Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thankful Tuesday: A letter to my strong-willed child

My dearest little boy,

Today we went to the Art Museum. As you and your brothers were restless in the taxi and started fighting, we played "I-Spy". I told you that I spied an excavator digging, which is one of your favourite things in the world. You were too busy fighting to notice it, and it was out of sight by the time you looked up.

When you got off the taxi, you told me you were upset with me because I didn't let you see the excavator. And insisted that we walk back to find it. I told you we couldn't, because I had spotted it mid-way through the journey and it was too far away. But you insisted, so I told you we could walk for a few minutes to see if we could spot any excavators in the vicinity.

However, there were no excavators, and you got increasingly upset, and I admit I got angry. We were late in meeting our friends, and we were just walking around aimlessly. You insisted on walking further. I refused. We ended up walking back to the museum, you screaming and crying while pulling on me. In the end, I had to carry you on my back, still screaming, on top of my backpack, while carrying your little brother in front in the carrier.

Thankfully, you calmed down after a ride in the swings outside the museum, and you proceeded to throughly enjoy your time at the museum. You loved it so much, that you asked to visit the place again next time.

You've always been the feisty one. The one that never, ever gives in. The one that thinks that everyone would give in, so long you keep insisting on your way. Many times, this results in fights between you and your brothers, and this insistence has gotten you into trouble frequently, and we've had to discipline you so many times. We never managed to train you to sleep on your own. We tried, but realized that by the time you agreed to sleep on your own, your will would be broken, and you would be broken too, and I couldn't bear to do that. Everyday, I pray that I can keep you safe, because it seems like the only way you learn to stay out of trouble is the hard way: by learning through experience.

But as I look at you, you with the determined look in your eyes, you with the unwavering insistence on only drinking for the purple cup and nothing else, you who will never give in, even though your brother who is fighting you is much bigger and stronger than you are... I also see that that strong will, if nurtured correctly, can bring you very very far. It would be the trait that would help you hold on to what you believe in. It would be the thing that would protect you from peer pressure. It would push you to chase your dreams, surmount any obstacles, and help you stand strong in the midst of a society of wavering values.

So these days, I'm learning how to love you better. I pick my battles, to choose only the ones of consequence, and not quibble with you about the purple cup or purple paper (but no, you are not allowed to use markers on anything except paper). However, I will continue to discipline you, because I know that a strong will, if left to its own devices can lead to a spoilt child. I've learnt to get more sleep, because I need to be rested to be patient.

And everyday, I've been praying. Praying for wisdom to know how to love and parent you. Praying that your strong will becomes determination and perseverance, turns into courage and strength, instead of lapsing into obstinacy and stubbornness. Praying that He keeps you safe.

Amidst the tantrums and the power struggles these days, we've also observed that softer, loving side of you. Like how you comfort your brother when he is crying, or how you peel fruit and feed it to your little brother. Like how you sit, struggling with placing Perler beads on a pegboard, to make a heart just for Mama. And I realize what a special kid you are, and how blessed we are to have you. Remember, even though we have to discipline you, even though you cannot get your way all the time (like finding excavators digging)... we love you so so much.

Mama and Papa.

Mum in the Making

Monday, April 13, 2015

Project Homeland: The Toa Payoh Blue Animals (and Suzuki Ramen Bar)

We chanced upon this little play area one evening after visiting the large Dragon playground at Toa Payoh Lorong 5. Actually, we were on a hunt for food for dinner, and were delighted to find that the area we picked to dine at was actually near the little Dragon playground, as well as this open square with a series of blue animal statues (located next to Blk 201, Toa Payoh North). 

This isn't a playground per se, but the kids had fun trying to climb up every single statue. There's a goat, monkey, horse and dog, which initially led us to think they based the statues on the Chinese zodiac, but there were also other animals such as an elephant, squirrel and dolphin. 

The kids had a really good time, running around and climbing all the animals!

Just a few blocks away (Blk 203 Toa Payoh North), you'll find one of those ordinary coffeeshops. We love eating there because one of the stalls (Suzuki Ramen Bar, which has two other branches in Boat Quay and Tanjong Pagar) serves a really good ramen, with a thick, fragrant broth. 

You get a choice between red (spicy), white or black (squid ink) soup (we've tried all three, and liked the red spicy broth best!). 

If ramen isn't your thing, Collin's Grill serves up a decent (and HUGE) fish and chips for less than 10 bucks. The serving is so big, that both the older boys can share a plate but still have difficulty finishing it! 

It's good food, at great prices... but it is still a regular coffeeshop. So come prepared to face the heat, and bring your own clip-on high chair if you need one. We'll definitely be back next time!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A day in our life with three

It's been quite some time since we last wrote about our day! The last time we did, Junior J was three plus, and Lil J was almost one, and we were living in Germany (you can find our post here). Now fast forward 2.5 years, and our days are looking very different: there are three little fellows in the picture, and things recently have gotten a little crazier as the younger two have dropped naps, while somewhat still needing them (Baby J is now down to one nap, and Lil J is no longer napping). However, while our days are chaotic, there is still lots of loveliness in them, and writing this post helped me to see that. So here goes!


5.30 am: I am woken up by the baby, who wants to feed. After feeding him, I get out of bed, since I fell asleep early the night before, and there's lots to be done before the kids wake up. (I admit, my sleep schedule has been pretty messed up these days. I'm working on it!)

6.00 am: The hubby's up, and getting ready for work. He's usually not up so early, but today he's working with a surgeon who wants to start early as there are a lot of cases scheduled. He leaves the house. I have my breakfast, do my quiet time, dash out a post on the blog and schedule some posts to be published on the blog FB page. I tidy yesterday's mess, and pack our bags for the day ahead. 

7.30 am: Baby's first to be up. Then Junior J follows soon after, and crawls into our bed. They both tumble about, while I go and check on Lil J in the boys' room. He's still asleep, in typical Lil J fashion: legs out of his jammies. 

He says he sleeps in Australia. Which is sort of true. 

I change the baby, and get breakfast ready, and drag Lil J out of bed and get him changed too.

Nothing complicated for breakfast, so it takes minutes to assemble. :)

We have breakfast. Baby J is a pretty fussy eater, so we usually end up letting him flip books while we feed him his meals. Today, he's fascinated with the Moomintroll Peekaboo book which we borrowed from the library. He loves seeing himself in the mirror on the last page of the book, and likes looking for Moominmamma and Moominpappa. I start cooking Baby J's lunch, as we are headed out for co-op. 

9.15 am: We head off for co-op, after some yelling about various things (like moving faster, and stop poking your brother, and pick up your bag, and hurry up). Getting out of the house always takes awhile: today someone wanted to wear his tiger socks, so he had to wear his shoes instead of Crocs, which prompted someone else to insist on wearing his socks and shoes too. That same boy with the tiger socks also decided that he would wear his T-shirt as his shorts. We walk to the bus-stop with my dad, who's decided to join the boys for the bus-ride. (My dad stopped working about a year ago and lives near us, so the boys get to hang out with him very often.)

9.45 am: We reach our friend's place, and the boys bid goodbye to their kong kong and we head up.

They are always racing to press the buttons. These days one gets to press the floor number,
and the other, the unit number. Or they start fighting.

It's Chinese co-op, so the boys listen to stories and learn Chinese songs. Two families couldn't make it today, so it's just my boys and my friend's two boys. 

The topic today is on the human body. Everyone wants to be the model for our activity. Lil J gets his body drawn, much to his delight.

They learn about the different parts of the body in Chinese, and learn how to sing "Head and Shoulders" in Chinese too.

The lesson is done and the boys all head to the playground. Then it's back up for lunch (my friend kindly hosts and cooks lunch for the group, so we are very blessed. I look forward to these sessions where I only need to cook lunch for baby J!). It's fishball noodles today. The boys sit together and eat, while I chase Baby J as he wanders about and feed him his lunch.

Baby J always tries to join the older boys.

1.30 pm: It's past baby's nap time, and he's getting really cranky. We bid our friends goodbye and race out to catch a cab home. Baby starts a scream fest in the cab, but calms down after a feed. The older two are restless, so we play "I spy" to keep them occupied. Lil J always asks us to spot something green, which usually turns out to be grass. He then praises us with a "very good!" which makes me smile. 

We finally reach home, Lil J gets some building materials to work with (we discuss this in the cab ride so that I don't have to spend 15 minutes negotiating with an indecisive 3 yo), while Junior J starts on his regular work (Math U See, reading and some other art project that he gets to pick). I've learnt that I need to keep them separated during this period of time, so that Lil J doesn't disturb his brother at work, and they don't end up playing and making a ruckus. (I've tried keeping Lil J in his room for quiet time, but he only lasted two days before asking to play outside.) Usually these activities help to keep them busy for awhile, enough to buy me some time to pat baby J to sleep. 

2.15 pm: The baby is finally asleep. The boys are quietly doing their stuff outside the room. I sit down on the bed while carrying the baby, and take a cat nap for 15 minutes. I try to put baby down on the bed after awhile. Which is the time that the older two start fighting outside. Junior J is shouting, and Lil J is crying. The baby's eyes fly open. SIGH. 

The shouting and crying is getting louder so I go out and separate the two, and then go back to the room to try to pat baby J back to sleep. After awhile, I give up, and carry him out to find out what the fight was about. Apparently Junior J was working on his drawing of prehistoric sea reptiles when Lil J wanted his piece of vanguard. He refused to let him have it so Lil J drew on it, which got him really angry. I talk to the two of them and sort the matter out. 

Lil J shows me what he's been building (before he got into that fight). He chose to work with Zoobs today, and has linked them up by colour into long sticks. He now wants a vanguard sheet to draw on, but insists it must be purple. Purple is currently his favourite colour.

I tell him that we do not have purple vanguard. He still insists on purple vanguard, and I show him all the vanguard sheets that we have (Which is a lot. That's a long story.). No purple. In the end we compromise: I tape 2 pieces of purple construction paper together and he's happy he has his purple paper. 

3.10 pm: Usually by now Junior J would have been done with school and I would be doing school with Lil J. However, I realize that I need to start cooking, because today I had planned to make braised pork belly for dinner. ARGH. I feed Baby J his milk, get Lil J to drink his milk, and then ask Junior J to play with the baby while I wrestle with chopping up the pork belly (which I forgot to ask the uncle at the market to cut for me). I blanch the pork. I realize I can't drain the pot because the sink is full of dirty dishes from breakfast. And I can't load the dishes into the dishwasher, because it's full of clean dishes. So I unload the dishwasher, load the dirty dishes, and drain the pot. The recipe calls for you to fry the pork with sugar, but I decide to skip the step (oops!) to save time, and I just dump all the ingredients into the pot to simmer. 

I seriously need a coffee. So I make one (decaf, thanks to the baby), and finally sit down to do school with Junior J. We discuss the story he just read, and he reads it to me. We do some Chinese (Sage, some Chinese activity book, as well as learn some dinosaur names). Then we end off with some Math (Life of Fred, which we will share about soon). 

Baby J is quite cranky during the lesson and wants to be carried. So he sits in my lap and asks for a crayon. After a while, I manage to plop him in his chair. Now it's Lil J's turn for school. We work through his Chinese activity book, do some counting and phonics.

5.00 pm: My dad pops by, and all three boys head downstairs to the playground with him. 5 pm is the witching hour over here, where everyone is usually cranky, including myself, so I find getting the kids out of the house helps. I start cleaning up the kitchen. Hubs comes back (earlier for once, thanks to his early start today!), and volunteers to cook the veggie dish. I plop on the sofa for 10 minutes and reply my messages. The hubs is done cooking, and goes off to join the kids downstairs. I start cooking the rice and baby's food. 

6.00 pm: The boys are back, and we have dinner, and hubby and I get to chat (while nagging at the kids to eat). Junior J goes off to shower, I clean up our mealtime mess, while the hubby bathes the baby. Junior J then practices his piano, while the hubby gives Lil J a bath.

Our piano is under repair, so Junior J has been using the hubs (rather ancient) keyboard.
The problem with keyboards, is that it's a magnet for little itchy fingers who find all the buttons irresistible!
We end up having to close the door so that Junior J can practice in peace. 

8.00 pm: The younger two then get milk to drink while we read stories to them. Junior J is left to his own devices, and is busy sticking up his vanguard drawings. 

They all go to brush teeth and change into jammies. The hubs takes the older two to their room and reads a Bible story, and then prays with them before they sleep, while I put baby J to bed. Sometimes I am so tired I fall asleep while waiting for baby to sleep (he seems to need to roll about for a fair bit before he falls asleep!). Other nights, I stay up, and the hubs and I chat over chores, and do our stuff. 

And that's our day. Messy and rather full of mayhem, but with precious moments that I treasure too. :)


This post is part of the "Day in a Life" blog train, which is hosted by this blog. To take a peek into the interesting lives of other mums, please click here. And if you have your own post to share, do add it to the linky on the same page!

Next up on the blog train is Jolin from The Js Arena

Jolin is a blessed mother to a loving hubby and two adorable boys. The Js Arena is where she captures and documents memories of her motherhood and parenting journey. She has just taken on her new role as a full-time mother. Join her tomorrow as she shows you her day!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Thankful Tuesday: 16 months

Dearest Baby J,
You recently turned 16 months. You're still a tiny thing, and it doesn't help that you are fussy about food. If you could have your way, you'd eat just fruit for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You are still crazy about watermelon, shouting "mamamelon!" when you catch a glimpse of us cutting it.

You've been quite the sticky monkey these days. You need to be carried for an hour after naps, and refuse to be left alone to play. But you also love going out, and would always wobble to the door, grab your shoes, shove them under our nose, and demand "walk walk!". You don't relent until we bring you out, or else you'll keep asking or crying. You insist on walking everywhere (and usually in the wrong direction) when we are out, so excursions these days have been quite a challenge.

Your brothers sometimes play together with you, however, you tend to get left out since you tend to destroy things. Your oldest koko still takes care of you though, and always holds your hand when we are out.

Sunshine is still your middle name, that is, if you're not crying about something. You're still as smiley as ever, and very generous with your kisses and hugs. You're on the roll when it comes to picking up words, and have been trying to string words together.

The days have been really full with you being so active. I've always wondered how we'd cope with the different needs of the three of you... but I've learnt that while time is divided, our love and patience has definitely multiplied. We thank God so much for you, little one. Try to eat more ok?

Your Mama.

Mum in the Making

Monday, April 6, 2015

Project Homeland: The Little Dragon at Toa Payoh

Toa Payoh not only has the iconic large dragon playground, but also a little dragon playground too! Located in front of Blk 240 at Toa Payoh Lorong 1, this playground features a winding slide. It wasn't easy to slide down the terrazzo slide, but the boys still had a go, and sometimes opted to go up instead of down.

The boys had fun exploring, and Lil J was again kept busy picking leaves, while the baby was busy climbing up and sliding down the slide.

Just next to the little dragon is a more modern playground, which the kids turned their attention to after they were done running up and down the dragon. 

And adjacent to the two playground structures is a fitness corner, which was fair game for the kids. They spent a fair bit of time rocking and pushing and pulling at the various stations. 

Compared to the larger dragon playgrounds at Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh, as well as the dove playground at Dakota Crescent, this playground is tiny. However, we'll probably be back in the area soon. Why? You'll have to stay tuned to find out!

PS: You can follow our heritage playground adventures here. And read another mum's account of her visit to the little dragon here.


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