It’s time.

I write this as I am preparing to go back to school next year, after 4 years in HQ. I guess everything is 20/20 on hindsight. In 2014, the notification of my mandatory posting took me by surprise. Thereafter, the decisions to extend my stint felt more logical. Looking back, the past 4 years was exactly where I needed to be.

It’s the next step that scares me but as they say, whatever will be will be. I just want to teach and hopefully it will not require me to drive halfway across the island.

Another thing that I need to do is to let go and let God but it is always easier said than done.

– CK

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Parenting

I still want to do no.1 ! But this is quite funny and very true. As I’m typing this, Nat is having his 2nd nap at my mom’s (because we went for Yoga class) and we’re watching Netflix before we pick him up. Even if it’s the weekend, there’s no need to shop, eat fancy food or catch a movie… I’m VERY happy with a bed and Netflix!

I guess the thing I miss most about life before Nat is the personal and private space we had.

Most of the time, there was only our schedule to think about. We could wake up at 10am and do whatever we wanted on weekends.

Now there’s no such thing as waking up at 10am. We’re up at 645am by default, 7 days a week but we’re also very lucky Nat does a continuous stretch of sleep from 9pm to 630am on most nights.

Speaking of space, we also had to make room for our helper in our study and take Nat into account as far as our home deco and furniture was concerned.

Nothing too dangerous or considered too impractical for children. Invisible grills that costs over a thousand. Door guards and shoe cabinet locks that still look aesthetically decent enough. All because I want a house that doesn’t look like a kiddo has taken over it.

And I’m aware that such adjustments have just begun. Soon, Nat will grow into a bigger toddler and more revisions have to be made. I guess with a child or children, things don’t remain fixed for long. We’re always responding and adjusting to their cues and needs.

Guess this is what growing up and begin a parent means.

Tired.

I totally LOL-ed when I saw this quote/pic on Pinterest that said, “the bags under my eyes are Prada”!? Yup, and it’s only Tuesday. I strangely feel more tired on weekends. This is a pic of me, eating ice cream and ‘hiding’ in Nat’s nursery while he was getting washed up on Sunday night. The question we both have is, why do we feel more tired when we actually get to sleep continuously from 11pm-630am??

Then I think back to the early parts of 2017, when strangely I had the energy to take care of Nat round-the-clock. I also have no idea how I managed to wake up to pump 2x a night at 1 and 4am. Those days are long gone now and yet, I’m still tired.

The culprit… is the rushing.

Every morning, we rush to work. At work, we are rushing for meetings and/or to finish up pieces of work. I’ve also not managed to leave at 530pm on the dot since Jan, so I’m rushing to wrap up things so that I can zoom back to my mom’s place for dinner and to pick Nat up. Then we rush back home to wash him up so that we can start his bedtime routine such that Nat goes to sleep by 9pm.

So the only time we’re not rushing anymore is 10pm onwards and the whole cycle begins again the next day.

It was also much easier taking care of Nat when he was a baby, under 1 year old! Toddler-hood is no joke and I know this is just the beginning.

My short-term quick fixes –

  • TEA every morning for the caffeine
  • Concealer for my eye bags
  • BRANDS Chicken Essence on some weekends to last 12 hours being Nat’s Main caretaker

I’m already tired trying to analyze why I’m tired.

Good night world!

– CK

Toddler Crib

How shall I explain this… a friend at work shared that one sleeping arrangement is to align the crib next to the bed and remove one side or fix the toddler guard so there’s still some access if night soothing is needed. I tried it. Result: it works…… but only from 9pm-5am, before our friend would crawl over me and find a nook between our bodies to continue sleeping?!

The scary but funny thing is that some nights when I wake up randomly ard 3am, I open my eyes and feel a small sense of victory when I see Nat in his crib.

Sadly, this victory is premature and short lived.

Fast forward to 6am when it’s time to wake up, I turn to my left and I see my son. In my mind I can only wonder, “how did he end up here?!”

HJ has no idea either. Basically, Nat sleep-crawls over my body to end up between us. That can be the only explanation.

Nonetheless, we’ll leave this as it is for a while more because it is better for our backs. When Nat slept on the floor, and if he woke up randomly at 4/5am, he would only be soothed back to sleep if I went down into the floor and sat/laid next to him.

To secure the crib to our bed, we lock the wheels permanently and HJ also used cable tie to attach the crib’s legs to the legs of our bed.

I guess I’ve also undergone a mindset shift? Last night, after he fell asleep on my bed, I didn’t move him to his crib. I guess I didn’t mind him sleeping next to me from the start. I had spent the night out meeting a friend for dinner and didn’t see Nat the whole day.

Like what some of my friends told me, it’s true that our kid(s) are only this age once and before you know it, they’ll be so fiercely independent, you’ll wish they didn’t grow up so fast.

So I think I’ll just (try) to embrace my son’s stickiness to us while he actually wants to be close to us.

Week 1 of 2018

How apt… and quite funny too but yes, it pretty much sums up how it feels to have completed the first week of a new year. I regret not piling up my stash of Somersby or Kronenbourg the last time we were at Changi duty free. Every work day this week ended after 6pm but I don’t mind. I actually prefer work to the chaos beyond the office. Then on some days, I’m just tired of mom-ing. I don’t think I do very much, but even the little I have to do, feels tiring.

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-07 at 8.20.50 PM.jpeg

2018 is the year that I have to seriously think about where I would like to get posted to in 2019, which is also dependent on what’s available for me. Throughout my entire career (since 2012), things were pretty much decided for me i.e. being posted to my first school and then to HQ. I simply went with the flow and made some smaller decisions along the way.

This year is different in the sense that I have to first know what I want for my career plans and then, pursue it. To be honest, all I can think of is running away to Japan, or London or Germany (my favourite places), for another vacation… because sometimes, I am so avoidant, I just want to escape and delay the inevitable. Sadly, I can’t.

On the home front, some days it feels more tiring than the work front and I can’t see beyond the week as far as Nat is concerned. Okay, maybe the month because I know when is his PD check-up next month.

There was one day, HJ, feeling really exhausted, looked at Nat and asked me, is this all worth it? (A bit late right hahaha) but yes, despite how tired it may be, I would not have it any other way.

It also reminded me that since Nat is our gift from God, we are but stewards of him on this earth i.e. it’s our responsibility to take care of him until the day comes where either of us will be called back to heaven. So that certainly puts things into perspective, esp. on those days when we just don’t feel like being parents.

Yet, some part of me does miss the freedom and the ability to do whatever I wanted without having to trouble my mom to take care of Nat if need be.

So I guess like the picture says, I have to just continue winging it… for the rest of the year.

The year in summary

2017 in a grid. Let’s see.

• Took no-pay leave and spent two extra months at home with Nat

• Went on part-time scheme and worked 3-4 days per week

• Actually did some proper exercising and lost 18kg

• Attended Yoga and Pilates, something I’ve wanted to do but never got round to it

• Turned 30 years old and;

• Traveled to four countries in the second half of the year!

2018 already looks to be a really busy year…

I’ll be returning to work full-time, and would have to start finding a school where I’ll be posted to in 2019.

Nat would be one, going on two – so here comes the whole new ballgame of dealing with a toddler!

I just hope that HJ and I will be in good health so that we can do whatever we need to do for our family.

As for everything else that I’m anxious about… I know they will sort themselves out somehow.

As each year goes by, I’ve come to realise that life is indeed too short to be worried about numerous small things so in the same vein, I will try not to be ruled (so much) by fear in 2018.

Here’s to a more daring and fulfilling 2018!

– CK

Balcony Safety

So after delaying for a year, we’re finally ready to install invisible grilles to our balcony. Last year, we didn’t feel the need to do it yet because Nat was a newborn and we were just coping after confinement ended. Now, our boy is 13 months old and wants to climb everything. We currently don’t let him play unsupervised on the balcony but I would like him to be able to roam and play there. So, the inevitable is going to happen.

We went back to Legate to get a free quotation. They did the invisible grilles for some of our neighbours and also came to our place in 2016 to give a free quotation then.

Currently, I am probably going to go with the Premium A+ 316 stainless steel grilles from Korea (with 5 years warranty).

We’ve just started the process so if everything works out, this would hopefully be completed before the end of the year.

It took us one year because we really did not want to have stainless steel cords blocking our balcony night view of the skyline.

THIS is the to-die-for unobstructed view that we have because we’re on the 20th floor. Nothing is more calming than enjoying the breeze and watching this at night.

We also told ourselves that we can keep the balcony door locked when Nat is crawling/waking around the living room. There are also adults around who can supervise and ensure that he does not venture out into the balcony.

Yet, we decided that it’s still safer to intervene and tweak the structural surrounding than depend 100% on adult supervision. I’ve learnt that we all have slips from time to time – turn away for a few seconds and baby falls off the bed. This has happened at least twice since Nat was 6 months old. Despite knowing that one should not to leave baby unattended at all times, I’m sure this isn’t upheld every second. Sometimes, someone can be sitting just behind Nat and watching over him but somehow he can fall backwards in a split second and hit his head in the floor?

So yes, I am willing to spend approx. $1500 to “encase” my balcony, in an aesthetically-pleasing way, such that no toddler or animal (my family dog, Cookie) can fall from the 20th floor and for a peace of mind.

On a side note, Legate has an array of products to offer – grilles, blinds, windows and even artificial turf carpets.

I explored adding an artificial turf to our balcony for Nat to play there but have decided not to because installing the invisible grilles is the more urgent task.

Sigh. A kid really does change how one thinks about things.

$1500 can buy me a new Apple laptop? That’s how much our Japan air tickets costs for 2 people.

But, safety first.

– CK

What one doesn’t see

So while a baby and dog may look real cute in photos, trust me, it’s not always the case. Last week was my mom’s turn to take a break so HJ and I took leave to take care of Nat and Cookie, the family pet. I can’t say this in any better way – I am SO GLAD I can go back to office tomorrow! I really salute the moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas who stay home to take care of young kids and/or pets. Really.

This is just a snapshot of what usually happens with a baby and dog in the same small house.

  • Baby tearing tissue paper
  • Dog and baby almost scratching each other during play time
  • Dog hiding under bed and refusing to come out because of a thunder storm
  • Dog mistaking rugs for a pee pad and staining almost all of them

What isn’t captured is Cookie barking whenever our neighbour comes home because she thinks they are the “enemy” and then barking at 2/3am because she is afraid to sleep alone in the living room. After barking at such unearthly hours, our friend, Nat is woken up and has to be soothed in our adult bed.

Moral of the story: I know this cannot compare ever to having 2 kids but if this is anything of a preview, I am definitely not cut out for taking care of so many small beings.

This is a rant post.

I need to go back to work tomorrow.

To my mom who has to look after both baby and dog daily, I don’t know how you do it but you’re a superwoman.

– CK

Sleep Training (Again??)

Yup. Recently, Nat will wake up 1x between 3-6am and cry because he’s alone in his crib and can’t get back to sleep?? This time I’m quite sure it’s separation anxiety because he isn’t hungry. Sigh. So if I am conscious enough, I have to resume sleep training by soothing him back to sleep in his crib. Each time he’s carried to join us in bed just conditions him more to dislike his crib. 


The above was a failed attempt by me to “hide” and have him sleep on his own during his PM nap. 

Nat refused to lie down in his crib. I can’t cradle him to sleep becsuse he’s too heavy. Out of curiosity and desperation, my last resort was to just lie on the floor out of sight to see whether he will calm down. 

It failed because he found me at the corner hahaha 

In the end, he did fall asleep in his crib after 5-10 minutes of carrying. 

What I fear more is the early morning episode because it’s random and when we sleep at 12am and have to wake up at 630am, it’s extremely tough to be disciplined to sleep train him. Thankfully it’s only once a night on some nights but still… 

What this article says about separation anxiety is SO TRUE! 

“… your baby can feel panicked when he wakes during the night and doesn’t see you — especially if you were there when he drifted off…”
Hopefully this will pass without us entrenching certain associations that will remain in the long run such as the association of nighttime sleep with our bed instead of his, which is already happening. Sigh.

– CK 

Nat’s Hungry Caterpillar Party 

Nat’s party was a 2 month project in the making because we decided to do all the decor ourselves. After this, I told HJ I don’t think I can do anymore parties – 1st month and 1st year should suffice! All in all, everything went smoothly. It was very tiring but worth it.

The genesis for the theme was quite straightforward – Nat loves The Hungry Caterpillar. The book and toy was a gift for his 1st month and he seems to have a fondness towards it.

Nat around 7 months with his favorite toy

 

So with the theme settled, the deco naturally had to be everything related to Eric Carle. In terms of colours, we had to stick to primary colours since those featured in most of his books.

The brains behind the decor was mostly my mom and sis. We decided on using the following criteria to guide our decor decisions.

  1. We wanted to have another type of ‘happy birthday’ sign so instead of balloon letters or a garland, we decided to make a sign in the shape of a caterpillar. Google & Pinterest gave us a lot of ideas! One can buy ready-made Eric Carle party decor online from Etsy but I didn’t want to pay for shipping.
  2. We initially thought that the photowall could be the one with the ‘happy Birthday’ sign but my sis said that a photowall backdrop should be white so she bought pinwheels and balloon bouquets in Eric Carle colours to create the photo backdrop.
  3. As for the cake table, I was very sure that I wanted it simple and uncluttered. We also did not want desserts on the table because it would be a waste if people didn’t eat them. Conversely if people ate the desserts, then the photos would show some half-eaten desserts. Instead, we displayed Nat’s name using the TYPO letters from his room shelf and featured 3 of his Eric Carle books. This way, no extra money was spent on the cake table’s decor.
  4. The last bit of decor was the photo montage. We already had an album of Nat’s photographs according to his various milestones so my mom used the spare construction paper and some apple cut-outs to create the decor for the photo montage wall. I have no idea where my sister found the ‘Celebrate’ banner but it was less than $2. I was shocked. It was such a steal.

Food-wise, we catered from Elsie’s Kitchen as HJ and I previously ordered food from them in 2014 for our student wedding party.

Although Nat’s party was between 12-3pm, we ordered the biggest high tea menu, consisting of 11 food items and 1 drink instead of the usual buffet lunch menu.

I decided not to get the heavier lunch buffet menus because I rather have smaller food items with more variety and choice. In case there was not enough, we added on extra servings for the more popular savoury items such as chicken satay and drumlets.

As I was still worried that there might not be enough food, we supplemented with some sushi, cocktail sausages and jelly. The last two are some of my childhood favorites that we decided to make for Nat’s party.

Location-wise, we booked the function room and the adjoining KTV room so that some people could seek refuge there in case the crowd got too big.

I guess it was a cosier gathering compared to his 1st month which had all our extended family members. This time round, the guests consisted mainly of our immediate family and close friends.

I’m just glad it’s over because it was one hectic weekend and the best part is, Nat has no clue!

– CK