Friday, December 31, 2010

Can't get enough of Christmas

I thought I'd share some random photos of our Christmas.

Our decorations at home were very simple this year as we had just moved in and were focused on getting things unpacked and sorted into place. We were occupied enough with finding places for our daily stuff - we didn't have much energy left over for dealing with major Christmas decorations.  So we contented ourselves with little Christmas reminders here and there.

This is what we have on our dining table. The Christmas card is from Terri - we look forward to it every year. Nothing beats the good ol' greeting card in the post - although I have to confess we ourselves didn't send out any this year.

We chose not to buy another tree this year, we relied on our tabletop tree to look after the Christmas gifts.

The lights were bought on our recent trip to Chiangmai. Love the shadow patterns they cast on the wall.

Here's a photo from our customary walk along Orchard Road to check out the lights.

There were a few Christmas "traditions" that we didn't observe this year - like putting up our Christmas stockings. But we had a lovely Christmas, which was also our first in our new home. I'm already looking forward to next Christmas! Next year, I think Ryan will be better able to appreciate the season (and the reason for the season) so there will be lots of little things we can do - like setting out the milk and cookies for Santa! I can't wait!

We brought Ryan to his paediatrician yesterday for a booster jab and a wellness check. We had a long wait but it was worth it in the end.

Ryan hasn't put on any weight or grown any taller since his last visit, although he was squirming quite a bit when the measurements were taken, so they may not be accurate. He took the jab in his thigh without reaction, he didn't flinch or cry, just quietly observed what Dr Ngiam was doing. Just amazing.

Dr Ngiam asked us if we had any questions or concerns and we did raise a couple of issues. We told him that Ryan is extremely sticky nowadays, always needing to have physical contact. Dr Ngiam was pleased to hear that! He said that this shows that Ryan is a well-adjusted child. He said it's absolutely normal, Ryan is right on track and that this phase will last until Ryan is about three years old. Dr Ngiam said that Ryan has formed a strong bond with us, which is the way it should be at this stage. He also explained that there is a hierarchy of people whom Ryan has bonded with and Ryan will stick to each person according to his order. In Ryan's case, mummy is first and daddy is a close second. So if mummy is not around, Ryan will stick to daddy. It would be an issue of concern if Ryan does not show any attachment to any particular person, even in a roomful of people whom he knows, as it may mean that Ryan is having problems forming strong relationships and strong bonds. I asked Dr Ngiam if we should be concerned about letting Ryan be more independent and he said it's too early to expect Ryan to be independent.

Well, we were happy and relieved to hear that! It has given us a new perspective and has made us a lot more patient and tolerant of Ryan's stickiness, seeing that it is a sign that all is normal and going well. It has also given us encouragement that we're doing all right at this parenting thing, heehee.

Next, we asked Dr Ngiam whether we should be considering sending Ryan to school yet. Dr Ngiam said that, if Ryan is being looked after and we don't need to send him to school as a form of childcare, then we should wait until after Ryan turns four. His reason was that children below four fall sick easily. He said, at Ryan's age, the emphasis should be on spending time with the family. He also pointed out that there are lots of things to learn at home.

Actually, I'm not too concerned about Ryan falling sick (Ryan is an extremely healthy boy), my only reason for sending Ryan to pre-school is to socialise with other children. I told Dr Ngiam that Ryan seems quite shy sometimes and I asked him whether he should be socialising with other children. Dr Ngiam said that the shyness is normal, socialising will come later and we shouldn't be wanting him to be a social butterfly now.

That was wonderful news to us because, just last week, Richard and I were discussing whether we should wait until Ryan is older before sending him to pre-school. Ryan is turning two very soon and we haven't come close to choosing a pre-school for him. We were getting a bit worried because most of Ryan's peers have already got places in pre-schools. Some are even starting next week!

In Singapore, most children go to pre-nursery in the year that they turn two years old. After one year, they do two years of nursery before advancing to kindergarten for another two years, before finally starting primary school. All this is completely voluntary as pre-primary education is not compulsory. Still, it is a pretty well-established system, which most parents adopt.

When we first learned about the Singapore system, and all the frightening waiting lists, we took action pretty quickly. I did some research and we visited a few pre-schools to check them out. But for us, the fever died down just as quickly as it started as we were not persuaded by any of the pre-schools that they offered anything that we couldn't do without. Some had better facilities, some had bigger playgrounds, some had better curriculum than others. We could picture Ryan being happy at one or two of them, but Ryan is also perfectly happy being at home. Basically, at each visit, we were waiting for the feeling that Ryan would lose out if he wasn't a student there, but that feeling never came.

So there is a huge chunk of motivation missing, which is also due to the fact that neither Richard nor I went to pre-nursery or nursery. I only did two years of kindergarten and Richard says he thinks he did one year of kindergarten (he can't remember much about it). Did we lose out? Well, I could read and play the piano even before I entered kindergarten and Richard says he can't remember learning anything in kindergarten. Both our mothers were housewives, which is similar to Ryan's setup - his nanny is also a housewife and when he is not with his nanny, he is with us all the time. When Ryan is at his nanny's and when he is at home, he is always involved in what is going on. He is free to wander about and investigate anything he wants (under supervision of course) and there is always someone talking to him, engaging him and playing with him.

Every time we discussed the issue of sending Ryan off to pre-school, we delayed it a little more. When Ryan was about to turn 18 months, Schoolhouse by the Bay called us up (a follow up from our visit) and asked if we were still interested in enrolling Ryan. We told them we wanted to keep him at home a while more. We told ourselves, let's wait till Ryan is two. Last month, we happened to visit Etonhouse, and we thought about the topic again - we decided to wait till Ryan was 2.5 years old. Last week, we said, let's wait till he's three.

We definitely felt the pressure to follow what other parents were doing but somehow, deep down, we must have known it was not the right decision for us, which is probably why we made no progress on the issue. We were just not brave enough to make a decision once and for all.

So, I'm happy to say that we have decided to hold off pre-school and wait till Ryan is four years old before we consider the issue again. Then, we will see if we want to wait until he is five, in which case he will go straight into kindergarten, just as Richard and I did. In the meantime, we will make sure that Ryan's time at home is spent productively and fruitfully, with lots of play, cuddles and kisses along the way.

Now that finally sounds perfect to me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Project N - still in progress

We still have lots to sort and unpack, arrange and re-arrange. We haven't really been doing it consistently, especially not over the Christmas weekend, so it's stretching out a little longer than it should. Hopefully, we'll be done by this week.  The contractor is supposed to make one last visit to tidy up some loose ends, hopefully that will also happen this week.

Yesterday we bought carpets for the living room and we also went shopping for living room seating. Actually, we bought a small couch from Molecule earlier, but that didn't work out - Tiger decided that it was the perfect spot to pee and poo. Although the couch was all right (it was made of PVC so it was very easy to clean), we didn't fancy coming home and receiving "presents" everyday. So we gave the couch away and went to look for an alternative. We saw something we liked yesterday, a lounge chair at air division, but they only had one piece and we want two. We have to wait three months for the new pieces to come in, which is quite disappointing. Still, we like it very much so we might just go ahead and place the order.

Otherwise, we are enjoying our new home. There are a number of adjustments that we have had to make, which is part and parcel of migrating from a landed property to a condominium, but by and large, it's been all right.

Richard is not working this week and I am also taking a few days off so we will try our darndest to get the place in shape by Friday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hope your Christmas was peaceful

Our Christmas Day was delightfully peaceful. After the past few weeks of rushing about buying furniture and house-stuff, the Big Move, all the renovation work, the charity collections and drop-offs, plus Christmas shopping, we were only too glad to have a quiet Christmas Day.

We started the day in church. Richard found a church that is within walking distance to our new home - Christ Methodist Church - so we walked over for their Christmas service, which was held at St Patrick's school hall. We brought Ryan with us and sat with the main congregation (there didn't seem to be a cry-room/area). He was quite interested in what was going on and even clapped his hands along to the songs.

After lunch at Siglap, we lazed about at home and finally got around to snapping our Christmas family photo.

Dinner was a yummy seafood spread at Red House at East Coast Seafood Centre. After that, we thought of going over to Tanglin Mall for the snow but it threatened to rain so we decided to go home instead, where we lazed about some more.

The next morning, we went to some plant nurseries along Bedok South Road to buy some plants for the house. There were also some garden swings for sale and Ryan insisted on trying out each and every one of them, several times. After that, we brought him through the nurseries and showed him the plants and flowers. We spent about two hours there, by which time we were all hot and hungry. Bought some noodles from the famous Beach Road Prawn Noodles shop along East Coast Road and went home to enjoy them.

The plants were delivered in the afternoon and we are quite happy with them, at least for now, while they still look fresh and healthy. We haven't bought all the plants we need yet, we are experimenting with the ones we bought today to see how they fare. We'll give them a week or two, move them around a bit, see how they like the different parts of our home.

The evening was spent at Ee Fann's and Shann's new home (they moved in less than a week ago). Shann prepared a scrumptious dinner - doesn't the roast chicken look mouth-watering?

Ryan was quite happy and contented, which was surprising, because he had less than an hour's sleep the whole day. He was happily tucking into Shann's carbonara pasta, interacting with the other children and humming and cheering along.

After all the Christmas gifts were distributed and some opened, the adults sat around and chatted while the children investigated their presents. Ryan didn't seem interested in opening his gifts so we let him read Toy Story off the iPad, which got everyone going tech-y.

Here he is, showing off to the ladies.

It was a fun get-together and we enjoyed ourselves. We left slightly after 10 pm. We drove over to Chai Chee, where we made our final charity drop-off at someone's home before we headed home. By this time, Ryan had fallen asleep, so that was the end of his day. Monday, he goes to his nanny's for the day, as per usual.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ryan's TV debut

I forgot to mention that we were on TV last week!

For about 3 seconds.

We only found out when an old friend, David, texted Richard to tell him that he had seen us on TV that morning, eating at some place. We were so surprised - we wondered how we could have ended up on TV? Then, we realised! Remember we went to Chiangmai recently? Well, there we visited Huen Phen, a famous restaurant serving local fare. There was a Channel NewsAsia film crew (with Anasuya Sanyal) filming at the restaurant. We recognised Anasuya Sanyal but pretty much ignored her and her crew, we were definitely more interested in our lunch. Little did we know that they were surreptitiously taking footage of the three of us stuffing ourselves with the yummy food.

We looked up the programme - it was "Yours Truly Asia", a sort of travel/food programme about northern Thailand. We were on episode 2. Fortunately, the station scheduled repeat telecasts of the episode, so we managed to watch it subsequently.

They filmed the three of us sitting at the table, eating away, oblivious to our surroundings. Ryan was also eating happily, while sitting on my lap. According to the voiceover, the restaurant is a popular family restaurant in the area. So, apparently, they must have thought that we were locals.

Unfortunately, we forgot all about it after we watched it, so I also forgot to do a post to let you all know before episode 2 ran out (I thought they were still screening episode 2 this week, but I think they have moved on to episode 3). Sad to say, we didn't manage to record it, so maybe we'll try to buy a copy from the station.

So that was our three seconds of fame and Ryan's TV debut!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Blessed Christmas!

Here's wishing everyone a blessed Christmas
Laughter and peace, goodwill and good cheer
The comfort of family and the warmth of friends
Contentment and joy in the coming new year.

All our love,
Richard, Leona and Ryan

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas eve dinner at Sarah's

Christmas eve was spent with good friends. In the morning, we took Ryan to the salon at Forum to trim his hair (front only) and to have a quick lunch. We walked around the shops and took longer than we planned to. We had to rush home and then rush out again to Angelynn's house at Sentosa Cove to meet the others. It started to rain shortly after we arrived, so we were pretty fortunate not to get stuck in the storm. I stood on the balcony of the top floor of Angelynn's house (which is right next to the sea) and watched the waves tossing and the lighting bolts raining down. It was pretty scary, although Ryan was completely fascinated and wanted to stay out in the rain.

After the rain stopped and after a short game of mahjong, all of us drove over to Sarah's place at West Coast for dinner. Sarah is our domestic goddess - her place was beautifully decorated with all things Christmassy, from the big stocking on the door to the handtowels in the washroom. I lost count of the number of Santas that she had around the place. I have never seen more Christmas ornaments and decorations in anyone's home. It was lovely and gave the place a warm and cozy feel.

The highlight of the evening was, of course, the dinner. Sarah prepared a lavish spread for 8 adults - cream of mushroom soup with warm bread, roasted veggies, cauliflower with cheese gratin, twice-baked potatoes, sauteed greens, roasted turkey (Alan made the stuffing under Sarah's intense supervision), baked ham with pineapple glaze, plus three types of dessert - tiramisu, Christmas fruitcake with homemade brandy butter and no-flour chocolate cake. Truly amazing. And such an incredible and generous effort, not only in preparing the dinner but also in preparing such a wonderful environment for all of us, from the Christmas decorations, to the elegantly set table (with a printed menu at each place) and the cozy lighting. Thank you Sarah! I'm reserving my seat for next year!

Food was delicious, conversation and company were great. By the time we were willing to leave the table, it was already about 11 pm. Everyone had brought gifts for everyone, as per our usual practice, so we quickly passed them out. Nobody wanted to open their gifts until Christmas though. We left shortly before midnight. Most of the others stayed on for another game of mahjong.

We had a great time and it was a meaningful way to celebrate the season - in the company of good friends, with great food and conversation.

One of Ryan’s favourite DVD series is the High-5 series. He loves the song and dance routines and most of the time he dances along to most of the songs whenever we play the DVD.

The group is in town and is performing at the Marina Square Shopping Mall from 26 Nov to 12 Dec. On one of the Saturdays (4 Dec), mummy has to go court and this is the perfect opportunity for me to take Ryan to see his favourite group in live action!

We started off bright and early and we reached Marina Square at about 11.00am. The show starts at 1pm so we had time to have some breakfast and walk around the shops. We shared a McDonald’s Big Breakfast. Here’s a shot of Ryan chomping on his breakfast.

The show will be at the main atrium of the shopping centre and there was a big High-5 logo, which was used as the backdrop for the stage. Ryan instantly recognizes the logo and he even poses in front of the logo for daddy to take a photo. Here are the shots of Ryan posing.

By 1pm, the place is packed and you can see that all the children are very excited; including Ryan. He enjoyed the show tremendously although it’s a little short as it lasted for only about 30 minutes. It’s definitely worth it as Ryan is able to see his favourite group perform live.

Here's a shot of the stage from the balcony where we were standing to watch the show. You can see Ryan's curls at the bottom left of the photo.

We top it off with some souvenir shopping and I got Ryan a High-5 DVD, a High-5 balloon and a JupJup soft toy.

Ryan had a fantastic outing and he fell asleep in his car seat on the way back home.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Good work!

Just a short post today to congratulate two of the Christmas charity initiatives that I love.

First - the Boys' Brigade Share-a-Gift 2010 project. I read an article in TODAYonline which reported that they achieved their donation target within the timeframe set and for the second year running.  According to the article, "some 3,500 Boys' Brigade officers and boys collected enough food, household items and gifts for the 28,439 beneficiaries of its Share-A-Gift project that began Nov 25" and "the volunteers are working to distribute some 20,000 food hampers and more than 8,000 gifts by the end of the year".

Next is Toys for Tots 2010. Every year since 1947, the US Marine Corps has carried out this project. Marine Security Guards all around the world collect donated toys and distribute them to underprivileged children. According to this report on the US embassy (in Singapore) website, this year they have raised enough toys to donate to the children at their adopted children's home - Jamiyah Children's Home - plus they have collected enough to donate to other children in neighbouring countries including Burma, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Well done boys! And to those of you who participated in these two charity projects - great job!

To those of you who have passed us your items to donate, Richard and I will be making our final Christmas drop offs today and tomorrow. This season, apart from donations to individual people in need, we have sent our bulk donations to The Star Shelter at Waterloo Street. The shelter aims to provide safe temporary refuge for women and their children who are victims of family violence regardless of race, language, creed or religion. The nice thing is that it's just next to where Ryan's nanny lives, so it's been pretty convenient for us.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ryan's 1st wedding

As I mentioned in my last post, one of Ryan's nanny's daughters got married over the weekend and we were invited to attend, both the church ceremony on Saturday and the dinner on Sunday.

It has truly been a long while since Richard and I attended a wedding together. We have long left the years when our friends were getting hitched, when there was a wedding to attend almost every few weeks, when we had to help out in wedding preparations and rally around the bride and the groom. Now and then, there is the colleague getting married but we usually go solo for those and there is zero involvement backstage.

This one was, however, Ryan's first experience. I think he handled it well. On both days, he was suffering from a lack of sleep, but he was still quite cheerful. Here are a few photos.

- a - ...
- boo!
Eating the first of many courses at the dinner
He was a little intimidated at the dinner so we decided to seat him on our laps instead of in a high chair. Although he was a little restless and very sleepy, he was pretty well-behaved and didn't cry or fuss, so that was great. He got lots of compliments and many of his admiring fans came up to say hello (mostly his nanny's friends and neighbours who know him). There were three Japanese guests at our table, and they were wondering whether he was Japanese (it's because of the hair, I think)!

Here's wishing the happy couple many merry days ahead!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Out with mummy

Ryan's nanny took Friday off (her daughter was getting married over the weekend) so I took the day off work to be with Ryan.

We spent the morning playing at home, then I drove us out to East Coast Park by the beach for lunch - we are just a five-minute drive to the beach now! We went to Old Town White Coffee but Ryan wasn't in the mood for food so it was just me eating. After I was done, I took Ryan out to the beach for a walk. Surprisingly, although it was around noon, it wasn't sunny or hot. Coupled with the absence of the weekend crowd, it was actually very pleasant.

Cloudy skies made our walk very pleasant
At first, Ryan wanted to be carried but when he heard the birds singing in the trees, he was intrigued and that got him walking about to investigate the source of the musical sounds. There were two birds that were walking about on the ground so he tracked them back out to the carpark.

Ryan followed the sound of the birds to the carpark
After that, he was quite excited about walking back out to the seashore.

Contemplating the vast sea in front of him
Examining shells and stones on the seashore
Giving the sea a high-five!
After a long and enjoyable walk along the shore, we went for a drink and a snack and this time Ryan ate heartily (perhaps because it was KFC...).

Anyway, I enjoyed the outing and I think Ryan did too. It was peaceful and quiet and just wonderful.

From the beach, I decided that we would drop in on Richard at his office. It was Richard's last day (he is starting a new position in another firm in January) so I concluded that it would be all right. Also, Richard's colleagues all love Ryan to bits so I didn't think they would mind. So I drove us there, while Ryan took a short nap in the car.

When we got there, Richard and his colleagues had just finished their Christmas lunch and everyone was still in a party mood. They were delighted to see Ryan and he got lots of little sweets and chocolates (which he didn't eat). While we were there, they did their Christmas gift exchange and popped some bubbly and took lots of photographs.

Ryan and I left about 5pm and went home. Ryan was pooped and went down for a nap quite quickly when we got home.

When Richard got home, we celebrated his unemployment with a delicious dinner at Casa Bom Vento. Seriously, the food at this restaurant is really good - we had Itek Tim soup, barbecued stingray, tau pok with minced meat, tempura nuggets and chicken curry lemak. Richard and I polished off two bowls of rice EACH. Yummy.

It was a long day, and I think we made the most of it. Good stuff.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ho Ho Ho!

Received this in my inbox today from Caroline (Ryan's nanny's daughter).

Which reminds me - gotta get our family Christmas photo out soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Dinosaurific Sunday

It befuddles me why we study dinosaurs in such great detail. It's not as if we have ever seen one, nor will we ever. Yet we know their names, we know what they ate and we know how they lived.

I have no particular fondness for dinosaurs but I do think they are the perfect toy for boys. Boys like stuff which give them a chance to show how knowledgeable they are. Be it electronic gadgets, watches or sports, boys can recite all manner of trivia and facts about their toys, and the more trivia they can recite, the happier they are. Just as a love of cars is fuelled by nuggets of information about how many seconds this particular car takes to go from 0 to 100 km, what the rate of petrol consumption is for that car, what the best brand of tyres to buy are and which petrol to use, dinosaurs can also provide hours of joy with endless trivia about what this dinosaur could do, what features it had, what it used its long neck or its heavy tail for, how fast it could travel. Boys just lap it all up.

Now, girls don't bother about these details and data and information. They are just interested in how the dinosaur looks and sounds, whether it is big and scary or not, and whether there are any baby dinosaurs. After they get past that, well, that's about it. They move on to fairies and mermaids and unicorns. They don't need to know what the mermaid ate, how she used her tail to help propel her through the sea or what sort of house she lived in or how she gave birth or how she peed and pooed. All that is completely unnecessary.

Now that may sound stereotypical, and you probably know some girls who love dinosaurs and some boys who love Barbie. Still, stereotypical as it may be, it is generally true.

Well Ryan hasn't reached the age when he can gobble up and spew out all those facts and factoids. He hasn't shown any special interest in dinosaurs (yet). We got him the "Harry and the bucketful of dinosaurs" book and toy boxed set - the book comes with a blue bucket and six little dinosaurs - but he was just interested in the bucket. He wouldn't even let me put the dinosaurs in the bucket.

To give the dinosaurs a fair chance to win Ryan's heart, we took Ryan to watch Walking With Dinosaurs on Sunday.

It was a fantastic experience. The dinosaurs were incredibly realistic and believable. Although I have nothing to compare them with, it was probably as close as we'll ever get to seeing live dinosaurs. There was an actor who introduced each dinosaur to the audience - he told us its name and explained its features and how it lived and what period it lived in (Jurassic, Triassic, etc.) - but I can't recall much of that now (I'm a girl remember? All that is completely unnecessary.).

At the Singapore Indoor Stadium
Ryan's reaction? He watched carefully and intently and I heard him make some "oohs" and "aahs", so I think he had a good time. 15 minutes from the end, he had enough - he snuggled into my bosom for his milk and promptly went to sleep. That was when the Tyrannosaurus Rex came out, and when the TRex started roaring, Ryan just closed his eyes more tightly! Oh well, the show was 1 hour and 40 minutes long, and there were 20 dinosaurs in total, so I think Ryan got his fill. Richard and I certainly enjoyed ourselves. My jaw actually dropped when the TRex came out, haha!

Momma TRex and baby TRex
Great show, we're definitely buying tickets when it comes around again. There will probably be even more dinosaurs (the show originally had 15, now they have 20) and the animatronics will only get better.

After the show, we went for lunch at Taste Paradise at Funan the Digitalife Mall and then it was off to Shichida. After that, we drove across to Sentosa Cove to attend Angelynn's son's first birthday party. Angelynn is putting up in one of those sea-facing bungalows on Sentosa - the place was beautiful and spacious and reminded us of a resort. Ryan spent most of the party in the swimming pool, together with the rest of the children.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Musing on Monday

As Christmas draws near, I tend to think a lot about charity. Perhaps it's all the gift-giving. Perhaps it's because there are more donation boxes around town and more charitable initiatives at this time of year. Perhaps it's all the commercialism which sends me searching for meaning in the season.

Richard and I try to do our part all year round and step it up a notch at Christmas. We usually donate items - sometimes we pay for new items, sometimes we give our used items. Occasionally, we volunteer and participate in charity events. We also like to support vendors who tie up with charitable causes. We do donate money outright sometimes, provided we can see and trust where the money is going to end up, otherwise we don't find it very meaningful or gratifying. Richard refuses to donate blood though - in that case, he'd rather give money!

I have to say though, that I do believe that charity begins at home. It is only when all is well at home that I think outside our family. Once we have what we need and we are happy and healthy, then we can think about giving back.

I must say also that I have come across people who do nothing at all because they say that the money donated may not end up at the right place, or they want to do something "big" because otherwise "it won't make much difference". While I understand those reasons, I don't agree that they are obstacles. Of course, charity work is not top priority for most people (including me), but it's actually not that hard or inconvenient to give back and to spread a little joy. There are so many ways to help and giving money is not the only option. And doing something big is great but if you can't, then doing something small is still great. Helping one person may not make much difference in the overall scheme of things, but it sure makes a difference to that one person.

The way I look at it, it is a matter of what values I hold. And now that Ryan is here, it is also a matter of what values I hope to teach him.

The first and most obvious is about having compassion for others. It constantly baffles me how human beings can be so horrible to each other. Quite apart from all the crimes that are committed everyday, we can be incredibly inconsiderate, unfriendly and downright mean to our fellow man. Sometimes when I look at Ryan playing happily with other children, I wonder when and how we stopped playing with each other and started fighting instead.

Next, is a sense of social consciousness. To me, this life is not just about me and my family getting what we want and what we need. I enjoy my life, not only because of what I've done or how hard I've worked, but also because of the contribution of many people, most of them whom I do not know. I am safe on the roads because other drivers drive safely. I can sleep well at night because my neighbour is not hosting a rowdy party at 3 in the morning. I can sit down to a clean table at the food court because the person before me cleared his tray. I can still see live tigers because people care enough to protect them from extinction. My grandchildren and great-grandchildren will still get to enjoy nature because people make the effort to recycle and to preserve what we have.

So, I hope Ryan will understand that he enjoys privileges which others do not and that the more he has, the more he should give back to society. I hope he will always be humble enough to recognise that there is no such thing as being entitled. Everything we have is God-given and the best way to give glory is to pass on the goodwill that we have received.

I also want to show Ryan that we should give unconditionally, without expecting reward, without being petty. I don't ever want him to think, "What's in it for me?" and I hope he will find more joy in giving than in receiving.

Most important of all, I believe that we need to take positive action and actually do good things. Too many times, we think that it is enough to simply refrain from doing bad things, or we wait for others to do what we ourselves could have done. I hope Ryan will never be like that. I want him to have the initiative and the bravery to make things happen, instead of being someone who complains about the way things are. I hope he will be willing to step up, to shoulder responsibility and to be accountable.

As I write this, I am reminded of a song that I used to sing to Ryan when he was a newborn. I sang to him a lot and there were just so many children's songs I could take. So, to keep myself from getting bored, I would sing all sorts of songs. One of my favourites was, and still is, Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror:

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change

He says it much better (and much more poetically) than I. There's not a lot of authority that's better than the King of Pop!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Eggs on a tree

Christmas is just two weeks away but we haven't got our tree yet. Our new place isn't ready for a tree yet, the contractor will need to make one or two more trips to finish up the renovation work, plus there are still lots of boxes (packed and unpacked) lying about. We're working on it! Getting everything ready in time for Christmas is definitely the goal and that includes getting the tree. Having a Christmas tree is a must because without one, we just don't feel as though we celebrated Christmas properly.

We do have a small plastic tree, which we usually place on the dining table, together with other Christmas decorations. As our new dining table is much smaller than our previous one, I thought I would give this small tree away. Just before I put it in the "outbox", I decided to show it to Ryan and let him have a little fun with it.

Ryan showed quite a lot of interest in the small tree. I got him to play a little game with it - meaning of course I got him to hang some "ornaments" on it. I used these small wooden Easter eggs with strings attached, which were the perfect size for hanging on the small tree.

The tree is only a little shorter than Ryan, so he could reach the top of the tree, which as you can see from the multiple eggs, was his favourite spot.

Actually Ryan was a little apprehensive when I introduced the tree to him because the plastic leaves were hard and prickly to touch. So I quickly grabbed the eggs which were nearby (we had just finished playing with them) to try to maintain his interest in the tree. I was hoping that the fun of hanging the eggs on the tree would overcome the discomfort of touching the prickly leaves, and fortunately, it worked. He thoroughly enjoyed the activity and I hope he now has good vibes about Christmas trees.

The tree is still in Ryan's playroom, still bearing the Easter eggs. I can't bear to give it away now!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

High tea at the Ritz

I took a few days off work this past week to unpack and to stick around the apartment to wait for various deliveries (furniture and lights) and various workmen (electrician, plumber). I had Ryan with me in the mornings and he went to his nanny in the afternoons when I ran errands and bought some small items for the apartment. On Wednesday, Ryan's nanny fell sick so Ryan stayed with me the whole day, which meant I did very little unpacking and lots of playing. On Thursday, I went back to work and boy was it a tough day, as I had to prepare for a hearing on Friday and Saturday. Friday was more than full - I got home from the office at about 9 pm. Then I was at work again on Saturday from 9.30 am till 5.30 pm.

Richard was wonderful - he looked after Ryan the whole day on Saturday and had absolutely no problems. They had a great adventure - I'll pester him to write a post about what they got up to.

Richard also went solo on Sunday afternoon while I had some "me-time" - I joined the SMH mummies for high tea at The Ritz Carlton, which was a wonderful way to reward myself for a tiring week. It was also a farewell for Sue Lin, who is leaving for USA later this month. There were 12 of us and I think we all had a great time, relaxing and chatting away.

High tea at The Ritz Carlton

Friday, December 3, 2010

Project N - in transition

When we brought Ryan back from the hospital after he was born, Richard carried him through the house, introduced him to each room and told him that this was his home. On Saturday evening, after the Big Move, we went through the same ritual. We brought Ryan back to the old house and we took him to each room and showed him that we were saying goodbye.

Well, Ryan seems to have understood and seems to have no problems with the big change. I think two very important factors helped - first was that we have been bringing him to the new place quite frequently, so he wasn't freaked out when we stayed put there and second, I set up his playroom straightaway. He absolutely loves being in the playroom, surrounded by his books and toys, with endless activities to engage him. The playroom is not quite done yet, I'll put up some photos when it's finished.

As for Richard and I, we're happy about being in the new place. There is however a small negative - the renovation works aren't complete yet (although the contractor handed back the unit to us last week). We virtually moved into a construction site and this was amply represented by the huge scaffolding in our living room.

The contractor used the scaffolding to prepare the ceiling wiring for the lights in the double height space and they would also use it to install the lights when the lights were delivered. The good news is that our dining set and our Kartell lights came this week, which was much earlier than we thought. The bad news is that, since the lights were coming in just a week after the contractor handed the unit back to us, the contractor decided to leave their scaffolding in our living room till the lights came.

The scaffolding in our living room
Well, the lights were installed yesterday so the scaffolding is now gone. But we're still unsettled because some of the built-in furniture is not done yet and there are some little adjustments to be made here and there to the furniture that has already been installed. As the works aren't complete, we can't unpack all the boxes yet, so there're just boxes and boxes everywhere. We can't even tuck the boxes away neatly because we need to clear some space around the areas that still need to be worked on, so the boxes are in the most inconvenient spots at the moment.

Anyway, the rest of the works are expected to be completed next weekend so there's about one more week to go before we can finish unpacking.

The cat and the dog seem to be adjusting well. The first few days, I think they thought that we were on some sort of outing and that we would all go home soon to the old house. Tiger spent a lot of time on the terrace, pining for his unbounded outdoors (either that or he hid out in the household shelter) and Max spent a lot of time lying by the main door. They seem to have became much closer though, they hang out a lot together now - Richard says that they're combining forces to figure out a way out of the unit. After a few days, I think they've caught on to the idea that we're not leaving this place so they've settled themselves in. Both of them are eating well and look relaxed and happy.

I forgot to mention that, last Friday I brought Tiger to the vet for a follow-up on his kidneys and got some great news. Tiger had been eating well but had been refusing his fluid therapy for the past few weeks so I was a little worried. Well, the vet did some tests and the tests show that Tiger DOES NOT HAVE KIDNEY FAILURE!!! What incredible news! Apparently, his kidneys are working fine now so the vet thinks that the previous episode was probably a one-off inflammation or infection which we managed to treat in time. I was stunned! The vet did say though that this is a lucky result and we should monitor Tiger closely as he is an old cat. But I was just so happy about the news, how absolutely wonderful!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Project N - The Big Move

After all the filtering, sorting and de-cluttering, we managed to finish packing in good time for the Big Move on Saturday afternoon. Ryan's nanny kindly agreed to take him for the day so we dropped him off in the morning at her place.

Back at the house, it was a strange feeling to see the empty shelves and cupboards. The last time they were like that was when we were moving in, almost five years ago. The house was new to us then, and we were just getting to know it. Now everything is so familiar but we are moving out.

The movers came earlier than scheduled. They said that we didn't have much stuff (probably because we didn't have much furniture) and they loaded up quickly.

It was a very sentimental moment for Richard and I to see our house being emptied and to know that we would not be living in this house anymore. We were getting flashbacks of all the good times we had in the house, and we have had many. Lots of parties, outdoor barbeques, adventures with the cat and dog, little moments with Ryan, special moments with each other and reunions with family and old friends.

It was hard to come up with an adequate goodbye to the house. All I could think of saying was "Thank you for looking after us for the past five years." 

Bye bye, old friend.

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