And you are 3.

Dear Elliott,

I have been a bad mummy. A very very bad mummy.

I was supposed to be writing you a note every month since you were born but I fell off the wagon after the 32nd note. I meant to write you notes until you turn 36 months so that you’d have 36 notes to read, but I fell short of…4 months. And this eats me up because your mother here is obsessed concerned about keeping to my words, deadlines and the such.

However, as the months whizz by, I stopped beating myself up. I may be taking a lot less photos and videos of you now as compared to your first year (have you seen how many photos you have?!) but I tell myself that it is ok. Motherhood does take up a lot of energy and time, and typing on a laptop is really the last thing I want to do at the end of each work day.

Yesterday, you turned 3 years old. That’s 36 months of you. It’s cliche but one moment you were a tiny ball of cuteness in our arms and suddenly, you’re an individual with your own (chatty) personality and quirks.

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These days, I find it hard to remember the newborn days. I think this is what people call ‘mumnesia‘ where we block out the crazy newborn days from our minds like those crazy moments didn’t happen. It is hard to remember because these days, you are truly a toddler with a mind of your own. Let me count the ways (as much as my hazy brain can remember).

You say the most hilarious things. Like that day when we stopped at the lights beside an ambulance with its lights on but no siren.

“Ambulance! Mummy look ambulance!”
“Yes that’s an ambulance! See the flashing lights?”
“Yes! But why no sound? Who take out the batteries, mummy?

You left me speechless with that question, my dear son. And I laughed. I laughed out loud as the lights turned green and we continued on our journey home. At this age, you say the funniest things (without meaning to, I’m sure) and I wish I can record every single funny quip because they are oh so fleeting.

At this age, you have a strong idea of what you want. Or don’t want. Like how you have decided that you only want to wear t-shirts (not shirts) and ‘soft’ shorts (not pants or proper ‘going out’ shorts). You also get obsessed about shirt labels and will insist that ‘Mummy cut’ if you spy the offending pieces of tags on your clothes. You also tell us that specifically that ‘you don’t want this green thing‘ (vegetables) or ‘no chicken, mummy. Only noodles‘.

Speaking of noodles, you have been in a noodles phrase. Before each meal, I get hopeful and ask: Elliot, would you like RICE (emphasised for effect) or noodles for dinner? You pretend to think for a bit and then say with conviction: Hmm, NOODLES! I am just glad that you are not too fussed about the type of noodles we give you – pasta, bee hoon, kway teow, mee tai mak, mee sua, yellow noodles, udon. You are good with all of them. You love them with soup and will always ask for more soup.

We have also, in recent weeks, switched you to full-day childcare. Your Ah Ma worries constantly about whether you are getting enough sleep and food as she thinks that you are such a “poor thing” to be in school for the entire day. The thing is, the majority of your classmates are there for the entire day. I’d admit that for the first week or so, you were constantly on my mind as I was also concerned if you were adapting well to the change in routine.

As it turns out, I am proud to say that you are adapting better than us adults. Other than the first few days of taking a while to fall asleep on your own at nap times, you have managed to fall nicely into your new routine without much drama. Oh, your teachers tell us that you do ask them wistfully if mummy is coming (my heart!) when your friends are picked up earlier but you do understand when they tell you that mummy is coming. And yes, my sweetie. Mummy will always be there to pick you up from school. It is always the highlight of my workday and I drive and walk a little faster just to get to you.

So as I was saying, you turned 3 yesterday and what a well-loved boy you are. You had 3 birthday cakes (THREE!) and received so many presents, I lost count. The day before your actual birthday, we celebrated it with your friends at school for the very first time. I was worried that you’d freeze up or cry when you see us but instead, you did very well! For the record, you told me repeatedly that you want a “chocolate cake with blue car” so we got your school cake from Prima Deli and topped it with a vehicle set from Toys R Us.

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You were a little stunned to see us but realised soon after that we were there to celebrate your birthday with your friends. It was wonderful to see you interact with your friends as it is not something we see everyday. I have a video clip where you are telling your friends excitedly “See? Car, truck, helicopter…“. Aiyo, everyone was so darn cute. I cannot.

The same evening, we headed over to Ah Ma and Ah Gong’s house for your 2nd birthday celebration. I am not sure who was more excited, you or them 🙂 And yes, you got a Paw Patrol cake (Bengawan Solo) and 2 fat ang baos from your doting grandparents.

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You asked to go to the zoo on your birthday and so we did. We’ve done so for the past 2 birthdays so it is a bit of a birthday ritual now. We also became Friends of the Zoo so hopefully, we’d be making many trips to the zoo this year. We only managed 2 exhibits (the sea otters and the Zoo-Rassic Park) before the rain came down in sheets. Pfffft. Never mind. Another time then.

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Plan B was to head to Future World exhibition at the Art Science Musuem but 2 of the exhibits were closed for renovations so we were done pretty quickly as well.

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In the evening, Yiyi and Popo came over for your last celebration at home. You were really thrilled to see them. I ordered a bunch of Paw Patrol balloons but you took one cursory look at them and erm, that’s about it. Tsk. Never mind. They made for a nice photo backdrop.

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This year, you sang your own birthday song with gusto, insisted that we all sit beside you for a photo and gave everyone big hugs. You also ripped your presents apart on your own. 3 seems like a terrific age to be and we can’t wait to see what the year has in store.

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Happy 3, dear Elliott. May you always  be joyful and healthy. We love you very much!

Love,
Mummy xoxo

Do They Know It’s Christmas?

This remains one of my all-time favourite Christmas songs. I love LOVE the original recorded in 1984 with some of the biggest names in pop at that time – Boy George, U2, Wham, Duran Duran, Sting,  Phil Collins on drums, Bananarama, etc. Check out the big shoulder pads, hair and fashion. Ah, the 80s. And those voices. They don’t make them like they used to. *wistful sigh*

The song was remade in 1989 with another bunch of popular pop idols from the 90s – Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Bros, Lisa Stansfield, Wet Wet Wet, etc. Check out that short duet between Jason and Kylie. If you’re too young to remember, they did that huge classic “Especially For You” together.

And finally, in 2014, the young ones (with some of the older ones) did a remake too. I have to say that I did not recognise quite a lot of names in there (totally showing my age) but I did recognise Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Chris Martin, Seal, etc. You can see who sang which bits here.

Which is your favourite?

Days of being young and stupid

My mum passed me a bag of books the other day. She was moving and needed to get rid of “my things”. When I finally found the time to sift through the pile of dusty books, lo and behold, I found an old diary that I kept when I was in my 20s.

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Opening the diary brought back a flood of memories. Writing was (and still is) my coping mechanism and back in those days before the internet (and blogging), I used to scribble my thoughts furiously. More often than not, my scribbling was about emotional pain, or “my crumpled heart”, as I wrote so cleverly (hur hur). I remember tears between those paper pages. I asked myself questions, I questioned the Universe (!), and wow, I even found poems. Yes, I wrote poems.

Very drama mama.

I couldn’t bring myself to read the entries in its entirety because they bring me back to days of an unsettled heart that was constantly searching and hurting. Some people say that your 20s are the best times of your life.

Not for me.

In my 20s, I was uncertain, unsure and…clueless. I wasn’t sure what it was that I wanted in the love department which led me to dating quite a few “wrong” boys. You name it, I’ve probably dated one. (If you’re reading this Mum, I’m sorry. Hehehe).

In fact, after I found the diary, I texted the BFF:

Found my old diary. Sheesh, I was so whiny and needy. Amazed you didn’t slap me. 

She still jokes (or maybe she’s serious, I don’t know for sure) that I still owe her therapy and counselling fees.

I am so so glad that those angsty days are over. I much prefer being in my 30s, thank you very much.

I pondered over what I should do with the diary.

Keep it? (For what?)
Burn it? (Not good for the environment)
Shred it? (Maybe)

For the record, I threw placed it in the wardrobe and maybe one day, I’d take it out and read it again in its entirety. Just to remind myself that we were all young and stupid once.

And then it was 7.

Truth be told, I almost forgot about our wedding anniversary. It was only when I was punching a new entry into my calendar on the phone did I realise that our 7th wedding anniversary was round the corner.

7 years. We are 3 years away from being together for 10 years. Officially, on paper, that is. I don’t exactly remember how long we dated for, to be honest. There was no real date that we got together officially as a couple. We do not celebrate ‘monthsaries’ or even our dating anniversary because honestly, we don’t remember.

I read an interesting blog entry about an imperfect husband and found myself smiling at certain bits because I could relate to it. Like how the boy does not celebrate Mother’s Day for me because (quote) “you’re not my mother” (unquote). I especially like this line that says:

“The fact of life is, when life overwhelms, we become careless, thoughtless, mindless.”

How very true.

When we were just us, it was easy to carve time out for ourselves. To go on dates. To watch movies. To dine with each other leisurely. To binge-watch HK dramas till our stomachs growl and we had to get out of the house to get some food (at 3.30pm on a weekend). As many parents will attest to, life takes a huge change when a child enters the picture. Each day become routine. Each day becomes a matter of completing one task before starting another – wash clothes – hang clothes – shower child – dress child – make milk for child – read to child – wash dishes – pack child’s school bag…you get the picture.

And sometimes, it does get overwhelming. Even boring, mundane. Day in, day out, on weekdays, we are going about our tasks like clockwork.

Also, according to the 5 Love Languages, I am pretty sure that we have different ones. I am taking a wild guess here but for the boy, I believe his Love Language is ‘Acts of Service‘ and ‘Quality Time‘. I just did the online test and this is my top 3 Love Language:

  • Acts of Service

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.

  • Quality Time

In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.

  • Receiving Gifts

Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.

Anyway.

I know I speak for the both of us when I say that even though we know that couples need to have their “own time” and to go on “date nights”, we both want to spend our non-working hours with Elliott. We barely see him for a good part of the day. I find it almost mean to not hang out with him in the evenings.

This is where our “couple time” takes a backseat. A far far backseat.

Sometimes, it is easy to get disgruntled amidst the humdrum of daily life. It is easy to get frustrated with the boy when things are not “going the way” that I want it to. It is easy to lose my temper over seemingly “small” issues, like having a crazy-loud alarm ring out loud at 6.45am, shocking me awake.

Then I stop.

I stop and remember that the alarm goes off at 6.45 am because the boy wakes earlier to boil water for Elliott’s milk feed. He wakes earlier to change and take Moon for her morning walk and to feed her first meal of the day.

I also stop and appreciate that he helps out with housework, like ensuring that we have clean underwear by doing the laundry. He also takes care of Moon by ensuring that she gets her weekly shower on Sunday evenings. When the pile of dirty dishes get a bit too high, he helps by washing them.

I also stop and remember that he struggles on a crowded bus on weekday mornings and evenings to get to/from work, while Elliott and I take the car and get to school/work in comfort.

I also remember that at meal times, he orders food that Elliott can eat so that I get to eat what I really feel like having.

There are too many to list and sometimes, it is easy to forget so I’d like to make a note here that I appreciate them all.

Of course, he’s not perfect la. But neither am I. I am sure there is a whole laundry list of things that I do (or not do) that annoy him. But that’s marriage, isn’t it? To accept each other, warts, imperfections and all.

Happy 7th anniversary to us!

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PS. Last year, we had a lovely dinner for 2. This year, we had to bring along a very happy and cannot sit still 电灯泡 to dinner.

The year that flew by.

To say that 2015 flew by in a flash is a bit of an understatement. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we said goodbye to 2014 and ushered in 2015? How did we get to 2016 already?! If 2014 was a year of change, 2015 would be the year of learning.

We learnt the names of strange diseases we never heard of before we became parents, like this strange thing called croup and bronchiolities. I also learnt, first-hand, that even when you are unwell yourself, you will still have to be there to provide comfort for your sick child.

We learnt to never ever judge the parent of that crying child(ren) on board airplanes when we took Elliott on his first ever flight to Sydney. This year also saw us (sans baby) travelling to Hong Kong at the start of the year and we closed 2015 with a family holiday with the in-laws to Bangkok and a school trip to Vietnam.

We also learnt that throwing a party for little people is Mayhem with a capital M. Elliott turned 1 year old in March and I was just thankful that I had the help of many talented friends who put the lovely party together. I also learnt that it is important to pay for an official photographer who will capture wonderful moments from the party because the parents (us) will be running around like chickens without heads, trying to say Hello and Thank You to everyone who came by.

2015 was also the year that saw Elliott celebrate his very first Chinese New Year. We learnt that it is near impossible to take a good family shot together because at any one point, someone (meaning: Moon or Elliott) will be looking somewhere else.

In the second half of the year, Moon turned 8 years old and I learnt that despite the many changes that happened in the household (new baby, new home), Moon has remained patient and tolerant towards us. She has never shown aggression despite us spending a lot less time with her these days.

She’s not perfect, of course. She has suddenly developed this weird habit of whining outside our bedroom door at 6.30am (!) and it drives me mad. But I try and remember that she will not be around forever and that she is getting older day by day. I decided that 2015 will be the year where we do a proper photoshoot for Moon so that I don’t end up regretting not taking photos of her running when one day, she may no longer be able to do so.

I also learnt not to underestimate my child’s ability to stay quiet for 2.5 hours for a human circus show. That’s the amazing thing about parenthood. We usually end up eating our own words over and over again.

I started writing my “Note to Elliott” series each month, from the day he was born. I am proud to say that I have yet to miss a single month but I have learnt that as life gets busier, it may not be that easy to continue writing those notes. He is turning 2 years old soon (ALREADY!) and I am not sure how long I will continue with my monthly notes. Perhaps I should put that down as my New Year’s resolution – to keep writing those notes.

Last but not least, I learnt that life throws you curveballs when you least expect them and all you can do is to grab them by the horns and go with the flow. I wrote on our Facebook page that it has been a crazy December and it truly has been.

In the span of one week, we mourned the loss of the boy’s grandmother (on a Sunday) and celebrated the wedding of my sister and our new brother-in-law (the following Saturday). Coincidentally, my beloved grandmother passed away on the exact same day as the boy’s grandmother 3 years ago.

It was just…crazy.

This year’s New Year’s Eve is spent in the same way as the last – at home. Well ok, we did attend a BBQ but it rained out and because the little man refused his afternoon nap, he passed out at 9pm.

So once again, when the clock struck midnight and the night sky lit up with fireworks, I had my miracle child snuggled against my chest, fast asleep. I watched the fireworks from our bedroom window and tears welled up in my eyes.

Grateful, thankful tears, they were.

I learnt that no matter what 2016 brings, we are together as a family and that is what matters most. From our family to you and yours, Happy New Year and as always, I wish you happiness and good health.

This beautiful rainbow (a double one!) appeared for a brief moment and disappeared. I like to take it as a good sign that 2016 will be an amazing one.