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Married Life Blooper #2: OK….WHAT?!

SO. Valentine’s Day zipped past us. If you must know, we don’t celebrate the occasion, and went out for our usual dinner date on Friday, only to find bosoms after bosoms of flowers shoved in our faces, and eateries after eateries filled to the brim with lovestruck couples.

To avoid the crowds, we hurried home to veg out in front of the telly after some good curry and gelato, and M decided to ‘express’ his love by tracing out what he wanted to say on my arm, something that he often does.

(Italicised conversations below are traced using our fingers on each other’s arm. All others were verbal or …abusive.)

M: I ♡ U

Me: 2 (meaning to say I love him too)

M: LUDD (short for love you deep deep)

Me: 2

*pause*

Me: AM I FAT?

*pause*

M: OK

*SLAP SLAP SLAP* (on his chest, by the way)

M (clueless): HUH?! WHAT’S WRONG WHAT’S WRONG?

Me: WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY OK WHEN I ASK YOU IF I AM FAT?!!

M: That’s what you were writing?! OH MY GOSH, sorry, I didn’t know what you were tracing, so I just went OK!

Me: Don’t bluff!

M: REALLLLLYY!

Me: *SUSPICIOUS*

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‘WHAT am I marrying…whale in white, ah?’

Moral of the story: Be clear on what your wife is asking before you reply, especially when you watching TV, or worse, football or playing video games. One wrong move and your wife will blog about it.

Your Hand In Mine

My beloved husband,

I know, I know…I have avoided anything that reminds me of our lives in Boston. It must be funny to you how I refuse to even have Korean fried chicken now but trust me, it isn’t funny at all to be reminded of the morning (more like all-day) sickness that hit me when I was pregnant with Faith. You and I know that life was terribly tough then.

But of course, life was tough because of the unfortunate events that happened on top of the morning sickness. What started out as an adventure that we were both looking forward to quickly spiralled into a teary mess whilst we were en route to the city. I will never forget how we huddled together for the remaining hours of our flight, stricken with fear and doubt, when I told you I bled heavily on the plane. We didn’t know if our pregnancy was viable, and we spent the first six hours of our lives in Boston getting prodded and weeping at the ER in MGH. Who would have guessed that we would spend the next six weeks either muted with fear for our baby’s well-being or crying in the serviced apartment that we called home in Boston. Well, I didn’t.

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I never did thank you for what you did to keep me sane during the nightmarish weeks back then.  I didn’t even realise how frightened you must have been by the episode, until I thought about it this evening as I flipped through our photos taken in Boston. Yet, you put on a brave front for me; like you always say, ‘One of us has to be strong for the both of us when the other is weak’.

Remember how you took me out to Boylston Street on Christmas Eve, ever so determined to treat me to a good meal to take my mind off things? Even though we ended up having Taiwanese beef noodles in a dodgy part of Chinatown, I would never forget your optimism and how you held me close as I cried outside Arlington Street Church, which we chanced upon in town. Thank you for saying a prayer with me that night.

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Thank you for holding my hand the whole time when we were waiting for the test results on Christmas morning. I would have broken down completely if not for you. And yes, the trip that we had planned to revisit our honeymoon destination, NYC? Thank you for insisting that we go ahead. I was sick to the gut with worry, but believe it or not, I had the best time with you, even if smiles from me came in the stingiest snippets. I knew you wanted me to let go, and I really tried to be happy because I wanted you to be happy too. I hope you know that.

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It wasn’t easy when you started working at MGH. Your hours were terribly long; I remember you had to wake up at 4am and didn’t get home till 7.30pm. Even though you were exhausted, you took care of me when I was plagued with morning sickness. You held my hair up as I heaved, rubbed my back, held me in your arms as I sobbed with worry over our unborn child, and rushed back during your 30-minute lunch break just so that I wouldn’t feel alone.

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Oh, do you remember the snowstorm that hit us at the end of our stay in Boston? I was feeling well enough to finally step out of the apartment to stomp around in thick blankets of snow. We built a snowman and stuck the ‘Baby On Board’ badge we had gotten from the Tube in London on its chest. We laughed heartily for the first time in weeks, and threw snowballs at each other. The sharp, cold air made me feel alive with every breath I took, but most of all, the sight of you, so relaxed and happy in the snow, gave me strength and renewed faith.

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And just like that, your hand took me to our last day in Boston. We took our first and final walk around the residential area near Charles Street, and I was reminded that hope is around the corner every time we walked past a cheerful Christmas wreath. That we would be back home in Singapore soon, and answers would be revealed in good time. That you would be right by my side, through the good and the bad. I was ready for anything because I had you.

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I never did thank you for helping me through one of the toughest times in our lives, and I hope I am not too late in saying this…the tears that nobody knew we were shedding…heartbreaking conversations that only we would know of…smiles that were forced as we tried to make memories of the life in the city I was trying to forget, I couldn’t have gone through it all without your hand in mine. And as strange as it sounds, I don’t want to forget the terrible times we had in Boston, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, because you…you made it all worthwhile.

I am ready for anything because I have you. Thank you, my love.

Always,

Yours

GIVEAWAY! Yamatoya SukusukuES High Chair worth S$288

201302 I Have My Eye On
Parents endeavour to give their children the very best, and I am no exception. As a mother to baby Faith, I am always on the lookout for quality clothes, toys, books, foods and other knick-knacks.

In the series ‘I Have My Eye On‘, I share my favourite finds for my little girl.

[SPONSORED POST* - GIVEAWAY and PROMOTIONAL details in this post] We have a new addition to the family! And we cannot be happier to have this good-looking fellow join us at family meals.

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(I meant the high chair, not the kid. But my kid is definitely cute, and she joins us for family meals too.)

I am very design-conscious when it comes to the way we live. I drive my husband nuts with the need to buy things that ‘are useful AND look good’, but the truth is since Faith came into our lives, it got even harder to lead a handsome lifestyle. I mean…have you seen the obscene riot of colours that gets plastered all over baby furniture? We get Barney purple splashed next to Oscar green, you get the idea, and they make me cringe. I like colours, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so painful to witness the descent of offensive colour combinations upon us. We can’t win them all, so I try my best to stock baby furniture in shades and designs that don’t look out of place in our home, and let the colours loose on smaller items like toys.

I was delighted to uncover this gem of a high chair from Yamatoya. THERE IS HOPE, HUSBAND! After all, the high chair features prominently in the dining room; I wanted something that looks good, one that also scores well on function and ease of maintenance. It isn’t challenging to find a high chair in the market that fits the bill but it can get incredibly expensive (think $600 with the full specs included).

Now, enter the Yamatoya SukusukuES high chair which is everything and more that you can ask for in a high chair, priced much more reasonably (S$288, BUT there is a Chinese New Year promotion AND I’m hosting a giveaway, so read on!). Sure, Yamatoya is lesser known in Singapore than other companies but it is the top children’s furniture brand in Japan and Korea, and has been in the Japanese market for over 80 years. Yamatoya has only recently expanded into the Taiwanese and Singaporean markets, and is slowly gaining traction for its quality products.

We know that the Japanese are ingenious and meticulous at designing good-looking and highly functional lifestyle products, and I would make a beeline for the Yamatoya SukusukuES high chair for the reasons below:

1. We are a family of foodies who love to gather with our loved ones at the dining table. The SukusukuES high chair allows Faith to really join us at the table, and at a perfect height too!

2. We practise baby-led weaning and that means PLENTY of mess since Faith feeds herself most of the time. The SukusukuES high chair is a dream to clean – just a cloth lightly dampened with water and you’re ready to roll (or wipe, that is)!

3. When I prefer to have Faith munch on stuff upstairs during snack times (and that means I don’t have access to a dining table), the table attached to the SukusukuES high chair can be swung forward, and again, it is very easy to clean. If you don’t like the table, simply detach it from the chair with the allen key supplied.

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4. There isn’t any seat belt to mess with to restrain the child, save for a guard. I prefer it this way, as this means that I can clean things up easily without detaching belts for a wash. The guard is very easy to install; you can use this for younger children (like Faith, who is almost 17 months old) and remove it for older kids who can sit safely in a normal chair. We have no issues with our very lanky toddler trying to wriggle out of the guard, and this is saying something as the guard does not go all the way around to restrain the child and the gaps are pretty tiny!

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5. The seat plates can be very easily adjusted to different heights to accommodate a growing child; the high chair is made of rubber wood and it can withstand a load of up to 60kg, so this means I can sit on it too when Faith uses it in the adult configuration (provided I don’t balloon in size). Faith can use it till whenever she hits the weight limit. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!

6. The curved seat board means that kids can tuck their legs inward comfortably, instead of having their knees and legs jut out at an awkward angle. The ergonomic design of the high chair also ensure good posture (check out second photo of Faith, above)!

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7. The chair is supremely easy to assemble with an allen key, screws and knobs that are all supplied with the set. No need for screwdrivers, crazy tools and rising tempers.

8. Being made out of wood, the chair is surprisingly light (I can hoist this up three stories in our house and trust me, I am the most sedentary person ever) but incredibly sturdy with its well-designed footprint. I don’t fear Faith rocking the chair or tilting it backwards, and it’s all thanks to the plastic stabilisers attached to the feet of the chair, and the t-joint side frames that distribute the weight evenly when someone sits on the chair. The footprint is not awkward at all, and I don’t trip while hovering around the chair (the same can’t be said for other chairs that I’ve moved around in restaurants).

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9. The paint is non-toxic – a must for kids who like to chew on everything.

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(above image taken from Yamatoya Singapore)

10. The high chair comes in the most wonderful colours (none of which are offensive, and they come in single tones). These will fit right into your home, depending on the colour scheme of your interiors!

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PROMOTION DETAILS:

The complete set costs only S$288, which includes the guard, table, a machine-washable seat cushion sewn in the prettiest hand-picked fabrics (the prints are seasonal and may vary from the ones I have here) and free delivery! Hold your horses though (what a pun, because the Year of the Horse is just round the corner, geddit geddit), because Yamatoya Singapore is holding a PROMOTION just in time for the Lunar New Year! Simply visit their website from 20th-29th January 2014 (promotion ends on 29th), and purchase the SukusukuES high chair at a discounted price of S$266. If you’re interested in the MaternaEU high chair, which is the premium option made of beech wood and only comes in Natural, it will be going for S$466 instead of S$488 during this period. Once you have purchased the high chair on the website, Yamatoya Singapore will call you to arrange for the next available delivery date and a variety of seat cushion designs will be delivered to you for selection. Yamatoya products are still not available in retail stores at the moment, but it is something that we can look forward to in the future.

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(above image taken from Yamatoya Singapore)

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Now, now. If you’re still with me after such a lengthy post, it’s time to reward you with the promise of a GIVEAWAY!

Yamatoya has kindly sponsored one SukusukuES high chair in Natural to give away to a lucky reader of mine (you have to be based in Singapore as Yamatoya does not deliver internationally). It comes with the guard, table, seat cushion and free delivery! Read on carefully on how you can win one (sorry, my site does not support Rafflecopter, so we’re going to do this old-school way, but I assure you, the efforts will be worth it!).

1. Like The Pleasure Monger on Facebook and share this blog post on your Facebook account. Remember to keep the post public and tag me (@The Pleasure Monger), so that I can see and verify it, should you win.

2. Follow The Pleasure Monger on Twitter and tweet this blog post on your account. Again, remember to keep the post public and tag me (@pleasure_monger), so that I can see and verify it, should you win.

3. If you have an Instagram account, post this following photo with this caption: I would like to win the Yamatoya SukusukuES Chair in Natural. Here’s how you can win it too – http://thepleasuremonger.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/sukusukues-giveaway/. Again, remember to keep the post public and HASHTAG #tpmyamatoya, so that I can hunt for and verify it, should you win.

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4. You can choose to do any of the above, or all, as many times as you wish between 15th-19th January 2014 (giveaway ends 2359h). Each share gives you one chance in the draw. So if you have shared the giveaway on Facebook 3x, Twitter 2x and Instagram 4x, you get a total of 9 chances.

5. IMPORTANT! This step is mandatory for me to pick a winner. Please comment on this blogpost after sharing in the following format:

Facebook: Username, Shared x number of times
Twitter: Username, Shared x number of times
Instagram: Username, Shared x number of times
Email: Given when logging in to comment, so make sure you enter a valid email address!

6. A winner will be selected randomly using Random.org. I will announce the winner on this post and the various social media platforms, pass on the email address to Yamatoya Singapore, and the staff will contact the winner to arrange for delivery of the high chair.

GOOD LUCK, AND THANK YOU, YAMATOYA!

*I was gifted one Yamatoya SukusukuES high chair in White to review, and one Yamatoya SukusukuES high chair in Natural to give away to a lucky reader. No monetary gift was received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored items, should I find the products unsuitable.


THE GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED! Thank you all for your participation!

You can now shop online at Yamatoya Singapore!

A Fresh Start

So 2013 has gone by in a flash, and we are already hurtling towards the end of the second week of 2014. That’s two weeks down from the fifty-two we have in a year, and we all know that time isn’t quite a patient fellow, for it waits for no man. Before we know it, #52 would outstrip us by a mile and we would be so busy catching our breaths that we wouldn’t know what hit us in 2014. Ahh, pause, play, and repeat, I’m not sure about you but that is the story of my every year.

Perhaps, there is something about crossing over to the wrong right side of 30s. Perhaps, it’s got to do with me being a mother. Perhaps, I’m just a little wiser than before. But this year, I’d like to do something different.

I’d like to make the every day count.

I don’t mean that I’d keep myself busy with the grandest plans every second of the day. And I don’t mean that I’d go climbing Mt Everest or sky-diving every chance I get to do so. Hell no, that would be completely exhausting, and unrealistic for a penguin like me. But I mean to say that I hope to work and rest meaningfully.

I’d like to keep my new hobbies sustainable – baking, plating/styling, writing, mastering western calligraphy. And whilst I would love to be recognised on a more professional level for these skills at some point, I would like to, even more so, soak up the lessons that come with these interests. I don’t mean making perfect cakes, creating the most beautiful dessert tables, penning the most illustrative thoughts, and nailing the perfect swells and hairlines (well yes, maybe I do want to strive towards achieving those things because that is the basis of self-improvement), but I want to learn patience and perseverance, to see beauty in imperfection, and I most certainly want to learn the art of letting go.

If you know me well enough in person, you’d realise how much of a pain in the ass I am. I see flaws in everything I work on. When something goes wrong, I am the first to blame…myself. No praise can make me feel like I have done a good job, because there isn’t such a thing as a good job, there is only the perfect masterpiece. And the biggest quirk is, I see perfection in what others have achieved, but not when I look at what I have done. A very strange double-edged sword, if you will, but yeap, that’s me you’re talking about.

It all stems from not being able to let go. Whilst this kink in my personality drives me to give my very best in anything I embark on and helped me to excel in most things that I have undertaken, it has blindsided me more than I care to admit. I get so caught up in the details, that I forget to step back and admire the big picture. I missed the opportunities to smile and laugh at the right moments, right being the ones that I should be sharing with the most important people in my life, and I realise now that this drive for perfection is also my greatest downfall.

I’d like to wear this down a little, and just be a little careless, care-less, if you know what I mean, so that I can enjoy the every day more and worry less about how things will turn out. And when I rest, I’d like to rest without guilt. I am trying to subscribe to the idea that it is alright to be idle for the sake of being idle, because we all need a little balance in our lives. Not to sound morbid, but it’s not like we’re going to be taking beautiful bakes, perfect penmanship and a fabulously-packed schedule to the grave; I sure hope to take memories with me instead, and yes, those imperfect moments often make the best of life’s snapshots. You know, like the smash cake I made that Faith DIDN’T smash on her first birthday, and the moment when hubby and I forgot to sign on the ROM register after exchanging our vows AND the first kiss as a married couple, even though I had everything planned to the nano-scale (and oh goodness, we had to do the ‘You may kiss the bride again’ again, awkward much!), and the browned butter cupcakes that I made that weren’t what I imagined them to be but were appreciated by my friends, Mag and Evonne, anyway. Little things like that that make me slightly uncomfortable, but oh-so-glad to be throwing my head back in laughter over.

The art of letting go. It’s not easy but I think acknowledging this makes for a fresh start. Now, onto the third week.

Let’s go.

(Case-in-point below: There are so many flaws that I can point out on the cake AND the photo, but I’m not gonna, because I know I enjoyed making this for my family for our epic Christmas dinner party!)

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May We Sing and Dance Forever More

As I pen the final entry for 2013 on New Year’s Eve, the not-so-little one naps by my side. Her chest rises and falls with every breath, her silky, fine hair tangled in a sweaty mess at the nape of her neck, and her long limbs stretched in peaceful slumber. How she has grown.

How I have grown.

This time last year, I was an excited, frazzled and tired new mother. Today, I am tired, still, as a mother to an active toddler but I am happier, more calm, collected and composed than I have ever been in my life.

2013 was a year of change.

Sure, there were losses. Freedom, friends who are allergic to kids, couple time, me-time. I have lamented over these more than I should over the past year and have come to realise that it is normal to weather these changes once one becomes a parent. The little one needs me; yet, we try to balance ourselves on that high beam, whilst juggling a dizzying myriad of multi-coloured balls, and at times, we dodge Bludgers whilst doing so. It’s not easy, but the beauty of this is how I have been challenged to sieve out what’s important, and hold that dear to my heart.

Like old friends who stay by my side even though we can’t hang out as often as before. Like new friends who bring good tidings and wish nothing but the best for me, who invite me into their lives and share their stories with me, even though I am a stranger. Like my family, who has loved me unconditionally and given selflessly, as always. Like my husband, who loves me and believes in me so very much, and whom I love more everyday, even through the fights and doubts that are such commonplace in newfound parenthood. Like my daughter, whom I do everything and nothing with, who kicks my sorry ass with tantrums and 4am wakings, who surprises me everyday with a new word, and lately, with new songs that she bursts into whenever she feels like it, who strokes me gently when I am down, and kisses and hugs me just because.

I cannot ask for more. And I wouldn’t change the world for what I have been given, good and bad. It has been a stunning year full of joy and tears.

As I watch my daughter stir from her sleep, knowing what is to come in a matter of minutes when she wakes, that she would tug at my hands for us to play…I wish for one thing. That we may sing and dance together forever more.

I wish this for you, and you, too.

Blessed 2014, my friends.

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She Loves Me More Than I Will Ever Know

I often ask my husband if he thinks that Faith loves me.

It may seem like a strange question to ask, and rather peculiar that I should doubt my daughter’s affection for me, but I reckon that parents understand where I am coming from when I say that caring for a young child is, at times, akin to walking down a one-way street. I could smother Faith with kisses, and scoop her up in big bear hugs, but she doesn’t always reciprocate. Even though she spends most of her time with me, it is not uncommon for her to show more affection towards other people around her, people whom she sees less often. Say…when Faith sees someone whom she hasn’t met in a while, she would raise her eyebrows, widen her eyes and squeal with joy. But when she sees me, coming out of the loo for the ten thousandth time in her life, she would barely look up and if I am lucky, she would throw me a blank stare that says, ‘Oh. It’s you again’, then pick her favourite teddy up and go, ‘BEAR!!!!!’ like it is the most incredible thing she has ever laid eyes on. It appears that I am such a constant in her life, that…she may well be taking my presence for granted. Well, at least I thought so.

***

I had a hard time last week. I don’t want to go into details but something happened which made me very upset. My husband and Faith were right beside me, listening to me as I poured my heart out. And boy, DID I CRY LIKE A BABY.

The most wonderful thing happened. Faith, at all of 15 months old, picked up M’s hand and made sure that he rested it on my leg. Then, she rubbed my back for the longest time, just like how I comfort her when she feels upset or distressed, and gestured for her Papa to do the same.

Right there and then, I knew that I thought wrong.

Right there and then, I knew that my daughter loves me.

How much? I might ask.

Well…more than I will ever know. That, I am certain.

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About The Author
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Read about my food-gasmic adventures in San Sebastian here! Also please come by and check out the prettiest cake I've made over here!
Macarons: Be Inspired
Dark Chocolate & Coconut Cookies
Rose & Lychee Chiffon Cake
Pan-seared scallops, jamon iberico chip, pomme puree, jamon iberico foam and chestnut
Red Velvet Cake
An English-themed Dessert Table
Chocolate & Hazelnut Salted Caramel Cake
Gula Melaka Salted Caramel Buttercream Macarons
The Ispahan Cake
The Ispahan
Sunflower Seed Macarons with Black Truffle Salted White Chocolate Ganache
Lemon Cupcakes with Lime & Ginger Whipped Cream
Portuguese Egg Tarts
Ba Zhang - Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Braised Pork Belly
The Fat Duck
Strawberry and Cream Pancakes
Pandan Souffle Roll with Toasted Coconut Whipped Cream
Red Velvet Cake
Lychee and Emperor's Seven Treasures tea-infused macarons
M's Spanish Paella
M's birthday cake - Japanese Cheesecake with Rose Whipped Cream
Lor Bak Gou - Fried Radish Cake
Pandan Chiffon Cake
Homemade Scones
Marmite & Coffee Pork Chops
Quick and Easy fried rice recipe!
Matcha & Adzuki Bean Macarons
Pumpkin & Chocolate Brownies with Cream Cheese Swirls
Matcha, Milo and Plain Polvorons
Kampar Chicken Biscuits - A popular Malaysian snack
White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies
Hustling the Xiao Long Bao in my kitchen
Bailey's & Coffee Macarons

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