Mummy do-over

Happy new year to one and all!

Okay, this is not another blog post on regrets for goals unfulfilled or hopeful ramblings about new ones for the brand new year. Instead, I just want to share how blessed I am for the privilege to be a mummy for a second time.

We are really thankful to have such an easy first child -a baby who doesn’t really need much of a routine and can sleep literally anytime, anywhere. Timothy (son no.1) has always been a great travel companion, seldom fell ill and, apart from being somewhat accident-prone, hardly gave us any cause for worry or heartache. (maybe the heartache comes when he becomes a teenager)

I can’t say we’ve discovered the magic formula for child-rearing, but i suspect the stars were nicely aligned at his point of conception. har har…

And with a bountiful measure of prayers and dependence on God, we’ve somehow manage to meander through the first toddler years with little stress and much joy and laughter.

After having an easy 4 years with Timmy, it took awhile to get used to sleepless nights, the stress of breastfeeding, relentless baby wailing and smelly nappies again. Little Nathan is now 14 months old and I can still vividly remember the worry and pain we went through with his serious bout of jaundice when he was born, and his eczema that covered his little body with dry scabs. It was only when he turned 1 that I decided to get a blood test done on him and discovered he has an allergy to cow’s milk and egg white. Yikes!

But there is still so much more to be thankful for.

Having no. 2 made me realise that our hearts do grow bigger to accommodate more people for you to love. Much more than you think you were capable of loving. Both kids are such a bundle of joy and it is so beautiful to see the 2 of them expressing their affection for each other in such a natural, intuitive manner. Whenever Timmy comes home from kindergarten, he would run to Nathan first and give him a shoulder scrunching hug and say Oh Nana, I love you so much cos you are sooooo cute! And Nathan follows his older brother around like a crazy Justin bieber fan. (most of the time, he just wants to play with whatever toy Timmy is currently obsessed with)

Here are some snapshots of the boys who taught me so much about life and love, and there is still so much I am learning from them….

Big brother holding Nathan for the very first time

Big brother holding Nathan for the very first time

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Nathan’s first hike in Hassliberg

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Lisbon – an oxymoron of sorts…

LIsbon city

Lisbon city

This is the first time I’ve visited Portugal, and I must say, I am pleasantly surprised by how interesting the capital is, although I still can’t decide if I like it or love it.

Like the coastal towns of their Spanish neighbors, Portuguese cuisine consists of mainly seafood – but simply boiled and served cold, so you really get to enjoy the pure sweetness of our crustacean friends. It is not unusual for tables at restaurants to be covered with wet tissues, plastic hammer and board, crab crackers and lobster forks. (for an amateur seafood eater, I would highly recommend having a few pieces of first-aid plasters close by, or a useful helpful husband who can peel prawns and crack open crab and lobster shells for you).

Is this a good time to confess that when we visited the Oceanarium on our last day, my stomach was growling so much when I saw all the lovely sea creatures swimming infront of us, all I could think of is yummy delicious seafood! (especially stingray grilled with sambal chilli and fish curry)

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IMG_5428I absolutely love Portugese architecture. The pretty cracked blue and white tiles that cover the walls of several old buildings remind me of the Peranakan shophouses in some parts of Singapore and Malacca in Malaysia, where many Portugese traders came to build their colonial settlements in the 1800s. I would love to live in a  building that is painted fuschia pink or a happy egg yolk yellow.

Lisbon seems like a city of many contradictions. The historical district is a complex and compact maze of winding streets that goes up and down at every turn. It is definitely not a pram, wheelchair or high-heel-friendly city. We would have loved to take a ride on one of their iconic trams, which seem to be only about 5 metres long, but we know it’s impossible to squeeze a pram through the narrow entrance.

There are plenty of wide open spaces, especially along the marina area where you can enjoy long quiet walks, and the major tourist attractions are spread across the city. The many space-age looking museums and massive sculptures showcasing Portugal’s colorful history as a illustrious leader in sea trade are a sharp contrast to the skeletal frames of old clock towers, dilapidated warehouses and office buildings left in shambles, which must have been a bustling enclave of people coming in and out a long time ago.

For a global city which has 3 million residents (Lisbon is the 11th most populous city in the European Union),

it is also awfully quiet.

I’ve just returned from visiting Singapore and appreciate being able to walk around town without being jostled around. The streets are never packed with people or cars, even on a weekend. Our Portugese friend told us most residents hardly stay in the city on weekends, preferring to visit the many coastal towns nearby where they can lay on the sandy beaches all day long.

I was hoping that everywhere I go – left, right and centre, I would bump into the likes of Ronaldo Cristiano. He’s probably in the U.S shooting another Armani underwear ad. Portugese men tend to have a lot of facial hair and are generally quite short. It’s alot more likely to spot the likes of Hugo Almeidas. In general, the locals are a warm, easygoing and helpful bunch of people.

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Bairro Alto (Old town) and tram line
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Coastal town of Cascais

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Oceanarium

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the most famous and popular cafe for egg tarts

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Unsung heroes

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face to face with a life-size hero

There’s a new superhero in town and he is white and furry, has a cute button nose and he sure looks uber-cool in his aquamarine dive suit and matching sailor hat.

Armed with his trusty compass, you can always count on Captain Barnacles and his fellow Octonaut compatriots to rescue and protect all sea creatures in the deep blue.

This is one cartoon superhero I have no worries about my boys emulating. Not only does Timmy learn about appreciating nature and helping others in trouble from the show, he and I have also learnt alot about sea turtles, electric torpedo rays, anemones, sea cucumbers, sperm whales (this is the only time he’s allowed to say the word ‘sperm’) and colossal squids with giant ‘testicles’. My son has trouble pronouncing ‘tentacles’.

Did you know there is an actual fish with a hawaiian name – Humuhumunukunukuapua’a?

Timmy and I did an ocean scene for our art & craft project recently. He had fun painting a wooden shipwreck, sticking colorful pipe-cleaners into modelling clay so they look like psychedelic seaweed, spreading colorful pebbles and glitter glue to make our beautiful seabed, and crushing pink transparent wrapping paper into jellyfish form.

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 I’ve been thinking about the myriad cartoons and TV personalities children nowadays are exposed to, especially since my son is at the age to start exploring concepts of good and evil, superheroes vs villians, what is considered cool or uncool, and what superpowers to have – typical issues adults consider on a daily basis.

It’s really sad that there is only a pitiful number of worthy superheroes that kids can look up to and aspire to be. I’m so sick of seeing every other 5 year old boy wear Batman or Superman T-shirts, don Spiderman masks for every costume/birthday party we’ve been to, consider it ‘creative play’ when they attempt to jump off chairs in restaurants, scale the narrow walls in elevators, growl at old people like they are evil monsters or try to throw wet rolls of toilet paper onto the ceiling to see if they’ll stick like ‘spider webs’.

For now, I think I can still live with Timmy saying ‘testicles’ instead of ‘tentacles’. It is by far a lesser evil than him asking me for a Justin Bieber haircut.

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Flashback 2012

Belated Happy New Year everyone!

I was looking through my blog archive to see if I’ve made any resolutions for 2012; pity I’ve only found a tongue-in-cheek post about generic resolutions people tend to make.

I do however recall making a secret to-do list last year consisting of one major ‘to-do’ item – have a baby.

Well, in a blink of an eye, a wiggle of my toes, a hard shove of placenta, amniotic fluids and a 2.9kg baby out from ‘down-under’, 2012 has finally come to a close with a big fat ‘Tick’ against my very, very short list.

I feel blest that the whole family has been in good health, we’ve done our fair share of travelling, and Timmy is enjoying more experiences like a typical Swiss kid – learning how to play soccer, going for his weekly ‘moms & kids’ gymnastics (Muki-turnen is what it is called in Switzerland), where mums spend the first half hour moving heavy equipment in the school gymnasium to set up military-like obstacle courses for the children; and learning to ski. We are truly planting firmer roots here and getting a greater sense of home after living in Switzerland for 4 years.

Highlights of 2012:

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First hike of the year in Engelberg and the snow hasn’t quite melted yet

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Easter in Stockholm

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Easter Sunday brunch in Stockholm

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May: Hiking in Cinque terra, Italy

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Gourmet seafood platter in Cinque Terra

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Timmy’s first soccer camp

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Timmy in gymnastics

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June: Copenhagen amusement park – Tivoli

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2 pregnant women in Copenhagen

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May: Coastal town of Dubrovnik in Croatia

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Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Europa Park in the Black Forest region in Germany

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Enjoying summer at Schaffhausen – Rheinfalls with friends

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Timmy turns 4

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Oct: Nathan James is born

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Nov: Halloween

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Dec: Christmas Market in Munich, Germany

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Dec: Christmas Market in front of the monastery in Einseideln

Christmas in Andermatt

Christmas in Andermatt

Dec: Christmas and New Year in Andermatt

Dec: Christmas and New Year in Andermatt

Love, Joy & Peace on earth...

Love, Joy & Peace on earth…

Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine u blow my mind, oh MICKEY!!!

Did I mention in my previous post that my little boy is having a little Mickey Mouse fetish at 20121017-213155.jpgthe moment?

Maybe it has to do with the cosmic fact that Timmy was born in the year of the ‘Rat’ according to the Chinese calendar. We manage to turn this cute rodent obsession into little creative works of art. It was also a good way for me to spend quality bonding time with my little guy before no. 2 comes out. And who says only girls can sit still for a good 1 or 2 hours holding a paintbrush without spreading colors on their faces and bodies? (Altho’ i must admit waiting for layers of paper mache and paint to dry is possibly the most challenging part of doing craftwork with a kid)

20121017-212437.jpgTimmy loves the storybook – Mickey’s Space Adventure. We’ve read the book to him every night for the last month and he knows almost every single line before it rolls off our tongues. I never knew the world above our ozone layer provided such a rich source of craft ideas for us to create or replicate. Making crafts based on the book makes the story comes alive. We’ve made our own space rocket (complete with fiery flames spluttering from its bottom), drawn an outer space treasure map and even made the Moon, Mars, Saturn and the ‘mystery Planet’ for the space rocket to fly to.

I’ve also bought plain black canvas shoes where I painted Mickey on one side and Minnie on the other. Alan also tried to contribute by building the Disney characters with lego. Our biggest achievement to date is a model of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, built using paper mache, clay, rubber gloves, toilet rolls and tiny lego bits!

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My bizarre pre-natal obsession

Eeeeks! Has it really been more than 5 months since I last wrote a blog entry here?

20121013-181759.jpgThe timing of my self-imposed break from social media coincides with the first time I picked up ’50 Shades of Grey’ from the local bookshop, and then Part 2 and Part 3 a day later. Many pregnant women have food cravings; I, on the other hand, acquired an insatiable reading craving that borderlined on being insanely obsessive-compulsive.

To date, I have purchased 16 new books and 63 e-books, many of which I’ve read more than once. At least I’ve been feeding my mind rather than my waistline or spending money on retail therapy, I justified to myself. Although genres like teen fantasy, science fiction, mommy porn and historical romance can’t exactly be considered intellectually stimulating… (I did note that many female writers of mommy porn have credible degrees and spectacular day jobs; some are full-time mums who no doubt, after giving a good decade of their lives to cooking and hanging laundry, have decided that there are better use for whipped cream and clothespins)

I do have to thank my husband and my little 4 year old Timmy for being so understanding, and giving me the time and space to indulge in my obsession. Every time we walk past a bookshop, little Timmy would point to the familiar black and white book cover hogging the top 10 bestsellers shelf and shout “Mummy’s book! That’s Mummy’s book!”. I’ve been lugging my books on our summer holidays in Denmark and Italy too and reading through the wee hours of the night.

Then again, I think the obsessive compulsive gene runs thick in our family. Alan is always on Youtube checking out the latest car test-drives and watching re-reruns of Top Gear and The 5th Gear. He alternates between his car interest and reading tabloid news on Daily Mail and The Sun to keep himself up to date on important events plaguing the entertainment world. Little Timmy is now obsessed with Mickey Mouse and will only wear clothes with an image of the mouse, has an infatuation with Minnie Mouse, and carries his Mickey Mouse stuff toy everywhere he goes. (He actually wanted Minnie Mouse stuff toy and pink clothes with Minnie’s image on it)

We are now counting down the last 20 days before my pregnancy ends and maybe I would have weaned off my reading obsession. Our family will have a new shared interest – indulging and loving and having lots of fun with the baby!

 

Wallflowered

I feel inspired to embark on a new ‘home improvement’ project with every change in season. This summer, I decided to add a personal touch to our feature wall in the lounge room.

Previously, we hung a replica, or rather, a cheap copy of the famous Chinese contemporary artist, Yue Mingjun’s work. I wanted something light-hearted and reflective of our asian roots then. Plus, the figure in the picture bears a slight resemblance to my husband, especially when he is in the shower. :)

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This project has been long in the making. It was difficult to find unique photo frames that complement one another. I didn’t want boring black and white ones. I found some nice rustic looking ones from an eco-friendly shop in the old town of zurich. The frames were made by a south-african artist using recycled materials. We found another 2 on our trip back to Australia. The next step involved finding interesting images. I finally decided on a few of our travel pictures and family portraits. I also blew up some photos into frameless portraits to make it more interesting and provide different textures to the project.

My wall project:

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Deciding on the perfect layout

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Final composition

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Close up of images

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What I REALLY REALLY want to do (albeit self-indulgent) is to blow up this kaleidescope-pattern as a wall paper for the entire feature wall. This was done using the different funny effects on photobooth on the ipad and we had such a blast pulling monkey faces.