Category Archives: The Little Ones

I Choose You, 2018. Is

In a parallel universe, I would be dressed up to the nines, counting down to the new year with nary a care in the world and a glass of tipple in my hand, and I would look to 2018 with optimism and anticipation.

In this world, I fell asleep before the clock struck twelve yesterday night. M and I were in our PJs, watching Crown on Netflix, but I was too exhausted to stay awake for 2018 to come along. Now, it sounds like I was really looking forward to the new year and that I was just wiped out of energy to be up for the countdown, but the truth is I’m not sure if I am all that ready for the marathon that is Jan-Dec. Let me explain, so stick around for a bit, will you?

2017 was a mixed bag of everything. It wasn’t as generally-wonderful as 2016 was to me; I hit some real lows in 2017, so I should want to run from that year as fast as I can. But those troughs revealed some of the most teachable moments, powerful motivations and miracles in my life. As some wise men once said, you can’t hit rock bottom without coming back up.

One of the most teachable moments that shook my world showed up when I was working hard to fulfil an unprecedented number of orders for the Christmas bake sale. For three weeks, I was slogging away in the kitchen, smashing out trays and trays of cookies. The first few days were a little rough, as I was not yet on a fluid routine. With a bit of practice, I was soon going at it like I was just breathing; it was as if the brain stem took over and I was on auto-pilot. That was when a startling clarity emerged. While my hands were curiously busy and mindlessly purposeful with cookie dough, I was free to think a wee bit much and soon, I was consumed with thoughts that ripped me apart. Certain people from my past came up. How much we once meant to one another. How rifts grew out of nowhere and caught me off-guard. As I diced another piece of chocolate and measured another gram of flour, I asked, “Was it me? Did I do something wrong? Did I not do enough?” I made about 17900 cookies this Christmas, so you can imagine how deeply I plunged into self-blame, how messed up and confused I was in those three weeks, how intensely I felt about this loss. It was utterly heart-wrenching and painful, because I dissected every moment I shared with these people and re-lived every bit of joy and heartbreak. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I am now fully aware of what happened, thanks to the time that baking and packing 17900 cookies had accorded me. By the time I delivered the final carton of cookies, I have pummelled my thoughts so much that I know I had reached out as much as I could, that I tried to be there when they needed a friend. But the doors were slammed in my face and there was nothing more I could do, given what I knew and my circumstances then. I had done my very best but that was clearly not good enough for them, for reasons that still elude me. It dawned on me that I have spent far too much time (years!) thinking and tearing up about people who don’t even bat an eyelid when it comes to me, and that it is time to move on. Because there are people in my life who I want to and should share Life with. They have waited in the wings for me to get out of this grief, helping me out of a mess that they didn’t create, and they shouldn’t. Instead, they love me deeply and I want to love them more than ever. The people who really matter, who show up even when I am being a troll, they are the ones I should be losing sleep over.

That brings me to the single, most powerful source of motivation that was gifted to me in 2017. Love. Of course, it has taken various forms all my life but 2017 was the year it shone like a knight in spanking new armour. My family since I was born, M since he promised to love me, my kids who want me to be in their Everyday, my small but wonderful bunch of mummy friends who let me be me. Without them, I would have sunk. Without them, I don’t know where I will be today. I would be ill and I would still be in bed. I would not have a reason to wake up to everyday. Because of them, I emerge victorious with small wins every single day. I no longer am plagued by crippling headaches like I was for 8 months last year. I stepped out of my comfort zone much to their generous support and encouragement, and pushed my boundaries at work on borrowed courage. Because of them, I am beginning to learn to be kinder to myself, to slowly recognise that I am enough, and that I am unique and I value-add to their lives. I don’t want to go into too much detail here because those of you who know, you know anyway, and I thank you for sticking around even when I am not the easiest person to love.

Lastly, the fact that I am alive, being given the gift of everyday to receive and give Love, to know and learn the nuances of Life, to understand pain and get up regardless and move inch by inch till I get somewhere that is less painful, to have transitioned from being on my knees feeling broken and unworthy to standing on my feet and saying thank you for Grace, to have been there and to want to help others who may be going through the same thing, these are miracles.

So you see, 2017 had been fleshed out with a bit of everything, a little too intense for my liking, hence my hesitation in moving towards 2018. But I know that I have to first know what’s weighing me down before I can let go of them and fly.

Here’s to a bumpy 2018. I know you are going to be rough but I know Love, Life and Grace will sustain me, so…I choose you.

Advertisements

The Things Ethan Says #1: Potat

Well, well, well. Look what we have here, TWO chatterboxes in the house now. Of course it’s time to get Ethan a thread on the things that he says.

I was sobbing over an incident sometime ago, and E dropped everything he was doing, sat down by my side, and patted me on my arm.

“MAMA, DON’T CRY. I POTAT YOU.”

No, he wasn’t referring to a potato, he just wanted to tell me that he will protect me. I know that because he thumped his chest with his cute little hand when he said that.

That said, I’ll never look at a potato the same way again.

My pint-sized, eyes-a-wandering, most unlikely bodyguard

The Things That Faith Says #9: For Real

My five-year-old surprised me again today. 

F (hovering next to the dining table, a noticeable 2 heads taller than the tabletop): Mama, do you know why I am so tall now?

Me (startled by the sudden observation that she has grown that much but refusing to acknowledge that time has zipped by too quickly): Hmm…are you on tip-toes now?

F (grinning widely): NOOOO! I am going to be 6 years old, for real!

Me (in disbelief at what she just said): Did you just say ‘for real’?!

F: Yes!

Me: Who taught you that?!

F: My friends!

No shit, she is growing up much too quickly. FOR REAL. *facepalm*

It Can Wait

In the five years of becoming and being mum to two children, as well as relegating my needs and desires to the dumps, 2017 is finally a year of change, where I allow some recognition of the importance of self before others. About time, isn’t it?

It has been six months of facing my fears, doing what I would never have dreamt of doing before, putting myself out there waiting to be preyed on or judged (or both). I have been a beneficiary of teeming generosity and kindness of people out there, and have also shrunk in horror at the manipulative ways of scheming strangers who prey on the originality of my work. It has been an eye-opener, and I know that what I face is just the tip of the iceberg.

More so than ever, allowing myself to know what I am afraid of and yet, push ahead anyway, is single-handedly one of the most delicious, liberating experience I have ever had in my life. You know that pounding heart, the dry mouth and white knuckles on a death grip, followed by the surge of relief, joy, fear and exhilaration after that first, weightless drop on a rollercoaster ride that you have been dying to get on if-only-you-had-more-guts-but-you-went-on-it-anyway-because-MOMENT-OF-FOLLY? It’s that, but a million times better.

The creative process is marked by moments of inspiration, sparks that ignite when one least expects it, and the transience of discovery and revelation is what every creative person lives for. But, not everyone lasts long enough before these moments show up. That negative space, that gaping void between such moments is real, often meandered and punishing, and how one deals with that is directly related to whether one succeeds more often than fails.

Now, this is a harsh reality for me. Being a mother to two young children means that I often have to drop everything at once for my family. Ill health, bleeding wounds, tender hearts and empty stomachs are not well-acquainted with the virtue of patience. I have lost count of the number of times when I had to throw everything out of the window to attend to the needs of my family mid-spark. With that, I have also lost count of the number of times I felt frustrated, anxious and stifled by such untimely interruptions. And the guilt for feeling vexed in the first place, oh that guilt.

But they are part and parcel of Life. The rules are simple. If I want something I have never had, then I have to do things that I have never done. If I want to pursue what I am doing now whilst having a family to love and care for, then I have to learn to take that wretched negative space in stride. It’s not easy for me, and I am still struggling with this drought, but I want to put this down in writing to remind myself that it’s okay to be interrupted for as long as it is necessary.

Because, at the end of the day, what matters most is my family. My children, husband, parents and siblings. I am who I am because of them and the unconditional love they have given me.

Tonight, as I cuddled my second-born to sleep and kissed his smelly cheeks (which were smeared with drool….BOYS), I lamented those minutes before that had passed us by. The adorable way he ploughed through bedtime stories, the way he insisted on propping the pillows up in exact positions before he snuggled up to me for bedtime cuddles, the giggles when I pretended to be a T-Rex sniffing out my prey (that would be him) for quality control (lol). It wasn’t too long ago when he used to fit into one of my arms, and here I am, alarmed at how I could barely contain him in both arms now. My heart wept a little when I realised that I have always been running out of time with my loved ones, from when I was a child with nary a care in the world to the mother I am today. Time has never been on my side.

Everyday, there are wounded hearts to mend. Boo-boos to kiss away. People to love. Precious moments to ‘Be There For’, ones that could have been lost forever if we stopped taking notice. Grey hairs that betray the finity of time. Creeping inches and wiser comebacks that I may have missed. Chubby cheeks that will no longer be one year down the road. And who knows when we have to say goodbye to one another? So whatever it is that I am working on can absolutely wait. I may not be getting where I want to be as quickly as my heart desires, but that’s okay, because They can’t wait. We can’t.

Photo by: Grow Old With Me

Stylish Comfort in Le Petit Society’s Basics Collection + Promo Code!

Prior to the fitting session for Le Petit Society’s new Basics Collection, I had not given two hoots about twinning with the kids, let alone with the husband. But everything was changed as soon as we tried the clothes out at Le Petit Society’s “In Real Life” Concept store at Downtown Gallery!

You see, I always thought that twinning might look a little odd on us. The husband is really tall, I’m of average height, we have a son and a daughter, and I didn’t think twinning would work when we were literally ‘all shapes and sizes’. What the founders of Le Petit Society, Robyn and Dylan, have done is to create a cohesive collection that comprises pieces of complementary colours and simple designs, one that allows a family to ‘twin’ with one another without being identical if they didn’t want to. Best of all, the pieces are made of incredibly soft and smooth cotton, the very same fabric that makes true comfort and durability synonymous with Le Petit Society’s clothes for children, and M and I are so glad to have access to clothes as comfortable as our kids’ now!

We were invited to do a styled shoot for the official lookbook and I love how versatile the pieces are as one can come up with more permutations of twinning that what meets the eye. You may recognise some of the photos here if you have seen them on the site or on social media recently. The kids could twin with each other, I could choose to be matchy-matchy with the husband or with Ethan, and the husband can look cute with Faith in the same palette/design. The possibilities are endless.

You may think the lookbook is all there is to the Basics Collection, but think again. If you play around with the different pieces, the Basics Collection becomes anything but basic! Here’s how I styled my family over the weekend.

One of the statement pieces of the Basics Collection is the Playsuit with Leather Straps. The contrast cuffs in mustard green, the very cool (removable) leather straps and inner mustard green peekaboo lining make this piece one stunner that can tie in the look for you as a family. Simply pair the playsuit with the Basic Tank with Stripes in Mustard Green and twin it with the same tank in White! You could purchase the tanks as a set of two (in the same size) to save $12 too!

Did I mention that the cuffs are extendable and the leather straps can be adjusted to different lengths with the buttons, so the playsuit can potentially see a child through for a whopping two years? Talk about getting more bang for your buck!

Mothers who would like to twin with your children in the playsuit can opt for the Ladies’ Basic Fitted Dress in Dark Grey which is similar in colour and has a matching zipper detail on the front, as you will find on the playsuit. You can even pop the Ladies’ Basic Melange Grey Crop Two with Stripes over the dress, and voilà, you get a brand new outfit with the same dress! I love this combination as the crop tee is designed to cut off at the right part of the waist and it hides my jelly belly as opposed to revealing it.

See what I mean? I took these photos after a food baby went in there post-brunch. Not bad, huh?

Two other statement pieces in the collection are the Baby Romper with Gold Foil Skull and the Skull Print Tee in Black & Gold Foil. I absolutely love the skull motifs and I wish the tee comes in my size. I hear that some mums are slim enough to fit into the tween sized ones! Lucky them! The romper is great on its own and can be layered with the playsuit. If you have a toddler who’s about 90cm tall like Ethan is (or shorter) and an older child, I’d suggest getting the romper and the tee, for a bit of variation while twinning on the skulls. That way, your toddler can grow into the tee once he or she grows out of the romper.

The other piece I really like is the Ladies’ Basic Maxi Dress. It comes in two colours – Melange Grey and Navy. They are incredibly soft, stretchy (maternity-friendly) and come with side slits that flap around the calves very nicely, and yet retain your modesty if you are running after the children or squatting down. For nursing mums, you may consider the Ladies’ Basic Henley Maxi Dress (Melange Grey/Navy) as the dress comes with buttons down the front for easy access during nursing. The sizes of these maxi dresses do run a little small, so I’d recommend sizing up. Drop by the store at Downtown Gallery if you would like to try it on before purchasing. The best part of it all is I get to twin with Faith, who looks mighty adorable in the Basic Maxi Dress in Melange Grey! *squeals!* Faith is so happy with the dress that she asks to wear the maxi on repeat!

Again, for mummies, you could put on the Ladies’ Basic Navy Crop Tee with Stripes over the maxi dress in Melange Grey for a bit of a contrast and you have got yourself a new outfit!

The men are not left out of this collection too. Papas can choose from the Adult Basic Tees in Melange Grey and Navy. Now, before you think these tees look alike, look again! The Navy tee comes with a contrast collar but the Melange Grey comes with contrast cuffs AND collar! This applies to the boys’ tees as well. It’s the little details that count, you’d see that Robyn and Dylan have given this collection a lot of thought to ensure every piece is subtly different.

You may have seen some of the family twinning looks on the lookbook (below or on the Le Petit Society site), and over here, I show you how the family can rock a cohesive look without looking boring and identical. The stripes in Faith’s tee and mine are complementary, while she twins with Ethan who sports the same mustard green collar. Ethan and I are both wearing Navy, and M’s grey tee with a navy collar pulls the look together. The possibilities are truly endless and it’s the most Un-Basic Basics collection I have ever come across.

One of the plus points is that the pieces are very affordable, and some pieces go for a real steal if you buy a set of two in the same design but different colour. I have been wearing these very frequently for as long as they aren’t in the wash, and see myself looking nothing like the slob I was on school and grocery runs, and more like a well-dressed mum who insists on simplicity and comfort without compromising on style.

If you’d like to get your hands on the new collection, take 10% off the Basics collection (not applicable for bundle sets are they are deeply discounted) with the code LPSTPM10. The code also gives you 10% off regular-priced items you see site-wide, so you can have a look at the other offerings that Le Petit Society has as well! The code expires on Friday 6 October 2017, so shop away!

Special thanks to Robyn and Dylan for having us on the shoot. The photos turned out so beautifully that I reckon you should consider a side line as a professional photographer, on top of the amazing work that you are already doing with Le Petit Society!

*I was given the Basics Collection in exchange for the styled shoot and an honest review. No other monetary compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own.

Educate, Enrich and Engage With Toys from Owl Bliss + 20% OFF Promotion!

Anyone who knows me well enough will know this, that I don’t spend on loads of things for the children but I would be happy to part with my hard-earned monies for good-quality clothes, toys and wonderful reads. For instance, I’d rather splurge on one well-made toy that would last and entertain the children for a long time, than to buy a variety of cheaper knick-knacks of inferior quality, which are likely to fall apart or even fall out of favour with my children. I also lean towards getting toys that educate, enrich and engage during play.

Owl Bliss is an online store based in Singapore and it brings in THE most beautiful toys, nursery decor and children’s lifestyle goods. It is, in a nutshell, a store after my own heart, one that could potentially bleed me dry because EVERYTHING (not exaggerating here) the store stocks appeals to my sense of aesthetics. I consider myself to be very lucky to have the store owner ask me if she could send me two of its latest offerings from Moon Picnic. Beautiful, enriching and educational? YES, PLEASE!

I picked out one toy each for my kids, as you do when you want be fair.

Cross Stitch Friends is perfect for F! She is 5 years old and has always been good and intuitive with her fine motor skills (she figured out how to tie her hair and use the chopsticks on her own at age 3), but I thought this would take that inclination further as cross-stitching requires her to visualise the pattern, plan the steps needed to make that pattern and execute her plan by getting her to work those little fingers around a needle and thread. Prior to receiving the Rabbit from the Cross Stitch Friends range, I had not planned to get her started on cross-stitching anytime soon as needles are sharp and way too tiny for her to work with. This is why her newly minted Cross Stitch Friend is perfect; the needle is large, made of plastic, blunt, and this makes it safe for children her age to work with. Check out the embedded video to watch her first attempt.

F loves it so much that she does it almost daily, and now that she is getting used to the idea of cross-stitching, I am going to get yarn in different colours for her to create new ‘sweaters’ for her Friend! That should motivate her to come up with new designs but it’s really Mummy’s secret plan to get her to exercise her brain a little on how she might want to get the new patterns done!

E, who is 2 years and 5 months old, received a very well-made board with detachable and moveable features that is Make A Face.

At this age, E is learning to categorise emotions and explicitly doing so with words. “Ethan angry!” “Ethan is sad.” “Ethan happy!” You get the idea. I thought it’d be a great way to get him to work out facial expressions and match them to an emotion using the Make A Face board. It is also excellent for toddlers to work on their fine motor skills in prying the pieces out, flipping them over and rotating them. I love that it is well-designed, looks good (both in the kiddy and adult corners of our home) and extremely sturdy (it is made of wood). F loves to get in on the action as well when we try to explain how people may feel using the board, and how categorical emotions can have their nuances as well.

I see these two new toys going a very long way in our home. I like that they aren’t just a bunch of toys that have got lots of buttons for one to jab, and that they are truly interactive (between child and toy, and between child and adult as the adult guides child through using it), educational and enriching. I have my eye on the Pom Maker next; it is a to-die-for-CUTE donut-shaped pom-pom maker that is absolutely perfect for people who love to craft! I don’t do much craft but if you see the pom-poms that people have been making with it at #welovepommakers, you’d want to get one too!

You may shop online on Owl Bliss. Take 20% OFF STOREWIDE with the coupon code PLEASUREMONGER (valid until end of September 2017)!

*I was given two toys of my choice and I was not obliged to write a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and no other monetary compensation was received.

Cloversoft: Helping Us Save Trees and Polar Bears One Wipe at a Time

I have been looking to replace our household and personal grooming products with more sustainable, eco-friendly, non-toxic, yet equally (if not, more) effective options, and sometimes, it is an uphill, not to mention expensive, task. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that we are completely green now, because we still use a fair amount of disposables and are unable to see ourselves doing without them given our needs; we are a busy household with two young children and I do lots of heavy cooking and baking.

It is therefore good news all around when I learnt that we can now get hold of sustainable disposables at competitive prices from Cloversoft. We go through a lot of baby wipes, tissue, toilet paper and paper towels in our home because of the kids and all that cooking/baking. We also go through a lot of water and I am ashamed to say that our water bills are still a little higher than that of our neighbours, even though we have made conscious attempts to cut our usage down. With Cloversoft products in my arsenal, we can reduce our usage of unsustainable, toxic yuckies, and that of water, and I have to say that I am very pleased!

What’s the difference between Cloversoft products and counterparts on the market?

The wipes, tissue, toilet rolls, kitchen & hand towels, multipurpose cloth from Cloversoft are made from 100% unbleached bamboo, NOT from trees! Counterparts on the market are made from plastic (wipes) and trees (all others), and they are bleached; these spell trouble for our skin and environment. Bamboo is a more sustainable option that constitutes less carbon footprint, and it has natural anti-bacterial properties (that also means there’s no need to use pesticides in growing bamboo). Cloversoft products are also very competitively priced, and it makes perfect sense to switch to them if you haven’t already done so. Cloversoft also donates part of the proceeds to Polar Bear International, to save our beloved polar bears, one at a time.

“MAKING IT POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO SAVE AT LEAST 10,000 TREES AND A POLAR BEAR IN YOUR LIFETIME.” – Alps Group

  1. Organic Baby Wipes Extra Moisturising (70 sheets per pack) I first purchased these wipes by the carton and was sold on my first use. Each sheet is extra thick, large, and one goes a long way in cleaning whatever mess, as compared to me having to use 3-4 wipes from another brand. The wipes are very gentle on the children’s skin, and that’s saying something as my firstborn has very sensitive skin. I use them at mealtimes, potty times, everything, and I can’t live without them. These wipes are free of alcohol, chlorine (unbleached), phthalates, paraben, phenoxyethanol and formaldehyde, and are unscented and non-toxic. I love them so much that I purchased another carton again when we ran out, and bought the travel-pack anti-bacterial version for when we are out and about.
  2. Organic Anti-Bacterial Wipes (40 sheets per pack) These are so incredibly useful for when we are out and about, as we want portable packs that can help us clean out 99.9% of bacteria when we don’t have access to soap and water. I brought these to Bangkok when we were there for a holiday recently because I wanted these to go into our diaper bag, so we didn’t have to lug the 70-sheet-packs out of the hotel. I didn’t even finish using one pack of this in the four days we were in Bangkok because each sheet is extra thick and large, and was so efficient at wiping dirty surfaces and hands down. These are free of nasties as well and are very gentle on the skin.
  3. Unbleached Bamboo Facial Tissue (2 Ply, 150 sheets per pack) I have also switched out all the paper tissues in our home for bamboo tissues, and they are as strong, absorbent and are suitable for sensitive skin.
  4. Unbleached Bamboo Travel Tissue (2 Ply, 50 sheets per pack) These are travel packs and needless to say, they lighten our loads for when we are out!
  5. Premium Bamboo Kitchen & Hand Towels (160 sheets per pack) I go through A LOT of paper towel rolls because I cook and bake a lot and I need to be very hygienic in my preparations. I even dry my hands on them instead of hand-drying cloths because I want to move on quickly to the next step (especially important in cake decorating) and be 100% clean when preparing food. These are absorbent, strong, and do a fantastic job, and they are made from bamboo, so I feel much better about using disposables when I know that hygiene cannot be compromised.
  6. 100% Unbleached Bamboo Cloth Multipurpose Wipes (52 sheets per roll) Now, this is MAGIC! It acts as an oil sponge that can be reusable for up to 20 washes. I don’t know how it works but it effectively removes grease when it is wet. No detergent is required, all one has to do is to wet a sheet and wipe down greasy pans, surfaces, etc, rinse it quickly (and very easily) under water (all the grease just slips right off the wipe and the sheet can be re-used)! The sheet remains intact with high tensile strength and does not break off like regular paper towels when they are wet. I find that this helps me save so much water and detergent. Previously, I was stuck between using plenty of paper towels and gallons of running water and dishwashing liquid to remove cake batter or food grease from my mixing bowls, pans, etc. Using these wipes to remove food debris prior to a wash has helped me save so much water and disposables, and I am very pleased with that! Just check out the photos below and see how clean the wipe is after rinsing the batter off very briefly under running water.

Clean sheet ready to be used

Cookie batter residue largely removed with one wipe and the sheet is loaded with grease

After second wipe and second rinse, the grease just slips off the sheet and the sheet can be reused!

I have had a very good experience using these products and will continue purchasing them. I strongly encourage you to make the switch to using Cloversoft, it’s really a no-brainer because the products competitively priced, as effective (if not more), and they represent a means through which one can help to save the environment (less deforestation, less chemicals washed into the oceans, less toxicity to all lifeforms) and polar bears, and to reduce the exposure of our families to nasties. In short, you do more with the same amount spent. You also get free delivery within Singapore for orders above SGD40, so it’s a win-win all around!

*I was given some Cloversoft products and purchased the majority of them. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and no other monetary compensation was received.

Dear Ethan: Two Too Soon

Dear Ethan,

They say that the years pass us by as the kids grow older, and I thought I understood that full and well having watched your sister sprout much too quickly from an infant to a toddler to the preschooler she is today. But, oh are the years really whizzing past with you in the mix! How did you grow from that scrawny little orange kampong chicken that you were to the strong-willed, fearless, active, snail- and dinosaur-loving, conversing boy with a cute tum-tum that you are today? It’s as if you have decidedly stepped up, just so you could catch up with your sister, who sings, talks and plays with you everyday.

Now, I know I said in my previous letter to you that you would wait in the wings for Mama, no matter how badly you wanted me. Well, I take that back. Nothing’s too urgent for you now, my son. “Mama, I want eat dinner.” “Ethan, I still need time to cook. ” “NOOOOOOOarrrrghhhh!!!!!” ” Mama, play big piano.” “Ethan, please let me finish up my dinner.” “NOOOOOOOarrrrghhhh!!!!!” “I want Mama play wif meeee.” “Okay, please wait for a while.” “NOOOOOOOarrrrghhhh!!!!!” When push comes to shove, you vent your frustration and smack the floor, table or even your poor sister right on the head if she happened to be the one who was, intentionally or not, in your way.

I’m not sure if this is what comes with being two, but to be honest, your sister was not as insistent at your age. This is somewhat new to me and it is proving to be a real challenge managing your big emotions whenever we have to say no or have you wait. You can’t take no for an answer, and wouldn’t have things any other way, and you certainly make yourself heard a million miles away if we don’t accede to your demands. There lies the dilemma, of whether to take the easy way out of giving in to you and risk having you learn that all you need to is scream to get your way, or to take the long, hard road of talking things out and teaching you to regulate your emotions. It’s so easy to give in to you though, your big Bambi eyes are my Kryptonite, and the smiles you flash melt everyone who has laid their eyes on you; but in the bigger scheme of things, I know better than to pander to your every whim, because I know that it’s far more important to nurture your strong-willed nature into something that will take you further in life. You must find it difficult to understand why Mama and Papa have to be firm and stern with you, and I don’t blame you, you are after all only a little more than two years old, but I hope that you will appreciate our thoughts by the time you are able to read this letter.

The wonderful thing about that titanium will of yours is that you are determined to complete any task (dangerous ones included) once you have set your eyes on it. You will not budge or give up, much less succumb to temptations that we toss your way in an attempt to distract you from whatever you are bent on doing. It is an impressive trait to see in your cherubic self, and it is my greatest wish that you will grow up pivoted on this and channel it to doing good.

As much as I look forward to seeing you grow and mature into a fine young man, it is bittersweet to watch you shed that baby-ness with each day. You started school at 23.5 months old, 4.5 months later than your sister did. I was torn between keeping you home so Mama could have you all to myself for a little longer and having you learn to interact with others, hence the delay in putting you in school. You would think Mama would be all heartless as I have accumulated a wealth of experience in dropping your sister off since she was 19 months old, but I remember being nonetheless anxious and tearful when I said goodbye to you after sitting in with you on your first day of school. Three weeks were all it took for you to stop crying (and me, in the car) at drop-off, a lot sooner than your sister did, but my heart ached much more this time round and I’m not sure why. Perhaps, it’s because I have learnt to be less hung up about the minute details of parenthood and to simply relish in you littles being…little, and I knew that dropping you off in school means you will grow to be independent of Mama that much sooner. Indeed, just slightly more than three months in, you have grown so much quicker than what Mama’s heart can grapple with. I peek at you from outside the classroom and I see you reading books aloud to your new friends, singing songs and growling as you plonk the safari animals around, truly enjoying social interaction and chatting with your teachers and friends. These are all good things, incredible milestones to celebrate, don’t get me wrong, but I sometimes wish…that you could stay a baby, my baby, forever.

These days, you run into my arms whenever I pick you up from school and you rattle on and on about what went on throughout your day. “Mama, I sing Happy Burfday.” “Mama, I eat cake today. Nice.” “Mama, I go playground today. I like (b)icycle.” “Mama, Teacher (Di)ana read book.” “Mama, Archie bite me.” Each time you do that, it strikes me (hard) that you are creating memories of your own without Mama in them, and my heart breaks at that thought. And when you beckon me over as you say, “Mama, come, come play, come ON” or when you lecture, “Ethan no beat Jie Jie, no shout people, not nice, hands are for sayang, right?” I wonder if you are a big boy trapped in a toddler’s body, and I dread what’s to come. Is Mama too selfish to want to be your only world? Is Mama…foolish to not want to lose you to time?

While I pray that you do not slip away into adulthood without me noticing, I shall relish in you being little. At two years old, you may no longer fit into my arms, but I will cradle you. I will blissfully sink into the pillow propped up on the daybed in your room, cuddle you close and listen to you read your favourite bedtime stories (Time For Bed and Shhh, We Have A Plan). And we will clap spiritedly as you finish narrating (and asking me a thousand questions, “Mama, why so many birds?”). Then I will ask if you would like Mama to carry you to sleep; you would hop onto my lap with a big smile on your face with your tongue wagging, and you would make yourself comfortable in the cradle of my right arm. Then I will ask you if you are happy, and you will tell me all the things that delighted you that day.

“I like Mama. I like Jie Jie. I like Papa.”

“I eat fish. I like fish.”

“I like playground, and and and dye-o-saur.”

“I see (ptero)dactyl today. I touch dye-o-saur leg. SO BIIIIG! I not scared.”

“I like snail. Mama, why Papa Snail go home? Where Baby Snail? Baby Snail die??”

“Mama, Papa bring me play rock today. I like rock. I like running.”

“I like swimming wif Papa, Mama and Jie Jie.”

I will do all of the above for as long as you let me. And perhaps, one day, at bedtime, when you are old enough to ask Mama what makes me happy…I’ll say,

“I like you.” And you will know how much you delight me everyday, too.

Don’t grow up too quickly, but if you must, let Mama hold your hand for a little longer, okay?

Love always,

Mama

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Say Pest-Free Car?!

I AM TERRIFIED OF PESTS. Anything that creeps, crawls, lurks in dark corners, then comes flying right at me, completely freaks me out. I have invested in anything and everything to keep pests away from our home and our car, whilst making sure that ‘anything-and-everything’ are safe to be used around my children, and so far, so good…but that’s not to say that I don’t, at times, enter the car with simmering suspicion that I may be attacked by A COCKROACH whilst driving, which was what happened to me when I was driving a replacement car loaned to me by a workshop after this bugger (pun unintended) rammed into the back of my car.

My first car was almost a grand decade old and gave me lots of grief because it broke down pretty often. It was in a gritty state, because we bought it as a second-hand car for real-cheaps, so when the husband bought us a larger car so we could comfortably accommodate E’s car seat and still have room for human beings, I was determined to keep it in a pristine, or at least, hygienic condition. I went all military on everyone who would hitch a ride with me…”NO EATING OR DRINKING ALLOWED, UNLESS IT’S PLAIN WATER (and coffee for the man).” I was determined to keep roaches out because nobody likes to be attacked by a cockroach creeping up the leg whilst driving.

That said, I did not sent the car for any sort of grooming, not until recently when EA Detailer approached me to give their interior and exterior detailing services a try. This is because car grooming services can be expensive for the minimal amount of cleaning done and I shudder at the thought of having my kids sit in a car that has been exposed to toxic cleaners. I am not fussed about how shiny and water-resistant my car is, so instead, we use eco-friendly and natural cleaners to wipe the interior, keep pests at bay with a once-weekly spray-down using my trusted non-toxic insecticide, and do a soap-and-water wash on our own for the exterior.

As life would have it, kids climbing in and out of the car in their grubby shoes means that my car get dirty much too soon after a wash, and while grime can be mostly removed, I hope they don’t bring roach eggs into the car with ’em dirty shoes. There’s only so much we can do with surface cleaning and vacuuming. Our carpark can get drafty and dusty, so my car tends to be marred by ugly, gritty watermarks after the rain as well.

BUT! My car is now all shiny, pest-free, looks brand-new on the outside and inside, and smells wonderfully fresh, thanks to the outstanding detailing service by EA Detailer! I sent my car in to the latest branch of EA Detailer at Dunearn Road (housed behind Caltex, next to Barker Road Methodist Church) on Tuesday, and more than one week on, after a few downpours, my baby is still spotless!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SEND YOUR CAR FOR GROOMING AT EA DETAILER?

We started off with a very detailed consultation with the friendly staff at the spotless workshop.  No stink-eye from staff who think women don’t know better. The space is so clean and bright that Faith, who was with me when I went back for the car, was happy to hang around. I don’t know about you but I have always been intimidated by the typical environment related to anything-cars; many a times, I find that people tend not to take women (let alone those with children) seriously when it comes to cars and are less than friendly (which explains why some ladies I know leave petrol-pumping, car repairs and grooming to the men in their lives). The staff at EA Detailer are, on the contrary, very friendly, warm, accommodating and understanding.

Numerous photos were taken by the very attentive staff to ascertain a baseline from which EA Detailer would work on. Problematic areas were highlighted, and I was given the opportunity to raise my concerns, which were eventually addressed by the different stages of detailing. Reasonable disclaimers are put forward, such as those concerning scratches that cannot be removed without compromising the integrity of the paintwork. I was also walked through the steps that would take my car from the state it was to being thoroughly groomed upon pick-up. I left my car for about 5 hours and returned to one that looks and feels brand new!

MY WISH-LIST:

  • To get rid of pests, if any. I have been doing this on my own with non-toxic insecticide and I did not see any pest in the 1.5 years I have been driving this car, but I was worried that roaches may lurk somewhere I couldn’t reach.
  • To remove stubborn water stains from the fabric seats (these stains were made every time I tried to open/close an umbrella whilst getting in/out of the car and I gave up trying to prevent/remove them)
  • To deep-clean and sanitise my children’s car seats because some parts (fabric/cushion) are not removable and I couldn’t completely wash them as a result
  • To safely disinfect the car
  • To remove as many hairline scratches as possible (there were so many pointed out by the observant staff and I was appalled at that)

EFFECTIVE AND NON-TOXIC!

As I understood, the cleaner, freshener, fumigation solution used are effective and non-toxic. The anti-viral surface cleaner and freshener used, for example, have been certified by Singapore General Hospital to be effective against a number of viruses, including a 99.98% effectiveness against HFMD. I was also very pleased to know that the anti-pest solution used during fumigation is an extract from a plant enzyme, and that it is bio-degradable and digestible. Moist heat and UV are also used to deep-clean and sanitise the car, reducing the amount of chemicals used. These were the main reasons why I agreed to having our car detailed by EA Detailer; safety is paramount when it comes to my children.

WHAT WAS DONE TO MY CAR?

(A) INTERIOR: 4-STAGE INTERIOR STEAM PURIFICATION

  1. Anti-Pest Bio-Fumigation

A plant-based anti-pest solution is loaded into a fumigation gun and sprayed into the interior of the car. The car is kept closed for about 30 minutes and during this time, pests (if any) will be forced out of their hiding areas and most will be killed. Those that aren’t killed should be weakened enough to slow their activities and these can then be easily caught.

1.5 Hydro-extraction Vaccum

A two-stage HEPA neutraliser filtration hydro-extraction vacuum is then used to remove nearly 100% of dirt and contaminants such as dust, dust mites and mold from the interior of the car. The technology used is certified asthma- & allergy-friendly by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

2. Anti-Viral Sanitisation

After the pests are removed, the car is sanitised with an anti-viral cleaner that has been certified by SGH to be safe and effective against a number of viruses. It has also been proven to be 99.98% effective against HFMD.

3. Ozonic Treatment and Leather Treatment

Ozone is up to 3000 times faster and more effective than chlorine at killing bacteria, mold, cysts and inactivating virus. Micro-organisms also do not build up immunity to being treated with ozone. Ozone is approved for direct contact with food products by the FDA as an antimicrobial agent and granted full USDA approval with no restrictions for use on organic products. This primes it as the perfect candidate for sanitising the air within the car. It also helps to remove odour and cleans the air within the car following fumigation, to remove as much of the fumigation solution as possible.

The leather trimmings and seats within the car will also be cleaned, then nourished and protected with a Matt Dash Finish leather protectant to maintain its finish. There are only leather trimmings on my doors, dashboard, steering wheel and gear box areas, and my fabric seats were treated differently instead (see below).

4. Steam Cleaning and Tornado Intensive Wash

(a) Steam Cleaning (Anti-Dustmites)

Steam is shot out of the gun to dislodge dirt, grease and stubborn stains without the use of chemicals.

(b) Tornado Intensive Wash (Dirt, Dust, Stains Removal)

A ‘gun’ is used to propel water out at a high speed, and the jet powers through the surface it hits to further remove dirt, dust and stains effectively.

4-STAGE INTERIOR DETAILING IS INCLUSIVE OF BABY CAR SEAT SANITISATION:

Baby car seats will be thoroughly sanitised as part of the 4-stage interior detailing. The fabrics will be steam-cleaned and subjected to a tornado intensive wash, followed by physical sanitisation using the SGH-certified surface cleaner and hydro-extraction vacuum to remove all debris and bacteria that have been dislodged from the seats.

(B) EXTERIOR: 3-STAGE EXTERIOR GLOW

1. Foam wash

2. Claying to remove grit and grime

3. Compound Polishing to remove hairline scratches that aren’t too deep, and to restore shine with a protective nano sealant that will last up to 1-2 months.

The engine bay will also be cleaned up, rims and exhaust pipes will be polished. All door shuts, boot shuts, bonnet edges, fuel cap and crevices and gaps that a sub-par groomer might miss will also be detailed.

MY REVIEW ON THE SERVICES RENDERED:

CONS

  • All these steps took a whopping 5 hours and I was initially very reluctant to leave my car at EA Detailer for that long as I really needed the car to run errands, go for appointments and to drop off and pick up the kids. I am now fully appreciative of the long period of time spent on getting my car back to tip-top condition, because when I returned to pick it up, it was clear that my car has gone through a complete transformation. EA Detailer had put in a sheer amount of effort into restoring my car, and that explains the length of time needed.
  • The services can be rather expensive at first glance, but the good news is first-time customers get really affordable trial prices at only $128 for a 3-stage interior detailing service for a saloon car for example (lower if you go for the promotion given to my readers..see below!). I guess one could stretch out the detailing services required to maintain the car in a good condition. That’s what I intend to do, coupled with more conscientious maintenance on my part in between car grooming sessions.

PROS

  • We have never eaten in the car, so it came as a shock that the staff found two baby cockroaches. I am beyond glad that we managed to nip the problem in the bud because we all know that roaches breed very quickly!
  • Stubborn water stains (from rain) on my fabric seats have been completely removed, thanks to the steam cleaning and tornado intensive wash! We had plans to upgrade the fabric seats to leather ones, but it looks like we don’t have to now!

Before: Water stains on fabric seats

After: Water stains on fabric seats removed

  • My children’s car seats are not completely washable as certain parts are not removable from the seats, so I am exceptionally pleased that the car seats have even deep-cleaned and sanitised, something that I couldn’t do on my own. This is included in the 4-stage interior detailing service. If you’d like to go for the 3- or 3.5-stage interior detailing but would like to add on baby car seat sanitisation, you can opt for it at $69 for one car seat and $120 for two seats.Before: Baby car seats harbour plenty of hidden dirt, much deeper from the surface.After: Baby car seats are thoroughly sanitised!
  • The car is all clean and freshened up after all that sanitisation using the SGH-certified disinfectant.
  • My car looks completely brand new with matt finishes done on the interior and the removal of most hairline scratches from the exterior. The paintwork looks stunning with all that shine restored to it! After a few downpours, no watermark has been left on the body of my car, thanks to the nanosealant that has been applied.After: My car is all glossy and scratch-free again!After: Interior of the car has been completely spruced up, cleaned and sanitised, with delightful matt finishes added.
  • Even the engine bay and rims have been cleaned and they look brand new!

EA Detailer is located at a few locations, and if you are sold like I am for the detailing services, do take advantage of the promotion for my readers to try the services out! Alternatively, you can take part in the giveaway!

GIVEAWAY:

EA Detailer is giving away one 3-Stage Interior Detailing package to a lucky reader! This includes Anti-Pest Bio-Fumigation, Anti-Viral Sanitisation, Ozonic and Leather Treatment. Simply like their Facebook Page to stand a chance to win! Don’t forget to leave your FB username for verification purposes. Click on this link to join the giveaway.

PROMOTION for my readers: Click on this link to book either of these two options.

[OPTION #1]

1. 50% Off 3-Stage Interior at $108  (Usual Price $219)
-> Anti-Pest Bio-Fumigation
-> Anti-Viral Sanitisation (Covers Physical and Air environment including aircon system)
-> Leather Treatment
-> Dashboard Treatment
-> Indepth Vacuum
-> Anti Mold/Odour Smell Ozonic Treatment

(Duration: 4 hours)

[OPTION #2]

Take both 3-Stage Exterior and 3-Stage Interior Detailing at ONLY $198 (Usual Price $299)
(Duration : 4 to 6 hours)

*Additional surcharge of $50 applies for MPV/SUV/Large & Flagship Luxury Sedans

*I was gifted a 4-stage interior and 3-stage exterior detailing service by EA Detailer. No monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are my own.

Down the Rabbit Hole into…Wonderland!

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would, you see?” – Lewis Carroll

And what was supposed to be, it wasn’t, we found out as while we slipped down the rabbit hole into Wonderland to meet Alice, the Mad Hatter, March Hare, Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar, White Rabbit, Card and *gasp* the Queen at the Tea Party.

Now, I can’t give away too much about what goes on in Wonderland. It’s a secret, you see, and only those with Muchness and those who are Mad are in the know. What I’d say is Faith and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during the 45-minute play, and I’d highly recommend for you to go scurrying for tickets if you want to be Mad as well.

We were sent a secret message to show up at the most random of places in mismatched socks. Faith was utterly delighted at the fact that she was finally allowed to go crazy on her choice of feet warmers, so much so that she has been asking to go out in mismatched pairs everyday after we went down the Rabbit Hole. “I knew who I was this morning but I’ve changed a few times since then.” I can safely say that Faith is definitely having an Alice moment when it comes to socks now.

Now, I didn’t want to fit in (or did I, I swear this trip to Wonderland has messed with what’s normal and what’s not) and didn’t wear socks (let alone mismatched ones), but I ended up getting told off by the White Rabbit for not doing so and I’m just glad the Queen didn’t scream for someone to take my head off because I had at least mastered the secret phrase to be let into Wonderland. MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THIS BECAUSE YOU WILL REGRET IT IF YOU DON’T.

Then, Faith’s and my realities were switched up a little when we were told to go through the wrong (or…right?) doors and we finally tumbled down the Rabbit Hole into…Wonderland.

Having arrived 30 minutes earlier (that’s the earliest they will let you in) prior to the start of the play, we were treated to wonderfully neurotic banter between the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. The children teased them, and the pair were more than convincing in their roles and it was a great introduction for the children to understand their personalities a little more before the start of the play. I highly suggest arriving early for that half an hour of unofficial pre-show, so you get more bang for buck (total of 75 minutes, if you will). Faith was tickled pink during the pre-show (so was I), and I reckon that it is a fair indication of good fun!

During the show, a general story played out (I shall not give this away) but because it is immersive and interactive in nature, children were more than welcomed to speak up and engage with the actors. I’m not an expert on theatre, but I reckon a play of this sort is much harder to execute, as the actors wouldn’t know what to expect from every audience they are playing to. During the show we attended, the children participated actively and the actors very smoothly transited the audience back to the storyline.

At many points in the dialogues running through the show, the actors had me thinking about life, what it means, what our realities, expectations, emotions and dreams are, and how we can break them if only we are willing to. I left the show feeling thoughtful and hopeful, although I must say younger children will miss the nuances as intended by Lewis Carroll but as far as I could tell, children who were the same age as Faith (she’s turning 5 this year) or older thoroughly enjoyed the main storyline, as well as comedic stunts and mid-play ‘activities’ put up by the actors.


  To be honest, Faith was a little scared and shy at first (you might want to take note of this if you intend to bring children who are younger) , but the pre-show helped warm her up for the play and by the end of it, she was reeling in the action of it all and asked to go again as she loved the show very much. Just look at her happy face as she took photos with the cast after show! I, on the other hand, had a hard time picking my favourite characters in the cast of Wonderland, but if I really had to choose, I have to say the Mad Hatter and the March Hare have my heart!

No food is served during the show (as opposed to its predecessor, Dinner in Wonderland) but we did tumbled back out through the Rabbit Hole into The Queen’s Bar after the play and bought ourselves a yummy Oreo milkshake before heading home, so be sure to check it out if you are feeling peckish or parched.

Word has it that the Wonderland by ANDSOFORTH Junior (the one we caught) will be running at the current location (Lorong Ampas) from 8-10 June 2017 and then the same cast will be acting in Kids in Wonderland at a different site with a new set design thereafter.

Bookings for Wonderland by ANDSOFORTH Junior can be over here, and that for Kids in Wonderland can be made here instead. Tickets are going for $28 per person (accompanying adults will need to buy tickets as well). The show is said to be suitable for children who are 2 years old and above, but I’d say 4-5 years is a better age to appreciate the play better. Tickets are selling well, so hurry on over to grab yours while they are still available!

Like Andsoforth on Facebook to receive updates on what they have to offer!

*We received four media passes to Wonderland by ANDSOFORTH Junior and only made use of two tickets. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Thank you Andsoforth for the tickets!