Sunday, May 31, 2009

Home sweet home

Every time we pulled into the driveway of our Churchill home, the three of us would never fail to say to each other "Here we are... home sweet home".

Over the past 11 months plus, that cosy light brown brick 3 bed-room house indeed became home and hearth for us three, and I felt sad saying goodbye that final time when we pulled out of the driveway and headed into Melbourne.

And now, a week later, we're back in Singapore again - our original Home Sweet Home.

It's been exactly a week since this mother took the 7+ hour flight back with a 2-year-old in tow. That day, I leant heavily on the patience and goodwill of fellow passengers, stewardesses, and airport ground crew for help when the toddler got especially testy and impatient. I think the sight of me, a heavily pregnant woman with a sprightly boy certainly helped tugged at the right heart strings! Thank God he wasn't the only noisy child in the cabin too!

Tonight also marks the end of my sojourn as a full time mom, as my no-pay leave ends tomorrow and I head back into the office as a reading professional again. Here ends a wonderful adventure learning to cook 3 meals a day, experiencing four seasons in a temperate and beautiful part of the world, and most of all being loving mother to a baby who became a toddler and beloved wife to a med student.

Well, that's not really true - I still am beloved wife and loving mother - just under different circumstances now. God forbid I ever forget that!


Being home is truly an assault on the senses.

Walking out the double sliding doors of the cool air-conditioned airport, we felt again the familiar heat and my skin almost instantly turned moist with perspiration. The air felt heavier on the nostrils, but strangely it was a good sensation, and the smile on D's face on seeing his grandma and grandpa made it all worth it.

In these climes, smells also assault our olfactory senses more keenly. It's a good thing I'm well past my first trimester sickness.

Parking the car at the Esso Mobil petrol station on Thursday to meet up with M for breakfast at Chin Mei Chin's, we walked past Carlton and that unmistakable aroma of the corner shop's wanton and soya chicken mee brought me right back to all our frequent meals there.

Yes, I think to myself, this is home.


D was unsettled the first night back home - waking up three times in the night refusing to be settled until I sleep right next to him.

He's improving now, and I've decided to move into his room until he settles into a routine and feels more secure in this new environment.

He is now able to remind me that "Daddy (is in) Australia", and thank God for Skype he is still able to kiss his Daddy goodnight before turning in for the night.

And when I came home late from a wedding dinner last night, I found him happily asleep in his bed, tucked in by grandpa and grandma.

Which makes me reasonably confident that even though this blessed boy has had mommy right next to him 100 percent over the last 11 months, he'll take to the care of his grandparents well and will adjust to long periods of my absence well too.

I suspect I may have a harder time than he in this transition!

I'll miss my little boy so much, that I wonder if all my cuddles and kisses in the morning, before his breakfast, and cuddles and kisses in the evenings before his bedtime, will make his absence and my guilt any easier for me to bear.

I guess we'll soon see, won't we?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Farewell Party at LC Playgroup

This morning at the LC playgroup, the moms threw a simple farewell do for us since this was Dylan's last time at the playgroup, party hats included!

We took the opportunity to give some of D's more bulky toys to the playgroup so that the other children can get to play with them. Although it led to a few tears when D couldn't bear to see other kiddies on his beloved trike, in the end his parting gift of a Thomas & Friends Percy engine and Jeremy airplane more than made up for it!

Am very touched indeed by this warm gesture! There so much to be thankful for, in the kind and warm folks that God sent our way in the past 11 months to share their motherhood journeys with me.

Which just makes me think - if mommies in Singapore had time to spare, what's stopping us from forming a playgroup that's free for other moms to join, and use a simple weekly fee of $2 or $3 per child to buy a pool of toys to share so that our tots have a place to meet up weekly for unstructured play time?

Maybe it's a culture thing - ie. Singaporean mommies prefer to own their toys, or prefer to pay premium fees to send their kids to expensive structured play programs.

Again, thanks to the indoor setting and my photography skills (lack of), will keep the size small to minimize the blurriness:

Eating cake with an Elmo party hat atop D's head:
Teary, but still hungry enough to eat cakeYum.

D watches on as the spread gets consumed by moms and bubs alike, later hops on his trike for a final ride before generously passing it on to his Aussie friends:
Look at the spreadMy Elmo Party Hat!Getting a push from a friend

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

All packed. Almost.

At bedtime tonight, little D peers over his bed and notices that his dump truck (along with his other toys and books) is missing.

Looking to me, he asks, "Where dump truck?"

I reply, "Sorry son, dump truck and all your toys are sealed in the box now, all ready to be air-shipped back to Singapore!"

So, after almost 11 months and some tough decisions about what to keep and what to give away/ throw, here is the sum total of the "stuff" we accumulate.

2 boxes, one for toys, one for books, and a postal tubing containing 5 learning charts for the tot... almost 30kg in all:

Playtime at Puffs and Werribee

Final week here in Gippsland, Victoria, sees this small family trying our best to let little Dylan enjoy himself to the fullest, and exploit the play spaces of which there is no shortage here.

Each place we bring him, I think to myself, yup, his last time running around... his last time on this swing... his last time at this playground... etc. Which makes every moment this week a little melancholic, at the same time poignant.

What drives me, I suppose, is a desire to bring this wonderful and amazing chapter of our lives to a close. It's funny how I constantly crave closure. Only before becoming a mother, closure almost always came after the fact ... mending broken relationships, saying sorry only after having moved on, etc.

But since becoming a mom, every moment and opportunity lost is something that can never be redeemed or recovered again. D is only 2.5 once, and I'm possibly only going to be a stay-home mom this one last time before plunging back into working life again.

So after his haircut last Friday, we brought little tyke to Puff's Magical Playcentre at Traralgon for one last play.

Playing ball, as always, is going to be a hit with little guy, never mind that the ball happens to have Hannah Montana printed all over it!
at puffs

Don't let the ball into the goal now!
Budding Goalie

Final dip in the pool of balls! Love the colors, but just don't understand why I can't take un-blurry photos. Tips, anyone, on how this mommy can improve her photography skills?
Pool of balls

Over the weekend, we drove to Uncle K's place at Point Cook on the western side of Melbourne, and got treated to beautiful weather on Sunday morning at the Werribee South beach. Nice playground here too!

Aye Ay' Captain D!

A frequent sight in these parts - daddies pushing little ones on the swing:
On the Swing@ Werribee South

Both big Koh and little Koh looking pensive here:
Slide@Werribee South

One does not need to be at loch ness to sight a green dragon:

Practicing the old art of tree-climbing... I like how the playground forms the backdrop of this picture:
Climbing a Tree@Werribee South

the tree climber

The monkey sits atop his favorite branch:
monkey in a tree

And relishes being taller than both mommy and daddy:

But as with many of our play outings, this one ends in tears too, just before we set off for a hearty breakfast at the homestead. Here, you see a teary-eyed D in front of Uncle K's Toyota Prado.
boo hoo!

But that soon changes to a smile at the Homestead, where D sits astride his favorite old tractor for one last time!
With Daddy on the tractor

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Time for a haircut

It's been an exhausting couple of weeks, to say the least.

In the nick of time - or should I say by a stroke of divine grace - I found out that if we were to return to Singapore in June as planned, and if I resumed work on 1 Jul, when baby #2 arrived I would not have accumulated enough days of service to qualify for paid maternity leave.

Thank God for supportive bosses, a last minute change of plans means I fly off next Sunday with little tyke, and start work a month early on 1 Jun.

In turn, it means pushing forward the packing, saying the good-byes, and prepping for transition back into life in Singapore by 3 weeks.

For little D, it means it's time for a haircut, so that he'll look cute enough for grandpa and grandma, and gong gong and ah-ma in a week's time!

At almost 2.5, he's able to now look into the mirror and appreciate that he's getting his hair cut with some aplomb, without the previous need for distractors like a video in the portable DVD player! From the proud mommy -

haircut time!
stretching my hand out to put that sultana into my mouth

cool in the barber shop
bye bye hair