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

Advertisements

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 Eric Carle 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 are 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 but 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 

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