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Mum to the Rescue

My Mum has been fantastic!

She's been coming over every day to help teach J to cook and clean. She's experienced and systematic. J can be forgetful but mum patiently repeats instructions and demonstrates what needs to be done day after day.

She calls/texts me to confirm what I need J to do, and what instructions I have already given, so that she does not contradict me or make J confused.

She discusses with me what she thinks J likes to eat, so that I can make sure we have those in the house. (Yesterday I bought Chinese Roast Pork for her because it is similar to what they eat in the Philippines - she loved it!)

She even explained to me that J could be forgetful now because she is homesick, and assured me that as long as she has a good attitude and is willing to learn, that is a blessing.

When I was down with the flu, she chased me to bed and boiled good stuff for me to drink.

I feel so assured and relieved that she is around to help.

I love my mum!


Some of you might be wondering why I'm writing such long text posts only - for some reason Blogger is acting up on my home computer! :( I can't load photos or do any font changes. Ah well...

Am down and out today with a sore throat and a stuffed nose. Boo hoo. Wasted a day of leave. Am leaving J on mostly auto-pilot today - meaning I just give instructions now and then, and not really bothering to see if she did it correctly. (Thankfully I spotted her cleaning the toilet floor with a table-top cleaning cloth though!)

I just need sleep!

Thankfully mum's coming over tomorrow to help teach some cooking and ironing.

Hopefully I'm better soon. And praying I'm not down with H1N1!!!

A Great Attitude

Although J has made a couple of mistakes despite clear instructions and demonstrations, I have been heartened by her sheer determination and enthusiasm.

A few amusing and slightly alarming experiences occured though, in this very short span of time:

Being eager to please and perhaps too enthusiastic at times resulted in her plunging herself into doing things that are not necessary. After learning to use the washing machine for example, she washed WAY TOO MANY clothes that we ended up with not enough space to hang them (we don't have a dryer). And on top of that, I found a bunch of squeezed damp clothes in our wash toilet, stuffed into our mop pail! She explained it was her own clothes, and I realised that because she already hung up so much laundry, there was no space for her clothes =P So I took out another spare clothes hanger I had in our store, and asked her to hang up her clothes - otherwise they would stink!

We also found her attempting to cook rice on the stove-top, using the rice container from our rice cooker! She got kancheong and wanted to have the rice ready (despite me already telling her that I would be back to cook with her). She explained that she did so because she forgot how to use the rice cooker =P I assured her it was alright, because I knew that was how she cooked rice in the Philippines, but explained that if she didn't know how to use something, it was ok to wait for us to be back to ask - otherwise she might end up spoiling some equipment without realising it!

What was heartening was that in that same morning, she also packed and cleaned my entire storeroom without me asking, and had our bedroom tidied without me teaching her how to (she observed the part-time cleaners and made our bed exactly like they did!).

Anyway, I have since found her holed up in her room during rest times furiously writing things in her notebook, reading through the 8-pages, and later referring to either one throughout the day. She has also taken the initiative to ask more questions to clarify what she could not remember, and even asks after the job is done if it was done correctly.

Don't get me wrong though - it is still very tiring to constantly coach someone. I have to very precise, I need to repeat myself, I need to observe and I need to check. And I am not even good at household chores myself. I need to think through what to teach first so that the learning curve is not so steep.

I also definitely miss our privacy :( Which was the main reason why I didn't want live-in help in the first place.

But I'm thankful that at the very least I think we do have a helper who has displayed a great attitude so far.

8-Pages: Starting Out

I sat her down, and told her that our family has been praying for a good helper to be part of our household. That we could share a good working relationship with her. I then gave her a new notebook, and a set of the 8-pages. We then spent some time together as I and went through our contact details, emergency numbers, house rules, a daily work schedule, and detailed notes about how I would like chores to be done.

With assurances that I would go through each duty together with her, I walked her through all our rooms, and started to teach her a few simpler tasks. She has never used any of the home equipment we are used to in modern Singapore, so everything had to be done in these few steps: Verbal Explanation, Demonstration, then Observation of her work.

I've had a very tiring 2 days of training her. The 2 days have been peppered by amusing occurances, and heartening experiences. I'm very grateful for Roboman and mum to call on over the next few days to take over some of the training process!


I actually wrote up 8-pages worth of instructions for our new helper. I couldn't believe how anal I was until I was done. However, now on Day 2 of her with us, I'm very glad I took time to do it - the document has helped ME just as much as her!

We made a choice to hire someone who has never been out of the Philippines, and is relatively inexperienced - although she has worked as a housemaid in the Philppines before. Many things therefore have to be taught from scratch, and this task has fallen on yours truly. I must say that coaching a new domestic helper is really not easy! I am super tired but know I have to perservere so that she can be independent by the time Bubbles arrives.

Thankfully, our new helper J, has shown a great deal of enthusiasm and intiative. When our agent first brought her to our place, the first thing he said to me (in Mandarin) even before he stepped in was "This one you've chosen is very good". I was quite taken aback, although of course pleased and relieved by his statement.

On the 1st evening, after she had unpacked her belongings, we took her out for a Chicken Rice dinner, orientated her to the guest bathroom, and told her to shower and go to bed.

I could not sleep most of that night! Instructions from my 8-pages were swimming around in my head. I kept mulling over how best to guide her, what I should say and do first, when I should do it, and if I had forgotten anything important. So, because I was mostly NOT asleep, I heard her awake at 6-ish and bustling around in the kitchen. I was curious and a little worried, but was too zonked to face her after a sleepness night when it was still dark in the morning.

I finally washed up and came out of my room at about 7.30am, was greeted with a cheery "Good Morning, Madam!" and saw that she had basically cleaned up my kitchen! All the dirty dishes were washed, counter-tops tidied and cleaned, and I believe she attempted to wipe the floor (because at that point she didn't know where our mop was kept).

The rest of the morning (after I requested that she had her breakfast first!) was of her being an energiser bunny, enthusiastically plunging herself into tidying up the cupboard under my kitchen sink. I had a team of part-time cleaners come it for a spring-clean of sorts (including cleaning of windows, lights and ceiling fans), so I got J to observe some of the things they were doing. In that 1 hour or so, I was basically in the middle of 6 people trying to get our little apartment sparkling clean as I tried to get out of their way!

I thus didn't have time to start on my 8-pages yet. More of that in later posts!

House Rules

Our helper is coming really soon!
I'm actually feeling rather nervous =P

With the help of friends' advice and templates, I have come up with the set of house rules below. Praying that we will have a happy relationship with her, and that she will be a good help to our family.

Rules in the House

  1. Be courteous and show respect to everyone, including guests in the house.
  2. Be honest – always tell the truth and do not steal. We want to trust you.
  3. Listen to instructions carefully and carry them out promptly. Do ask questions and clarify if you are not sure. If you face any problems, do also share them so that we can help you.
  4. Inform Sir or Mdm immediately if you feel unwell so that we can get you medical attention.
  5. Inform Sir or Mdm immediately if you have broken or damaged something in the house so that we can get it replaced. It is ok to make such mistakes sometimes, especially in the beginning of your work with us.
  6. Always wash your hands before handling food, kitchen utensils and touching baby.
  7. Keep the house clean and tidy at all times.
  8. Do ask first before doing any of the following:
    · leave the house
    · use the phone
    · take a nap
  9. Do not allow any strangers into the house. We will inform you if we are expecting visitors.
  10. Do not give our address and telephone numbers to any friends. You may only give these details to your family members.
  11. Be neat and decent in appearance. Do not wear short shorts, mini skirts or see-through clothes.
  12. Take care of personal hygiene. (Bathe, trim nails, keep hair tidy)

Refreshing Experience

These images show my recent work days. Refreshing.

I wonder what it would have been like if I had chosen a career in performing arts!

Maid-en Issues

I'm going to be an employer. Of a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW), that is.

Yes, after months of intensive discussions (and a couple of fights) over this, we have caved in and taken steps to employ help.

This is all new to me, and I do feel like a fish out of water getting this sorted. Stressful feelings have been made more acute because I have never liked the idea of having live-in help. I've always felt like it is some form of slavery, ridiculous as that may sound to many. Thankfully, I've received good advice from many friends, and now am in a more positive frame of mind about this situation. We've prayed for good help, and I look forward to building a positive relationship with our FDW, and hope to utilise my training and coaching skills developed at work.

In Singapore, all new employers of FDWs need to take a Foreign Domestic Worker Employer's Orientation programme before being allowed to apply for an FDW. I opted for the E-learning programme, which is run by the Singapore Polytechnic. I personally felt it was a rather good programme, helping to manage new employers' expectations, and also for us to learn about the legal issues involved. I was particularly impressed with how the programme included photos of FDWs homes in Indonesia and the Philippines, so that new employers understand the kind of living conditions their FDWs come from, and what that could mean in terms of their understanding of what things like hygiene and safety. There are many modules about how to coach and communicate with an FDW, and questions along the way to ensure that learning takes place.

I have bought her a chest of drawers, towels and toiletries, including a tube of handcream. I plan to also get a notebook and pen for her to write things down. We couldn't make ourselves put her in the 'usual' maid's room, so she will be taking up my craft/computer room, where there are proper windows and air-conditioning - should the weather get too hot. This just means I'll have to plan crafting time in the future.

As I am looking through maids' schedules that my friends have generously shared with me, I struggle in planning how to coach her when she comes in. In my usual form, I trying to plan what to do when she first arrives, how to orientate her, what kind of schedule she should be on, how to teach her usage of different equipment, how to lay down rules without being mean, how to be kind without allowing myself to be taken advantage of etc. I realise everybody has their own way of doing this, and I will too, eventually.

I am used to showing hospitality to guests that come through our doors. But I have been warned that I should not be too nice. That I should be strict from the beginning. That I should lay down rules. That the employer-employee relationship should be kept intact. I struggle with how I should do this without compromising who I am, and what I believe in. How do I balance a healthy working relationship with our desire for her to be part of the family? Maybe it is not possible. I don't know!


That's what I have been doing so much more of these days!

People say pregnant women easily feel hot, and in this late stage of pregnancy, I fully agree. Others can be freezing in air-conditioned places while I lap up the cool air. In fact, I can even perspire when others feel cold.

What this means that that our electricity bill is likely to go up this month :( Either that or I sit around drenched in sweat.

Weddings on 8 Aug

8 Aug is a good date for Chinese weddings - more so this year as it falls on a Sat.

I attended 2 weddings, the wedding solemnisation of a childhood friend from church, and the wedding banquet of Chris & Bev. And I ended up tearing at both!

Heartfelt speeches and tears from the wedding party always evoke warm emotions in me :) I shall leave the gorgeous newlyweds to share about their own weddings, and wish them much joy, love and wonderful companionship in the years ahead!

Bubbles must have been excited too, because once again she is keeping mummy up at 4am. I'm actually kind of getting used to it. heh. She's good at mummy training!

The Chateau decision

I have always really liked the clothes from here.

By the time I found time to pop into the boutique however, I had already accumulated a stash of clothes for Bubbles - courtesy of generous family and friends, several hand-me-downs, and my mini shopping sprees. So I did the wise thing, and decided since then not to buy any more clothes for Bubbles.

Now, if I were to buy anything, it will be stuff like
- toys (she currently has none, except for 2 stuffed toys)
- books (I get confused by the variety found at bookshops and hence have not bought anything)
- a mat thingy with toys hanging down for her to play with (great as a changing mat too!)
- a playmat (this seem to be useful!)
- a highchair (I would like her to learn to sit at the table!)
- a collapsible playpen (we need to take this up to KL when we visit her grandparents)

Very practical stuff!

Still, I got a thrill when I received this present, passed to Roboman during his recent trip up to KL. I think it could be an outfit Bubbles wears for her full-month celebrations, or Christmas, depending on how she grows!

Looking for a sign?

Seen at Holland Village:
The friends and I were amused to see this up, and agreed that while some people may really rejoice to see these words, it also could be an unfavourable sign for others.

We've had a piece of bad news recently. I'm still in a slight state of shock. Nothing life-threatening, so don't worry, for those who know me personally. But it is a blow, and coming at a very bad time, as we are coping with many changes in our lives. I am not prepared to share what this is all about, so please don't ask. Perhaps I will write about it, one day in the future :)

When I saw this sign, I couldn't help but think - What sign? Was I looking for a sign? And then, I should have looked for a sign, then this would have been it!
It was quite funny, the thoughts in my head. Although of course I have NOT been looking for any sign whatsoever, so the questions weren't relevant.

I just have deep convictions that God's plans are best for us. I rejoice in the many blessings that we have. And I relish a fresh lesson of what it means to trust, to have faith, and to obey.

Jeremiah 29:11
"I know what I am planning for you," says the LORD. "I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future" (NCV).

So this is what finally happened, and we're so thankful!

Bubbles' 1st Laundry :)

Incredibly leetle and cute!

Sisterly Weekend - The Wedding

The sister and I attended a wedding lunch together over the weekend. It was a sweet coincidence that we were invited to the same wedding - me by the groom, and she by the bride! Many people were surprised that we turned up together.

The gorgeous bride is a long time friend of my sister's, and therefore I also got to meet many of my sister's old schoolmates - her bunch of girlfriends whom I have also somewhat gotten to know over the years. In fact, I still remember some of them coming over to our place for birthday parties and such when we were kids!

It felt special meeting them somehow. I have a soft spot for my sister's friends. People who are important to her would have already earned a special place in my heart. On the other hand, I can also turn blazing eyed protective against people who bully or have been mean to her (not that there have been many!). It has been mostly like that since we were kids, with exception of a handful of angsty teenaged occasions perhaps.

Once an older sister, always an older sister :)

Sisterly Weekend - Gynae Check

Roboman had to be away for a few days in KL to visit his uncle who is very ill. He felt I shouldn't travel now at 33 weeks into pregnancy, and asked that I stay home to rest.

My dear sis bunked over with me for 2 nights. My mum volunteered too if my sis couldn't make it, as they all felt I should be taken care of! heh :) It was a lovely weekend spent with my leetle sista. Much treasured because I know such times will be harder to come by in the future.

One of the highlights of the weekend was my gynae check-up. My sis was excited, and snapped photos of the various things I had to do - like getting my weight taken, a urine test, and a scan! heh. It was lovely sharing the experience with her.
From now, I'll have to visit my gynae more frequently for checks. As always, am thankful that Bubbles and I are well. I've put on 2kg the past month, which is a good weight gain. Bubbles is now 1.7kg, and is expected to be between 3-3.3kg at full-term. Countdown begins!