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Nat Kao Thunderstorm days

Not so fab five

February 25, 2017

As if things can get any worse.

Becks was on the mend after the episode of the stomach flu and being in the hospital and life was pretty much back to normal again, or so I thought. This week we set out and about our usual business, and had grand plans of celebrating the boys’ birthdays.

Oh, yes before I forget… sidetrack.

I need to say a huge thank you to all of you who shared your suggestions with me on what we can do to help Becks with gaining some weight. I love the power of crowdsourcing and it’s amazing how things I never thought of trying are now officially on my list! From Pediasure (which we’ve tried to no effect, actually) and eggs (which the PD tells us to give) to ice cream, smoothies, durians and junk food (time to bring on the fries, burgers and nuggets??) on top of vegetable enzymes to help with nutrient absorption and multivitamins, I am so grateful I have more ideas now to feed the skinny one!

So, big THANK YOU, friends!

So back to (thinking that) life goes on as usual.

Nat’s 5th birthday fell on Monday and we were all up and about trying to nurse a sick Becks back to health and getting into the celebratory mood for birthdays. Birthdays are the legit excuse to skip school for any child, in my opinion, and so Nat was off school on Monday and both Fatherkao and I took time off work to spend the special day with him.

The baby that I last held in the delivery suite is now FIVE and that’s as big a number as any number is big to me on any of my child’s birthday.

And that’s worth a celebration.

Nat’s wish was simple. ‘I want to stay at home and play with my Pokemon figurines and eat cake with Mama, Dada, Becks, Ben and Aunty A.’

Which was what we did.

Blessed birthday, Nat!

Blessed birthday, Nat!

And then we headed to T3 to look at more Pokemons (we were super bummed Pokemon Cafe closed on the 19th of Feb!!!) and had the complimentary Firehouse (birthday) ice cream from Swensen’s along with dinner while we were there.

NatKao_turns5_02 - Copy

My baby boy turns 5!

And then it happened.

BOO.

I started feeling the chills after a shower on Nat’s birthday night and thought the wind was being harsh on my bones these days. I told the husband I would need to be curling up my old bones in bed early and went to sleep.

We all went to bed when Nat threw up in his sleep that night and I had both the runs and the throwing up simultaneously in the middle of the night, and that was the beginning of Murphy and his goddamn law doing its run in the house.

The rest, would be too slimy, greasy, watery and smelly to describe.

Suffice to say, the husband had to take leave to rush both Nat and me to the A&E by the next morning, and before I knew it, I was wheeled in and hooked up in the emergency with an IV drip and separated from Nat who had to wait a long wait at the paeds side before we reunited again 5 hours later in a B1 Ward at NUH.

At the triage, all I did was to not be able to give a urine specimen and I was wheeled and hooked up IMMEDIATELY. That bad.

At the triage, all I did was to not be able to give a urine specimen and I was wheeled and hooked up IMMEDIATELY. It was. that. bad.

The hospital had been so accommodating in going the extra mile to make sure that if we were both warded, we wouldn’t be apart, and I am so grateful for that.

And so for the next 3 days, the IV drip was all I had for breakfast, lunch, dinner. And Nat next to me for company. We were warded as a GE case – gastroenteritis, that is – and were instructed to report every single bowel and urinal movement and intake of water.

Worst birthday ever, for Nat, who was looking all sunken, glum and bones on his supposedly fabulous five.

Many hours ago, the peace sign and blowing out his candles. Now, a tired wreck needing rest.

Many hours ago, the peace sign and blowing out his candles. Now, a tired wreck needing rest.

Nonetheless, we were well taken care of by a team of wonderful nurses and doctors from Ward 9B; and in an otherwise not-so-fab situation, it could have been worse.

For this we are grateful.

And even more grateful for my awesome sister and mom, who despite knowing that both of had the stomach flu bug, hung around with TLC, homecooked porridge, and lots of good cheer.

We are back now and on the mend, and although it was a not-fabulous-at-all way to remember Nat turning five, it can only get better from here.

Well, at least he had his fill of TV, and 1oo Plus, in COPIOUS amounts.

Becks Kao Thunderstorm days

The mysterious case of losing weight

February 20, 2017

It’s been a really tough week on the home front.

I’m running on a full, almost 24/7 schedule of running the business – and just returned from Co-working Unconference Asia in Chiang Mai, when I received a few calls from unknown numbers on a Tuesday afternoon.

It was the primary school calling, telling me Becks threw up in class.

Ate something wrong, maybe. The girl’s been snacking like it’s the new diet as she discovers the awesome selections of the vending machine in school.

But to my horror after 14 hours from 12pm to 2am on that very day, she was still throwing up and not keeping anything down, and we knew we had to make that dreaded trip to the A&E at NUH.

Only to be discharged 4 hours later because she could at last keep a drink electrolytes down, and then – BUMMER! – to be admitted 7 hours after because she started complaining of stomach pains.

I missed my chatty, noisy, bossy girl: all quiet staring at the TV while the IV dripped on

I missed my chatty, noisy, bossy girl: all quiet staring at the TV while the IV dripped on

Nothing’s rougher than rough this week with the day she was warded being the roughest because — who gets any rest in the hospital?!

The toughest bit, actually, was being told by two doctors on two separate occasions  – one our PD, and the other her attending doc at the Children’s Ward – that her lack of weight gain was worrying them A LOT. She apparently only gained 1.5 kg over the last 3 years, or is it 1 kg over the last 2 years; but whatever it is, she is now skinny as bones, eating poorly and officially not growing well for the doctors to wave a red flag at our face.

And this puts us all in panic mode wondering what we could do.

I texted mom friends to ask for recommendations on supplements.

The husband started planning lunch box menus and *importantly* running the selections by the little girl. She brings the lunchbox for recess, but often has meltdowns when she sees what the helper has packed.

So far the buns, pasta and rice were hardly touched and even the helper is at a loss. So I found out she’s been only liking the muffins, grapes, tomatoes and Hello Panda.

We also started to like Tasty, Tasty Junior and Delish on Facebook to get ideas on what to make, so she puts in more in her mouth. Of course, we would need to wait for her to recover from the severe dehydration and low sugar count due to the horrible bout of stomach flu that gave the entire family zero rest this entire week, before we start our meal plans for her.

And I am now officially crowdsourcing for ideas, suggestions and recommendations. Please feel free to throw them my way.

Big thank you to all who saw my IG post and sent prayers our way. Of all things I covet most, I covet believers in Christ covering my children in prayer.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Ben Kao I can't categorise such entries Thunderstorm days

Concussed

September 15, 2016

Part of the deal of raising boys is that you need to prepare your heart for fractures, falls and fights. Like that time when my husband came back from the playground with the kids and looked me in the eye, told me to breathe and prepare to go to the A&E because Nat fell and fractured his arm. Or like two nights ago when my husband declared that we would have to go to the Children’s Emergency with Ben.

On Tuesday afternoon, I received a phone call while at work and it was Ben crying on the line. He usually does not pull the crybaby number on me unless he’s ill and uncomfortable and he had shared with me that he had knocked his head against a pillar during recess. He said a boy dashed past him so quickly he didn’t even realise, and the next time he knew, he’s hit his head. While on the school bus, he felt a headache coming and was in discomfort.

I told the helper to give him some pain relief. He could barely eat his lunch and had to climb into bed to have a nap.

When I came home, I found him squirming in pain due to a headache that won’t go away, and a fever. He also threw up his dinner, and looked more lethargic than usual. I was going to monitor him for the night but Fatherkao decided that we should get him assessed by the doctor for any head injury right away.

So we headed to the NUH Children’s Emergency where he got a thorough check up and was diagnosed with a mild concussion.

Say….what?

So apparently, my eldest’s gotten his head concussed, alright. Just by walking to the canteen during recess time.

I’m a little flummoxed here – tell me, like how the heck did another child manage to give my son a concussion by dashing past him and scraping his shoulder?

Who’s this child? Is he big sized? Is he taller, stronger, fatter? What is he? Did you see his name? How would you not know if a child is coming towards you? – were the questions I fired Ben.

Why didn’t you stiffen your body to anticipate the impact? – was the question Fatherkao asked him.

I DIDN’T SEE HIM COMING AT ALL! – was the concussed child’s reply.

Unbelievable. I’m having a real headache here just trying to figure out how this could happen to a child walking in the canteen.

Being observed at NUH

Being observed at NUH

But I didn’t write this to share my bewilderment but some handy tips on how to monitor a concussed child. It’s crucial to note what to do and I am glad for tips from a nurse friend and a very detailed doctor-in-charge (coincidentally, Dr Kao!!!)

You’re welcome.

Well, first of all, the first 6 hours, as the doctor tells us, is the most crucial. If a child vomits more than 3 times and has a headache that gets more intense by the hour, admit him straightaway. And if he fell from a height (for more than a metre and like in all other dangerous situations), that’s like an absolute no-brainer (pardon the pun) – go straight to the ER for that. For Ben, his injury was sustained while he was standing up, so the risk is slightly lower than someone who falls from a height.

Second, remove all forms of stimulation from the child who’s experiencing a headache (which include lights and sounds from radio, TV, etc) and try to keep him in a dim and dark place as much as possible. The injury will cause great discomfort, and minimising these will help the child calm down and recover from the concussion faster.

This was Ben at the ER during observation, not wanting any light and sound

This was Ben at the ER during observation, not wanting any light and sound

Lastly, monitor injured child for the next 72 hours and provide pain relief for as often as possible. After Ben was observed in the ER for 2 hours and had anti-vomiting meds and Paracetamol administered, he was discharged. The doctor said he saw colour come back to his face and that we should just monitor him for the next few days. He was given 3 days MC and advised to refrain from contact sports.

My concussed boy slept for most of his first 48 hours since the injury, and I’m glad to report he is feeling less tired and a little better today. I also think that all the prayers and thoughts sent his way helped greatly, plus Aroma Life, an essential oil blend from Young Living which I used to massage his head.

Thank you, Jesus. 

I don’t know how much more my heart can take with my boys growing up so quickly, and moving around, and being active so much, and I am probably going to scream NO if anyone comes to me requesting to play rugby.

My head’s pretty traumatised already from this one.

(Self) Examination Thunderstorm days What to Expect... As a Mother

The aftermath of the ‘I-hate-you-Mama’ blow up & the need for a village

July 14, 2016

So I wrote a post about Becks’ telling me she hates me and wished me dead for the haircut gone wrong and I was so surprised to receive encouragement from the blog’s FB page and private messages from readers and friends who told me stories about their own childhood (telling their mums the same thing!) and tantrums their own children threw.

What I learned from our sharing with each other was that motherhood’s a tough business to be in and that however tough it was, I am never meant to soldier this alone.

It subsequently inspired me to write this post for the Trehaus Blog titled ‘It Takes a Village’.

“It takes a village to raise a child and a community to keep parents sane.” It’s a quote I read somewhere recently and that became so true in my life, post the I-hate-you-Mama tantrum. My virtual village rallied around me to provide support so I don’t live with mom guilt and discouragement. We all need to create a village for ourselves as parents so that parenting would never be a depressing and lonely job.

And I am so glad that a community has always been around for me to offer that kind of encouragement and pat on the back because of this blog.

For this I thank you.

It takes a community to keep a mom sane

P/S: I am going to get a new look soon. Becks is holding me hostage to the offer I made her (out of panic, I did) at the hair salon the other day. I asked, “Should I cut my hair too to keep you company?” to which she said a resounding yes.

Milestones and growing up Nat Kao Thunderstorm days

The sudden case of not being able to walk

July 9, 2016

Nat has had two viral fevers over the past 3 weeks.  I’m not sure if this was a happy coincidence for him because he is now in the phase of really NOT wanting to go to school.

If you ever needed a heat pack...

If you ever needed a heat pack…

His last viral fever which ended last weekend was a pretty scary one. After three days of high fevers hitting close to 40 degrees, he woke up one day suddenly not being able to walk. He cried, clutched his calves, crawled out of bed and bawled his eyeballs out declaring that there was pain in his legs and “I CANNOT WALK!”

That was enough to frighten the s**t out of me because the last time I read about children who told their parents they can’t walk was when children were diagnosed with meningitis.

Thankfully, after the morning had passed, he gained some strength in his legs and by the time he was at the PD in the afternoon, he was all smiles. The doctor said he could have been lacking electrolytes in his body or dehydrated after an illness or perhaps going through growth spurts.

Well, whatever that’s not meningitis sounds great.

And this boy’s really just milking my anxiety and excessive mothering this entire week for as much as he can, occasionally dramatising his pain and saying he can’t walk and sniffing and coughing in more exaggerated ways than I can imagine so he can get away with not going to school.

So what’s a mother to say to a 4-year-old who’s gone through a pretty traumatic 3 days of high high fevers and an episode of “WAAAAAA…I CANNOT WALK! SO PAINFUL, MAMA, HELP ME!” that frightened the pores out of her?

She lets him have his way.

The last child gets away with all these, I tell you.

And the best caption in Singlish would be: got fever, cannot walk, still can smile! AIYO!

And the best caption in Singlish would be: got fever, cannot walk, still can smile! AIYO!

(Self) Examination Milestones and growing up Mommy guilt The Kao Kids Thunderstorm days

Three changes to make starting today

May 26, 2014

There are three things I’d like to change in this house to keep tempers from flaring, fights from starting and resentment from building.

So I’ve told the kids that starting from today we are going to…

#1 Look at each other’s eyes when we speak

#2 Hug A LOT, like ten times a day

#3 Change our understanding of what a time-out means in this house

I realised that amongst the kids they don’t look at each other much when they talk. And between me and the kids, we don’t make much eye contact anymore. I bark a lot of orders from a distance, and even when I say goodnight, I’m practically just spacing out with my back turned against them, facing the littlest whom I’m almost always nursing at bedtime. Their father, on the other hand, constantly reminds them to look at him when he is talking to them, and from what I am observing, the dynamics between them and their father is one of greater respect and better communication.

It took me a while before it finally dawned on me that I have allowed familiarity to set in to breed a good deal of contempt, that we’re taking each other’s presence for granted, and that I have forgotten that one of the many ways to show love to children is to give them lots and lots of eye contact.

Yep, no excuse here. So you can ahead and smack me on the head.

Also, recently I came across this on FB which made me re-evaluate the ‘when’ in giving my hugs.

4 Hugs a Day Quote

I hug the kids when I send them off to school. So that’s about only once a day for Ben and Becks and twice a week for Nat. They go for enrichment lessons twice a week, and so that’s another two more hugs. Within a day, I hardly hug them. Ben is so tall now and sometimes when he pounces on me as if to give me a hug, I get annoyed. Nat makes me carry him all the time when we are out and I “hug” him almost reluctantly. Becks hug me from behind on occasions like this – like now when I’m sitting at a desk with my laptop typing this post – and she takes every chance to play hairdresser and I get irritated when she yanks too much hair out while combing.

So these poor children don’t get enough hugs for survival and are even deprived of opportunities to show love.

What a terrible Mommy they have – is what you must say. Go ahead, you can smack me on the head again.

So I’m going to fulfil their hugs quota everyday from today onwards. I don’t care if I need to do this religiously like a Mommy rule to follow – I will have to do it. And I told the kids to give one another as many hugs as they can too. Instead of fighting and pushing and getting angry with one another – which occurs often – let’s try hugging.

I gave them permission to shout ‘group hug’ whenever they need it and we’ll all try to  drop whatever we’re doing and come from where we are to give it.

We need to hug at least four times and ideally ten times a day.

Lastly, I’ve going to elevate the status of time-outs at home. No, it WILL NO LONGER be a form of punishment. It will not be about isolating you from the rest of the family because you’re misbehaving. I’m not going to use the cane at a time-out too. I told the kids that whenever I see them losing control, they go for a time-out. And no, it’s not a punishment. It’s not something bad. It’s not even because you’ve done wrong although you might have been wrong. It’s just because you lost control and you need to breathe and calm down. That’s all.

And when they see Mama lose control, they can also ask Mama to go for a time-out because she needs to breathe and calm down and stop hyperventilating, yelling and flailing her arms.

Yea, we’ll be as open as we can that way from now on.

Let’s hope these little changes would improve some things at home, fill their love tanks up and make our home a lovelier one than it already is.

(Self) Examination Parenting 101 Thunderstorm days

Confessions of a faithful mother

May 23, 2014

“My children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be their peace.”

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

” Christ in me is the hope of glory.”

Devotional poster_God's promises

P/S: It has been amazing journey blogging and sharing my motherhood with you. After my last post was published (the one about the kids thinking I’m not great), I was overwhelmed to receive your messages, emails and love (you know who you all are). Many of you shared with me how you went through the same thing, how you coped, how you survived. And so many of you wrote me verses to encourage me and remind me that God is faithful and will be with us despite this journey being challenging and arduous. I’m so glad we can learn and lean on one another this way, and even more grateful to be at the receiving end of many kind words.

I’ve compiled something to remind myself to speak aloud everyday as my confession of faith, inspired by all the people who sent verses my way!

(Self) Examination Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up The Kao Kids Thunderstorm days

My kids don’t think I’m great anymore

May 20, 2014

A few days ago, I hit an all-time low in my SAHM-hood. I was inconsolable (and still am now) and had to mope around for a couple of days before bracing myself to write this post.

It all started with this book:

I love my Mummy

I’ve read this book to the kids like what, more than 10 times at least, since we had it and the children enjoy the pictures and the heartwarming story in this book by Giles Andreae about all the reasons why the little boy loves his mummy.

The book ends with this, and usually, we’d end our reading of this story with a big group hug and the kids telling me how much they love me:

I love my Mummy_ending

Until a few nights ago when the kids told me, after the story ended, (and I quote Ben and Becks) that their mummy “is not that great” because “she canes us and shouts at us” and that their mummy is more “lousy” than the mummy in the book who is “so fun” to play with.

When I asked them to explain further and asked if their mommy caned and scolded them for no reason (I spoke as the third person), they said, “Our mummy cane us because we are naughty. But why must she do that? Just tell us nicely lah!”

And even after explaining that it’s a mummy’s role to discipline her children – and even the Bible says that sometimes we need to use the rod to chase foolishness away from a child – they still believed that kind of mummy is “not a good mummy”, not like the one in the book we read so often.

After being exasperated for a while, instead of breaking down as I should with tears already welling up in my eyes, I threw a big adult tantrum, told them to go to bed and to find another mummy. I hinted that I may go back to full-time work afterall, because it seemed like my being around them was not appreciated.

Both of them looked at me, with their eyes wide open, and asked me where they can buy a new mummy. Becks also asked if I could go back to work and hire more aunties to take care of them instead.

***

Quite a blow for the stay-home mum ego, isn’t it? Needless to say, I was horribly shaken by what the kids talked about, and what they could conceive in their minds – that they actually wanted to buy a new mum or even entertained the thought of getting others to replace their mum. At that moment I felt that my two years of sacrifice of staying home has all been for nought. Clearly, they are taking the mum presence for granted; they are seeing me around too much to be actually feeling some tinges of contempt that come with familiarity. I mean, if I were working full time, we’d probably treasure those few hours of seeing one another after a day’s work a lot more. I’ll probably scold them less, let them get away with a lot more things, and make the helper clean up after them more often than not.

Because of the fact that I’ve stayed home, and the recent episode of being maid-less for almost three weeks, they’re witnessing before their eyes how their own mother handles stress and adjusts to the unpredictable situations that life throws our way (which isn’t the best, of course); plus the fact that they are at the age where child-training has to take place so that they learn to be independent, I also tend to do more nagging and scolding than praising and encouraging (which is entirely the way I’ve been wired).

And have you seen the way the kids just complete ignore me whenever I give instructions like “Pack up your toys”, “Don’t litter Lego blocks on the floor”, “Please wear your shoes and get ready to go” and I get at least a whole ten minutes of lag time? Which is TOTALLY ANNOYING. I don’t know what else to do but to raise my voice and holler so that I can get things going.

So the kids think this is totally uncool and that Mama is lousy compared to the storybook mum who probably never yells at her kiddo and always smothers him with cuddles.

***

So, as I was saying, I moped around for some time before finally sitting down to write this. I did a lot of thinking after hearing what the kids said to me. It’s true, motherhood really sometimes brings out the worst in me. I scare myself on those days when I lose it; and I probably would never know this awful side of me if I hadn’t stayed home. It makes me wonder if this is all worth it. I could take the easy way out, spoil them silly and just leave the care-giving to full-day daycare. I mean, that is SO doable. I tell you, working (where I previously came from) is definitely much easier than being home with three young children. Why am I doing this, having to show my worst to the kids on crazy days where there’s chores to be done, disobedient children screaming the house down, tantrums to handle, crayons littering the floor, urine stains on the toilet bowl and toilet paper stuffed in every visible corner in the house?

What’s the point?

Of course, it is also silly to take the things that a five-year-old and four-year-old say too seriously. Why, they are children, and they’d say the darndest anyway. The adult at the receiving end should be bigger, in every sense of the word, and be the bigger, better person in handling the “feedback” and be tough enough to soldier on. Afterall, these are the things a mother has to bear.

***

The kids have assured me that they still love me, and Ben has, through tears, told me that he wants me to stay home still. He seems to fear that I might chuck him in childcare and never caring for him ever again; and I am mindful not to say things that would scar him. Becks still wants me to go back to work, because that to her will solve the “Mama has no money” problem, and so she says, which means I can buy her lots of things to eat and stuffed toys to play with, something which her present thrifty stay-home mother does not indulge her in.

I guess it’s still onward with this stay-home journey, albeit with a little discouragement. I’m choosing to believe that I can try to be a nicer person when stress gets in my way and that the kids were probably stressed out too the past three weeks of us being without live-help such that they don’t like the mother that has become the horrible-always-barking-Mom-maid that they are seeing.

It must have been also tough for them to have to put up with me the past weeks.

At least, I am still loved. Even though I am horrible.

Stay home mom motivator

Close encounters with the maid kind Family life as we know it I ♥ lists The Kao Kids The real supermom Thunderstorm days

3 lists, 30 things, 7 days

May 6, 2014

It’s Day 7 since I sent the helper back to the agency after she demonstrated how weak-willed and unwilling to work she was. It’s the longest I’ve ever been without a helper since I’ve had three kids, and it’s going to be this way a while more at least.

There’s just one word to describe it all.

EXHAUSTING.

On the brighter side of things, I now have a list of 10 things I never really say but now say so very often, 10 things I’ve discovered since maid-less, and 10 things I am eternally grateful for. I’m exhausted, but that ain’t gonna stop me from making lists, and more lists.

~~~

10 things I never really say, but say so often now:

1. “I’m ONLY ONE person now, kids. So please (fill in the blanks).” Usually it’s “cooperate”, “do it yourself”, “help me out here” or “follow instructions quickly”.

2. “Do I look like I’ve got an extra pair of hands or legs?” This is usually in response to the kids making requests like finding a lost toy or picking a book off a shelf they can’t reach – and always at a time when I am unavailable to help. I now make them solve their problems – by taking a stool, using a torch, and getting help from the other siblings.

3. “My back is breaking.” Self-explanatory. Said whenever I feel my back is breaking. Which is very often.

4. “Seriously. Like seriously.” Said whenever the kids start fighting for my attention or squabble amongst themselves whenever I am at my busiest.

5. “Sorry I can’t sayang / hug / cuddle / kiss you now. My hands are full of soap.” The kids always seem to have a boo-boo for me to kiss whenever I am washing the dishes.

6. “Can you please wait? I can only do one thing at a time.” I can’t dry three wet kids at the same time but it’s always the same time they want to get out of the bath. And they get really upset who gets to be towel-dried first.

7. “Want to watch TV?” I usually never offer much but ever since we became maid-less… It was something that had to be so that I can cook / hang the laundry / do the dishes / wash the toilets. SIGH.

8. “Aunties are a privilege. Now no Aunty so please do it yourself.” Said to the kids whenever they revert to suddenly not being able to do what they can do on their own and asking for help, like wearing their socks and shoes and bringing things back to the kitchen.

9. “Too bad! No Aunty!” Said as a taunt after #8 and when a tantrum is thrown for not getting help.

10. “Are you going to give me problems? Are you seriously going to give me problems now?!” This can be said in an exasperated tone, in a furious manner or in a totally resigned style when the kids start to act up or refuse to do the things as they are told.

~~~

10 things I discovered, since going maid-less:

1. If children don’t test boundaries, they won’t be children.

2. If children don’t make a mess, they won’t be children.

3. If children can learn instinctively how to clean up, sort and organise, they won’t be children.

4. That children CAN be taught to clean up, sort and organise, and they HAVE TO BE taught; and this ability comes with age and a sense of responsibility.

5. That Ben is as OCD as I am, and I can always count on him to pack in the OCD way I’ve trained him to.

6. That going on all fours to mop to the house with a cloth and a pail of water is faster than using the vacuum cleaner and then the mop.

7. That it’s OK to wash the children’s laundry together with ours.

8. That if I told the children I’m gonna be turning into a monster they would do as quickly as they are told.

9. That the children can watch Frozen or Lego Star Wars: The Movie again and again, and be completely engaged even if it’s their 18th time watching it because they are really watching it to repeat the lines after each character.

Although I don't agree with the "No right, no wrong, no rules for me - Let it go" and some other parts of the lyrics of the song, the kids love, love, love this movie. Especially Becks.

Although I don’t agree with the “No right, no wrong, no rules for me – Let it go!” and some other parts of the lyrics, the kids love, love, love this movie and the theme song. Especially Becks.

10. That even if Frozen or Lego Star Wars: The Movie is on, the littlest will still come and hug my legs and not give me a break; either that or he will be up to some mischief somewhere in the house, like wetting tissue papers at the basin, flipping his (cloth) “roti prata” up the ceiling or colouring the switches in the house with crayons. Why am I not surprised. The most he can sit through is the ‘Let It Go’ song.

~~~

10 things I am eternally grateful for…

1. Forgiving and accepting children, whom I can always count on to remind me not to yell.

2. Helpful children who will try to help out as much as they can.

There's clean clothes to fold every single day, and on most days the kids are enthusiastic

There’s clean clothes to fold every single day, and on most days the kids are enthusiastic

3. The husband, who’s a solid rock for the family and me, and who would gamely whip up a three-course dinner in a stuffy kitchen complete with jazz music and a glass of red, and then help to clean up and put the kitchen back in order.

The photo on the left had 113 likes after I shared how this man would cook a meal, do everything and still smile at the camera. I would've bitten everyone's head off if they stepped into the kitchen if it were me.

The photo on the left had 113 likes on FB after I shared how this man would cook a meal, do everything and still smile for the camera. I would’ve bitten everyone’s head off if they stepped into the kitchen if it were me.

4. Kitchen appliances that help automate processes and simplify things. I officially love our bread machine, washing machine, Espresso machine, microwave and Philips Airfryer on a whole new level now.

5. This contraption from Tupperware (whoever who gave me this gift, bless your soul!) that allows me to dice my garlic and shallots in 30 seconds which I can store and keep in the fridge for later use. You know how troublesome it is with Chinese cooking, with all the garlic, shallots, ginger and all.

It's a spinning dicer of sorts and it's small, handy and easy to clean!

It’s a spinning dicer of sorts and it’s small, handy and easy to clean!

6. Supplements that give me a little extra ounce of energy and makes me feel more recharged every morning.

I used to never take any supplements but now I'm liking what I'm taking (from L to R): I'm getting sponsored to try out Forever Living's Arctic Sea; Focus Point (by Root King) from my MIL who insists that I take these for my brain and cholesterol; Longevity from YL which lets me swallow Frankincense, Clove & Orange in a capsule; and a Multivitamin from Nature's Way which the husband makes me take

I used to never take any supplements but now I’m liking what I’m taking (from L to R): I’m getting sponsored to try out Forever Living’s Arctic Sea; Focus Point (by Root King) from my MIL who insists that I take these for my brain and cholesterol; Longevity from YL which lets me swallow Frankincense, Clove & Orange oil in a capsule; and a multivitamin from Nature’s Way which the husband makes me take

7. This wonderful invention called the jigsaw puzzle which keeps the kids engaged for at least 10 minutes. A few minutes of silence is always a good thing.

Thank God for jigsaws!

Thank God for jigsaws!

8. Educational resources like these which I use to keep kids occupied and improvise for our homelearning (no time to create and make new things!): flashcards, magnetic word and shape strips, counters and activity books with colouring, mazes and word search.

I buy at a sale and keep these in my stash. Very handy indeed.

I buy at a sale and keep these in my stash. Very handy indeed.

And these 3 for $10 activity books are great value-for-money and lets the kids go gadget-free while waiting for their food outside

And these 3 for $10 activity books are great value-for-money and let the kids go gadget-free while waiting for their food outside

9. Community libraries all over Singapore. We can always pop in one of those in the day to escape from the sweltering heat, nestle into one of those comfy couches and read away.

Hanging out at the library

Hanging out at the library

10. Young Living’s ‘Peace and Calming’ Essential Oil. This blend magically calms me down and helps me unwind. At first it smelled really strange. But then I grew to like it so much I need it to help me sleep. And I sleep very well because of it.

YL Peace and Calming EO

Also linking up with Mum in the Making‘s Thankful Tuesdays:

Close encounters with the maid kind Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up Re: learning and child training The Kao Kids The real supermom Thunderstorm days

An unexpected trickle of happiness (nope, not because the new maid is here)

May 2, 2014

I’m bone tired and beyond exhausted, but you know what?

I’m actually very, very happy.

I’ll tell you why I’m happy. First reason.

My kids. It’s beginning to look like they are going to be well-trained.

The new helper was sent back a few days ago, and other than witnessing on the same day their mother morphing into a monster and militant ready for combat right before their eyes – complete with aggressive hollering, arms flailing and the crazy quivering; oh yes, and the often sung refrain at 140 decibels equivalent to a jet plane take-off “I AM ONLY ONE PERSON, THERE’S NO MORE AUNTY OK!”, the kids are pretty much well-adjusted to the fact that there’s only one pair of adult hands, eyes and feet in the day, at least before their father returns.

I think that seeing me react so violently under the stress of suddenly needing to handle everything alone from the moment we wake till the minute everyone hits the sack made Ben and Becks realise that things can’t be what they used to be any more.

The afternoon the helper left, we came home and I started putting things in order. I tidied up, I bathed them, I gave instructions clearly and I prepared dinner. Then we had dinner – and they had to eat every single thing I cooked with no complaints, I washed the dishes, prepped everything ready for school the next day, cleaned them up and tucked them in bed. Things didn’t go smoothly, of course. Nat stuck a Yakult straw in his ear. Someone left the tap running while I got busy. Becks left some pee on the toilet seat. Ben splashed water everywhere showering himself. They made faces at the meal I cooked. Crayons were strewn all over the living room floor. My legs were hugged while I was stir-frying. Nat begged to be nursed while kitchen fumes filled the house. Becks whined for an apple while I was chopping garlic. Nat tried to reach for knives. I could list 50 more things that happened but I don’t want to bore. Basically just three words: the kids happened.

But in the midst of the chaos, the kids happened! Ben took on his role as big brother readily and (sometimes) helped me watch and distract the mischievous littlest. They asked how they could help and by the end of the day we were all at the sink, with me doing the washing and the kids drying the plates and cutlery. All three of them, yes! They promised to help more. They offered to make less of a mess when they played or coloured or drew. They agreed to respond quickly to my commands so that I don’t have to turn into something ugly and start yelling.

By the second day, they were offering help in every way – from folding the clothes to picking up eraser dust and handing me the clothes pegs. They moved quickly when I called, got ready for school without needing help with socks and shoes. They carried their bags and heavy water bottles with no whining, and brought everything back to the sink whenever they were done with drinking and eating. We cleaned up in record time – Lego blocks were picked up and sorted, books were returned to the shelves and crayons back in the basket on the easel.

A mountain to conquer!

We conquered mountains (of clothes) together

When we headed out, they held hands and told me not to worry.

The car was at the mechanic and we were bus-ing to school - and this happened!

The car was at the mechanic and we were bus-ing to school – and this happened!

Can somebody first give me a pat on the back before applauding for these kids?

I’ll tell you the second reason why I’m happy.

The maid’s departure gave me a chance to be my totally OCD self. She came, whirled through my kitchen and made a big mess with my children’s wardrobe. Now that she’s gone, I singlehandedly sorted and organised my children’s clothes – sleepwear, underwear, home wear, going out wear, swimwear – and even managed to categorise everything according to clothes type, colour and size. I turned every single spoon, fork and chopstick in the cutlery tray in the same direction, bundled bedsheets by sets, cleaned out the fridge for expired items and hung out the laundry the way my OCD self would be happy doing. I’m a strange person to be feeling merry just rolling socks the way I want them paired and scrubbing toilets with just one toothbrush, but yes, I am merrily, merrily doing all these.

Now, this is what I’ve been dreaming about, albeit with much muscle ache and terribly wrinkled hands – a house in order at last.

Just proves one point: who’s the BEST maid for my house?

Me.

But that doesn’t mean I am not going to decide against hiring a helper. I’m bone tired and beyond exhausted, remember?

I think this absence of a domestic helper is doing the kids who have been taking many things for granted a whole lot of good. We’ve got two weeks to shape up before a new one comes and I have a feeling we’ll be doing even better by then – to the point that we’ll have a relationship with her that’s interdependent and not dependent, and that is the third reason why I’m happy.