Category Archives: Our Lives

Here’s To A Good 9 Years…

Now that it’s almost coming to the end of November, it feels like the right time to officially end “Kancheong Spider”.

So much has happened in the last few years and I haven’t been updating this blog. My last entry was 20 Dec 2011, and given the long hiatus, I guess it’s time for a proper closure even though I will not be taking this blog down. I am no longer the person I was before 1 August 2010, and it’s hard be blogging about frivolous stuff, even if it meant something to me at that point in time.

Thanks to all of you for visiting and reading about the things that mattered to me.

I will concentrate on my daughter’s memorial blog and my boys’ Tumblr instead.

God’s blessings to all.

 

Compartmentalise

I learnt a new word couple of weeks back.

A word I learnt from a mum who blogged about her good friend, Megan. Megan, like all mums, are inspirational but particularly so as she goes about taking care of a son who is battling a rare medical condition called Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva, or FOP. Because of her son’s condition, Megan has also become an advocator for FOP to bring awareness and raise funds for bigger medical breakthroughs in FOP.

I like how the word sounds, what it means and how neat it describe what I feel on most days.

The noun: Compartments. Verb: Compartmentalise.

Guilt is kept in one huge compartment that I struggle at times to keep in check. Fear is in a tad smaller compartment than Guilt’s. Between the two, I am not sure which is a worse friend. They have a knack in creeping up on me and I will crash and burn.

Anger doesn’t stay in its compartment all the time. It will disappear for days and return with a vengence, especially when I read about how babies and young kids are abused or neglected by their parents.

Regardless, I’m in a better place now as compared to, say, eight months ago. Time does dull the ache and gives me the chance to sort out my emotions. *At this point, cue the song “How could you mend this broken heart?”*

Time can only do that much and if not for the two most important men in my life, I would have done worse.

My husband, whom I was more afraid that he would go into depression again, has been my support and continually reaffirm that I have done all I could and no one else could do it better. So we hang on to each other, making sure the other person is getting on fine, and in so doing, life isn’t too lonely and reminders not too painful.

My son, all of four years, is such an old soul at times. He makes us laugh, reminds us that his baby sister is with Jesus as a matter of fact and tells us his sister loves us too. He is a good distraction, and I like to imagine that when he laughs so heartily, I am hearing both my kids laughing at the same time.

Whenever TJ and I talk about his baby sister or joke about what she would like (TJ insists his sister loves pink), as much as it hurts, I will not cry in front of TJ as I don’t want him to associate his baby sister with sadness and tears. She is the next happiest thing that happened to us and will remain that way.

In the earlier months, I would look away when I see babies who would have been the same age as Leia, or not wanting to carry any of my friends’ kids. But now, it’s ok, I quite miss the newborn scent and having those innocent pair of eyes looking right back at me.

Still the first year is always tough. Christmas used to be my favourite time of the year, but now I don’t get excited over it and I think it will stay that way for a long time. It is poignant and my heart aches as the day gets closer. Some days, I find myself hating Christmas.

If given a choice, I would rather find a cave and just stay in there until December is over. But that’s cowardly behaviour, Earth still spins on its axis and life still goes on.

Sure, I do appreciate the deeper religious Christmas message but I don’t like all the reminders, the lights, the joyful feel, everything.

So I go through the Christmas routine, more so because of TJ. I wouldn’t want to take away his innocence and shape his memory of Christmas as one that is depressing or that his parents are just crappy during this time. It took us a lot of effort to get onto the Christmas routine, deciding on the presents, putting up the tree, getting invites for this party or that dinner, attending this party or that dinner, but still the sullen me is hiding in a dark corner.

It’s just not possible to cut off from everything and everyone. And it is our other living child who pulls us back into the normalcy of things, for he shouldn’t be made to “suffer” along with us pathetic moody parents.

I thought I would be teaching Leia about living with dignity and being courageous. But in the end, my daughter taught me how to be brave and strong, and I don’t want to disappoint her.

A Restart

I’ve been staying away from writing for slightly more than a year. A silent protest. I had lost my voice and a huge part of my soul left me ever since Leia, my daughter, went home to be with the Lord on the 26 Dec 2010.

Why do I still write the phrase, “went home to be with the Lord”? “Died” sucks, “passed away” sounds distant, maybe I should use some movie titles instead like “Gone With The Wind”, “Underworld”, “Twilight”. Maybe “WHTBWTL” will be the alternative but never mind…

So I hadn’t visited this blog or the one I started for Leia, ‘cos it’s just too painful to read, yet I didn’t want to send both blogs into their virtual eternal condemnation. I just did the cowardly thing. I stayed away, avoided them like the plague. These blogs reminded me of my life ups and downs and everything mindless in between and for a long time, I was revolted and angry with every single thing I wrote. Now, I’m just angry.

Damn the coward that I have become, not wanting to put on record the bits of my life since the 26 Dec 2010.

Ah well, but that is a lie.

I found Facebook instead, which allowed me to broadcast my various emo states as long as the character limit doesn’t exceed 63,206 characters (any more, FB will prompt you to create a Note instead, according to Inside Facebook).

The wonderful FB status update box gave me an outlet to vent, gripe, complain, LOL, made various annoucements etc by just going straight to the point, and not having to bother about paragraphs, sentence structure, subject-verb agreement and punctuation. I guess I still needed to write, and found a compromise.

I’ve spent the afternoon getting acquainted with WordPress again, did some mindless cosmetic overhaul, particularly to Leia’s blog page. I have renamed it, changed the blog template and intend to write virtual letters to her as part of the healing process. I reckon I might as well keep the old posts intact, perhaps it will help another parent who could be going through the same thing that I did not too long ago.

As for this old friend of a blog, I had taken down the sticky post and placed the link to Leia’s blog on the sidebar. Still, I have yet to figure out Kancheong Spider’s focus.

Maybe the lack of focus will be the focus… I will just write what my heart tells me to.

TJ 三岁了 (16 Sep 2010)

This is TJ’s first b’day in Sgp. Originally we had grand plans to throw him a party, however both his parents are overwhelmed with work, his lil’ sister’s condition and the big move to the rented apartment.

Even though it wasn’t the party of the year, I hoped our Cheeky Monkey had fun throughout the day. I don’t suppose he really cared if there was a party with lots of people but the most important thing is that he had fun.

I thought I should let him do the things he enjoys doing, with no time limit at all. Usually if he is at the playground, I would be doing a countdown on how much time he had left and when it was finally time to leave, TJ can sometimes be cooperative and at other times, my worst enemy.

So it was bus rides, playgrounds, kiddy rides (TJ doesn’t realise the kiddy ride can move if Mama actually put in the one-dollar coin) and just letting him roam free without the crazy mum hollering for him to go home.

The day before, I had bought TJ’s birthday cake. Well actually, there were THREE small chocolate cakes that had pictures of his favourite “friends”, Thomas, James & Percy. I thought this was better than the usual round cake and since it was his birthday, he should have all the chocolate cake he could eat without sharing with anyone. 😉

Later in the evening, it was time for his birthday celebration. TJ was so excited to see his birthday cakes that he did his happy dance and ran around with the widest grin on his face. He had blown candles earlier in Aug when we celebrated D’s birthday, so TJ knew what he had to do and pestered his Papa to “hurry up”.

My baby is growing up and I’m just glad he is ours.

Happy Birthday, TJ.

Before The Big Move

Since Friday, D & I have been hard at work, cleaning up the rented apt before moving in. The handover was done on Thurs nite and well, the general state of the apt is ok, but on closer inspection during the daytime, D & I realise that there’s alot of wk to be done.

Some of the major things we have done since Hari Raya Puasa holiday till today:
1. Vacuumed & mopped everywhere

2. Moved the ugly green couches around & decided to leave the 2-seater one at the balcony/patio area so that we have a place to sit on when putting on shoes. This will also be our cigar-savouring spot.

3. Cleaned the fridge & washed its trays & shelves. But we found many of the trays & shelves cracked. We informed the landlord & will wait for her to either source for the replacement parts or if she can’t, she will replace the fridge with the one she has at home. Hope if it’s a replacement fridge, it will be one with a bigger freezer for me to store breastmilk.

4. Scrubbed and washed the kitchen floor

5. Cleaned the exteriors of all the kitchen cabinets

6. D changed all the light bulbs to energy-saving & higher voltage (brighter) ones.

7. Cleaned all the walls in the kitchen. We seriously doubt the previous tenant bothered to do that since our brighter kitchen lights really showed us the grime.

We have to split the cleaning process into different parts and only spend at most 3h each time, the last cleaning slot is usually from 10 pm to midnight, after we put TJ to bed. We can’t just spend the whole day cleaning since I have to express milk every 3h, spend time with TJ and visit our Feisty Fighter at the hospital in the evening. It’s a lot of time mgt on our part, particularly to be extra efficient in our clean up. D & I split the work up according to what we can do best, or rather what we DIDN’T want to do. I insisted on cleaning the toilets if he cleaned up the dirtiest cupboard.

I tried to be a Zen Master when I saw the amount of work that the previous tenant had left us with, knowing that getting frustrated & chewing off D’s head would not be the wisest thing, or worst, lower my milk supply. I reckoned these are just things that we have to do before our lives are back to normal.

God must have heard my cries for help.

On Monday 13 Sept, the landlord’s helper came by to clear up the storeroom & gave us a teeny space to store some of our stuff. It was a compromise. D didn’t think it was right for us to pay rent and can’t use the storeroom (the landlord had locked up the room previously). Anyway we will still be keeping our winter gear & some other stuff in a storage facility so that when we do move again later on, we will not have unncessary stuff to move around with.

The property agent came by too and saw that the apartment needed lots more cleaning up and got her helper to clean up too. She started around 2pm and left after 9pm. Lots of areas were scrubbed & cleaned, all windows & grilles, toilets, the insides of the kitchen cabinets,
all the doors & the floor was mopped again.

When I went to our apartment after I had put TJ to bed, I was really thankful that these major areas were completed. It was unexpected and we were immensely grateful to God, the agt and of course the poor helper.

Of course I will have to clean the toilets again, since there are still areas for improvement. D said the helper made a gallant effort to clean the insides of the kitchen cabinets but the result didn’t pass his test, so he cleaned them again. But all in all, a lot of our time was saved because of what these helpers did and we are happy for that.

We hope we can move in this Sat, 18 Sept. There are still some areas to clean up, but those will be easily done. We are mainly left with the unpacking and for D to wire up the apartment, ‘cos we can’t do without the Internet and Cable.

The Ikea people, unfortunately, can only deliver our stuff on Sun, so there will still be things that will remain in boxes. We went to the huge Ikea Tampines and found ourselves on a tight timeframe to get all the things we intend to get (and we still didn’t manage to get all since some items are out-of-stock and we ran out of time).

One thing that confused and bugged us about the Ikea here is that there are items that we have to self-collect from the warehouse (based on the aisle and row numbers as stated on the tag of the furniture) and there are items which we can’t self-collect but we had to go to the store personnel and place our order with them. Thereafter a printout will be given to us and we will use that printout to pay at the cashier.

For us, we wanted all our items to be delivered but the store personnel told us we had to take our self-collect items and the order printout to the cashier, pay up and then go to the Delivery personnel to sort out the delivery details. We felt this was way too troublesome and not forgetting, the amount of time that we wasted looking for the items that we needed to self-collect first at the warehouse. And worse, when we were at the warehouse, the items we wanted were out-of stock, which pissed me off since this could be updated asap on the tags at the display level.

We never had this kinda problem in HK, since we could just order EVERYTHING through the store personnel and get the order printout of ALL our items before payment. I understand that Ikea keesp the costs low by making things flat-packed and supposedly easy for self-collection etc. But it is still a store, and not all their items are cheap, so some kinda service should be enhanced, especially for people like us who want everything to be delivered.

Anyway, we will have to make another trip to Ikea, the other outlet at Alexandra when we are more or less settled into our apartment. Hopefully we could get everything we need.

Haiz, the perils of moving…

One On One

Technically I’m still on confinement, a traditional Chinese custom which requires mothers who had just given birth to strictly adhere to a month’s of total rest and consumption of specially prepared food. The rationale behind it is to help build up the mother’s health after a physically demanding childbirth and the Chinese believe that consumption of “heaty” food such as ginger and rice wine help to rid the body of the toxins and “wind”. Not sure of the “wind” bit, it got very complicated when my mum tried to explain and I wasn’t really listening.

Fortunately my mum isn’t too anal about the other no-nos and so I could bathe and go out daily too. Well, this is a very different 2nd pregnancy afterall. There isn’t any newborn cries for milk in the wee hours of the morning or endless diaper changes. It has been quite surreal and going to the hospital everyday not just gives me a chance to see how my baby is doing but also to remind myself that she is real.

I’ve always imagined how it would be like to introduce the new baby to TJ, his lil’ sister. D and I talked about getting him a little present (another train) on behalf of his sister so that he feels important. We thought how cute it would be to have them together for the first time, wondering what TJ’s reaction would be like. From the very beginning, we have been telling TJ about his 妹妹 and thought maybe by repeating it often, TJ would be used to the concept of another kid in the house. I thought about letting TJ cradle his sister and taking lots of photos and videos of that. But it didn’t turn out that way.

I suppose all that will be a reality later on, just not now.

So for now, I have been making sure I spend lots of time with TJ. We would take bus rides (most days since this is the cheapest mode of transport and he loves his “big big bus” aka the Double Decker ones), walk around the neighbourhood, go to the library, let him loose in the playground, take the cab (“blue car”, “red car” etc, he colour codes them) or the MRT if we are going somewhere slightly further.

It is nice to be spending the couple of hours just with him and getting to know his extremely volatile personality that is developing in this almost 3-year-old boy. He is no longer the baby of the house, not that he knows it now. I am hoping that by spending these precious times with TJ in these few months before his 妹妹 comes home, TJ would be assured and confident that he is still important even when we are fussing over his sister.

Otherwise he would be in for a tough time really… as it is, this boy with his growing temper has to be reprimanded and punished. But we can’t stay angry with him for long ‘cos the boy would turn on his tears so quickly and say his “sorry” quickly in the midst of his painful cries.

I pray for guidance and the wisdom to be good and consistent parents to both kids and that they will know we love them unconditionally.

We Found A Place

The plan was to rent a HDB 4-roomer when we return from HK. We decided there is no way we could go back to stay in Pasir Ris, since we are too used to staying on our own for the last 6 years.

Of course we would have save lots and there is already a trusty helper at Pasir Ris, but it is still my MIL’s domain and we think lots of things could go wrong (we think of the worst-case scenarios) now that we have two young children. Mainly we already have our own separate system in running our lil’ household and managing our family, it will be hard to have a two-party system under 1 roof. The discipline of the kids will suffer and I don’t want to have D caught in between mother and wife. D also thinks he may just crack under pressure first before I do. So the decision is to stay out and this will help preserve the cordial and good relationship between mother, son and daughter-in-law.

When we first brought this decision up to our MIL, she took it well although we were prepared for her not to. But D reckons he has to think of his own family first now and I’m glad he did ‘cos if he insists of returning to Pasir Ris, I can’t possibly say no either. Not that I am the sacrificial or long-suffering wife, but some battles are not meant to be fought. 

Anyway since we return, the plan was to have me look at apartments near my mum’s place while D was away in London. So locations like Serangoon North (where my mum’s place is), Hougang, AMK and even Buangkok, Seng Kang and Punggol. The last 3 locations are kinda far and not as accessible but the flats are newer, better condition and more “modern”. However cos of the many things that had happened to me (has it only been abt a month?), this has been pushed down the To-Do list, and only recently did we pick it up.

Staying as squatters at my mum’s place is not a long-term solution. D’s main gripe… there isn’t enuf closet space for him to hang all his clothes and keep his stuff. 😉

We had seen a few places but declined the choices for a few reasons and of course the main reason is $$$. Especially now that we have our daughter’s growing “hotel” bill at the NICU to think about, we decided to be very strict with following our budget.

There was one at Buangkok that I especially liked and we offered 2.2k but unfortunately it was most likely outbid by someone else. I take it that the apt wasn’t in God’s plan and thanked Him just the same.

Yesterday I was looking thru’ the Saturday’s classfied ads and saw one near my mum’s place and thought of checking it out. I called and found that the rent would be within our budget and both of us went down to check it out.

This is an old style 4 room flat, about 5-6 minutes walk from my mum’s place and huge. Area is 126 sq m and although the decor isn’t as nice as the Buangkok one, the apartment is clean and fully furnished. I am not too happy about the ugly green sofa set in the living room, the landlord isn’t going to take it away (same for some of the ugly cupboards), but D thinks we can live with it or kinda keep it in my helper’s room so that she can use them instead. 😉

Anyway, the important thing is we are able to get some normalcy in our lives and have our space for the next 1 year. We have only signed a year’s lease, just in case we find something else better next year or if the property prices fall (maybe another big bank will fold etc), we could consider buying. But in the meantime, it’s good to have gotten a place, within our budget and most importantly near my mum’s place.

And incidentally, I had prayed at the hospital earlier yesterday, together with my daughter, that I hoped we would be able to find an apartment this weekend and we did. Thank you, Lord, for the provision and the opportunity.