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 

Advertisements

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

Work & Guilt 

So we’re off again! This is our 2nd trip without Nat, and it won’t be the last for the year since the mister prefers not to travel with a baby until he’s toddler age. Then having this time away from home made me realize something – it made me think about what will happen once I return to work full time in a few months. This was when I started to feel some guilt for wanting to work but I can’t not work either. Hence, I will just have to accept and adjust to the fact that I won’t be his de facto caretaker anymore and I need to be okay with that. 

The Nat, having his morning playground routine when I’m in the office

 
This is not to say that I am unhappy with the current childcare arrangements. In fact, they could not have been better. Both HJ and I can leave for work in peace knowing that Nat is well taken care of by my mom and helper. 

His general daily routine when we go to work is as such; 

  • 730am – pick up from my place 
  • 8am – visit to the playground 
  • 830am – breakfast 
  • 9am – nap 1 
  • 1130am – outing to run errands or deliver lunch to my Grandpa
  • 12pm – lunch 
  • 2pm – nap 2
  • 3/4pm – tea break 
  • 545pm – dinner 
  • 6pm – I come home and take over 

There’s also reading and regulated TV time in his routine as well. Regulated TV time is because he only watches The Numtums at either 11am or 2pm. They are basically animals with numbers on their tummies haha! 

So I have no qualms with my current work-babycare arrangements. In fact, I am considering going back to office 4x a week instead of 3x a week starting from October onwards since all is well at home. 

Moreover, the norm that I will return to in 2018 is that I’ll be going office every weekday. As it is, I know being able to take a part-time scheme is a privilege – not everyone has alternative babycare arrangements and not everyone can afford to take a pay cut for a prolonged period. 

However, being away from home and Nat during this short trip just made me realize how independent and easygoing he is

Nat does not have attachment issues to anyone? He is able to be taken care of by almost everyone as long as he is familiar with their faces. 

A lot of people have told me that this is a good thing but some days I also wonder whether does he really know we are his parents? Perhaps we don’t refer to ourselves as his ‘Papa’ and ‘Mama’ often? We really cannot stand talking in the third-person haha but maybe we have to start somewhere. 

The only consolation is that at least his de facto caretaker and the person he will be closer will be my mom, not the infant care personnel or any other non-family member.

On this note, I came across an article that is so so apt… 

I know the fatigue that sets in when all you feel is guilty: guilty that you like going to work, guilty that you want to go home early to be with your baby. Guilty when you miss a milestone or guilty when you have to stay late to catch up on a project. Guilty when you forget about an upcoming meeting or guilty that you have to leave early because the baby got sick. Guilty that it’s been three months back at work and shouldn’t this feel normal by now?

I know that am very blessed that I did not really have any big struggles returning to work. 

I also look forward to work because it helps me to focus, it drowns out any baby or household-related issues that I may be feeling sian about, it gives me a sense of purpose and of course, financial security. 

I won’t and can’t give up my work so I guess I will just have to adapt and try not to give myself so high expectations on both fronts. Like HJ said, I can’t be a good worker and still want to be there all the time for Nat. I simply can’t. 

– CK 

FYI to Self


Yes… HJ has shown me this illustration a couple of times but I guess it takes a whileeeee to apply this. So the most recent thing I was worried about was June school holiday plans. To bring the kiddo or not to bring? There are valid points for either scenario but I think after our staycation, I figured that we would need a ‘baby-friendly’ country/city. I also foresee us spending quite a lot of time in the hotel for Nat to nap. True, he can sleep in a carrier but with my back woes, walking a few hours with a 8-9kg baby is not a good idea. HJ too, has a back injury and not everywhere is ‘pram-friendly’. I also believe that at this age, babies won’t appreciate holidays so it’s more for us, the parents. So, we decided to take up my mum’s offer to babysit him since she will be having school holidays in June and we’ll most probably go to Hanoi and it’s nearby caves for a few days! Definitely something one can do with a baby in tow. Trekking… taking a boat around a lake surrounded by limestone caves… some of the things we want to do but can’t with baby.

Am I okay leaving Nat in SG? 

It was initially a ‘hmm, not really’ that became a ‘yup I’m sure’ and I’m also a bit surprised that I am actually okay with it.

Simply put, I/we need a break and now when Nat doesn’t really understand things and is not clingy, we stand a better chance of ‘escaping’ while we leave him in the hands of my mum and our helper. They are both fully capable of caring for him so I don’t have much reason to worry.

Should I feel guilty? I think I got over that part quite fast because I think we need to prioritize our needs above his from time to time. As precious as Nat is, he cannot become the center of our universe such that everything revolves around him. Moreover, at this age, the concept of abandonment is completely foreign to Nat. If anything, it’s us, the adults who feel bad for leaving the kiddo. So no, I don’t think one should feel guilty/bad but it’s really not as easy to just let go.

Anyhow it will just be for a short period of 4 days. If this pilot works out, I’ll definitely to it again at the end of the year!

– CK

27 Feb 2017

This date signifies a couple of things. Today was supposed to be my last day of maternity leave but thankfully, it isn’t. More importantly, this day last year, Mama (what we call my Grandmother since young) went home to be with the Lord so today is her 1 yr death anniversary. We had a simple memorial service for her yesterday, and back at home HJ commented that this was the first memorial service he has been too (make that both of us). He said that this just goes to show that my Grandmother really lived her life in a way that made people remember her very fondly. The Pastor yesterday recited once more something he wrote last year in a tribute to Mama and he summed up what he remembers most fondly about my Grandmother in 3 points.

  1. She had a very good command of English, with proper enunciation of her words.
  2. She was very thoughtful, always thinking of others (indeed) and he remembers her reminding my Grandfather to prepare some fruits whenever he visited because she knew he liked to eat healthy.
  3. She was faithful and trusted the Lord till the very end. Never once throughout her bout of sickness in 2014-2015 did she ever complain about her situation (this I definitely remember, her only lament was that she wished God could heal her so that she could walk through the gates of heaven, and I’m sure she did).

Lastly, he mentioned that while most Pastors are able to recite Psalm 23, my Grandmother’s favorite verse, he knew that she truly knew the Lord from how she recited it by heart every time he visited her in the hospital.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

– Psalm 23

Somedays, I tell HJ that it would have been nice if Nat arrived earlier, so at least she would be able to know she was going to be a Great Grandmother before she left this earth but we all know that could not be possible. Nonetheless, I will always have memories of how she selflessly looked after my sister and I so that both my parents could focus on their work.

Now that only Kong Kong, my Grandfather is left, what we can do is to not take it for granted so we let him interact with Nat as often as we can. This is made easier considering how he just lives 5 minutes away from our house.

Even if Mama isn’t here, seeing Nat and Kong Kong interact is the next best thing and so very precious 🙂

– CK

There, I Applied To Work Part Time ! 

Prior to Nat’s arrival, working on a part time load was never on the cards. I repeat, never. HJ tried asking me to consider taking No-Pay-Leave (NPL) for a year when I was still expecting Nat but no, I was only okay applying for maximum two months NPL. Then last week, with 10 more weeks of leave to go, there was this constant nagging feeling in my gut that made me reconsider going back to work full time. All this while, HJ was sure that he does not want to put Nat in infant care so we don’t really have any care options besides our helper. I was really torn because while I enjoy and miss work, I also want to spend more time with Nat.

The primary reason was really the sheer reduction of time I’ll be spending with Nat if I work full time. On a normal work day, I’ll have to leave the house at 7am and by the time I get home, it would be close to 7pm. So I’ll be able to give Nat his 1st wake-up feed and wash him up at night before HJ puts him to bed. No doubt the daily routines I’ve established these past 3 months+ will be continued and enforced by our helper and my mum but I guess a part of me still very much wants to be a part of some of his routines. Hopefully I can witness some of his milestones such as rolling over, crawling, walking etc. first hand and not just via video.

It was this knowledge that I’ll not be able to do most of the things I’m doing now that was the main push factor, especially our post wake-up feed snuggles 🙂

So the struggle was very real but I just knew in my gut that going the part time route would be the best for the rest of 2017, until Nat turns 1. The other option was HJ’s original suggestion to take a longer NPL but because I do not want to give up my car and have such a drastic change in lifestyle, I need to have partial income.

I still very much want to work so since both work and Nat are important to me, I made the decision to apply for a 2/3 part time load so that I can hopefully balance both roles.

Now that my immediate bosses are supportive, the next hurdle would be clearing the remaining approvals. As it is, I am already very thankful that such an arrangement was possible and was cleared within 2 days?

I emailed my immediate boss on Wednesday night (22/2), told a few close friends, prayed about it and left the rest to God. By the end of Friday (24/2), both my immediate boss and my Director had replied to say that they were supportive of my decision. So I really thank God that everything has worked out thus far.

Sigh…the saying that a child will change your life in ways that you never thought possible is indeed very very true.

– CK

Self-Care & Its Tensions

Last night, being Friday and all, HJ and I had one of those long conversations that somehow jumped across numerous unrelated topics such as my pending return to work, his work, his volunteering , Nat (of course), finances… but more importantly, he was able to help me realize a struggle that I’m experiencing, which I may not be very conscious of – that of the tension between wanting things to be somewhat like before Nat was born and also not being able to really let go of things related to Nat.

So to just name a few adjustments that come to mind after Nat came along…

  • Did we expect our travel plans to come to a temporary halt so soon? Nope. We still talk about the dream of going back to London in 2019 to visit my Great Grandaunt. It is also HJ’s wish to go back every 5 years but I’m honestly not sure how a toddler would handle a 13hr flight. For now, we can start to plan shorter trips to get Nat used to taking the plane in the first place.
  • Am I able to accept all the physical changes that pregnancy brought on? Guess I don’t have much of a choice right. Thankfully I didn’t have any major physical ailment during all three trimesters and even the delivery was a very smooth one (shall elaborate on this in another post) but… the post-birth leftover weight and stretch marks won’t 100% disappear.
  • How do I feel about developments at work in my absence? Somedays I am eager to go back and be busy with work just like how it was before but returning to work after a 6 month hiatus means I’ll have to catch up on new things and also accept and deal the fact that some timelines/deliverables have changed because I was away for half a year. It’s not as simple as handing it over and then getting back into the groove of things just the way things were. Guess it also does not help much that my office location has changed to somewhere that is nearer to home but more inconvenient to get to.

Nonetheless, now with Nat in our lives, I wouldn’t change a thing but I also have trouble taking some things easy – in particular, his routines. I mean some minor disruptions and adjustments are to be expected but in terms of his eat/play/sleep habits, I find myself ensuring that our moms and helper are fully aware of what needs to be done.

Do I think about the possibility of taking a longer stretch of leave? Of course the thought crossed my mind but the reality is, I don’t think a single income is sufficient with our current lifestyles. Sure, one can say give up the car or downgrade to a cheaper car and make some lifestyle changes but that’s just it – I am making  the choice to not change my car or have such drastic lifestyle changes. This is why HJ says I am too greedy and demanding, because I want a semblance of the past in my new current reality as a mom when clearly things have changed and can never go back to the way they were , hence the tension… I’m afraid he’s spot on. 

Some days (thankfully they’re rare), when I have to take care of Nat at home for 14 hours, I feel close to losing my mind. So now I’ve put a coping mechanism in place, such that whenever HJ has a late night (usually 2 nights a week when he comes back at 10pm after volunteering or tuition), I either bring the baby and helper to my mum’s place or we go out for dinner. The main thing is that I can’t be cooped up in my house for 14hours :/

Then towards the end of our conversation, HJ brought up the importance of self-care, ensuring I have adequate “me-time”, time with each other without Nat etc and today I came across this article on my Facebook newsfeed that is SO APT!

So in line with the above, though it is somewhat an errand, I finally had some time to see my skin doctor to stock up on my face wash/creams and since we were around the area, we went to my fave Hokkaido Japanese ramen restaurant – Kaiko who moved out of ION to Marina Bay Financial Tower!

Thanks for snoozing at the right time so we could eat in peace 🙂

– CK

We Survived 12 Weeks!

Definitely didn’t think 12 weeks could go by so fast but it has! Now, I’m beginning to feel what almost every mom told me – that time will simply fly by and I’ll start to wish that I could have more time to witness all of his milestones and moments. HJ predicted this would happen to me even before I gave birth, which was why he wanted me to consider taking 1 year No Pay Leave (NPL) but noooo… financially I don’t think we can handle having only one of us work so for now, I’ve applied for 2 months NPL so I’ll only go back to work in May when Nat is 6 months old.

So Nat turned 12 weeks yesterday and I was looking through some old phone photos that shows Nat at 1, 2, 4, 8, 10 and 12 weeks old. I think after the first few weeks, his facial features start to ‘stabilise’ and he looks more like himself, with his apple-cheeks and multiple chins 🙂 It seems that the immediate hospital photo isn’t really accurate of how the baby will look like after a few weeks!

WhatsApp Image 2017-02-01 at 12.55.27 PM.jpeg

Even now, the past few months seem quite a blur.

November turned out to be a very comfortable month for us with the help of our confinement nanny so a great deal of my time was spent recovering and learning the ropes of taking care of a NB. I still remember how the nanny did not let us bathe him until week 3 because he was too small to handle in the first 2 weeks. All he did throughout the day was eat, poop and sleep.

December was the application phase for us where we took care of Nat ourselves. Thankfully HJ was having school holidays so he was able to save his paternity leave and still enjoy close to 2 months (Nov-Dec) of pseudo-paternity leave to help me take care of Nat. It was during this time where HJ and Nat would have a nightly struggle between 10pm and 1am, which was the catalyst for me to begin switching his body-clock and start him on his eat/wake/sleep daily routine.

January … what can I say. Initially I was really quite jittery about HJ going back to work then I would be flying solo with Nat from 7am to 630pm everyday for a good 3 weeks before our helper arrives just before CNY. Looking back, I think it was the daily routines that kept both Nat and I occupied so after about the initial adjustment period of 3-5 days, spending the whole day alone with him didn’t feel like 12 hours.

As we enter Feb, am just thankful that I’ve got 3 more precious months with him before I start work again.

On an aside note, I just discovered his link toys (for 0months+) that was buried in the drawer with his other toys so I guess in Feb we have to catch up with training his motor development during his post-feed activities. Guess we’ve been training his eyesight with the numerous flash cards but not so much his muscles*oops*. Sorry Nat, your parents have just been letting you grab our fingers, now you can finally grab your toys yay!

WhatsApp Image 2017-02-01 at 2.50.31 PM.jpeg

-CK

‘Couch Time’

Came across this term when I was reading one of those baby books and it resonated because it made so much sense – maintaining a healthy marriage as it creates a sense of security and stability for your children.

Understanding it in theory is easy, then came the harder part of actualizing it and looking back at the past 1-2 weeks that HJ has started work, our couch time is more reactive than intentional. Meaning, it took a rough day of just handling the baby and house-related matters that made us conscious that we had neglected “us”. Sure, we each have managed to carve out our own “me” times in the day.

  • HJ is at work, has an external community, gives tuition and volunteers. Even whilst I’m now based at home, I work in routines to do my stretches/workouts, Netflix shows and evening post-dinner walks as and when I am back at my mom’s place.
  • Together, we also manage to have some outings whereby it was just the two of us because my mom helped to babysit Nat.

However, despite all the above and having a relatively easy time looking after Nat, I could not shake off the feeling that something was missing and lacking. Even when we were out together, we were running errands more than enjoying each other’s presence.

So on Sunday, we decided to have a moment to ourselves at the balcony to just talk. Then I noted even the content of what we spoke about can either relax us or cause more anxiety. For example, I wish that we did not have to always discuss about Nat even though he is a huge part of our lives but sometimes this is inevitable though we try to keep it to a minimum. Our couch times also work best when both our HPs are not with us because the various whatsapp groups that requires attention can be really irritating.

Moving forward, we now recognise that to have meaningful couch times, it has to be intentional, planned and there is a need for certain perimeters such as putting our HPs away. I found some ‘rules’ on this blog post HERE to keep in mind when we have our couch times.

Couch time is a very simple idea. You and your spouse take 10-15 minutes at the end of your day (or whenever really) to sit down and just talk. Don’t watch TV. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t think about the day ahead. Just sit and talk to your spouse.

We already don’t have a TV so more work is required to keep our phones away.

Baby business is tough, because you give so much to your little one such that one just needs to have ample “me” time and even when that is done, we now know the need to also have sufficient “couch time” with your significant other.