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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

SEA Aquarium Resorts World Sentosa: So Much To See!

A must visit for families with kids, young kids included!

It was such an awe-inspiring experience for myself, taking in sights of the marine animals in such a beautiful setting, in the comfort of air conditioning (us, pampered creatures). We couldn't stop gushing as we made our way to explore the different marine animals in different habitats. This is the closest you can get besides diving with the sea animals. Perfect for aspiring divers who cannot find the time or courage to do it anymore (that's me! I abandoned diving after the initial dives to qualify for my cert, and never went back to it).

When we told Aiden where we were bringing him a day before, his eyes lit up! He was very happy and excited to be able to see the fishes, sea horses and star fish - and the first thing he did when he woke up the next morning, was reminding us where we were heading. Of course, we can't wait to set off to conquer the sights!
On our way!
Heeding my cousin's advice, we parked near Ocean Restaurant to skip the queue and buy tickets directly. Alas we were told we had to be diners before we can buy tickets and enter through the restaurant. I guess they changed their policy after getting too much traffic this way, disrupting their diners. After trying our luck to get a table, we managed to convince the restaurant to allow us to purchase tickets without dining in and got right into the aquarium without any queuing. You can try this trick at your own risk. Going by the book, you can pre-book a table at Ocean Restaurant (they are apparently fully booked 2 weeks ahead so plan early), enjoy a leisure lunch with a magnificent view of the humongous tank with different species of fishes and manta rays and then buy your tickets through them. Cuts out an hour of waiting time - especially important for families with young children with no patience. Alternatively, you can pre-purchase tickets here, or join the queue at the main entrance at Resorts World Sentosa.

We were taken in by the amazing sight that was right before us, through a ginormous window to an ocean of fishes and other species of marine animals. Aiden was going 'wowww...' whenever a giant manta ray or a school of fish swam past us. We were totally immersed in the marine world.
The enormous window right before us when we walked through Ocean Restaurant
Mesmerized by the sight before him
Look up Aiden!
Wow so many fishes

There were many different habitats to see these fascinating marine animals, here's some from our visit:
Sea urchins

Colors of the marine life
Gorgeous lobster

Star Fish! There is a discovery touch pool to feel some of the sea animals.
Hello there!
Sharks habitat
I'm a baby shark mummy!
Standing side by side
I was so in love with these beautiful sea jelly species
And so was Aiden
A picture with them
We spent over four hours in the aquarium. They close at 7pm so do set off early and begin at lunch time to avoid rushing. There were plenty of dinner choices at Resorts World Sentosa if you don't mind waiting over 30 minutes for a table. Here's our dinner - xiaolongbaos at Ding Tai Fung.
Steam gets in my eye
Am happy this was a great experience for our family, and promotes bonding with our boy whom we miss dearly after all the weeks spent planning and launching PriviKids.

Aiden is wearing the Rocker Star Print Pink T-Shirt from our store PriviKids.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I am never fond of bringing Aiden to the hair salon. Since young, he puts up a huge resistance and is scared of getting his hair cut. I am not one of those mums who can trim their kids' hair themselves, so we had to put him through the ordeal of a haircut once every few months.

We put off cutting his hair for six months as I wanted to grow out his hair. Mainly because I wanted to experiment with different hair lengths and styling his hair, and before they impose rules in primary school where boys cannot have long hair.

Many friends and strangers have stopped to ask how we style Aiden's hair and here's some of the styles and tips to do so:
1) Apply styling wax to the fringe area where hair is longer, and twist it as you style it upwards. Tame flyaway hair on the sides with the remaining product on your hand.
Tip: We go for styles where we keep his fringe longer and have the sides and back shorter so it is easily to maintain and style even as it grows out.

2)  Out of bed look - I used water and ran my fingers through his fringe and we are ready to go! Let the wind do the rest :)
Tip: If you do not wash off all the products in his hair the night before (usually we only do this when Aiden dozed off on the way home at night and we can't drag him to shower), the out of bed look holds longer.

3) As his hair grew longer, we needed stronger holding power. Apply styling gel to the fringe area, towards the back and run your fingers through and lift hair off forehead, scrunching it as you lift it up.
Tip: Remember to wash hair thoroughly after using any hair products to prevent product build up.

4) Run fingers through his hair to a side parting when his hair is semi-dry after shampooing and viola! Tuck the longer sides behind the ears for a neater look.
Tip: This is really easy for boys with natural curls/ waves. For those without, you will need to blow dry to build volume before styling.
His crowning glory

As much as I love his long, wavy hair, it was getting too long, plus the humid weather, so off we went to get his lovely locks trimmed.

Some tips before your kids' hair cut to lessen the drama:
1) Prep talk him before the hair cut
2) Be with him all the time and reassure him when he says he is scared
3) Request to sit with him on your lap if the hair salon allows
4) Prepare a favourite snack (biscuit / sweet should do the trick) and offer to him
5) Hold his hands during the hair cut (Aiden's palms were all sweaty throughout the hair cut!)
6) Prepare a video to distract him (worked well this time, and he forgot momentarily that he was having a hair cut, and even helped to keep him looking forward instead of turning all around)

Will share more pictures of his new hairstyle soon!
How do you prepare your kid who is afraid of hair cuts? Share your tips too.
Thursday, April 25, 2013

Half the story on workplace discrimination

We are constantly inundated with messages on discrimination against mothers at work - cries about glass ceilings, wage gaps, lack of flexible work arrangements and unfair work performance evaluations.  At the same time, there are various organisations and movements to address this problem - media influence, provisions in the Employment Act, AWARE, etc.

No doubt the message from these organisations and movements is loud, clear and correct - working mothers should not be at a disadvantage when it comes to evaluations and promotion opportunities compared to the men.  However, with many families in Singapore getting by on dual income, I believe we have only heard half of the workplace discrimination story.

I believe that men are as vulnerable as women when it comes to being fairly treated at work, especially if they decide to give more to their wives and kids and correspondingly less to work.  Generally, women are expected to be the primary caregivers of children, and thus bosses (after being conditioned) are more inclined to be understanding of their requests to fulfill this role.  After all, happy working mothers mean better work performances, and employers know that.

On the other hand, men are expected to be the main providers of their families, and that means working hard and treating work as a priority so as to put food (and iPads and iPhones and Laduree macaroons) on the table.  Unfortunately, without the right 'education', employers might not be as understanding when a male employee tries to get the same parental leeway as their female counterparts.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is generally easier for men to be granted leave to watch live sports telecasts/visit the IT Show/queue for the launch of the latest videogame, than to spend time with their children.

Need to take leave to take care of a sick child? Is your wife not around?

Want to take half the day off to make up to your child after neglecting him for a week due to the urgent project?   Don't worry about it, your child will still love you. I know from experience.

Can't work overtime today again?  You should really consider getting a maid.

There are always two biscuit sides to a macaroon.

While the efforts of women at work needs to be duly rewarded, I think it is equally important for the workplace to encourage and enable men to be equal contributors at home.  And no, paternity leave is not the way to achieve this.  With the cost of living going up and stress levels rising, something needs to be done to address this workplace discrimination against dads.  Otherwise, movements such as Dads For Life would be reduced to sticking fancy decals on car windows, and online communities such as Daddy Matters would be reduced to a place to air our grievances.

After all, happy employees mean better work performances, and employers should remember that.

Do you agree with me?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Monday, April 22, 2013

What is Section 377A?

A couple of weeks ago, presumably unknown to the majority of Singaporeans, the High Court rejected the petition to repeal Section 377A which criminalises sex between mutually consenting adult men.

While many would no doubt heave a sign of relief, especially those who belong to certain religious groups or those who are not quite comfortable with the thought of men getting close in public or in private, there would be others who feel that Singapore has lost a chance to move ahead with the times.

Personally, I don't see the repeal of Section 377A as a public endorsement of gay people or the rejection of religious beliefs.  To me, to repeal Section 377A is to celebrate love, and to acknowledge that people, no matter how different they are compared to the majority, has the equal right to love another human being.

There would be skeptical parents out there who would be thinking at this point, yeah right, what if his own son is gay... see what he would say then!  Actually, I have had this conversation with Mummy Cher before - if Aiden one day tells us that he is gay, the news will not be met with disdain.  As long as he is truly happy, it will suffice.  If there is any hesitation on our part, it will be because we know it will be difficult for him to be truly happy, with society (and legislation) judging his sexual orientation.

Perhaps our views could be due to the fact that we have many close gay friends, and with that, knowledge of the 'secret world' of gay relationships.  For those not in the know, I urge you to watch this video with an open mind and not view it as two gay men championing homosexuality, but rather, two people who speak of their love for each other, for a whopping 15 years.

That video touched me so much that I had to post about it.  It would be sad to see that a couple so solidly in love cannot do so freely partly due to a piece of legislation that the government and the courts are not brave enough to repeal.

I don't think my views above would persuade anyone to change their minds but perhaps this New Zealand member of parliament could, with a great sense of humour.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Band of Brothers

Fathers born in Singapore in the early 80s like me would likely have grown up through the football-mad years of our young nation, thanks to the Malaysia Cup fervour and the broadcast of matches from the then-newly formed Premier League.

Any free time that us guys had (which was plenty before tuition centres took over the running of the Ministry of Education), was split between playing football with our mates in the void deck/field/open space and playing the football simulator computer game Championship Manager.  Girls (and mothers) never understood why it was so exciting to be staring at lines of flashing text on our computer screens.

With the amount of time that guys were spending on football (and before the advent of time-sapping inventions like the EDMW), it was common and easy to forge friendships over the beautiful game.  It was no different for me.

I don't remember much of studying during my two years at Temasek Junior College but I remember spending a lot of time with this group of fun loving friends. While we were mostly sportsmen from various disciplines (e.g. badminton, athletics, basketball, table-tennis, tennis), football was the glue that bonded us together.  It would be appropriate to call us, The Band of Brothers.

Actually we look so skinny back then it was more like 雾锁南洋.
We tried to stay true to our sporting roots and called ourselves the Teenage Cyclists, or TC.  It was actually a thinly veiled front for what we actually are, which is the Tiko Club.  I shall not say too much about our club activities (such girl watching and giving ratings on them that are more reliable than S&P or Moody's) because I am digressing.


With our intial group being rather large, some of us drifted apart after we left junior college, leaving a smaller but close group of less than 15 of us.  However, with us having careers that are as diverse as our sporting talents, even this smaller group started to see less and less of each other.  Football became the main opportunity for us to get together in numbers, reminisce about the good old days and update each other on our lives.  Over time, the attendance for Sunday soccer dwindled as many of us found it hard to commit Sunday mornings on a regular basis.  And it's understandable, as there are many things that would seem more important than a weekly kickabout - spouse, girlfriend, children, religion, work, much needed sleep.  For quite some time now, we have stopped having Sunday soccer sessions altogether, due to the lack of numbers to play even a game of 5-a-side.  I guess regrettably now, we're more like, The Banned Brothers.

Thinking back, I'm glad that Mummy Cher never stopped me from meeting the guys for Sunday soccer, even when I'm not in good shape to play (after watching live soccer till the wee hours), or when I have not spent enough time with her.  She even encourages me on many occasions to organise gatherings when I lament how long it has been since the boys met up for anything.

The amazing and wonderful thing is, when we do eventually meet up on some special occasions like weddings, baby showers or the rare soccer session, it feels just like the old times.  We feel totally at ease and can be truly ourselves. We can almost hear Sammi Cheng singing 值得 in the background.

While it's not the most ideal situation at the moment, I'm glad that, after stripping away the soccer kickabouts, the talking cock before/during/after the kickabouts, the festive gatherings, the 'milestone' gatherings, what's left is the essence of our group - The Bond of Brothers.

Our wedding in 2009.
Xmas 2012 gathering at our place.
I hope we will keep this bond strong and everlasting. And I look forward to the day Aiden finds his own Band of Brothers. :))
Sunday, April 14, 2013

Our New Baby!

After over six months of hard work, sleepless nights, spending all the time we have together after work and over weekends and an overseas trip for Daddy Darren and me, finally, we are bursting with excitement to announce that our new baby has launched!

PriviKids is a concept store for like-minded parents in Singapore. We not only dress up privileged kids with stylish apparel but also care about the under-privileged by collecting your preloved kids clothes for donation. We also stock unique lifestyle products sourced from all over the world.

This all started as I had this idea in me one night and I had to wake up to brainstorm about it. It is really challenging to find stylish, simple and affordable clothes for our first child, Aiden. There are definitely many labels out there offering trendy and stylish clothes, but with their price tags, it does not make sense for us since kids outgrow their clothes too fast. We need to stretch every cent working parents spend on their kids, while building a stylish wardrobe for our next generation.

Instead of relying on what the current market offers, why don't we make the first hand selection and bring the collection to our shores for like minded parents? On one hand, we get to pick from a wide selection from around the world for Aiden, and on the other hand, we share our finds through our online shop with like-minded, time pressed Singaporean parents. What's more, we contribute to grooming the next generation of Singaporeans from young.

Since having a kid myself, I empathize more with kids who do not have the privilege to grow up in a complete home, and I feel that each of us can contribute to make their lives happier. And so we started donating our pre-owned (sometimes brand new as Aiden outgrown the clothes before he wears them) clothes to The Salvation Army and MINDS Singapore. We hope to encourage more parents to do so, by collecting pre-loved clothes for donation for them through PriviKids.

It wasn't a breeze for us launching the brand. Kudos to entrepreneurial mums and dads. We have our full time job to balance with family time and then we have to squeeze time out to develop the brand. We have our fair share of disagreements, but we worked them out, decided what's best for the brand and moved on. I guess this also helped improved our communication with each other as we work through the launch together, spend almost every waking hour (besides at work) together, putting in our heart and soul to bringing the brand concept together.

We hope to have your support in nurturing and growing PriviKids in Singapore. Browse the collection, and we hope to add a piece to your child's closet. And of course do drop us a line if you would like to see any lifestyle products or accessories as we are looking to launch these in the future.

Here are some photos from our launch collection, visit the store, for more styles. 

Am I A Nag?

I sometimes feel like I nag too much at Aiden.

I definitely don't want to be remembered as 'The naggy mummy' when he grows up. I want him to remember me as the loving mummy who cares deeply for him. The fun loving mummy who shares new experiences and laughs with him. The supportive mummy who encourages him to pursue his interests and develop his strengths while not fearing to lose or fail. The mummy who embraces him for who he is.

Why then do I feel like I nag too much? It is all me worrying for his safety and well being. You'd hear a broken record of me screaming, 'Be caaaaaarefuuuuul!' throughout the day when I am the main caretaker. Whenever he scoots around on his ybike, performing his own stunts - lately including one where he lifts his bike up and lands on the ground, and reversing very quickly with many obstacles  (his other toys which he refuses to keep after play!) in his way, cutting corners around the sharp edges of the dining table, I fear he will tumble and fall. When he runs around the house in excitement, I fear he will slip and fall. When he tries to reach for things beyond his height or strength, I fear he would hurt himself. When he somersaults and jumps on the bed, I fear he would roll off the bed or hit the wall - and he just did today. I guess as parents, we never stop worrying for our kids even when they grow up.

Towards other naughty acts, like putting a toy in his mouth or running too far ahead of us, I will usually not overreact and scream at him. Instead, I will tell him the consequences of his actions and he will usually burst out in tears fearing the consequences. I do feel bad whenever I see him in tears, and will comfort him while explaining that he won't experience the consequences if he knows his limits and doesn't commit the same act.

Building lego himself. He sometimes try to pop a toy in his mouth.
What really is the breaking point for me, is when he doesn't have the patience to wait for me to finish using the bathroom, finish my food, finish an email, and kicks up an enormous fuss for me to be with him immediately. I leave him to cry sometimes, and though it pains me to see his tears, it also kills me not to have some time to myself. The other breaking point for me is when he intentionally makes a mess with food and I have to clean up the mess he made.

I find myself more and more of a nag, as I find myself spending more time disciplining Aiden nowadays as he has more antics up his sleeves. I consciously remind myself to cherish the time I have with him while he is growing up and to not be worked up over smaller issues. Also to make a conscious effort to choose spending quality time with him over other priorities in my life.

He turned 26 months yesterday on 13 April 2013, which is also my dad's 59th birthday. Am thankful for having the two of them and Daddy Darren - the 3 important men in my life.

Yummy birthday dinner at Eng Seng with dad
Feeding himself hungrily at dinner
Do you share the same worry as me on being a naggy mum? Share with me if you have any tips on disciplining your toddler when they throw tantrums.
Thursday, April 11, 2013

A warm welcome to fatherhood

An interesting question posed by the Blogfather in a closed Facebook group of blogging fathers led to quite a few flashbacks in my attempt to answer it.  The question: "When did you first - truly - realise you were a dad?".  Being a guy, the instinctive reaction was to provide an answer beginning with "... it was a especially hot and humid night and wearing clothes didn't feel particularly necessary..." or "... it was my first time wiping an ass other than my own...".  I guess this question deserves a honest and serious answer so here's my personal experience.

It was October 2011 and Aiden was 9 months old.  For a few intense months, I was overwhelmed and trying to cope with a never ending avalanche of work deadlines and urgent projects.  Naturally, stress levels were high, working hours were long and quality family time was limited.  Having just 'upgraded' my status to a new dad, I was conscious to contribute as much to work as before.  Being no stranger to overtime hours, I thought that other than the guilt of not spending enough time with my family, it was going to be manageable.  I would make it up during the weekends, which I did.

But things turned bad rather quickly as I developed a fever that would not go away.  For a few weeks, I had bouts of fever that came and gone as randomly as the time I could spend with my family.  And for the few weeks, I continued to work long hours.  After many visits to the doctors and tests, it was narrowed down to a virus that attacked my liver.  Eventually, the rate at which my liver functions were failing prompted Mummy Cher to send me to the hospital ward.

While I was lying on the hospital bed, I had plenty of time to think, and worry about the lives of my family - Aiden's, Mummy Cher's and mine, and in that order.  What would happen to them if (touchwood) I am gone?  I felt helpless about my situation and guilty that my attitude towards work might have disadvantaged the lives of my loved ones.  There are so many things that I would die for (wrong choice of words I know) to be able to experience with my family of three - attending Aiden's graduation, helping him pay the deposit for his million dollar HDB 2-room flat, finding his secret stash of porn.

And it was on the hospital bed, in between some blood tests and some pills, when I finally came to a conclusion about how I should live my life after the big 3-0:

Rule #1: To take good care of my family.
Rule #2: Then try to be the most successful professional that I can be without compromising Rule #1.

I have to be, and I want to be responsible for their well-being and ensure that they lead a happy life. There is simply no real substitute for daddy's love and the influence a daddy can have on the lives of their children.  It cannot be replaced with the maid, the grandparent, or even the mother.  Spiderman's uncle used to say, with great power comes great responsibility.  I guess fatherhood is a powerful experience that comes with great responsibility and I wouldn't trade for anything else in this world.
Monday, April 8, 2013

The Twenty Questions

Here are my twenty answers to Mummy Moo's linky:

1. Was your pregnancy planned, and how old were you?
Nope, we were on a 'let nature take its course' phase. I was 27.

2. What were your reaction?
I was really surprised to find out and was stunned for a moment. Next thing I knew, I was smiling to myself, elated and teared.

3. How did you find out you were pregnant?
I was not feeling well for a few weeks running, and thought it could be low blood pressure as I had symptoms like feeling faint, almost blanked out while on public transport for a few times. I was also feeling extremely tired for a week. I decided to go to the clinic for a more thorough check up, and the doctor asked me to take a pregnancy test which I thought was really unnecessary as I didn't think I was pregnant at all. I remember waiting for quite a long time for the test results and when it was out, I was caught by surprise.

4. Who did you tell first?
My husband! I called him on the phone as I couldn't wait to tell him in person.

5. Did you find out the sex?
Yes! We were very excited to know. Earlier at 13 weeks, our gynae already hinted that we can shop for our boy. We waited till the detailed scan at 20 weeks before starting on our shopping spree.

6. Did you have morning sickness?
I had the urge to throw up very often especially during the first & last trimester, especially in the car and kept a bag with me just in case. But luckily, I never threw up.

7.What did you crave?
I didn't have much craving. I enjoyed my usual favourites and didn't have such strong cravings that I needed to eat RIGHT NOW! So, my lucky husband can satisfy my cravings over the weekend.

8. Who / What irritated you the most?
Nothing I can remember. I reminded myself to think happy and be happy throughout the pregnancy.

9. Did you wish you had a different gender from what you obtained?
Nope. I really love boys. But if we are having a second one, I would like a girl.

10. How many kilos did you gain during the entire pregnancy?
About 16kg! I popped at about 35 weeks plus, so it could have been much more.

11. Where did you think the baby was conceived?
Somewhere at home, we couldn't make out when.

12. Did you have any complications during the pregnancy?
I had really bad water retention - my legs, nose and even fingers, I couldn't close them in the mornings. At 35 weeks, my gynae advised me to schedule for an earlier delivery as I had high blood pressure. I was scheduled to see him in 4 days time to firm the details, but my baby couldn't wait! My water bag burst while I was sound asleep a day later.

13. Where did you give birth?
Thomson Medical Centre

14. How many hours were you in labour?
From the time my water bag burst at about 5am in the morning, we rushed to the hospital after calling my gynae. Aiden popped after 4pm which makes it about 11 hours!

15. Who watched you give birth?
Daddy Darren got to come into the operating theatre. A very funny story he would tell is of him wearing the surgical cap meant for his shoes on his head!

16. Was it natural, or C-Sect?
We tried for natural at first, with epidural (which was the most painful thing I can remember from giving birth)! After a few very dramatic hours with many nurses coming by to check on me, we found out that we had to go for emergency C-sect immediately, and so off we went to the operating theatre and Aiden was born under 30 minutes. It turned out that the umbilical cord was around his neck and his heartbeat plunged every time I had a contraction - it was a very dramatic day for us.

17. Did you take medication to ease the pain?
Yes! I tried to be brave and said maybe don't need for epidural. But once the contractions kicked in, I screamed for epidural to be administered immediately!

18. When was your child born?
13 Feb 2011

19. What is his / her name?
Aiden Yang

20. How old is he today?
He turned 2 this February.

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