Our Girls~~

On the last day of Term 2, it seemed that all the parents are somewhere attending their children’s Parents-Teachers Meetings.  Dear1 and I attended Baby1 and Baby2’s PTMs too, and I can only say, both our girls are so good~~

Dear1 and I know that Baby1 and Baby2 are both good girls.  They listen to what we tell them, they obey our instructions, albeit frequently making our blood boil.  I sometimes have to remind myself and Dear1 that they are both still kids.  Just 7 years old and 5 years old, how did Dear1 and I behaved when we were that age!?  So when it comes to Parents-Teachers meetings, after the first meeting in their new childcare centre, Dear1 and I decided that it was okay to skip the subsequent ones, cos we know that Baby1 and Baby2 were doing very okay in school.

For Baby2’s Parent-Teacher meeting this year, both her Chinese and English teachers were full of praises for her.  Observant, serious in learning, nice handwriting, independent, quietly does her work, can do most of the work on her own.  She is surely the best student in her Kindergarten One class of 14 kids.  Dear1 and I came out of the room beaming as very proud parents.

For Baby1, on the last school day of Term 2, she:

  1.  was announced to be the Class Monitress
  2. topped the class with the highest score (again) in Term 2, and
  3. came home with a Report Book of all Grade 1s and As (except for PE, B) for her SA1

OMG.  This is the child who makes my blood boil at least 3 times a day (during breakfast, lunch and dinner for eating so slow!), and this is the child who I frequently scold for always being so playful and easily distracted.

On the last day of Term 2, we also counted the money that Baby1 has saved in this half year.  $40.10!  Considering that Baby1’s pocket money is $1.30 per recess, and she spends $1 on a meal, Baby1 has not been spending her money on any unnecessary things at all. Wow.

Actually, Baby1 is really a good girl too.  From the Parents-Teachers meeting, both her Form Teacher and Chinese Teacher were full of praises for her too.  She does her work independently and seriously, and she’s careful in her work.  Basically, both teachers have nothing much to worry about her.

Why do children always seem to behave so differently in school and at home!?  At home, I seem to be constantly nagging at her, “be quick”, “do your work seriously”, “keep the toys”, “why is this thing here?”, or at Baby2 “drink water”, “one quarter”.  I constantly feel like I am on REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT mode.  But in school, both Baby1 and Baby2 are such darlings!

Love Them. Understand Them.  Forgive Them.  Grow with Them.

After reading “Search Inside Yourself”, I have the above new mantra.

I do not want myself to be a kiasu parent, and I do not want myself to be a Tiger Mum.  We want Baby1 and Baby2 to grow up in a loving and happy family.  And we need to remind ourselves that both our girls are so lovely and lovable, so “Love them, understand them, forgive them, and grow with them.”

I love you, Baby1 and Baby2.

And I love you, Dear1.  Muck!

– Dear2

I want to be a Mummy when I grow up

“I want to be a Mummy when I grow up.”  This is Baby1 and Baby2’s recent ambition.  Don’t know if I should laugh or cry when I first heard this coming from their mouths!

My first impression when Baby1 first proclaimed that she “wants to be a mummy when she grows up” was, what????  Over these few years, she has alternated between wanting to be a chef (she loves to play cooking!) to a scientist (possibly under the influence of Papa whose job title is a Scientist) to an artist (somehow, she loves drawing too.  Dear1 and I are perplexed on where she got all the artistic genes from), so we know that having multiple changing ambitions is pretty much the norm for kids.  Recently, she added Mummy to her ambition too.  Don’t know if Baby2 was merely copy-cat Jie Jie, Baby2 also proclaimed that she “wants to be a mummy when she grows up” too.  -_-‘”

What do Baby1 and Baby2 mean by that?  I dare not ask.  To their simple-minded hearts, does being a Mummy equates a SAHM who looks after kids?  Is a money-generating FTWM not a Mummy?  I dare not ask, because if this is the answer, how sad will that be!

Last week during the kids’ evening swimming class and Dear1 got to come home early at 6pm because he’s on course, he commented that he’s glad that we have this arrangement.  And when Ah Gong Ah Ma popped by our house on a Tuesday 7.30pm while I was revising Spelling with Baby1, it suddenly dawned upon me that we will not be able to go for weekday swimming lessons nor have the energy or time to revise Spelling at 7.30pm if we are a dual-income family.   I can imagine Dear1 and I would probably be goofing down our dinner, 90% brain-dead at 7.30pm on a weekday.  Spellings and swimming will have to wait till the weekends.  And what about checking the daily homework? Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I have a new-found admiration for FTWMs, especially those who are coping well with older children.  As Baby1 and Baby2 grow up day by day, I find that they need more intellectual, emotional, and of course technical interactions in their waking hours. I don’t think Student Cares or either side Gramps will be able to give as much as what I can provide.   I am very thankful to Dear1 for understanding and agreeing with me on this approach, and shouldering the task to be the income-generator while I care for our family. Of course in a job, I hope that Dear1 continues to find passion and fun in what he do.

As for being a Mummy, I want to think that Baby1 and Baby2 are acknowledging that their Mummy is awesome.

I:

  • Had been a well behaved, hardworking student in my schooling years
  • Enjoyed reading since Primary School
  • Am brave, yet not arrogant
  • Challenge my fears by bracing myself to face them
  • Can be trusted
  • Had good grades in school because I did my homework well
  • Am athletic
  • Always do things carefully
  • Have my limitations, but I try my best
  • (and I hope to be able to list many more qualities here!)

No Mummy is perfect, but we always want our kids to grow up well, because we made them, so we should love them and guide them to the best of our abilities.

– Dear2

@#$%^& In, @#$%^& Out

I don’t know about you, but my 4yo and 6yo seem to pick up what mummy and papa say quite well. And sometimes they remember words from last time too.  Omg.

They say don’t talk down to kids, and don’t lie to kids.  Dear1 and I have been consciously trying to do that since Baby1 was born, and we’ve maintained the same stance to Baby2 too.  We always try our best to talk the same level with them, and we rack our heads to warp the unmentionables into factual statements so as to avoid telling any white lies. But at the end of a tired day, or when you are in a rush, tempers flare, your own emotions run high and @#$%^& comes out from your mouth unknowingly. Don’t think kids don’t pick these up, because they do.  Before you know it, they internalise this, and @#$%^& comes out from their mouths too some time later.  OMG!

The ‘experts’ say children are like sponges, so read to them, play with them, bring them outdoors and explore, teach them new languages, sign them up for abacus and creative thinking and programming and music and singing and arts and science and math.  But few experts emphasize the importance of how adults should watch ourselves when we interact with children.  I say adults because I mean ALL adults, not just the parents.  You, mummy and daddy are definitely at the front of the line, but same goes for the grandparents and teachers and aunties in school and stall owners and bus driver and the auntie who chat up with us on the bus.  Basically, anybody who comes into interaction with children.

Children are like sponges – they take in what they see and hear, and translate these into their own protocol.

As a FTWM, I frequently excused myself when Baby1 and Baby2 misbehaved. Half of myself and my time was fully committed to work, 9 hours for sleeping and recharging my drained-out cells, and the remaining 3 hours to Dear1 and the 2 kids.  Do housework, coach spelling and homework and piano practice, cuddle everyone, cook.  I didn’t want to waste any precious time to be the black face and correct the kids’ misbehavior.

The moment of truth came during our 2 weeks holiday in Japan earlier this May.  Before the end of the first week, I was super maddening angry with both kids.  For the first time in 4 years since Baby2 was born, we spent the whole 24 hours together everyday with both kids, and I realised to my utter astonishment that they have soooooooo many bad habits.  Where did they learn these from!?  I knew there were bad habits, but why are there so many!?  How will they grow up from here?  I was crushed.

After a painful cut, I am now a SAHM.   There are various competency levels for SAHMs, and I am still pondering on the kind that I want myself to be.  But I know for sure that apart from imparting knowledge to my 2 girls (I mean, I have to make good use of my 15 years of education right?  What better way than to be an educator to my own 2 girls), I want to teach them manners and respect and gratitude as well as other life skills.

And while doing all that, I need to constantly keep myself in check, in my words, in my actions and how I carry myself in front of them.  Gambatte, mummy!

– Dear2

School Dental Centre

When Baby1 was in N1, we were very concerned that the childcare centre that she attended did not seem too keen to teach the 3 year olds on oral care. “If childcare will start to teach the children self independence, like eating on their own, keeping their own bags etc, shouldn’t teeth brushing be taught early?  Plus the kids have their meals and milk in the centre.  Plus shouldn’t good oral practice starts from small!?”  We tried to persuade the centre to start inculcating teeth brushing after meals, but the centre only acceded to train the kids to rinse their mouths, and only after lunch before bath. Duh.

Dear1 and I truly believed that good oral care should start young, so we made sure that Baby1 brushes her teeth every morning since then.  Night brushing was challenging, as we counted on her dozing off and having a good night/ uninterrupted sleep while drinking her bedtime feed.  At both the grandparents’ places, we prepared her tooth brush and mug, and constantly reminded the grandparents to brush their teeth, but gramps being gramps, they seemed to encounter different types of difficulties in enforcing the brushing of teeth, haiz.

The last part of oral care have to be regular visits to the dentist.  I am one who is okay with dentist visits.  Of course it’s usually uncomfortable, and always bloody and painful, but I like it when the dentist always removes all the hard plague, something that I could never prevent from ‘growing’ despite my rigorous daily brushes.  Dear1 is more squeamish about dental visits.  Something about the “eeeeeeeh……… zzzzzzzhh…..” of the machinery sounds that Dear1 couldn’t stand, (or simply a childhood fear which is surprisingly very common among many adults?  keke).

Dear1 suggested that we bring the kids along when we go for our (supposedly) yearly dental check-up.  I said “Are you sure?” and “Am I really up to it?”  One: What if Dear1 freak out during his visit?  Two: What if I freaked out during MY visit.  Luckily at this point, I chanced upon a mummy’s blog about the School Dental Centre.  This mummy’s eldest child is about the same age as Baby1, so I was very curious to see how other mummies tackle this issue (which we have to start SOON!).

The School Dental Centre is located in HPB Building in SGH.  It seems to be providing dental services to school-going children, but pre-schoolers can visit them too.  We made an appointment for Baby1, which the earliest Saturday slot was a couple of months later.  Since this is just our first introduction to dentists for her, we were in no hurry.  In fact, a few weeks leading up to the BIG DAY, we borrowed a couple of books relating to dental visits from the library.  Through the picture books, we preempted Baby1 of what’s to happen during the visit.

On the actual day, true enough, Baby1 was scared to the max.  The Dentist was all nice and friendly.  There were many other kids around but that didn’t make Baby1 any braver.  Nor the many colorful cartoon stickers on the walls or equipment liven the atmosphere any more.  Baby1 wouldn’t sit on the chair no matter how we coaxed (or threatened, when all patience and encouragement failed).  She finally relented when the Dentist allowed her to sit on Papa while Papa sits on the chair, phew.

The Dentist did a very swift check (lest Baby1 decides to back down).  Luckily her teeth was in very good condition, which we all kept praising her (and fueling her pride) afterwards and continually even till now, keke. The Dentist also showed her the proper techniques for brushing teeth (seems like the protocol).  Before we left, the Dentist whipped out a box of stickers for Baby1 to choose.  That was the WOW.  For braving the ordeal, all the kids get to bring home a sticker!  How encouraging!  With the permission of the Dentist, Baby1 took 2 stickers, one for herself and one for Baby2 who had been silently watching the whole process with us.  Dentist said Baby2 should come too (though she was only 2 yo then).  We made two appointments for both girls approximately one year later.

Since then, we have been to the School Dental Centre for three times for the kids’ yearly checks.  Next year, Baby1 can no longer come here, as she’ll be in Primary School which the school will take over the yearly dental check ups. For Baby2, she’s still very much looking forward to the next year’s visit, because she’ll get a sticker after the visit!  Keke!

We highly recommend the School Dental Centre for kids.  Baby1’s going to be 7 yo next year, and she’s still having her entire set of her baby teeth, plus 3 molars sprouting at the back.  All kudos to the nice dental experiences (frankly, I think the reason why many adults still have phobia of dentist, must surely be due to bad childhood experiences, hush hush), she’s proud of her pearlies and always takes care to brush them well.  And it’s only $9 per visit (for Singaporeans), so do book an appointment for your kid soon!

– Dear2

Our hectic weekends

Lately, our weekends have been characterized by busy schedules. And it doesn’t look like it will change any time soon. In fact, it might become even more hectic.

On Saturdays, we would wake up at around 8am. Usually, it would be breakfast followed by piano practice for Baby1. Why? Because Baby1 attends piano lessons from 11-11.30am on Saturdays. Once we return home, it would be lunch time. Lunch is usually a 1-hour affair for us. After a short rest, the children would be off to their afternoon nap at around 1pm. We still enforce nap times for both children because we believe that sleep is very important for the children’s development. During this time, it would be our turn to catch a nap ourselves, or catch up on some K-dramas. Dear2 usually starts preparing for dinner too. The children usually wake up around 3.30-4pm. Dinner is served around 5-5.30pm. After dinner would be rest, then followed by bath time. By 7.30pm, everyone should be all clean and comfy. Lately, the children have been interested in my board games, especially Flash Point. So we would spend around 1-1.5 hours playing board games in the living room. By 9pm, the children would get ready for their bedtime stories and go to bed. The adults spend a bit of time with each other before going to bed.

On Sundays, we also wake up at 8am. This morning is usually a little unplanned so we have some flexibility to do learning, go grocery shopping, etc. But, Baby2 usually need a quick morning power nap because she has ballet lessons at 1pm. Anyway, 11.30am is lunch time, and we set off for Baby2’s ballet. By the time we get home, everyone is tired and off they go for their afternoon nap. Dear2 prepares dinner. By 4pm, the children are awake and we get ready for Baby1’s ballet class at 5.30pm! We will get home around 6.3opm for a late dinner. It is probably 8pm after bath and we have a little time for board games or some other simple leisure before it’s bed time stories and bed time again.

Every so often, when piano or ballet class was cancelled, it would be a godsend for us. For that weekend, we would be able to go for picnics, attend Uncle L’s second daughter’s birthday party, go on our own holiday, etc.

This is our typical weekend schedule. And, this is not taking into account special ballet exam preparatory weekly classes that occurs for about 6 months every year. And we also intend to sign the children up for more “essential” classes such as swimming. And Baby2 is likely to want to take up piano classes as well, to be the same as her elder sister.

With just 2 children and a total of 3 classes on weekends, I’m already feeling the crunch. I can’t start to imagine how parents with more kids and more classes on weekends would feel like.

But this is life, now. Our routine will surely change with each passing phase. Just have to see the positive side of things and make the most out of what we have. For now, we usually do our weekend groceries on Friday evenings. While one child is at ballet class, we would pop over to Jurong Point for a quick Llaollao fix. Yumz!

Onwards!

-Dear1

The Financial Perks of a Working Mum

The clock is ticking away…. It’s gonna be May tomorrow, soon it’ll be June, then July, when parents of all Primary One going kids get stressed over the which Primary School to go to.  After that, what’s the arrangement like?  Urgh……

I am very grateful to Baby1 and Baby2’s current childcare centre. Kudos to the teachers there.  We deposit the kids around 7.30am every day, and ah gong picks them up at 6pm every day.  It’s 10 and a half hours in “school” everyday.  Compare to our 8.30 to 6 jobs, the kids spend more time in “school” then us adults in office everyday!

But when next year comes, and Baby1 goes to Primary School, who’s going to take care of her after school?  Urgh, I’ve been procrastinating on this question every since people start asking me “which Primary School” ever since a few years back.  And we still don’t have a plan yet.

The grandparents that we want help from, don’t want to help; and the grandparents who we don’t want help from, want to help.

Ideally, kids should be cared for by their own parents, so that we parents cannot complain that the kids watch too much tv, or eat too little dinner, or play too much, or didn’t do any homework, or get fed with sweets and snacks after school.

The drawback of such an arrangement: the money, of course!

Having been in the company for coming to 10 years, I have always been appreciative of a regular salary that paid employment provides.  As we consider being a full time SAHM, suddenly the medical reimbursements, medical leave, paid 21 days annual leave, additional annual leave if public holiday falls on a Saturday, paid 6 days child care leave, employer’s contribution to CPF, working mum tax relief, childcare subsidies for working mum, all these suddenly feels too lucrative to forsake. (Salute!  Salute to hubbies of full time SAHM, now I know how much more money you need to bring in for your family!)

Can we afford to become a SAHM?  Haiz, I don’t know, but it sounds tough…

The best situation is if I can work part time, and be home in time when Baby1 gets home after school.  This seems like a tough proposition, given that my company doesn’t seem very family-pro.  There has been much talk recently (actually, for many years le), on changing Singaporeans mindset on having kids, or having more kids, but ultimately, if our society is only selectively encouraging, we mummies can only suffer silently in this society.

There’s still 8 more months to go, we’ll take one step at a time…

– Dear2

Baby2 Hospital Bill

Dear2 and I are in the midst of spring cleaning our house. The purpose is to convert the current study room into a children’s bedroom, and thereby “chase” the children out of our master bedroom and “reclaim” the master bedroom for ourselves once again. Hehe…

In the process of spring cleaning, we came across old stacks of bill from TMC for both Baby1 and Baby2. It was then that I realized I had not documented Baby2’s hospital bill here. So here it is (following the same format).

Item description Baby1 (2010) Baby2 (2012)
Mummy hospital package $3175 (4 nights) $3115 (3 nights)
Companion package $240 (4 nights) $170 (3 nights)
Drugs, medicine, supplies, procedure, facilities $263.90 $931.92
FBI/SBI discount for 1 bedded -$100 -$100
GST for hospital $250.52 $288.18
Gynae fees $2461 $3424
Anesthetist fees $450 $600
FBI/SBI discount for professional fees -$100 -$100
Medisave deduction -$4400 -$5500
Cash payable (mummy) $2240.42 $2829.10
Baby package $388 $388
Drugs, medicine, supplies, facilities, etc $593.90 $976.35
FBI discount for hospital -$28.16 -$48.82
GST for hospital $66.77 $92.08
Baby doctor fees $406.40 $395.90
FBI discount for professional fees -$40.64 -$39.59
Medisave deduction -$1181.13 -$1350
Cash payable (baby) $205.14 $413.92
Total cash payable $2445.55 $3243

Some observations:

  1. The 3 nights package for Baby2 was just as expensive as the 4 nights package for Baby1.
  2. The hospital facilities, etc fees was much more expensive for Baby2. This could be because Baby2 was born in the wee hours of the morning while Baby1 was born in the middle afternoon.
  3. Our gynae is $1000 more expensive than before.
  4. Anesthetist fee also went up, but I can’t confirm if it is the same person.
  5. Baby package remained the same, but the facilities, etc fees were up just as with mummy’s cost.
  6. Baby doctor is slightly cheaper. The 2 baby doctors were different and I guess Baby2’s doctor was slightly less experienced.
  7. Despite medisave deduction was increased by $1100, we ended up payable roughly $800 more in cash.

What a big difference! And this was without factoring in ante-natal costs (which was increased as well). There were of course other savings, such as the many baby equipment that we could reuse and therefore did not need to buy.

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than a healthy baby and a healthy family. :)

-Dear1