Sunday, 30 September 2012

Our bags are packed...

Our bags are packed, we're ready to go... back to Australia! This picture above was us in Perth in June 2010. And we're going again. Got family there, so we're there to catch up with them.

Now, don't go robbing my house. We have alerted all our neighbours to watch out for us. And my parents and in laws are conducting spot checks. So, you have been warned.

Paranoid Pam signing out. Wish us luck for the flight :p

Thursday, 27 September 2012

5 years on: How motherhood has changed me

Guest-posting on Mum in the Making - How motherhood has changed me! (This post first appeared here - as part of the Month of Motherhood series hosted by Mum in the Making)

Ever since I started blogging - which, incidentally, is when I became a mother - I have always wanted to write a blog post on how motherhood has changed me. Somehow, the post never got done. And through the years (more than 5 years now, wow!), the mental list of ways in which motherhood changed me just kept getting longer.

I shall not talk about how my girth has enlarged and fitness level dropped. Nor what a waste it is that I am not into tattooing since I now have so much real estate for tattooing on my thighs and butt. Neither shall I talk about how my shoe-size has increased by one size, or that I now wear my wedding and engagement rings on a chain around my neck as they can no longer get pass the knuckle (and fats) on my fingers...

Instead, I shall tell you about how motherhood has made me into one big paranoid scaredy-cat.

Before motherhood, I was this garang, dare-devil tomboy who enjoyed thrilling activities like canyoning and sky-diving; relished watching macabre movies (Saw!!! zombie movies!) and tv shows on gruesome crime (CSI); reading and collecting books on famous serial killers...

Today, while I am still game to go on crazy roller coaster rides like the Battlestar Galactica at the Universal Studios Singapore which I very much enjoyed - I now, tend to vere towards "safer" thrilling activities like say the luge or a long water slide - essentially, something which will not potentially be fatal. I confess, that, as I sat in the suspended Cylon ride carriage, I actually said a silent prayer as the ride started. Suddenly, all the newspaper reports of how the Battlestar Galactica ride was delayed before the theme park opened due to a ride carriage falling off during one of its test runs flashed past my eyes. "This could be the day I die." I thought to myself, thanking God that hubbs wasn't on the ride with me, so that, *touch*wood* if anything happened to me on this ride, he'd still be around to take care of the kids.
The Gloucester Tree in Pemberton, Australia.
The first time I consciously realised that I was now afraid of taking part in activities which were potentially fatal, was when Isaac was about 22 months old on our holiday to Perth, Australia with him for the first time. We were in Pemberton to see its climbing trees - trees you could climb coz they inserted metal rods into the tree for you to climb up. The Gloucester Tree was 61 metres high, and you could climb all the way to the treehouse built at the top of it, just like climbing a ladder. The rungs were about a feet apart, plenty of space for someone to slip through. But I'm sure no one has died there yet, but still.  My cousins and hubbs - all climbed the tree all the way to the top of the 61m high tree. Me, I just climbed a few rungs to have the picture taken. I didn't even consider climbing it, it was out of the question.

There and then, looking after the kids while waiting for hubbs and my cousins to climb up and come back down, I realised that I refused to climb because I felt that I was unnecessarily endangering my life. What if I died? Isaac would have no milk to drink (I was still breastfeeding then). I have responsibilities now. I am a mother. What would my child do without me? I realised that the pre-mummy me, would have been one of the first to have climbed up that tree. Suddenly, I was glad that we had an exciting honeymoon in New Zealand where we did canyoning, white water rafting, sky-diving etc... activities which I am not sure I will partake in now.

While I still have a macabre interest in serial killers, I don't read about it much now. Because when I do, my heart aches for the victims and their families. I'd imagine how heartbroken I'd be if those children killed were my own. The same goes for true crime reports or tv shows like Crime Watch and CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). I never used to feel this deeply for the victims before I became a mother. I was more interested in the methods the serial killers used to do away their victims with - twisted, I know!

Also, perhaps because I have read so much about so many serial killers. I know all the tricks they employed to help them successfully capture the children and women they have killed... Gives me the creeps now! and I start to formulate lesson plans in which I would warn my children to watch out for suspicious characters, and how to fight back and protect themselves should anything untoward happen. 

Is that a nice old man? No! It may be another Albert Fish! What about that funny clown? Urrgh, that could be John Wayne Gacy's protege! What about that nice couple there? That auntie and uncle is asking for help... wait! They could be another Brady & Hindley or even closer home Adrian Lim and wife! Oh the horrors! Not all dangerous people look as hedious, scary or as awful as all these mugshots too. Ted Bundy was a handsome fella - and he used his smiles to trick many a girl! The world is such a dangerous place!

I remind my eldest, Isaac, that he's only a little boy, so adults should not be asking him for help - a la Ted Bundy's little trick of asking people for help. I also role play with Isaac to teach him and warn him against anybody who might ask him for permission to view or touch his private parts.

My overactive imagination went into overdrive when, a few months back, reports were sprouting up everywhere about attempted kidnapping of children in Singapore. Eventually, police stated in reports that no kidnappings actually took place and that it was all a hoax. But frankly, I believe there is no smoke without a fire. Perhaps no actual kidnappings took place - because none were successful. But attempted kidnappings very likely took place, and the government is just trying to prevent a public panic when they issue statements that there were no kidnappings... Can you see Paranoid Pam at work?! In any case, at least the whole episode made parents more careful and cautious and not take the safety of their children for granted. And hubbs stopped saying that I was being silly when I insisted that the kids should not be allowed to play outside the restaurant, out of our sight...
I guess all this stems from me being the protective mother and all. Being a mother makes me appreciate all the sacrifices parents make for their children. It also makes me more likely to tear now, than before, when watching movies with touching scenes.

There is one movie scene which only made me tear after I became a mother. It was in The Incredibles, the animated film about a family with superhero powers. Remember the scene where the mother Elastigirl was with her two children, in a plane that was going to crash? She actually wrapped her entire body around her children to protect them from the blast of the aeroplane blowing up. Before I became a mother, I thought this was so cool, and cheered that the three of them were not hurt. After I became a mother, I teared, thinking that if I were to choose a superpower to have, this would be the super power I will choose, just so I can protect my children if and when such a need arises. I was moved to tears as I was so relieved that Elastigirl was able to save her children. I never thought I'd be so soppy!

So, 5 years on, these are some of the ways in which I had observed how motherhood changed me. It amuses me that motherhood would change me this way. I suspect there would be more to come :) and I must say, it's all not that bad either!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

How Spidey Gal met Kermit Prince!

Unable to resist the call by June of MamaWearPapaShirt to share our love story, here I am to regale you with the story how hubbs and I met. We actually did a powerpoint slide of our story and screened it during our wedding church reception. It's in this post here, but *spoiler*alert* - you may wish to read this post below before viewing the powerpoint slides in the link given above.

How Spidey Gal met the Kermit Prince!

Hubbs and I first met, as in literally set eyes on each other, in year 2000. It was during a two day one night camp for children with physical disabilities organised by Happy Friends Club for the children of TeachMe.  I have been volunteering with Happy Friends Club since 1999, but this was hubbs' first time. Our jobs as volunteers were simple. Each Volunteer was paired with a child to take care of him/her for the duration of the camp. As the children were physically disabled, the volunteer: kid ratio was 1:1.

However, hubbs and I hardly spoke at all that first camp. I was still attached at that time, to my JC (junior college) boyfriend. Well it wasn't just me, he was attached at that time too. Hubbs is 7 years older than me, and hence was in the "Uncle" category, since I was still in uni at that time. He was unthinkably "too old" for me. Plus he was a serial smoker (bleeaauughh gross!!!). Point was: we didn't even give each other a second glance.

Happy Friends Club is a 100% volunteer basis, and we weren't paid at all. It was quite easy to commit because we only organised camps twice a year: during the June and the December holidays. Each camp would be a 2 day 1 night camp. Well, usually! So over the next few years, hubbs and I would see each other every 6 months, during the camps.

Then in 2002, we not only had the 2 camps for the kids, but also a Volunteer Camp for the volunteers only. We volunteers have come to be a close bunch of friends and we organised a trip for ourselves to go on a leisure cycling trip to Penggaran... so we saw each other a bit more that year. One of the kids' camps was an overseas one. For the first time ever, Happy Friends Club brought the kids out of Singapore, into Malacca. It was a trip with the MDAS (Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore) kids.

I was paired with a great kid named Isaac who was both autistic and had DMD (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy). One of my JC best friends PY was paired with Shalom, Isaac's younger brother, who also had DMD. As this was an overseas trip, the family of the kids came along. PY and I got on very well with the boys' family and we continued to keep in touch with them after the camp. A short while after the Malacca camp, Isaac's mum asked if I could see if any male volunteer wanted to give the boys tuition. J, a fellow Happy Friends Club member volunteered. It was a stroke of luck for PY and I that J stayed near us in the west, and had a car. So every week, we would follow him to the boys' house and play with the boys after tuition. Hubbs was one of J's best friends since their uni time, so he started to come along as well. Thus, the four of us started to hang out quite a bit since the tuition was a weekly affair.

By 2002, hubbs and I were both single. I don't know when exactly did hubbs start to see me as potential candidate for a girlfriend. But I know I didn't see him as a potential boyfriend candidate at all. Personality wise, he was a great guy. But he smoked a lot and drank a lot, not exactly traits that I liked. Plus he was still 7 years older, though the age gap didn't seem so wide now that I had graduated and was working. Oh and he was quite a ching chong fella, very different from the anglicised me.

Then in early 2003, hubbs started to find excuses to meet me individually, as opposed to meeting me with PY and J. It kinda helped (him!) that J & PY had gotten together as a couple in end 2002. So I didn't really suspect anything when he asked me out for dinner alone, asked me to help him correct his English on a project he was working on, asked to go catch a movie with him coz J wasn't free... Then suddenly, one day, I realised that I was meeting him almost every night the past two weeks. And I got suspicious, like "Does he like me THAT WAY?!"

I can't recall how I got the affirmation, but yes, he DID like me that way. I did a stock take again, and you know what? He had miraculously quit smoking completely and cut down on drinking by a lot. Those two points were the most negative thing about him and he effectively negated them. Years later, I asked him whether he quit smoking because he knew I didn't like smokers and he wanted me to be his girlfriend - he said no, he quit smoking coz he wanted to stop. But I think it was because of me. A person wouldn't smoke for 15 years up to a height of 2 packs a day, and suddenly stopped smoking without good reason. Yes, that's me, "good reason". hehehe...

Hubbs has a very kind and compassionate heart, a wonderful personality, a wide smile and a great sense of humour. Best of all, we had similar outlooks on life and most things in general. I knew he would make a great father with the kids I knew I wanted to have. And so I said yes, when he asked me to be his girlfriend. Despite the seven years gap, the receding hairline, the ah beng looks, and the damaged lungs and liver, I said yes. And I haven't regretted it one bit since. [See this story in pictures at Chapter Two in this post.]

Slightly more than a year after we got together, he proposed to me. I said yes, of course. It didn't feel too "fast", what with all the time we spent together. Both our parents were all smiles and agreed it was time we made plans to get married. We got married in 2005 - wanna see? :) Oh and you know what? PY & J got married in 2005 too, three weeks after we did :)

This year marks our 7th year anniversary as a wedded couple and our 9th year together. Despite the fact that hubbs hairline has receded even further, and SpideyGal has morphed into Miss Piggy, we know that we have been very blessed and we are very thankful for all that we have. May the good Lord bless us with many more good years to come! And to my dear Kermit Prince, thank you, too! *muakz* !

Linking up with Mama Wear Papa's Shirt beautiful linky:

Friday, 21 September 2012

Photo heart heart heart!

This is the first time we're joining in Photo Heart Fridays, and this is the perfect picture for it.

Earlier this week, I managed to catch this picture of Shawna buttoning Asher's buttons for him. He patiently sat down and let her do up his buttons. This was in fact the "second round". She did them up the first time, then we realised that she had misaligned the buttons. So I had to updo them, and she gamely did them all up again!

Being twins, Asher and Shawna have always been quite close. Even though they do fight at times, they are also very loving towards each other and they help and take care of each other quite a bit. Sometimes it happens so fast that it's quite tough to catch it 'on film'. But this one I managed to. Photo heart heart heart!!! :)

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Why do I blog?

I have always enjoyed writing, ever since I was young. One of my first ambitions was to be a writer, like Enid Blyton. I thought she was very prolific, churning out tonnes of books in all genres.So at the tender age of 7, when I was enamoured of all Enid Blyton books, it was my dearest ambition then to be a writer. As such, since the advent of the internet age and websites like Blogger and Wordpress which made starting blogs a cinch, I wanted to start a blog. But, thanks to my well honed powers of procrastination, it simply didn't get started.

When I got pregnant with Isaac, I knew it was time to stop procrastinating, and time to start that blog. I had more reasons to start a blog now. Going through a pregnancy and having a baby are both life-changing events. They are events which have phases and are constantly changing and evolving. I wanted to remember each and every phase of these events. I remember asking colleagues stuff about their pregnancies, but they couldn't remember. "Too long ago" they said, "can't remember already". Then it struck me, I was going to forget too! My memory is horrendous! My ex-boss used to joke that my memory was so bad even before I had kids, that after I have kids, it'd be so bad, I'd forget my name. I wasn't THAT bad, but still...

Hence, essentially, the driving force behind my meticulous chronicling, is the fragility of my memory. I am afraid I'd forget.

I feel old, when I think back on the past 30 ought years of my life. I remember the joys of the good times, but I also remember the pains of the bad times. And often, the good is coloured by the bad - hurt tends to be recalled more sharply than the good, though, in time everything fades and is eventually forgotten. But I want to make sure that I don't forget the good things that have happened. I want to remember how sweet hubbs was in the early years of my marriage. I want to recall the smiley baby my Isaac was. I want to be able to recount and recollect the interactions between my toddler twins Asher & Shawna... I don't want to forget these!

I want to remember, that even though times can be hard, there were good times before, and that we can work towards a better future too. Sometimes, one tends to live so much in the present moment, that we forget the past, and don't see much of any future ahead. This is fine if you revel in the the present goodness - live the moment, ya know. But this is not good if the present is tough or hurtful. We don't want to wallow in  misery, that's not good at all.

I am so, not looking forward to my kids hitting puberty. Thinking back, I remember the puberty pains I went through, and I recall thinking at that time that I really hate my parents. I thought they were horrible, and that they didn't love me. Of course, looking back, I know that's not true, and it was really just growing pains and teenage angst that I went through. I can't help feeling that I'd get my retribution in a decade's time. I pray that my children will bestow on me only half (or less!) of the grief I heaped on my parents.

This blog is all part of that plan. I hope that in the dark times of puberty when my kids are wallowing in self-pity, thinking that their parents just want to make life difficult for them, they can read that we actually love them very much, since the day they were conceived. That we have their interests at heart, and that, it really doesn't matter if they don't top their class, or win the competition, or stick by their curfew all the time. That even though we may have disagreements with them, or how loudly we scream at them, we still love them very much.

But even if they don't read it, I will read it. And it will remind me, that despite the kids being difficult the way they are, that they are still my babies, the same babies that I love and will always love. And I hope that will calm me down, and let me center myself and allow me to compose and collect myself so that I can approach any problem I have with the kids in a more effective way. 

There is also that morbid part of me, that fears death. Or rather, that death would come too soon. Before my kids grow up, before I get to see them get married and have kids. And I fear that my kids would forget me. Forget me, and the love I have for them.

And so I write. I write so that I remember. I write, so that they will remember. I write, so that, when my children ask me about their childhood, I'd will not give some vague answer that ends with "So long ago, can't remember already.". Instead, I have the option of saying, "I can't recall the details, go look up the blog books."

This post is one of the carriages in the blog train hosted by Rachel of Catch Forty Winks. Fifteen mummies from Singapore Mom Bloggers will share with us their response on why they blog on this blog train. The Singapore Mom Bloggers are a lovely bunch of ladies I have gotten to know this past months. With them around to read my blog, I don't feel like I'm talking to myself anymore! :p They also inspire me to blog more often!

Next on this train!
Step into Adeline's world as she blogs about her encounters as a SAHM at THE ACCIDENTAL MOM BLOGGER {} Amongst the many roles she undertakes, Adeline especially enjoys being the designated photographer and chef in the family. To keep herself sane from her mundane tasks, she also independently runs a blogshop at ADELINE'S LOFT {}, creating lifestyle jewelries for the past 7 years. Her passion was recognized by a local women lifestyle online magazine and was awarded for being an inspirational woman during International Women's Day in 2011.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Madness in August 2012!

August has always been a bit busy for us, what with Isaac's birthday and a public holiday on National Day. But this year, August was quite quite horrid for our family. The last time I remember us feeling this bad was almost two years ago in June 2010, when we all fell sick. This time, admittedly, wasn't as dire as it was two years ago - but maybe because I am personally affected this time round, that's why it hits me particularly hard..

It sort of started in July when a spate of Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) cases were taking place in the kids' childcare centre. By the end of July, the school was sending out emailers to parents, warning them of an impending compulsory closure of the school as the school had 17 cases of HFMD under its belt already. True enough, on the 6th of August, the 18th case was reported, and that triggered the order from the ministry to close the school for ten days. Hence school was closed for ten days, starting from 7th August.

Isaac's birthday fell on 6th August. We had already ordered a cake for him to celebrate in school with him. However, due to the recent spate of HFMD cases, the school no longer allowed parents to enter the centre. The teacher would organise the cake-cutting and the celebration for us. Isaac was very upset, but eventually had to accede to it - he didn't have a choice, really. That day, only 2 other classmates of his turned up in school. The rest either had HFMD, or had parents who were afraid that their kids would get HFMD if they went to school. Luckily the other K1 class had like 8 people so there was a decent 10 pax or so to celebrate with him.

6th August 2012, Monday
On the 6th August, since we weren't required, I went to work. My colleague V, noticed a cut/scratch of some sort above my left eyelid. I didn't even know I had that until she told me, and I checked it out in the mirror. I didn't know what it was. It looked like a minor scratch, or maybe a mosquito bite. I thought it was insignificant and would heal and fade away in no time. I was so wrong. By the end of the day, the eye was obviously starting to swell, and my lymph node near my left ear was swollen and sore. So I went to see the company doctor, a General Practitioner (GP). He said to look out for globules of water - could be shingles, he said. Yikes. He gave me a cream for the scratch/bite thingy and anti-biotics to bring down the swell of my lymphnodes.

7th August 2012, Tueday
My eye was swelling even worse than before and I was starting to have a headache as well. Vision still okay.

8th August 2012, Wednesday
My eye was so swollen, I could only open it for like 2mm. My headache became a fever as well. Vision normal. But because of the fever, and the fact that the swell has gotten worse, I went to see the GP again. This time, he told me to be on the lookout for blood clots over the long weekend, indicating that it could be dengue fever.

9th August 2012, Thursday. National Day.
My eye continued being swollen. I had fever the whole day, even after medication there still was fever. Thankfully no blood clots though.

10th August 2012, Friday
Fever continued, but started to go down by the evening. Also, miraculously, in the evening, the swell on my eye started to subside! yay, I thought! Maybe things were looking up!

11th August 2012, Saturday
No more fever, yay! Swell going down down down, yay! My eye white was red, and vision started to blur. Sob sob.

12th August 2012, Sunday
No fever, swell down. Eye red, vision blurrrr... SIGH

13th August 2012, Monday
No fever, hardly any swell, eye very red, vision blur like sotong. Went back to GP for a third time, this time, to get a referral letter to see an eye specialist.

14th August 2012, Tuesday
Saw the eye specialist, who also couldn't tell me what went wrong, nor why. He ordered some blood tests. Gave me this eye drop thingy to tame the severe inflammation in my eye.

This whole episode with my eye really threw me off-kilter. Even though I had only blur vision in one eye, it was very disorienting and disconcerting. I couldn't see properly, couldn't read my smses clearly, couldn't see my kids' faces in sharp focus - suddenly, I wondered if I'd go blind and not be able to see my grandkids next time :(

Thankfully, the eye got better after the visit to the specialist. The eye drops worked in halting the spread of the inflammation, and made it recede. By the next few days, most of the redness and inflammation was gone, but the blurred vision was still there. Doc says it's due to the eye drops he gave me, but that it would help with the healing.

And while I was having my eye problems... The kids' childcare centre had their 18th case of HFMD on the 6th August, and promptly started their ministry sanctioned 10 day compulsory closure beginning 7th August. Since the kids had no school, and I was on MC, hubbs took time off as well, and we brought the kids out. We figured we'd treat this period of time like a mini-holiday and make use of the time to spend time with the kids, and bring them out etc...

I didn't exactly enjoy this time coz of my eye problems. So, after 14th August, when I finally saw the eye specialist and the eye inflammation receded, I thought I could finally enjoy this time with the kids and hubbs... then, guess what?

15th August 2012, Wednesday
Isaac got the chicken pox!!! We saw the spots and brought him to the doctors who said it was 90% chance that it was chicken pox. The uncertain 10% was due to the fact that he didn't have a fever. But doctor says it most likely is, so... we are now confined to home! SIGH!!!

16th August 2012, Thursday
More and more spots popped up and Isaac complained about the itch all day.

17th August 2012, Friday
There seemed to be no more new spots, and Isaac stopped complaining about the itch - which means, not itching anymore? The spots also looked like it was drying up. We checked and realised that Isaac had taken one chicken pox jab before, so we figured it was because of that that Isaac didn't have many spots, no fever, and the spots dried up so quickly. Lucky break! We thought.

18th August 2012, Saturday
Isaac was fine all day. Ate a full packet of char siew rice for lunch. We watched movies (on our home theatre) in the afternoon, and then then suddenly, Isaac woke up from his afternoon nap, complaining that he couldn't breathe - he had a blocked nose, and that he had a headache. He was running a fever! After he took the fever medicine, he coughed some, and started vomiting! That night itself, he vomitted three times. Sigh. It was so odd that the fever came a few days later - so we guessed that it could be something else that Isaac picked up. From where though?! We were home bound!

19th August 2012, Sunday
Thankfully, Isaac's fever receded, and he stopped vomiting as well. We were afraid that the twins would pick up the chicken pox (though they had the jabs already) and/or the wierd fever/vomiting thingy. But they were fine. Phew!

20th August 2012, Monday
By this time, the kids were missing school, and frankly, hubbs and I missed the school as well. The 10 days compulsory closure has come to an end, but the school requested that we do not bring Asher & Shawna to school yet, even though they didn't have chicken pox. The theory being that they could be carriers and transmit Isaac's chicken pox germs to the rest of the kids in school... I don't blame the school for being cautious. They just closed for 10 days and certainly didn't want to go through another epidemic and have another round of closure. I didn't want us to be the ones to spark off the epidemic either! As such, we kept the kids away from school

21st to 26th August 2012
Other than the chicken pox spots which were starting to turn into scabs, Isaac was fine. Hubbs started to develop this hacking cough that had been plaguing him on and off these past two years. Isaac caught the cough from hubbs... and then, the twins caught the cough too...

27th August 2012, Monday
Marched the hubbs and the kids off to the doctor to get medicine for their cough. Isaac's scabs had also all fallen off. So we finally got the okay from the doctor, to send Isaac back to school. So the kids could go back to school too! yay!

Meanwhile, I was getting really busy coz we, My First Games had a booth at the ParentsWorld Magazine Exhibition at Expo, starting 31st August to 2nd September! It was our first time so I was kinda nervous, and did my best to prepare as best I could. More on the Expo experience in another post.

So yeah, August 2012 was madness for us. If you were wondering where we'd gone these past month plus, now you know! :)

Linking with Sanses' Talkative Thursdays!'s Talkative Thursdays


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