My Little Monkey

This is a side of Bubbles that I have not written about often. The cheeky monkey side of her.

The side which says jeekee while throwing her head back in laughter when you say she's cheeky. Who pretends to give you something and then pulling it away when you reach forward to get it. Who imitates every sneeze, cough, burp and snore that you make, and then saying it was a sneeze, cough, bop and snore.

For months, she has been watching kids in the neighbourhood do all sort of stunts on the monkey bars. She's held on to this shortest one, tipping her toes back and forth and shouting swing, for a couple of weeks.

Then suddenly, one day after she turned 16 months, she lifted her feet of the ground and managed a real swing.

There has been no looking back since.

Now, she attempts to do this with anything she can hang on to. Including our thumbs/hands/arms.

Yes, my little monkey, just hold on tight!

Goodbye J, and Thank you

For the 2nd time this week, I can't sleep. It is past 4 in the morning as I am typing this. Insomnia a couple of nights ago happened after I bought the air tickets to send our domestic help home. She flew back last night, and I'm wondering how she is right now.

The copious amount of tears I shed yesterday really surprised me. I did not realise till then just now much emotional attachment I've developed over the past 17 months or so.

I believe it is because these 17 months have been a special time in my life. She came in when I was in my last month of pregnancy, saw me through delivery and confinement, and all through Bubbles' 1st year and beyond.

I never wanted to have live-in help, but circumstances and requests from parents made us decide to try out the option. I struggled in many ways. Between yearning for privacy and wanting to make her feel part of the family. Wanting to trust her completely, but not being able to do so because more experienced employers around me tell me that I shouldn't judging from her behaviour. Wanting to be a good, friendly, and encouraging boss, and being reminded through her own actions and others' advice that I should be firm and not be friends lest I get 'taken advantaged' of.

There were days I felt so annoyed, irritated, and betrayed by her. I recall times when I had no desire to be in my own home when she was around, and wishing we never hired her. She stressed and worried me often enough for us to decide that it was just not working out.

However, after all is said and done, and she has now gone, I am left remembering the good times, and feel awfully sad that we had to part with her, likely forever. I see the little touches that she has done around the house, and it hits me quite hard. I remember how she was fond of Bubbles, and my heart aches because I'll have to tell Bubbles that her 'Ah J' has left us. I think about how she asks what I would like to drink every morning, and how she was the one I called for help with creepy crawlies around the house. She was my partner in home management and we did almost all grocery shopping together.

On the day we broke the news to her, I saw that she had taken it upon herself to set up Bubbles' house in the living room. My heart ached. I cried along with her as I told her the news. I prepared gifts for her, her mom, and her favourite nephew. We helped her to pack, and I found myself dispensing advice like a worried mother. I asked that she keeps practising all that she has learnt while with us, and to always continue to learn and improve herself. I told her never to go to the Middle-East to work, and to always be there for her future children, if she ever becomes a mother. I made her pack her money in two different places, and reminded her countless times to take care of her things.

She thanked and hugged me before we left the house, telling us that she was very thankful to us and that she was very lucky to have had us as employers. We hugged again before she stepped into the Departure Lounge. Roboman shook hands to thank her, and she asked him to take good care of me, and of Bubbles. She turned back many times to wave to us as she walked towards the boarding gates.

My consolation: She conceded that while shocked, it was good for her to go back at this point, as she has already learnt all she can with us. She desires to go back to study a course on Care-giving, and I wish her the very best.

I'm glad I wrote this post, because it helped ease my heavy heart a little.

It has also made me wonder. If I feel this way about J, how will I ever be able to let Bubbles leave the nest when the time comes for her to do so? Prepare my heart, God!

Shoe Rack Kitchenette

Have you ever wanted to buy a little kitchen set for your child but found prices prohibitive?

A creative mom from my church turned an unused cheap shoe rack into a make-shift one for the cry room. Check out the stove-top, shelving, and my favourite - double taps!

Lots of cooking, stirring, pouring, washing and erm, even bathing (of stuffed toys) happen while sermons are preached! If I ever re-create this at home, I'll attach boxes under the taps to serve as sinks!

What other creative ways have you re-used things for play? I would love to hear your ideas!

Pre-school Shopping

In another lovely Missy Messy creation

I took Bubbles to visit a few pre-schools recently.

She was truly a dear little girl that day. She kept her flower hair-clip on, and brought along a little pre-loved teddy she was recently given. She made friends with the people I spoke to, and even picked up a biscuit crumb (?) at one of the schools and gave it to a teacher with a verbal instruction to 'Throw!'.  The teacher was much amused!

Today, if you ask her what she sees at schools, she'll tell you Chewdren (Children)! =)

Unfortunately, the pre-school shopping didn't go as well as I had hoped. 3 schools - none giving me the 'this is it!' feeling. They all had their plus and minuses of course.

The Pluses I liked include a low teacher to student ratio (1:5), teachers who are properly Montessori trained, outdoor play areas, good Mandarin teaching/exposure, general cleanliness and upkeep of facilities, and good feedback from other parents. (I met one at the entrance of a school. She raved about the school where 2 of her kids go to and told me I'll have no regrets. That's really compelling!)

If the school is slated as an MCYS-approved childcare, the subsidy that comes along with it would be a good to have too.

The Minuses were mainly the opposites of the Pluses I looked out for: Half-baked Montessori teaching methods, insufficient Mandarin teaching/exposure, worn/dirty/messy facilities, insufficient furnishings (one school had students sit on the driveway floor to eat), lack of space, and no outdoor play areas.

It was a rather disappointing day for me especially since I was expecting more for the high fees schools charge these days! Thankfully I am in no hurry to send Bubbles to school. If I can get her someplace I am comfortable with, she'll start next year (the year she turns 3). But if not, we can wait till the following year, I think!

There are a couple more schools I would like to check out. Some traditional kindys, church based ones, and one or two more Montessoris.

Bubbles, Mummy's gonna take you to see more Chewdren! 

Sticker Fun

Another de-cluttering find - a stash of stickers. I don't remember buying them so I have no idea where they came from! I'm thinking they came with one of her many gifts. Hopefully they didn't accidentally drop out from one of the Activity Kits!

Bubbles was thoroughly engrossed in peeling off the stickers one by one and sticking them on her cot railings. These stickers are made of foam so they don't easily tear or crumple, making them suitable for toddler hands.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching her do this! Her look of concentration was just too adorable. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a good pic so I won't bother posting. It will be stored in my memory bank!

When she was done, she stood back to have a look and declared satisfactory "Nicee!" before looking at me shyly :)

A Pretty Vase

I was at my friend's home recently and saw this unique vase that she displayed on her coffee table. In my eyes, it is simply gorgeous. It was purchased at an outdoor market during one of her many travels.

The vase is made up of a stone base with a hole in the middle for water. A metal spiral loops up such that stems of flowers are left visible.

I couldn't help casting admiring glances and taking a photo of it.

Bubbles, however, was more interested in dipping her fingers into the water before licking them. Many pretty things are just not child-friendly!

Some simple things can be though. Did anyone else notice my attempt at creating a rhyme? :)

My Little House

I'm in a little house
built by my mommy.
2 big chairs and my little one.
1 blue bedsheet
Makes it all fun.

My furry friends are all with me.
Peekaboo, can't you see?
 I do get tangled now and then.
But that happens to all little friends!
Won't you come and join the fun?
My little house fits more than one!

Close your eyes, what do YOU see?

Make Believe

I close my eyes and what do I see?

Why I Am Corsage

Gathered in the midst of my decluttering process.
I still have several lurking around.

They are the reason for my namesake.
I used to wear one almost every day.
(I've since toned down. A lot)

At least Corsage sounds better than Brooch or Flower Pin!

I'm a Chinese Mother too

Many of you would have seen this article that has been making its rounds. It is written by Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School. The article is an exerpt from her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.
Much has been said about her extreme style of parenting.

In Singapore, the overnight queuing to register children at a certain prestigious kindergarten also garnered much attention and debate.

Recently, on this site's Facebook Page, I've had a lengthy discussion that has helped me clarify my own values, desires and beliefs on parenting. I am by no means done with this clarification process, being a mother of but 1 child who is only (almost) 16 months' old.

I've summarized some of my discussion points here for your reading pleasure (and sharing of views if you wish!).

Views of a not-so-experienced Chinese mother who also wants the best for her child... ...

Greasy Goodness

Gammon Steak @ Colbar
The fix I need sometimes.

My little cowgirl

Her dad found a hat resting on a bust (figurine) at a restaurant.
He gave it to Bubbles.
She promptly put it on her head, and circled around with her chin held high.
A photo I had to snap.
Just before the hat fell off!


I've been hit by a de-cluttering bug. The deadline I've given myself to complete this process is the end of January.

These beauties of boxes are going straight to new storage we've got a carpenter to build under our bed.

I'm also looking out for mood boards to decide on a new colour scheme for my now monochromatic living and dining areas.

To keep costs down, I'm only going to bring in soft furnishings and maybe a couple of ornaments to bring out possibly a red and turquoise theme to go with our dark wood and black furniture.

I just wish I had more TIME and ENERGY. If only those 2 things can be bought!

Missy Messy

I recently received the 5 lovely dresses that I ordered from Missy Messy.

If you haven't checked out their site yet, you really should! You'll be treated to gorgeous photos of two cutie-pies dressed in signature designs of Missy Messy.

I was honestly bowled over by the quality of the material and workmanship. For dresses that don't cost above $35, they are real gems. I love the vibrancy of the prints and the attention to detail. Seams are sewed perfectly. Buttons used are obviously carefully selected. Beautiful ones. Scallop-shaped collars are cut flawlessly, and I can't help touching them in admiration.

You won't find any frilly, glittery, pink-overloaded dresses here. Just what I like!

I couldn't resist putting Bubbles in one of the dresses and taking her out for a 'photoshoot'. As I ran around with my iPhone, she was nonchalant about my intention for her to model for me, and was more interested in eating her breakfast of organic cheddar cheese.

Still, I love the way the dress looks on her, and she has since received many compliments whenever she wears it :)

Ushering in 2011

On a whim, we had my sister and a few friends over on NYE for a cheese and wine session. I knew we would be going home to put Bubbles to bed after dinner at a friend's place, and figured we would have quite a bit of the night left to 'spare'.

By chance we had a friend who was here for work and stranded because he missed his flight home.We invited him over as well and he came just past 12, after having a conference call with a client (Am I glad I don't have to deal with clients like that!).

We opened up a bottle of Te Mata wine we bought on our trip to New Zealand. It was a Coleraine 2006, which we selected upon recommendation and tasting at the winery. It was pretty good, but as Roboman says, nothing like drinking wine while experiencing the weather and scenery where it comes from!

Interestingly, Bubbles woke up to ask for milk. She has never done so in recent memory! Perhaps she wanted to join in the fun. And she did! She was thrilled that her doggy friend was in the house, and we did an impromptu 'dance' session :)

It was a lovely start to 2011!