to meal prep issues. HJ is now more convinced that Nat should not travel until he’s older. This is because I try to not deviate too far from Nat’s usual homecooked menu so even if I get those bottled baby food, I still packed squash, salmon and pasta to steam and mix together with the bottled food. 

Anyway, back to the staycation… 

Kent Vale guest services also provided us with a baby crib, with the mattress and bedding all set up the moment we checked it. I think Nat was very pleased with his crib because it reminded him of his sleep space at home.

  • Usually, I try to get a separate crib for Nat when we go for staycates. Most of the time, the hotels are able to provide a baby crib but this Kent Vale one was the best thus far because it resembled Nat’s crib at home the most. If the hotels are not able to accommodate , Nat would sleep in bed with us but I am very paranoid of him moving around in the middle of the night when we’re in deep sleep and risk ending up on the floor. 

The next best part of the staycation deal was that we also received 2x free tickets to the Natural History Museum, in NUS so we brought Nat there on Day 2 after we checked out. 

Overall, I think it was very worth it since we all had a relaxing, crowd-free break. 

Can’t wait for our next one. 

– CK 

Time Alone 

Today is a Teachers’ Day holiday for us and  am thankful that my mom was more than willing to go through it as if it was a normal ‘work’ Thursday. That’s because I do want to have some time to clear some work. There’s also just so many things on my mind that kept me up until 2am so now I’m paying the price by feeling totally hungover.

I think about…

  1. Nat’s safety. It’s really impossible to ensure no ‘accident’ happens and that he doesn’t hurt himself. I think for now we can only abide by certain cardinal rules which is to never leave him unattended (duh right) and to always have him within touching distance when he’s on the high chair or crawling etc. I’ve been so bothered by this to the extend that HJ told me I woke up one night uttering some words of caution to him about Nat’s safety. I was also kept up last night because I kept playing a scene of him hoisting himself out of his crib (once he can walk?) and falling 4 feet to the floor.
  2. Work matters. There’s so much to be done and deadlines to be met. I know that’s the norm but it is mildly frustrating when my work momentum gets a bit thrown off in view of the long weekend. The inertia to get down to finishing some pieces of work is real while the deadline looms over my head.

So at 2-3 am last night, I was just struggling to calm down and fall asleep because everytime I closed my eyes, my mind would wander in circles about the same issues.

Maybe I should also not work out and/or go for exercise class at night? It really opened up too much of my mind such that I could not stop thinking. The adrenaline was too much.

Sigh… and I think HJ summed it up very aptly, he said, “welcome to motherhood.”

– CK