Dear Faith: Two and A Half

Dear Faith,

It’s been a year since Mama wrote to you. I had planned to write to you every six months, but things got a little busy when you turned two, and I didn’t get round to penning my thoughts down then. Mama is deeply sorry about that…

You see, I was *just* pregnant with your little sibling then. Whilst it was a much easier first trimester this time (Mama didn’t hurl at all even though I was mostly nauseated), I didn’t want to give up any minute I could spend with you. I took less photos, wrote less often on the blog and in my diary, and soaked up the here-and-now whenever we spent time together. Mama knew that we wouldn’t have much one-on-one time once your sibling is born, and I wanted us to be…us.

And us, it has been. Mama may not have been able to take you out as often as before owing to the difficulty of catching up with your Speedy-Gonzales-esque sprints with a growing bump, and your increasing requests to be carried when I am physically unable to do so as the pregnancy progresses, but we spent a lot of time at home and in the neighbourhood making believe with your growing family of soft toys (including Elephant, Minnie, Bear Bear, Pooh Bear, Olaf, Bunny and many more!), playing with your kitchen, making burgers and ice cream cones out of Lego, singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, reading, blowing and catching (I blow, you catch) bubbles on the balcony and even baking. Oh yes, we cuddle lots too. Papa has been taking you for twice-weekly swims, when you would demand to sit on his back whilst he ferries you around in the water, and squeal in delight when you playfully push his head down under; I would slowly make my way across the pool and wait in the shallow areas for you, if and when you decide to mess with the water jets and scoop water in and out with your sandcastle-building toys, you know, scaled-down activities that Mama can manage whilst being heavily pregnant. Such wonderful times together.

Through it all, we continue to be surprised by how much of a little adult you are and how quickly you are growing up. You say the most astounding things and ask the most unexpected questions. “Can you manage, Mama?” when you see me having difficulty in completing a task. “Is your stomach painful? You must wear this!” when you catch me in the middle of a contraction or a bout of pelvic pain, and run off to get my maternity belt from the wardrobe. “Mama, I help you!” when you see me having difficulties pulling up my shorts as I struggle to bend over the rock-hard bump that is your little sibling. You make your demands for our affection loud and clear and show yours for us unabashedly. “Papa, I want hug and kiss and pat pat.” “Mama, kisssssss!” When you catch me in tears, you fling whatever you have in your hands aside and run to hand me a piece of tissue paper and give me a hug, often rubbing my back gently and whispering, “It’s okay, Mama” as you do so. Whilst I am proud and thoroughly delighted at the being you have blossomed into, your acts of love, words and knowing tantrums do little to assuage my guilt.

The tantrums…they could be ignited by something as simple as wanting Mama instead of Papa to brush your teeth, or Mama being unable to carry you as I am in pain. Whatever the reason, I know it has to do with your attachment to and longing for me, especially with a little sibling on the way. To watch you cry helplessly and know that you do not understand why I am unable to do certain things with you…breaks my heart into a million pieces. On occasions when I was unable to give in to your requests and reasoning failed to work, I had to be stern and I raised my voice at you . You, being the sweet, loving angel that you are, settled down quickly most of the time when I did that and you have no idea how sad I am to know that you did it out of fear of making me unhappy. “I want Mama to be happy”, you would say once you have calmed down. I often weeped, after I put you to bed, and mulled over that guilt for days after, because I know why you were upset on those occasions, and the thing is I don’t know how to reconcile your needs with what I can provide at this point.

Things are going to change very drastically when your little sibling arrives, how so…I do not know. I simply pray that we can go through the transition as a family of four, no matter how hard it may be for all of us and trust that everything will turn out alright.

Faith, you may not understand this now but I want you to know that I love you very much, much more than you will ever know. I want you to know that even though I may not be able to give you my full attention in the near future, I will try my best to be a doting and present mother to you and your little sibling, and a supportive wife to Papa. Please give me time to be good at balancing my different acts, and I promise Mama will be back in no time, taking you out on one-on-one frozen yogurt dates and runs to the playground. There will be lots of cuddles too, as many as I can dole out, and most importantly, as many as you would like me to give.

You will always be my baby.

IMG_5377

Loving you always,

Mama

A Local Delight to Read: Stacey Goes To The Peranakan Museum

[SPONSORED POST*] We are big, BIG fans of books (in fact, we bought F more books than toys or clothes, most of the latter are gifts from family and friends!) and one of the things I like to do with F after I pick her up from preschool on weekday afternoons is to read. We have amassed a variety of tales in F’s growing library, but one genre that I didn’t get my hands on relates to our local context. Up until recently, that is!

Lianne Ong, author of Stacey Goes To The National Museum, has released the second book in the Stacey & The Museums series in partnership with the National Heritage Board, and this one really caught my eye as it introduces the Peranakan culture to children.

2015/03/img_6981.jpg

When I first received the book, I was a little concerned that the prose might be too advanced for F, who is just 2.5 years old now but looking at how F pounced on the book when I whipped it out and how she gushed over the brightly-coloured illustrations, I needn’t have worried that this was out of her league. She pored over the book and pointed excitedly at the pictures, exclaiming, “Pretty dress!” when she spotted the kebaya, and thumbed every page whilst giving a live commentary of what the illustrations depicted before she handed me the book and asked to be read to. As I went through the story with her, I was brought back to the time when we visited the Peranakan Museum with F; she was about one then.

I thought the book is an excellent platform to introduce the Peranakan culture to children, especially when Lianne takes bits and bobs of the exhibits and weaves them into a fantasy where a statue takes Stacey through the museum! I see it as the perfect guidebook for children to navigate and relate the content to the exhibits in the museum; this is what I would do when we take F to the Peranakan Museum in future, as F is very fond of and quick at pointing out things she sees, and relating them to what she has learnt in songs and books these days. I reckon the excursion, with the tale in hand, will make for a memorable adventure for F (and really, it makes it so easy for us parents to stir our children’s interest in local culture and history, I would be clueless as to how to do that otherwise).

We can’t wait for the third book in the series to be released; if the approach is similar to what Lianne has done for the first two books, then I think we might have ourselves another excellent children’s guidebook to one of Singapore’s other museums.

*I was gifted one copy of Stacey Goes To The National Museum and one copy of Stacey Goes To The Peranakan Museum. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

The Stacey & The Museums Series are sold here. Like the Stacey & The Museums Facebook page for updates on book releases in the series and readings!

Look Ma, My (Clean and Soft) Hands!

[SPONSORED POST*] I didn’t used to carry hand sanitisers with me unless I was on holidays. After Faith was born, I became a clean freak and lugged at least one bottle from a certain brand everywhere I went because I didn’t want her to fall ill and hand sanitisers are real lifesavers in making sure that we emerge from poop/pee accidents (mostly) unscathed when there isn’t a bathroom in sight.

For more than two years, the hand sanitiser did its job, but left my hands smelling like alcohol (not unlike the days when I had to spray my hands down with 70% ethanol whilst working in the research lab) and feeling very, VERY dry. I was keen to look for an alternative but never got down to it. Most hand sanitisers that are on the market contain alcohol anyway.

201501  Safehands review

Then, Su-Lin from Our Lifestyle Shop gifted us with the latest kid on the block, the safeHands 7 Oz Bundle Pack ($59.70) that consists of three bottles of alcohol-free hand sanitisers (in assorted scents), which changed my life, quite literally. My hands were no longer dry. I no longer reek of alcohol; instead the sanitiser leaves a pleasant, subtle scent if I choose to use the scented ones (Cucumber Mint and Clean Linen). The foam dispensed feels good on the hands (and thrills F to bits with its texture). It is very gentle on the skin (F has eczema and has not reacted to safeHands at all). I have one bottle in my car and have barely made a dent in the bottle despite using about four pumps daily since the middle of November 2013. Granted, it’s not cheap at almost $20 for a bottle, but you get a whopping 7oz of product in each bottle (more than the usual sanitisers on the market), and considering that one full pump suffices for sanitising purposes, you do get a lot of mileage out of one bottle.  I’d say you pay for quantity AND quality, especially when it’s non-toxic, non-drying, alcohol-free, non-flammable and non-irritating, and is the only FDA-registered, EPA-recognised and USDA-approved hand sanitiser that kills MRSA, VRE and C-diff. SOOOO much win!

I have just one nagging thought about the safeHands sanitiser. It’s too big for me to lug in my diaper bag…I mean, you CAN, but I’d much prefer a travel-sized one for outings, especially when a single pump gives you sufficient product to eliminate germs. Now, THAT would be perfect! I’d say the 7oz bottles are great for keeping in cars and on desktops for when you need to sanitise your hands.

GIFT WITH PURCHASE:

To kick off the new year, we have our first giveaway for you! Receive a free sample of Drain Blast (two tablets good for a total o two uses; the full-sized product is good for 12 uses) with every purchase of the safeHands Bundle Pack! Enter the promotional code thepleasuremonger when you checkout. Promotion valid until 12 February 2015.

IMG-20141201-WA0001

More on Drain Blast:  It is a Green product (yay!) that is used to eliminate blockages in commercial and residential drains and to get rid of fruit flies in drains. The bacteria in the product chomps on the scum layers where the flies live, breed and eat, and therefore, eliminates the food source for the flies. When used as a biological mop water treatment (and by that, I mean you drop a table into a bucket of water meant for mopping), it removes food sources for other insects as well including cockroaches, disrupts the habitat that flies require for breeding and degrades organic material in cracks, crevices and drain lines. Be gone, you nasty bugs! I would LOVE to get my hands on this!

*I was gifted one safeHands 7oz Bundle Pack to review. 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.

You can shop online at Our Lifestyle Shop.

This Year, Our Year

2014 was a little bit of everything. It was a year when we worked hard and played hard. When the three of us grew up in our own ways and as a family. When we became acutely aware, more so than ever (if that’s even possible), that family comes first. When we started praying together as a family, every night before Faith goes to bed. The year zipped past, chock full of laughter and joy, with a little bit of drama and some heartbreaking tears from personal struggles, and it ended off on a quiet note, with Faith going to bed on New Year’s Eve, softly chiming, “Happy New Year, Mama. Happy New Year, Papa”, and with M and I solemnly reflecting on our lives at the stroke of midnight as we crossed into 2015.

The greatest changes were evident in the little powerhouse of ours. Faith started pre-school in March and grew up very quickly after that. She can now speak in full and rather long sentences, string and express her train of thoughts quite coherently, and insists on doing things on her own. “No Mama, Faith wear shoes herself”, she says whenever I forget that she is no longer a baby who needs Mama to tend to her every need. She continues to be a joyful girl who now loves to sing (like a rockstar) and dance (like a member of some indigenous tribe with two left feet) to anything that is remotely rhythmic. She is mostly an easygoing, chatty child with family, generally shy in the presence of others and extremely loving, one who is always quick to express genuine concern when somebody is in tears or yelps in pain. I will not forget how she has somehow learnt to hand me tissues, rub my back and ask, “You okay?” with furrowed brows whenever I cry. Her antics and conversations with us have M and I laughing until our bellies hurt. And she laughs like it truly matters, when we do. We often find ourselves staring at each other incredulously whenever she says or does something extraordinary, which is pretty darn often, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. There were the epic displays of tantrums, of course, but thankfully, they were far and few between; whilst we did feeling like gouging our own eyeballs out on certain occasions, there has been no casualties. 2014 was the year when we watched Faith’s personality come into being and we can’t wait to see how she blossoms next, even as I quietly lament at how she is no longer my squishy baby.

We also enjoyed more time as a family with holidays and a better work-life balance for M; this is in stark contrast to our topsy-turvy lives back in 2012 and 2013 when we barely saw M. We travelled to Bali and stayed in a villa with a large private pool, where Faith fell head over heels in love with what she thinks constitutes swimming (she can’t swim and hates going under the water, so….). We sat through the worst traffic congestions ever in Jakarta and lugged Faith along to the most kid-unfriendly activities such as vintage shopping in the extreme heat. Faith also gamely tucked into the dirtiest street foods with us (bún chả, anyone?) in Hanoi and we all survived. And we enjoyed the most beautiful spring in Sydney, where we spent lots of time running outdoors and soaking up the sun rays in the cool, dry weather. We giggled and cuddled lots during our family vacations, as if to make up for the time lost in the two years before. Most of all, we saw M on a more regular basis, at humane hours too, and we cannot be more thankful for the new working arrangement.

2014 was also a year when I watched M grow into his calling. This is the tenth year that we have been together and I’m not kidding when I say that we have spent the last ten years chasing his dream of being a doctor. From the trying days of medical school in London to the toughest training at work in Singapore, I am immensely proud to witness the huge differences he has made in people’s lives, not just medically but emotionally as well. I may be biased but to me, that’s the true mark of a great physician. It’s absolutely wonderful to see him progress in the right direction. If anything, I feel like I’m realising my own dream too. Hopefully, 2015 will bring him good tidings, and that he will continue to mature personally and professionally.

As for me, well, 2014 was a mixed bag of everything. I baked a little more in the first half of the year, and ran a very tiny venture (which is now closed owing to other commitments I have got going on). In the second half of the year, I started writing professionally and it’s nice to receive remuneration and recognition for my written works. These made me feel like I’m more than just a mother. I started driving at the end of March after overcoming one of the biggest fears in my life (yes, I was such a scaredy-cat, to only start driving 8 years after getting my license!), and am now a lot more confident behind the wheel. I attribute this newfound bravery to #thelengthsthatmummiesgotofortheirchildren. I have also grown to be a lot more vocal and do not hesitate when I need to stand up for myself, and I like that bullies are beginning to realise that I am no longer the pushover I once was. I have also learnt to let go of friendships that are no longer working out (sadly, they started to deteriorate after I became a stay-at-home-mother) and keeping those who really matter, understand and love me for who I am, close to my heart (thank you, to those who have stuck around. I don’t say very much but you mean a lot to me). Braver, and a lot less tolerant for pretence and bullshit, well..I guess Faith wasn’t the only one who grew up loads. Whilst it was generally a happier and much more fulfilling year than before, there were heartbreaks here and there too…but I’m glad that I’m still on track to a better sense of well-being. Fingers crossed for this year then, for me to make the best out of whatever life hands me. I pray that 2015 will be the year in which I grow stronger, live passionately, love freely and trust whole-heartedly.

This year…this will be a year of change for us. M is settling down into a new work routine, and I, into a more challenging role as a mother and hopefully, a better (and more professional?) writer/baker/whatchamacallit. Both of us hope to be better, not just at what we do, but as people, parents and a couple. Faith has started N1 in a new school recently, and is adjusting well, and we hope to help her blossom into a considerate, loving young lady. We are definitely looking forward to the many kick-ass interactions we will have with our funny little girl. We will also (finally!) be moving into a space of our own and are all set for a new lease of life in our new home. We aren’t certain how things will pan out but we know that we will get into and out of 2015 as a family, with a whole lot of excitement and a healthy dash of fear, and that’s really all that matters to us right now.

We hope to make this year OUR year and wish the same for you too. Say “Aye!” to a better life and a better you!

201412 Happy New Year

Calling All Clean Freaks and Insect-Phobes!

[SPONSORED POST*] I’m pleased to share some good news with you! First up, The Pleasure Monger has been appointed one of the Ambassadors of Our Lifestyle Shop. It wasn’t a tough decision to agree to Su-Lin’s invitation because we genuinely love the products that we have been sponsored by and purchasing from the shop; some of the products, I have been using for over two years ever since F was born as I endeavour to keep our exposure to toxins to a minimum whilst keeping our home clean, safe and insect-free. Second, the festive season is just around the corner and the store is offering some pretty amazing Christmas bundles for all you clean freaks and insect-phobes like myself!

201407 KONK I 1

Just two of my favourite products!

The bundles are permutations of four of my favourite products that I use to keep my home clean and insect-free, and now is a good time as any to stock up on these babies!

1. ‘Deck the Halls with Clean & Merry’ at $79.90

The bundle consists of:

- One KONK® I HH Flying Insect Killer (one of the most effective and safest insecticides known to man, and I have been using this for more than two years ever since F was born, to keep our exposure to toxins to a minimum while killing those pesky insects such as roaches and mozzies)

- One B-Sanitized™ (a simple one-step solution for environmental protection against viral, bacterial fungal and mould contaminants, and yes, we used this to contain the spread of HFMD after F got infected at school)

- FREEBIE: Receive one SafeHands® Hand Sanitizer (Unscented) for free when you purchase this bundle

- Enter cleanmerry during checkout to enjoy this promotion!

2. ‘Jingle Bell KONK’ at only $126

The bundle consists of:

- Three KONK® I Flying Insect Killer Refills (used in the KONK® I patented Automatic Air Guard Timed Release Mister, it regularly releases metered doses of KONK® I, providing consistent, 24 hour round-the-clock protection against these flying and crawling insects, keeping your loved ones safe)

- FREEBIE: Receive one KONK® I HH Flying Insect Killer for free when you purchase this bundle

- Enter jinglebellkonk during checkout to enjoy this promotion!

3. ‘Santa’s Christmas TWIN pack’ at $199

The bundle consists of:

- One Automatic Air Guard Timed Release Mister

- Two KONK® I Flying Insect Killer Refills (used in the Mister, it regularly releases metered doses of KONK® I, providing you consistent, 24 hour round-the-clock protection against these flying and crawling insects, keeping your loved ones safe)

- FREEBIE: Receive one KONK® I HH Flying Insect Killer for free when you purchase this bundle

- Enter twinpack during checkout to enjoy this promotion!

4. NEW: ‘Wishing U a SafeHands Christmas ‘ at $59.70

The latest product to grace the inventory of Our Lifestyle Shop, the SafeHands® Hand Sanitizer is non-toxic, non-drying, non-flammable, non-irritating and alcohol-free. You’d be glad to know that it is the only hand sanitizer that kills MRSA, VRE and C-diff. Our Lifestyle Shop has rolled out a new bundle which consists of:

- Three SafeHands® Hand Sanitizer (one each of Unscented, Cucumber Mint and Clean Linen; my review will be out in January 2015)

- No promotional code needed. SImply click on this link to purchase.

All offers are valid until 31 December 2014. Don’t forget to enter the promotional codes when you check out to receive the bundles with the freebies that come with it! Now, go load up your shopping carts!