Friday 30 January 2009

Siblings and Loving It

Our two kids - such joy they bring into our lives! And this together with such sleep deprivation, tiredness, sore eardrums, volumes of laundry, stunted social lives, and conversation that somehow almost always revolves around them. Precious, precious! We love you Ethan and Talia!

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Farewell FJR1300

I thought the day would not come but alas it has... I have bid farewell to my beloved Yamaha FJR1300 motorcycle. Ethan had his last playtimes on it and Daddy nearly cried with the thought of no longer riding any more. So what brought along this happening? It is the infamous Father Syndrome. Amazingly, Renata has always let me ride without too much fuss. Of course, both Ethan and Talia's grandparents have always encouraged me to give up this adrenaline pumping pursuit...

What finally got to me was not any close call or near accident (never had any in 6 years of riding), but the thought that if something did happen to me then Ethan would not remember me! All the time we had spent together would not yet be burned into his memory. He would only read this blog and hear Mummy say, "Your Daddy loved you very much Ethan, and you loved him too! But one day when he was riding this motorcycle which you loved to play on..." Oh, the first time the thought dropped into my head there were tears in my eyes!

"Ethan wanna ride motorbike!" is one of the sentences that my son is adept at. He is also very adept at riding my motorbike. He looks like quite a natural holding the handlebars and playing with all the gadgets. It's much more fun than a car cos he gets up real close and there are a lot more switches and gadgets on my bike that he can fiddle with!

When he was younger he would be scared when he saw me on the bike with my full-face helmet on because he didn't recognize me. Now he does recognize me. "Daddy motorbike!" he exclaims happily when he sees. Once he saw me out of the car window when I rode up next to him. Later that same day, in the car on the way home he said to Mummy, "Want the Daddy outside!" He wanted to see me on the motorbike again!

Below is the only video that we have of us playing on the bike together. We played on it together for a loooong time on that final day before the buyer came to pick it up. I finally peeled him off and both of us cried...

If you don't know (because I didn't know before this), giving up riding and leaving a large sport-tourer like this feels very much like "breaking up". I laughed at myself when I thought of this analogy, but it's true! It comes with bittersweet memories of the times you enjoyed together, the thrilling excitement and fun, and the hopes of the future that will never fulfilled (like riding to Thailand!). Now you know how understanding Renata is to put up with all of this from her hubby! :)

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Naughty Corner

We have just installed a Naughty Corner as our toddler is now firmly in his terrible two's and we think that he is ready for some firm disciplining! Here you can see it brand new and as yet unused without the tenant. I must take my hat off and thank Super Nanny for the valuable toddler lessons we have learned. On the same day I installed it (today) I used it TWO TIMES with Ethan and it worked Super Well just like on Super Nanny! When watching that reality TV show we often think, "Does it really work that well?" And now my answer is yes, it does...if you follow her rules!

WARNING!!! The rest of this lengthy narrative is
only of interest to parents of young children!

Preparation >> A few lessons we picked up: The naughty corner must be in a well-defined spot, so a sign helps the toddler know what it is. Daddy came up with this particular one and stuck it on the wall together with Mum's cushion idea so Ethan knows where he is supposed to stay. Also, it must be in a place in the home that is away from the fun and action but in line of sight so the parents can see when the toddler moves out of the naughty corner. There must also be an explanation to the toddler before it is used, what it is and how it works. All explanations and communications are to be done at their eye-level with a firm voice! Ha... looks easy on SuperNanny, but that's a lot of things to keep in your mind when you actually practise it.

4.45 PM >> Ethan wakes up, moves out of his room and eyeballs the new home addition with curiosity. Daddy sits on the floor next to the naughty corner with Ethan and explains it to him and surprisingly he understand perfectly well. When I say "naughty corner", Ethan squirms and looks away. He knows it's not a good thing. The preparation is done.

6.30 PM >> It's dinner time which has become increasingly difficult over the last few weeks. Ethan does not want to sit down and insists on playing with his current toy which is a common occurrence. After a few warnings it was naughty corner time. "You're going to the naughty corner because you didn't listen to Daddy and didn't sit down for dinner when I told you to." The requisite bawls and cries came from the corner. He stayed there longer than I thought he would... but after 1 minute he stood up and walked. Ever a student of Nanny JoJo, Daddy quickly picked him up and popped him back on the corner without saying anything. Ethan cried again and stayed there for another minute but just as I was about to end his naughty corner time he stood up again, so I repeated the silent reinforcement of the naughty corner and after 30 seconds went back to him. Throughout this his cries changed from defiant to a soft sob with more calmness. The time in the corner is definitely good for him to calm himself emotionally and stop the escalation!

"Ethan, you're in the naughty corner because you didn't listen to Daddy when I told you to sit down for dinner. Are you ready to come for dinner now?" Sob sob... "Say sorry to Daddy and you can come for dinner." He sobbed some more, seemingly unable to vocalize, but he hugged me so I picked him up. He was still a bit reluctant to sit in his high chair but this time he did and ate his dinner without crying or fuss! It was a big success but the better one was to come after dinner!

7.15 PM >> DInner was over and it was time for bath time. This has been an escalating difficulty with screams and yells over the last few weeks. Renata and I had discussed it and tonight was naughty corner time if it was to happen again. We were nervous that it being firm on discipline would make him more upset but we committed to it and tried. The results were amazing!

"Ethan you're in the naughty corner again because you didn't listen to Daddy when I told it was bath time." Again Ethan stayed for 1 minute but this time instead of standing up and walking off he tried scooting off while still seated. I stifled a chuckle at this testing of boundaries and firmly put him back on the naughty corner. Cries and sobs, but he stayed there for the whole 2.5 minutes, so I ended his naughty corner time and went to him...

"Ethan you're in the naughty corner because... " He interrupted me by looking upward, pointing at the sign and clearly voiced, "Naughty corner!" "Yes, Ethan, this is the naughty corner and you're here because you didn't listen to Daddy when I said it was bath time. Say sorry to Daddy and you can come for a bath now." No response. No cries, but no response. "Do you want to come for a bath or stay in the naughty corner?" Very clearly he said to me, "Naughty corner!" and sat down again!

Again I stopped myself from laughing and moved off. After some silent laughter in the kitchen I pretended to read the papers and ignore him and he stayed there for 2.5 minutes without moving this time! By the end of 2.5 minutes he was agitated. I went to him and explained again. "You are in the naughty corner because..." Ethan pointed upward toward the sign, "Naughty corner!" he said. "Yes, Ethan, you're in the naughty corner because you didn't listen to Daddy when he told you that it was bath time. Are you ready to say sorry and take your bath now?" Ethan hugged me and said, "Bath Daddy" and quietly walked into the bathroom with me!

Conclusion >> He was calm and though obedient, his spirit wasn't broken! This was wonderful! Bath time and the ensuing bed-time was a very calm and pleasant affair. So thank you, Super Nanny! It went so well and things were so calm that night that we went out for dinner and Mummy treated Daddy to a pork-knuckles and swiss rosti at Marche afterwards!

Monday 26 January 2009

First Day of School

It was a monumental day that required months of planning and preparation. It was Ethan's first day of school! What fun it would be! How many friends you meet, and how quickly Mummy would come back! All these were drummed into Ethan months ago and here we are on the big day.

Daddy walked Ethan to school, in what is to become our daily routine and composed a new song for Ethan:

My school, my school, my school is so much fun!
There's lots of things to do, and learning to be done.
I'm looking very smart, and feeling very glad.
Carrying my bag - Gosh, I'm just like Dad!

My school, my school, my school is so much fun!
There's lots of things to do, and learning to be done.

Everybody laughs and nobody cries,
Cos Mummy comes back in a twinkle of an eye!

My school, my school, my school is so much fun!
There's lots of things to do, and learning to be done.

There are friends to meet and games to play,
That's why we love to go to school every day!

We stayed a long time with Ethan on that first day before leaving. He enjoyed playing with all sorts of things, and unsurprisingly, particularly enjoyed the play-time food. Here he is playing with one of the cutest little girls in the class. Actually, he enjoyed the real food too, eating his own pau before scooting sideways to bite into the uneaten pau of the girl sitting next to him.

One of his friends there is Issac, who lives in the same place we do! So Daddy and Ethan often bump into Christina and Issac going to school. Ethan's born late in the year in September so is quite a bit smaller than most of the kids. Some of them are much faster at snatching toys than he is, but Ethan is too much of a peacemaker to know that this is happening.

Sunday 25 January 2009

The Important Things in Life

There are certain precious and poignant moments that remind you of the important things in life. Over the Christmas and New Year season, I took some leave to spend lazy time with the family and it was fantastic. We didn't go anywhere expensive - just spent days out with the family having fun together. We went on a very simple picnic that day, but the memories were priceless! The cool breeze bathed us, Ethan's laughter rang in my ears and I thought, "Yes, this is one of the truly important things in life."

We brought along some friends with their kids for the picnic that day. Sharon loves taking photos of babies, so she was having a grand time photographing Talia from head to toe!

Saturday 24 January 2009

1st Smiles

Talia's charming personality is beginning to emerge as she has started smiling and cooing invitingly when she wants to play. She's even started gurgling with laughter when she's particularly happy!

This is one of her first smiles captured on my phone camera after a warm and satisfying bath by her personal groomer -- Daddy!

Friday 9 January 2009

More Peaceful Moments

Here's our little angel all decked out in her cute dress (thank you A. Ruth!) and girly accessories! After a rather difficult few weeks, Talia is beginning to settle a little easier at nights and now has a vague semblance of a daily routine although this is often at the mercy of her older Bro who is in the throes of his Terrible Two's. We can't blame him for his tantrums tho -- it's a natural part of growing up and learning how to manage some complex emotions and while wanting to assert his newly developing self-will and after countless reminders from us, he is showing signs of being able to control himself for a good part of the day!
There are still good days & rough ones, but our little girl is blossoming into quite a cute stage of babyhood. She has quite a disarming smile and has even started laughing on good days! She is starting to get rather heavy tho' and all the rocking & carrying is starting to get quite difficult (esp in the wee hours of the morning......) Unlike Ethan who used to drink himself to sleep in a milk-induced stupor, Talia's tummy seems a little more delicate and she's usually still quite awake after a feed necessitating some help from us to send her into Dreamland....

Monday 5 January 2009

A Day at the Zoo

Gosh, it was a really fun day at the zoo... Daddy feels sad now that he couldn't join them. Ethan is the bumble bee in the video, and the other cute girls are Heather and Emma, Ethan's cousins! Thanks to A. Mei (Goo Ma) who took the pics and made the video!

Sunday 4 January 2009

Knowing How to Enjoy Oneself

A relaxing day at the park is definitely a good thing to enjoy with your loving family. It's even better when you can look handsome and cool while enjoying it, and Ethan sure knows how to do it. He's sporting his own shades and his BRMC Kindergarten sun hat which we brought out early. School is starting this week!!

Living life as a busy toddler can be stressful, but it certainly helps when you know how to relax and enjoy yourself. This important life skill has obviously been inherited from Daddy. Ethan has taken a special liking to lounging in his "old car seat" when Talia has vacated it. It's a perfect armchair for him especially when he's facing the ocean and the sea breeze is blowing across his chesty chest.

Friday 2 January 2009

Daddy Cook

We had a picnic lunch the other day at Labrador Park. The food was the remainder of the bolognese sauce that I had cooked the night before. It was very yummy (if I do say so myself) especially since its final minutes of simmering were bathed in 1 cup of a delicious cabernet savignon! We brought it to the picnic along with our portable gas stove and heated up in this metal container. Ethan was totally fascinated by the happenings and he inched closer and closer to see what was going on. "Daddy cook" he kept on saying. He was so hungry that he protested whenever I tested the temperature by tasting the sauce. Needless to say, he gobbled up lots of spaghetti that day!

Happy Hort Park

What a happy holiday we had at Hort Park as can be seen from Ethan's big grin. It really is a wonderful place to bring the family, entry is free, and the kids can learn about all sorts of flowers and plants while the parents have plenty of nice spots to relax and enjoy!