Tuesday, March 22, 2016

2015 in pictures

And so December rolls around again. This year was a lot busier with the addition of a new member in our family, and hence, this space isn't as frequently updated as I would have liked. It was nice re-reading what I wrote in 2012,  2013 and 2014. Each time I do, my heart overflows with joy and thanks for all that God has showered upon me and my family.

Jan
The boys return to school and we welcome Liza to our family. I have put off having a live-in domestic helper in our family for as long as I could. But with a new baby joining our family, I knew I needed more help. Liza has been a blessing and a great help in so many ways. I hope we will be the family she has away from home and that we will grow together as our lives are now intertwined.



Feb
Being the planner that I am, I was fretting over not knowing when our baby will arrive. I was worrying about the older boys' routines, and would very much like the routines to be undisturbed, as far as possible. When Valentine's day rolled around, I thought... ah ha! Now would be a good time... It was a weekend, and so it'd be minimal disruptions to the boys' routines. But, no. Baby was not ready. When Chinese New Year's eve rolled around, again I thought... hmm. Now would be perfect. A nice long weekend ahead. And lo and behold, our baby was born on the first day of the Lunar New Year. The hospital gifted us with a celebration dinner, and I just had to put my little bundle of joy beside all the yummy food. :D



Mar
The newly minted kor kor turns 4. This boy has been such a darling... he is the more affectionate one of the two, and I really enjoy listening to his non stop chatters, and am amused by the questions he comes up with.


Apr
This was a month filled with numerous transitions. D was travelling quite a bit for work. Our helper was on home leave and I had a confinement nanny to fill her place for a month. There was just half a day overlap between the time the nanny leaves and the time our helper was due to return. I was worried that they'd be a screw up with the schedule and I'd be left without help. But thankfully, everyone eased into the transitions smoothly.

Nathan won a music composition competition. When his music teacher first told him about the competition, he was set on winning it. The first place winner gets US$200. He told me that he was going to win the competition and take the family to Disneyland. I wanted to manage his expectations... so I told him that there were many people from all over the world taking part. Like about a thousand people. So it's not easy to win. I'm not sure he understood the math of the probability of winning. But he was determined. In the end, he took second place! I was pleasantly surprised. No prize money for second place winner, but his music teacher let him choose a prize from her treasure trove and nai nai offered him US$100 prize money. That was a lesson for me to not undermine his efforts.


The boys took part in the church Easter choir. Practices were held on Sunday mornings and Dean took them to church early several weeks in a row for this. He later shared that Noah didn't seem like he was paying attention during the rehearsals and waking up early on Sundays was getting kinda taxing. But when it came to the actual choral presentation on Easter Sunday, Noah sang with such gusto, it was so heart warming to watch. After that, the boys asked to join the next choir. I'm so glad the boys had the opportunity to serve in the church choir and had so much fun doing it.



May
Nathan was chosen to take part in the YMCA PESA. We enjoyed preparing the 'speeches' and Nathan spent a lot of time perfecting it. He did not win in the end but I think it was good effort on his part. He was disappointed about not winning, but I suppose it was good for him to realise that as much as we would love to win, sometimes things do not go the way we desire. 



Jun
We sold our very first home and it was kinda bitter sweet. I brought the boys to take some photos before the official handover. They had so much fun... Noah asked if we could stay "just 1 night", and I was sad to disappoint him. This was were our family of 2 became a family of 3, then 4. Noah hasn't started walking when we moved out and we did not get to utilise the playgrounds and swimming pools as much as we would've liked.


Since Nico was so young, we decided not to go on any overseas holidays. Instead, we spent some time exploring familiar haunts as a family. D took some time off work and we got to spend quality time together. Lovely!



Jul
We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. I am so thankful for D and the boys that God has given to us. 


Aug
This is one of my favourite shots from our trip to Sentosa. Several attractions in Singapore were giving free entries during the national day weekend. We decided to take the boys on the free cable car ride. It turned out that the queue to board was several hours long! In the end, we decided to sign up for the Faber Pass which gives us free rides for a year.



Sep
Since this was Nathan's final year in SJCK, we decided to organise a birthday party for him with his kindy friends. He took a liking to rock climbing since trying it several months back, and so we decided to hold the party at the rock wall.



Oct
Nathan's graduation concert at SJCK. He was very excited about putting up an item with his classmates and took all the rehearsals seriously. Kinda bitter sweet watching him all dressed up in his graduation gown, topped with a motar board. I am thankful that he has wonderful memories of his kindy years and we look forward to the next phase of his life as he starts Primary School.




Nov
Noah took his very first "exam" and was awarded his yellow tip. A day before the grading, there was some scrambling as he couldn't seem to execute his 'moves'. I had a video of the 16-step pattern and daddy spent a whole afternoon coaching him. Good job, daddy!

Initially, I wasn't all that keen on getting him started on TKD. But he was persistent and kept asking to learn. After some discussions with D, we decided to let him try. He looks forward to every class and was pleased as punch when he was awarded his new belt. I marvel at his enthusiasm and determination.



Dec
The year ended with us spending time together as a family at church camp. It was Nathan & Noah's second church camp and I'm glad they were able to attend the children's program on their own. Nico hung out with us at the adult sessions and it was an enriching time for all.

These boys keep me busy all day. And as much as I crave some me-time now and then, I am enjoying every moment I spend with them. I thank God for watching over us in 2015 and look forward to another great year. 





And so... it took me 3 months to get this post published! Gosh... am glad it's finally up. Till next year.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Happy 5th Birthday Noah!

Dear Noah,

You have been looking forward to your 5th birthday. Even making random notes of who gets to go to your party and who doesn't... Very often based on whether they have been in your good books or bad books. We didn't have a big party this year but still had fun with your dear big brother and your best friends at Safra Toa Payoh and Big Hero Cafe. Such a joy to see your big wide smile.


At the traditional birthday party in school, mommy and daddy had a glimpse of what goes on in your classroom. I was amused to see how you take little responsibilities given to you so seriously, and make every effort to make sure you do a good job. This triat will see you thru life. :)


Since we never ever have enough chocolate cake, we decided to have another one from our favorite Awfully Chocolate. Yums!

5 random facts about you...
1) Loves LEGO minifigures and can spend hours playing with these all by yourself
2) Latest interest in knights. Tried to get us to buy knight toys for Nico so you'd get to play with it too... "Hear that? Nico said 'Knights! Knights! Knights! I think he wants a Knights Playmobil set for his birthday."
3) Favourite shows include Mr Bean and Tom & Jerry. Silly humor.
4) Highly independent, very generous, always full of wise cracks.
5) Favourite food - porridge and eggs.

Happy 5th birthday Noah! I love it when you ask for a hug and a kiss before you sleep, and when you look out 

Love you lots,
Mommy

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ready... Get Set... Crawl!

Nico's a lot more mobile these days. He was crawling commando-style at 9 months although he is capable of lifting his tummy off the floor.


At 10 months, he finally figured that lifting his tummy off the floor and going on all fours is faster...


Now that he is more mobile, it means that he's has access to more places by himself... His play area has widened much to his delight.

The Comflor Playmat is where he likes to play. Ours has a picture of Noah's ark and even the iconic Marina Bay Sands!


It measures 2.1m x 1.4m, and is about 15mm thick. Durable, water proof and easy clean.


There are several designs and sizes available and I am pretty sure that you'd find one that meets your needs. Dwinguler Singapore is giving away an Animal Ark Comflor Playmat (pictured above) to one of my readers. To win, submit your entries thru the rafflecoptor below. Contest ends 7 Feb 2016.

In addition, Dwinguler Singapore is offering a 25% discount to readers who want to purchase the Animal Ark Playmat. Place your orders here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A new beginning - Primary 1

This is a momentous year as my first born starts Primary 1, and I join the ranks of parents with kids in primary school. We have been looking forward to it for quite a while... We talked about the longer school days, taking part in CCAs and having money to buy his own food during recess. He was mostly excited, though slightly apprehensive. I was mostly excited, though a bit sad that my boy is growing up so quickly. The day before the first day of school, I tucked him in early to prepare for the early start. I had difficulty falling asleep myself... It almost felt like MY first day of school.

At 6am on 4 Jan 2016, I was woken up by the beeping sounds of my new old school alarm clock...

I took a shower before proceeding to wake Nathan up. He woke up in a jiffy and we got changed into his spiffy new uniform. Gosh! He looked so grown up in his new uniform. We managed a quick breakfast before driving off to school. This is a journey I will be making for the next 12 years!

The hours passed rather speedily as I sat in the canteen with other parent volunteers waiting for the boys to join us in the canteen for recess. I guessed that Nathan would end up buying chicken rice for himself and decided to buy a plate to try. It was yummy! The chicken was boneless and cut to bitesized pieces. True enough, he got himself a plate with the help of his P4 buddy. I think he might end up eating this whenever he gets a chance to buy his own meals. 

The subsequent days, he got the chance to explore the other parts of the school with his buddy - the eco garden, the school library and his favourite - the playground. I'm glad he managed to navigate the library system all by himself and came home with library books that he borrowed all by himself. He has been reading quite a few books ever since school started. It seems they have quite a bit of free time during the school day as he has completed quite a number of books all by himself during the free time in school.

About CCAs... I wasn't sure if he should take up a CCA in Primary 1. And I wasn't sure if I wanted him to be put thru an audition. We shortlisted the String Ensemble as a possible CCA and they required auditions. I decided to leave it to Nathan and he was keen to try. We prepared for the audition and I figured whether he made it thru the auditions or not, it will be a valuable lesson for him. We were glad he made it thru and he's really looking forward to joining the String Orchestra.

The first week of school went by quickly and I am glad he enjoys school. There's lots more installed for him and I am excited to be walking this journey with him.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A date with my son

I love being able to spend one-on-one time with my boys. Firstly, when the boys are not together, I don't have to deal with sibling squabbles. Somehow, they have their way of cranking each other up, irritating each other, and then, I have to play referee. I suppose that is part and parcel of growing up with a brother. But not fun for the mommy who has to play referee. More importantly, I think they also enjoy having my undivided attention. We talk, we laugh, we enjoy each other's company.

Today, I got to spend sometime with Noah while Dean went roller blading with Nathan. Noah's request was simple - eat at the Japanese restaurant that has a conveyor belt and serves food on aeroplane plates, go to a toy shop, then eat ice-cream.

It was a simple and enjoyable outing. I remember how I feel guilty for not spending enough time with Noah when he was a baby, unlike Nathan. They are born just 18 months apart, and I put Noah in a childcare centre in the initial years. Now that Nathan is older and spends more time in school, I get to spend more time with Noah. I suppose there are seasons... And now, although I am so tied up with the older boys and tend to neglect Nico, he has the love of his dear brothers, and there will come a time when he gets more of my undivided attention.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Preparing for Primary 1: Name Labels

I have been looking for name labels to label Nathan's belongings and was glad to chance upon Stickerkid. The stickers are known for their quality and durability, and they come in so many different shapes and sizes to suit different uses.

Ordering the labels on Stickerkid's website was so easy... and what you see on the screen looks exactly like what you'll receive in the mail!

These small stickers are good for stationery. Pencils, colour pencils, rulers... I labelled everything in Nathan's pencil case. You can even include Chinese characters.


These iron-on labels for labelling uniforms are good to have. Given that the children are expected to change from their school shirt to their PE tank top, then back to their school shirts after each PE lesson, it'll be good to label their uniforms so they don't end up bringing home the wrong clothes.


We also got these shoe stickers for Nathan. Check out the superhero logo! These stickers are also good for musical instrument cases, lunch boxes and wallets.


To get a 10% discount for your Stickerkid order, enter 10discountSGSTICKERKID at check out. 

Happy labelling!

 Disclaimer: Stickerkid provided us with a pack of stickers for this review. All opinions are our own.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Starting Solids

Being a mom to three boys (all 6 years old and below), I have found the following quote to be so true... 

Source

Most days, I am dead tired by the end of the day, and just want to crawl into bed for a good night's rest before the SAME OLD routine repeats again. Some days, I wish that my boys will grow up quicker so they'll be more independent and demand less of me... and yet, when we hit a new milestone, I wish I could just hit 'pause' on the remote control cos I can't bear to have them grow up so quickly.

It doesn't seem too long ago when Nico was born. In the blink of an eye, he just turned 9 months old. He has started to crawl commando style and his big brothers are scrambling to keep their precious belongings off his reach because he tends to put EVERYTHING that he can get his hands on into his mouth.

He has also started taking semi solids though he doesn't seem quite as excited about it as yet. Here, we share some essentials that have come in handy as he embarks on a new gastronomical journey...

We use the Philips Avent Combined Steamer and Blender to prepare Nico's baby food. We've been using this since Nathan's time and it is still serving us well.


We usually make his food in bulk (about a week's worth) and freeze them in Baby Cubes. These cubes fit in the bottle warmer so we can heat them up easily before each meal.

Soft tip spoons are good at this stage because they tend to chomp down hard on anything that goes into their mouth. The one pictured below is from Philips Avent. There are several other brands that are available. Check out Mothercare and other leading retailers. 


Bibs are a must at this stage and my favourite is the Make My Day bib. The bib is made of soft food grade BPA free silicone, and can be easily wiped / washed clean after each use. It comes with a crumb catcher and has adjustable straps so it can be used till the day a bib isn't required. It comes in many different designs - functional and stylish. :)





Meal times are rather messy affairs... But I am reminding myself that this too shall pass!

Excuse me... is dinner ready?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Shopping on TaoBao

I recently discovered a shopping haven in the form of TaoBao. I've heard of it sometime back but the first time I tried navigating the website (which is entirely in Chinese), I was so lost, I gave up. But this time, I was determined to score some good buys, so I tried harder. Pleased to say that it wasn't all that difficult after all.



You can either try shopping thru an agent like daigou or shop direct with TaoBao. With an agent, all you need to do is to browse on TaoBao, copy and paste the URLs of the items you'd like to daigou, and let daigou do the ordering and shipping for you. Payment is handled by daigou (you pay them, they pay taobao), correspondences with the sellers are handled by daigou, and shipping to Singapore is also handled by them. What this means is, the exchange between you and daigou can be done in English. In exchange, you are charged an agent fee.



Alternatively, you can cut out the agent, and shop direct on TaoBao. Now that I am more familiar with taobao, this is what I do to save money. If there are no issues with the order, well and good. No correspondences needed. But if there are issues, you'd have to contact the seller yourself, and most of them only understand Chinese. The easiest way to get in touch with them is through Aliwang chat. If you are using a Mac, you can just download the app from the AppStore. It is a live chat platform and many of the sellers are usually available so you can hit them with questions or even ask for a discount! I usually type my questions in han yu pin yin and have google translate open. When their replies get too complicated for me to understand, I use google translate. :P

I shall not go into detail about setting up a Taobao account since there are many people who've already wrote detailed instructions on this. You can check out A Singaporean's Guide to Shopping on Taobao. It can seem intimidating at first, but setting up the account and payment arrangements is just once off. Subsequently, you'll be able to skip these troublesome steps.

And now, the question that everyone likes to ask... What does a mom with 3 young kids buy from Taobao. Sharing my favourite finds...

Oxford Reading Tree Books
If you are familiar with Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy, you'd be familiar with ORT. I bought the entire set of readers (levels 1 to 9 - over a hundred books) from TaoBao. Shop here!


Stephen Joseph Wallets
I was looking for a kid-sized wallet for my son who'll be going to Primary 1 next year, and was so happy to find this. It has compartments for dollar notes, coins and a few cards. Just what I was looking for! Shop here! 


Stephen Joseph Pencil Cases
I was putting together goody bags for 5 to 8 year olds. Managed to find these cute pencil cases. Pretty and functional. I messaged the seller to tell her that I was planning to buy 40 pieces, and asked if she was able to give me a discount. She readily agreed to a pretty generous discount. Shop here!



Name Stamps
We received name stamps as Christmas presents last year and my boys were so delighted. I decided to give these as birthday party goody bag gifts... I am guilty of throwing away sweets, lollipops and such from the birthday goody bags that my boys bring home from school and make it a point never to give these sweet stuff. I hope his friends found these useful. While at it, I made a set with just my boy's name in english and chinese characters (without the cartoon characters )for labelling Primary 1 textbooks and exercise books. Shop here and here!


Luggage Tags
I like hanging these tags on my boys bags so they can differentiate theirs from their friends... especially when the whole class is using the same school bag. Comes in all sorts of cute designs. We also gave these away as birthday goody bag goodies. Shop here!


Clothes for Mommy
After giving birth to Nico, I could no longer fit into my old clothes. Boo hoo! I was so glad to find miancun.taobao.com. They sold Zara like clothes at TaoBao prices. Best! Their clothes change with the seasons though. So if you are looking for clothing items for our tropical climate, you'd have to shop in the first half of the year. This simple denim dress I bought actually came with a Zara tag. Shop here!


What are your favourite TaoBao finds? Share with me... share the joy... and the savings!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hegen Revolutionary Feeding Products

When I first heard about Hegen's unique one-hand close milk bottles, I was really keen to try. There are days when Nico just wants to be carried when I am making a bottle of milk for him. Hegen's bottles makes this task (that usually requires two hands) possible with its press-to-close bottles.


Here is Nico enjoying his morning cuppa...


Hegen's square shaped bottles are stackable, which makes storing breast milk so much easier. They nestle together when empty, making it easy to store them away when not in use.

Source: Hegen

The other thing I like about Hegen is its wide neck. I can wash the bottles without a bottle cleaning brush!

Source: Hegen

Now that Nico is older, I use Hegen bottles to store baby biscuits when we are out and about. The lid shuts tightly and I do not have to worry about spillage. Happy baby = Happy mommy.



Hegen is available at Mothersworks and Takashimaya. Check out Hegen's Official Website for more information.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nathan is 6!

We just celebrated Nathan's 6th birthday. A mini celebration in school a week before the actual day, followed by a special day out on the actual day, and then a birthday party with some of his friends from school.

Looking at the photos below, I am reminded of how God has blessed us so richly. Nathan has brought us so much joy. I do miss the toddler him, with chubby cheeks and all, and can't believe that he will be going to Primary 1 next year.


I told Nathan that he gets to choose anything he wants to do on his special day out. He wanted to go swimming and cycling and we were all looking forward to it. Unfortunately, we had to shelf outdoor activities due to the haze, and think up alternatives. We ended up watching Inside Out at the theaters (it was Nico's first movie), having a nice Japanese lunch, playing laser tag and then having fun at the Slides & playgrounds in T3. So thankful that our boys are easy to please. We had so much fun even though we didn't manage to do what we originally planned.






Nathan's birthday is during the Sep school holidays. Last year, we asked him whether he wanted to celebrate with a short holiday abroad or have a birthday party with his friends. It is a difficult choice but Nathan's pretty decisive. Last year, he opted for a holiday and we went to Legoland Malaysia. This year, he decided that he wanted to have a party... Since it was his last year in kindy, I thought it was good to get together with some of his school friends... After much deliberation, we decided to hold the party at The Rock School. We had a blast!

Our party host, Faizal did a great job! He managed 14 feisty kids well and everyone who attended enjoyed themselves.







I got him to fill up a "birthday interview" and was quite amused with some of his responses...


So there, my first born is now 6 years old. He still enjoys taking afternoon naps though I am trying to get him used to not having one since we might not have that luxury once he goes to Primary 1. He is a really sweet older brother and tends to give in to Noah, though he can get cheeky and likes irritating his brothers too. It warms my heart when I catch my two boys huddled in one bed past bedtime, whispering secrets to one another... He enjoys LEGO, rock climbing, playing the piano and swimming. He is looking forward to Primary 1 and all that comes with it... Like getting pocket money and buying his own food.

Dear Nathan,
We thank God for you everyday and continue to pray that you'll grow in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. As you grow older, you'll sometimes find that doing your best isn't good enough to get you the results you desire. Know that mommy & daddy will always be behind you. We pray and trust that God will go before you as you enter Primary 1 next year.
Lots of love,
Mommy & Daddy