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 

Why so sticky? 

Nat was being all sticky yesterday and I thought it was the fall but maybe not… usually he can be left alone to his own devices but he’s a tad clingy now. It’s like he really knows when we put him down and walk away and he will start fussing because he wants to be carried. Apparently babies go through this thing called ‘separation anxiety’, but I’m right there??

So I found myself in particularly sticky situation last night. HJ went to exercise and buy dinner back. It was 7pm and Nat probably got restless/tired/clingly – basically all of that combined.

I could not leave him in the playpen to go and prep his wash up basin and towel because he would start crying.

Usually I’ll let him fuss for a few minutes because I don’t believe in responding to his every beck and call. Typically, he’ll calm down on his own but yesterday was just out of the norm.

So I just placed him in the carrier while I went to prep his wash up items. At least my hands were free and Nat was quiet since he was stuck to me.

Sigh. This is quite strange. Then I came across his article about separation anxiety.

Before the eighth month, it’s almost as if your child has no short-term memory. “If you take a toy away, it no longer exists to the child; or if Mommy or Daddy leaves, she or he is forgotten,” explains pediatrician Ari Brown, MD, coauthor of Baby 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Baby’s First Year (Windsor Peak Press). That’s why a 4-month-old has little trouble going from the arms of one adult to another. Several months pass, and baby turns an intellectual corner. “As a baby’s brain matures, she realizes that things still exist even though she can’t see them anymore,” Dr. Brown says.

This means Nat probably recognises us, which is great but it’s also really hard to do things when he’s awake. I guess this isn’t an issue per se as Nat is still relatively very easygoing. For instance, he has no reaction whatsoever when we leave the house for work. Somedays I don’t think he really knows who we/I am like I can be gone for the entire day/evening and he’s totally okay – which is very good news for me/us actually. I think I’ve gotten too used to that that’s why now, I have to adjust a bit since he’s starting to become more clingy in the evenings.

I just hope he doesn’t throw a tantrum the next time we leave the country to travel without him. I really don’t know how to package it or explain it to him in a ‘nice’ way. I mean to be really honest, I/we just need a break, to get away from this country and be in a bubble for a few days – a bubble with no obligations or responsibilities for just that short period, I call it my la la land. I can only wish he doesn’t get to that point of comprehension so soon.

– CK

Day 3 

Today’s the 3rd day managing things mostly on our own and surprisingly, we’re fine. Maybe because it’s only day 3 but as tiring as it is trying to squeeze in some household chores, food prep and email clearing when Nat naps, I am quite happy doing it. These few days also made me realize how much I need and value my time alone to get things done, the way I want them to be. 

Our day in summary… 

AM: Nat’s usual morning routine

  • 630am rise and shine.
  • 7am milk, followed by 8am breakfast (fruits and yogurt combo).
  • Storybook + playmat time to crawl and tire himself out before his morning nap at around 930am. 
  • Once he slept, I prepped his lunch porridge before taking a nap too. 
  • After Nat woke up around 11am, I bathed him and we waited for my mom to pick us up to go for lunch. 

LUNCH: @ Waterway Point today 

  • We walked around a bit after lunch and did a quick grocery run before heading home.
  • As per our norm, we only head out in-between his AM & PM naps and ensure we make it back home in time for his 2nd nap. 
  • If he’s not tired yet like what happened this afternoon, I’ll give him more floormat and/or playpen time.
  • Now at 9 months, Nat can stay awake for 3-3.5hours and needs to be sufficiently tired enough to be ready for a nap. 
  • The moment he sleeps, it’s time to steam his fruits for tea and his post-dinner dessert. This is also the only opportunity to cook his evening porridge. 
  • If I’m lucky, he will sleep for at least 1.5 hours (like today yay!) and I get to fit in some work.

DINNER: @ my mom’s place  

  • Once Nat woke up and his meal cooked, my mum came by again to bring us over. 
  • I wanted to pram him and walk (she lives just 1.5km away) but it was too sunny. 
  • HJ joined us for dinner after work and we brought Nat back around 8pm. 

Actually, this is pretty much what I do on those days I don’t go into office so nothing was drastically different or more challenging. 

I think I will miss this once I return to work full-time. So even if can’t really slack around and binge on Netflix because there’s more household chores and baby-related prep to be done, I’m glad that I can do all these for him. 

– CK 

Long Weekends

This pretty much sums up how our weekend went 🙂 As we don’t plan to travel with Nat anytime soon, one form of pseudo-vacations with him are staycations (only when there’s good deals of course). It also gives me a chance to escape, which is what I find myself doing quite often these days. Escape from what? I can’t exactly pinpoint. Maybe just the usual weekend routines that aren’t relaxing most of the time.

How shall I make sense of this…

Weekends with a baby are not really different from weekdays. Most of it is because of the choices we make but for valid and good reasons.

1. There are essentially no more late sleep-in weekends.

  • Nat would be hungry by 7am (if we’re lucky). On normal days, he would wake up around 630am.
  • We choose to keep to the same routine on weekends as per weekdays because our work requires us to be out of the house by 710am.
  • It is also much easier to just begin his day ard 7am and then schedule his breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner from there.

2. Weekends are also now characterised by bits of negotiation and lots of planning.

  • We try to bring Nat to visit his paternal and maternal grandparents and occasionally, his Great-Grandfather.
  • I’ve learnt that there can never be absolute parity so we just try to let everyone spend pockets of time with Nat.
  • More often than not, it happens at our own physical expense because it can be very tiring. It is the right thing to do but still, really tiring.
  • Strangely, the most relaxing Sunday we had thus far was when we left Nat to finish his afternoon nap at my mom’s place after lunch and both of us just went home. We didn’t plan for such an arrangement, it just happened naturally since it was time for his nap after lunch. It was relaxing because we simply rotted at home doing our usual brainless stuff, and the best part was that we could do nothing!

I guess these are some reasons why I look forward to the times where I can just get away and be alone i.e. at work, on vacation with HJ and/or during staycations with the kiddo. Sometimes it feels good to just be detached and in my own bubble.

Some days, all I’d really like to do is to chill on my balcony with a bottle of beer. Then I think about the calories and I get a bit more depressed.

But heck, the pull of the baileys irish cream is too strong. I’ll deal with the calories another day.

– CK

Traveling Without Baby

After the success of our ‘pilot’ trip to Hanoi, we’re definitely tempted (and more confident) to take more trips in the future where it’s just the two of us. Of course the biggest and most difficult decision i.e. whether you are okay traveling without baby has to be made way in advance but once that decision has been made, everything else comes pretty easy. HJ is very easygoing – he is okay traveling with or without the baby though he is aware that the latter would entail adjusting our itinerary. I, on the other hand, took a longer time to make up my mind but in my gut, I knew that I would prefer to travel without having to think about “baby logistics” and that was how our first couple trip since March 2016 came to be.

So here’s a sneak peek into the whole operation – yes, operation because a lot of planning and ‘rehearsing’ was involved.
1. Find a caretaker arrangement that puts your heart and mind at ease

I will be honest about this. There is no other person in this world that I would trust more to take care of Nat than my mom, with our helper to assist. So having her be the main caretaker while we were overseas made the decision to just go a very straightforward one.

2. Have caretaker(s) understand and experience baby’s daily routine

Knowing is one thing but nothing beats them experiencing the baby’s routine itself. So for us, we gave my mom and helper a rough schedule for Nat based on his daily eat/wake/sleep patterns. Nat is also over at my mom’s place on the days when I go to office so she gets to experience how his morning to evening routines are like. Then on some Sundays when we go to the movies, she gets to experience his bedtime routine until 10pm.

So if family member(s) are looking after baby when you travel, having them actually experience the routine helps prepare them for the days/nights that you are away.

3. Condition baby to sleep in various locations

This is more applicable if baby is going to be bunking over at the caretaker’s home as opposed to having the caretaker sleep over in your house.

For my mom, she is more comfortable in her own place so Nat and my helper slept over at my mom’s place while we were overseas. This meant that we had to start getting Nat used to the idea of taking naps at various locations, other than our own home. Even then, it took some trial and error experiments to figure out which room he prefers to nap in.

  • For instance, my mom’s room gets the morning sun so Nat could not nap very long in there whereas my sister’s room doesn’t get the morning or afternoon sun so it’s a darker and better environment for his naps. Verdict: my sister’s room is the best place for Nat to snooze.

4. Prepare for all scenarios especially if baby were to fall sick

Other than packing the usual baby clothes and accessories e.g. food, toys, bath items, we also packed his medicine for fever, nasal congestion and cough with instructions on how to administer each of them should he fall sick. The only thing we forgot to pass my mom was his health booklet, should they need to bring him to the PD!

Thankfully, everyone was prepared because Nat did come down with a slight cough 1-2 days before our trip because HJ and I took turns to fall sick so Nat also got some of our germs. We had also prepared for another more morbid scenario in the event that anything should happen to both of us.

I guess with that, we managed to travel with peace in our hearts and minds.

– CK

 

Everybody Dies.

Over the weekend, we were shuttling between two hospitals. My maternal Grandpa was warded on Thurs and should be discharged soon. Then on Friday, my paternal Grandma underwent an op for her heart and is in ICU until she can go to the normal ward. I generally don’t deal with such issues very well. I am avoidant because I have difficulty accepting that one day, they are no longer going to be here.

Everybody dies. I know.

I just dread dealing with all the emotions that come along with it.

– CK