Archive for the ‘These are the days of our lives’ Category

Have you peed?

Go and pee.

Brush your teeth.

Why are you taking so long?

You’re going to miss the schoolbus.

Did you brush your teeth?

Ok, sit down.


Drink your water. You’ve not drank any water.

Concentrate. Eat.

You’d better hurry up. Or the bus will go off without you.

Are you done? Drink your water.

Did you brush your teeth?

Tell me the truth.

No, tell me the truth. I want to hear the truth.

Why did you lie?

Go and brush your teeth now!

Did you pee when you woke up?

Are you sure?

What do you mean you forgot?

How can you forget to pee!

Go and pee now!

You’re going to miss the bus.

Eat your food.


Drink water.

Eat your food.

Pay attention.

Hurry up!

Eat your food.

Sit up straight.

Eat your food.

Stay on your chair, do not move around when you’re eating.

Take care of yourself before you take care of your sister.

I will take care of your sister.

How many times do you need me to tell you that?

Eat your food.

Eat your food! Concentrate! Hurry up!

Do your work.

Pay attention.

What are you supposed to do?

Take care of yourself before you take care of your sister.


Drink water.

Sit straight.


Drink water.

Go and shower.

What are you supposed to do?

Why are you still here?

You’re supposed to shower, right?

What do you mean you forgot?

Well, what are you waiting for?

Are you playing with water?

Stop playing with water!

You’re supposed to shower, not play with water.

Have you shampooed your hair?

Why haven’t you shampooed your hair?!

It still has shampoo in it.

Come, I’ll help you.

What are you doing?

What are you supposed to do?

Then why are you not wearing clothes?

Get dressed.


Eat your food.

Sit straight.

Have you finished your food?


You actually have to swallow your food instead of keeping it in your mouth. That’s how you eat.

Here, eat.

You want me to feed you?

Then eat by yourself!


How many times do you want me to tell you to eat your food?

Drink water.

Go and brush your teeth.

Have you brushed your teeth?

Why not? Go and brush your teeth.

Did you pee?

Go and pee.

Let’s go and floss your teeth.

Where are your eyedrops?


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It’s almost her 3rd birthday, so I thought I’d do a comparison of my routines with her since she turned about 18 months old and since about slightly more than 3 months ago when she started daily school. (Before that was more or less constant chaos, revolving around breastfeeding, then getting her to accept solids, while trying to get her to take her naps, sleep through the night and somehow getting through the last of my PhD modules – my body still shudders and my mind still numbs when I think back to the 2nd month after she was born when I had to go back to school, staying up days and nights managing her and schoolwork for 4 months straight – and then somehow writing my dissertation throughout.)

Our routine previously… during the weekdays

Wake up (During the earlier days, it was as late as anytime from 10am to 12.30pm. Later, I dragged her up no later than 8.30am.) I call Grandma, who comes in to select the first of her many outfits for the day, brings her out to the living room to sit on the potty, combs and ties up her unbelievably long hair, and changes her into outfit no. 1. I wash up.

By then it’s about 20 to 30 minutes since we’ve woken up. Grandma washes her hands and brings her to the dining room for breakfast. She supervises breakfast, meaning she eats on her own while Grandma makes sure she’s safe. Grandma feeds her milk from a cup with a straw. After that, Grandma wipes her down and cleans her mouth with a piece of wet cloth. I grab breakfast and scurry into the study room, gobbling it down while surfing my RSS feeds and reading the news online.

Breakfast takes about 45 minutes for Grandma and her. Once they are done, they go to the living room which is stuffed with toys and lined with books. She gets about 30 minutes of free play while her Grandma chats on the phone. After that, Grandma places her on the potty. They go through stacks and stacks of flashcards, read book after book, all in Chinese. Then she gets to play again. Grandma guides her in imaginative play. Cooking is a hot favourite. Hidden away in the study room, I try my best to write.

They play and read, and I write for 2.5 hours. Then it’s time for lunch. Grandma washes her hands, and we all sit down at the dining table. Grandma eats. I give her a break (there is no other aspect Grandma dislikes more than feeding children in the matter of childcare) and feed her (who is perfectly capable of eating by herself, but is usually disinterested in doing so) with one hand while eating with the other hand. We’re done in about 30 minutes. I spend another 15 minutes finishing up by wiping her down, cleaning her mouth with a piece of wet cloth and flossing. I leave her with her Grandma and scurry back again into the study room.

Grandma places her on the potty again. After that, she changes her into outfit no. 2, a romper, for her afternoon nap. I try to get some writing done during this 30 to 45 minutes, but usually I only just about manage to finish reading my last very long sentence in that time period (yes, it’s really a very long sentence). I pop over to the master bedroom to tuck them both into bed. I give her a kiss (and Grandma too, even though she does squirm away mostly) and bid her to sleep. I return to the study room to continue writing, while she takes about 20-30 minutes more to finally collapse for her nap.

She sleeps for 2 to 2.5 hours. Grandma wakes up after 30 minutes to 1 hour to relentlessly pace the room… she considers it a form of exercise (yeah, I know, my mother is eccentric that way). When she wakes up, Grandma changes her either back into outfit no. 1 or a completely new outfit no. 3, and takes her downstairs to the playground and a walk in the neighbourhood. According to Grandma, she spends 5-10 minutes staring at the older children at the playground, never joining in, and then asks to go for her walk. Grandma brings her out to the neighbourhood boutique and places her on a little stool inside the changing room while she tries on item after item of clothing. For her patience, she scores two sweets from the lady boss of the boutique. She clutches these sweets tightly in her hands as Grandma and her finally leave the boutique to go search for birds and cats to peer at (shee loves birds because they remind her of her grandfather who keeps bringing her to look at the sparrows at Ya Kun while feeding her french toast; as for the cats, she just seem to have an affinity with felines) – always at a safe distance of course, she is a rather cautious child. They round up the trip with Grandma buying her something to eat. Either a banana cake or kueh bolus from the more than 20 years old bakery run by an old Teochew uncle (whom my mother gets along fabulously with) for breakfast tomorrow morning.

By the time they return, I’ve written for 3 hours, the most productive part of my day. She excitedly shows me her loot and gives me – with all the sweetness in the world – the two sweets she’s been clutching and safeguarding from her Grandma who likes to hassle her for them just for the sheer fun of it.

Grandma takes her to wash her hands and we all settle down for dinner. Again, I let Grandma take a break and enjoy her food while I feed her with one hand and eat with the other. Dinner takes about 45 minutes, and sometimes even up to an hour.

When we’re done, Grandma goes for a long chat on the phone while she and I go to the living room for our hour together. I read her some English books, sing her some songs and try to guide her to either play with some toys that work on her fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, or figure out a few puzzles, and sometimes if I feel up to it, art and craft. This is my best part of the day.

When we’re just about done, Grandma goes downstairs again, sometimes to buy fruits, sometimes to replenish the vegetables, but mostly just for a brisk walk – her daily exercise, she calls it. And when we’re really all done and washed up for our nightly milk and biscuits, her Grandpa arrives. His arrival is always met with shrieks of delight. Her Papa follows soon after. The men tuck into their dinner while she drinks her milk, eat her biscuits and begs for more morsels of food from Grandpa who always obliges, despite my protests.

20 minutes later when both her Grandpa and her Papa are done with dinner, and she is all warm and full with milk, biscuits and love, her Papa takes her off for her bath (bath time is the only time Mr Fluffy Hubby gets with her during the weekdays). I shower and wash up for the night.

When she’s done with her bath, Mr Fluffy Hubby lets her go to her Grandpa who is resting in Grandma’s room. Sometimes, Grandma is back by then, sometimes not. No matter, because this is Grandpa and her time together. Sometimes, he reads to her. Sometimes he plays her some music – children’s songs in Chinese. But mostly, they chat alot and tumble around alot. And no matter what, it’s always never enough, because how can there ever be too much love?

So when Mr Fluffy Hubby and I go in after half an hour to fetch her to bed, she never fails to delay for just a while more to get just that while more with her beloved Grandpa. She inevitably ends up in Grandpa’s arms, being carried over to our room, because that’s the only way she’ll come. I brush her teeth, she hugs and kisses her Grandpa, her Papa, then it’s lights out.

In the dark, she nestles and I cuddle. We chat for a while, recalling her day. I take this time to reinforce any particular disciplinary problems I’ve had with her for that day. We always end the night with hugs and kisses and love. After I declare, no more talking, she quietens down and hugs my arm. If I’m lucky, she takes half an hour to calm down and fall asleep. But usually, it’s about 45 minutes to even an hour.

When she is fast asleep, I either join Mr Fluffy Hubby in front of the TV for an hour, or I go online for my internet fix. Sometimes I blog, sometimes I work on my photos. So on some days, this is my time with Mr Fluffy Hubby (in addition to the half an hour we have together after her bath when she is with her Grandpa). And on other days, it’s my alone time, when I give myself the freedom to do whatever I want, unrelated to my PhD, to my dissertation.

… and during the weekends

On Saturdays, we get up between 8.30am to 9am. If Mr Fluffy Hubby is not working, he brings her out to the living room to place her on the potty, moisturize her, tidy her hair, change her clothes, then brings her to wash her hands, supervises her breakfast, and plays with her while I wash up, shower and make myself decent for society. If Mr Fluffy Hubby has to work, I bring her out to the living room, place her on the potty, get the maid to continue with the rest of the morning routine while I dash into the bathroom to wash up, then dash out again to bring her to wash her hands. I place her on the high chair, and the maid supervises her breakfast, then play with her while I run off for my shower, dress-up and make-up. When I’m finally done, we leave for her weekly playschool a good 30 to 40 minutes drive away, depending on traffic. By 11am, both she and I are settled into class. For the next 1.5 hours, we go through story time with the best babies’ story-teller I’ve ever met, craft, snack time when she learns her Ps and Qs, Zoophonics, then music and movement Kindermusik style. After lunch nearby, we make a trip to the nearby bakery to buy her a sticky bun to eat for breakfast the next morning. She sleeps in the car as we drive to wherever we’re headed next – that’s usually to where her Grandpa is. When she wakes up, we give Grandpa a call and he heads down to bring her to eat Ya Kun french toast as a tea time snack. We shop some, have dinner, then head back home.

On Sundays, we usually wake up late, laze around and and take our time to get ready to go out. But we almost always go out. Sometimes before we head to wherever we’re headed, we’ll drop by the neighbourhood library. We usually return terribly late at night, and she ends up sleeping even later than she usually does during the weekdays. That probably explains the rollover effect of our Mondays starting at almost noon, or even past noon, and why I’m usually hardly able to get anything done on Mondays besides sorting out and tidying up household administration details.

It was worth it though. Our weekends were lovely. She still asks every now and then to go back to Teacher Love’s school, then to buy a sticky bun afterward. I miss those days too.

Our routine now… during the weekdays

7.10-7.30am: I wake up sometime in between, scurry off to wash up, lay out my clothes and get a drink of water.

7.30-7.45am: I wake her up, she crawls towards me for a long hug. Then I cart her off to the bathroom where I place her on the toilet, comb her hair, brush her teeth and wash her face. I dress her, then wash her hands for breakfast.

7.45am-8.15am: The maid helps her with her breakfast. I take a quick shower, and prepare myself for the day.

8.15-8.30am: The maid brings her back to the bathroom. I place her on the toilet again. I wash her mouth, spray bug repellent, then slather sunscreen on her. I wash her hands again before sending her back out to the maid who helps her with her shoes while I head out to the lift lobby to wait for her. She lugs her bag to the lift lobby and we take the lift down to the carpark. I carry her to the car and strap her into the carseat.

8.30-8.45am: We reach school sometime in between. I seat her on a bench, bid her take her sandals off, while I take out her water bottle and chuck her bag into her cubby hole. She’s seldom done by then. Typically, she holds one sandal strap in one hand and with mouth slightly opened, stares off into the distance at the rest of the children coming in. I take off her sandals myself, chuck them into her shoe cubby, and make her drink 2 big gulps of water. I repeatedly remind her to drink water throughout her day at school. I place her water bottle inside her class’ water bottle basket and usher her into her classroom. She becomes immediately distracted/engrossed/focussed – depending on how you look at it. Mostly, fearing that saying goodbye would bring about the onset of separation anxieties and their accompanying waterworks, I try to sneak out of the classroom. If she catches me sneaking out and bursts into tears, I hug and carry her for a while with reassurances of love and reminders that I will return to pick her up from school at 1.30pm, before handing her over to her teacher. If she simply says goodbye, I backtrack anyway to give her a big hug and to whisper to her that I’ll be back to pick her up later at 1.30pm. If I feel that she can handle it, I even tell her that I hope she has fun in school, and she, in return, tells me that she hopes I have fun at work.

8.45-10am: I reach home, ask the maid to prepare breakfast for me. I eat breakfast while surfing my RSS feeds and the news. Then I write a quick email to Mr Fluffy Hubby to tell him about my morning with her. Sometimes I even go online for a quick chat with my friends for a few minutes.

10-1pm: I try to write my dissertation.

1pm: My alarm rings. I wrap up, grab her bottle of milk which the maid has prepared, and scoot off to pick up both my mother and her.

1.15pm: I pick my mother up.

1.20-1.30pm: I drive off to Care-A-Lot. My mother stays in the car, I hop down into the school. I enter the classroom. She barely looks up from whatever activity she’s engaged in. Her friends are more aware than her that I’m here. They call, “Toffee! Toffee! Your Mummy’s here.” She remains mostly oblivious until her teacher taps her on her shoulder and points me out to her. She runs over and gives me a great big hug, grabs her water bottle and says goodbye to her friends and teachers. We head out, I bid her wear her sandals while I put her water bottle and whatever work she has completed into her bag. Typically again, she holds one sandal strap in one hand and with mouth slightly opened, stares off into the distance. I take over wearing her sandals for her. Then I scoop her up and make for the car. I put her into the car seat. Her grandma buckles her up.

1.30-1.45pm: We drive home. Grandma offers her milk. As she drinks her milk, Grandma chatters to me. When we reach our carpark, I carry her out and continue feeding her the rest of the milk. She takes off her own sandals when we reach our apartment and hands her empty milk bottle to the maid.

1.45pm-2pm: I place her on the toilet, clean her mouth and her face, and give her a quick shower without washing her hair. I dress her for nap and tuck her into bed with Grandma. Before she falls asleep, I ask her what she would like to have for her afternoon snack.

2-3.10pm: She naps.

2-3pm: I retreat to the study room to eat my lunch, then go out to the pantry to get my vitamins. I prepare her afternoon snack before returning to the study room to send off another email to Mr Fluffy Hubby to update him about her and school. Sometimes I go online for another one of those few minutes chats with my friends.

3-5.30pm: I try to write my dissertation.

3.15-3.30pm: Grandma wakes her up, brings her to the toilet, then washes her hands for her afternoon snack.

3.30-4pm: They take their afternoon snack. She’s usually done in under 15 minutes, but continues sitting there quietly as Grandma leisurely sips her tea.

4-6pm: Grandma and her hang out. Usually, Grandma tries to read her at least 2 Chinese books. Sometimes after that, they listen to a few Chinese nursery songs. At other times, they simply play. But almost everyday, Grandma will bring her out to sit on the swing. Sometimes, to her utmost delight, Grandpa pops over to take his afternoon snack. On these lucky days, she plants herself next to him at the dining table and he sneaks her a second afternoon snack.

5.30-6pm: I wrap up my work and scurry away to shower.

6-6.40pm: We settle down for dinner. I give her a pair of chopsticks to practise her fine-motor skills as she feeds herself. At the same time, I try to shovel food into her mouth with a spoon in one hand, and feed myself with a pair of chopsticks in the other hand.

6.45-7.30pm: Grandma leaves to pamper herself either by shopping, getting a pedicure, facial or massage. She and I hang out. I usually begin by trying to teach her something academic (Right now, it’s the alphabets. Apparently I got it wrong the first time round by teaching her the capital letters, so now I’m trying to convince her that every Mummy letter comes with a baby letter. We’re also counting numbers.), then we either do puzzles or colouring, cutting and pasting, or fine-motor exercises such as pegging, or sometimes, we just play an educational game such as her fishing game or Winne the Pooh memory game. Once a week, usually at the start of the week on Mondays, we skip all the above and just have fun with Play-Doh. A few days a week, we end with Kindermusik which she enjoys tremendously. And no matter what, I try my best to read at least one story to her everyday. Having her curled up next to me, rapt, enchanted, and quiet, is the sweetest moment of the 45 minutes I have with her.

7.30-8pm: I usher her to the bathroom for her night shower. I place her on the toilet again, wash her mouth and her face, then give her a thorough shower which includes salon-style hair washing – she leans back on my arm while I wash the shampoo and then conditioner off her hair, because she cannot stand water on her face, and much less to say, in her eyes. Sometime during her shower, her Grandpa arrives, and shortly afterward, her Papa too. They both have dinner while she is showering. While I’m towelling her dry and moisturizing her from head to toe, she calls for her Grandpa who comes into the bedroom to chuckle at her.

8-8.30pm: When I’m done with her, she takes her pajamas out to the living room and makes Grandpa wear it for her. They then settle down for some Grandpa and Baby time. She shows him the stuff she has done in school for that day, then they either play her favourite fishing game, or watch a DVD of children’s songs, or he reads her a story, all in Chinese. I pack her bag, prepare her room for her to sleep in, give the maid instructions for the next day’s meals, then join Grandpa and Baby for the last 5-10 minutes of their time together every night.

8.30-8.45pm: I declare it’s time for bed. She walks Grandpa to the door and gives him a hug and a kiss to say good bye. We go to her bedroom. Her Papa comes in to say goodnight to her. She gives him a hug and a kiss as well. He switches the lights off.

8.45-9pm: As soon as the lights are out, she crawls into my arms. We chat about her day. She tells me about school, her teachers, her friends, the stuff she did, the food she ate, the stories she listened to, the songs she learnt. I take this chance to reinforce anything I want to teach her, about behaviour, manners, attitudes, etc. I tell her how much I love her. Then I pluck her out of my arms, give her Kitty Cat and insist she hugs Kitty Cat, close her eyes and sleep.

9-9.45pm: She falls asleep sometime in between. If I’m lucky, she’s out by 9.15pm. Otherwise, it’s 9.30pm, or even 9.45pm.

9.15/9.45-11.30pm: I sneak out of her room. I chat with Mr Fluffy Hubby, surf my RSS feeds, read the news, sort out my photos, blog, etc. Alone time, yipee! But frankly, I don’t last till 11.30pm on most days. I’m usually back in bed with her (I’m trying to leave her bed, but I have separation anxieties. When I lie in my own bed, I catnap till she calls for me. Then I shoot out of bed, burst into her room and snuggle in for a nice deep long slumber through the night. Mr Fluffy Hubby says I’m faster than lightning. I need to get this sorted out, I know!) by 11pm. On some days, I’m back at 10pm! And there are even nights when I fall asleep before she does, and sleep right till daybreak when the alarm goes off.

… and during the weekends

On Fridays, I let her have a 1.5-2 hours nap in the afternoon when she returns from school. At night, she spends more time with her Grandpa and goes to sleep later by at least 1-2 hours.

On Saturdays, she wakes up later anytime between 8-11am, depending on how tired she is. On most Saturdays, I continue lying in bed for another half an hour while she plays with her fingers, talks to herself, read her books, etc. When I finally pry my eyes open, we spend another half an hour tumbling around in bed. So it’s usually a full hour from the time she wakes up till I bring her to sit on the toilet, brush her teeth, wash her up and change her. After I’ve washed her hands, I hand her over to the maid for breakfast. I take my shower and prepare to go out. By the time I’m done, she’s usually done with breakfast at least half an hour to an hour ago. I bring her to the bathroom, change her clothes, then we’re off. We go for lunch, then to Kindermusik class. She has a tremendous amount of fun. We hang around for a while more after class, then we put her in the car seat to sleep as we drive off to wherever we’re headed next. On alternate Saturdays, we bring her to Borders for story telling by Julia Gabriel. We try to meet her Grandpa either after story-telling or for dinner.

On Sunday mornings, she again wakes up most of the time only to play with her fingers, talk to herself, read her books, etc, while I continue snoozing for half an hour before tumbling around with her for another half an hour. I bring her to the bathroom for her morning routine. Sometimes her Papa and I eat breakfast with her. Sometimes when we’re rushing, the maid helps her with her breakfast while we prepare to go out. We head out for lunch, then to wherever takes our fancy. She gets a quick nap in the car sometime in the late afternoon, before a very early dinner. Every couple of Sundays, we make a trip to the library before rushing off for dinner. We try to be back by 7.30pm latest so that she can immediately take her bath, go to bed, and be well rested for school the next day.

During the weekdays, I’m tired from rushing back and forth from her school, bathing her in time for her to sleep in the day and at night, and of course, from writing that never-ending dissertation. But during the weekends, I’m flat out. All the running around in the day, and staying up to watch DVDs with Mr Fluffy Hubby at night, plus sorting out household administration details on Sunday nights, means I’m really running on nothing but buzz. It also explains why I fall asleep at 9pm on some nights during the week. Yet, I wouldn’t give any part of my weekend up. It’s the only family time I get with both Mr Fluffy Hubby and her. It’s the only time I get to go out with Mr Fluffy Hubby. It’s the only time I get to bring her out for some fun. It’s the only time I get to have some fun. It’s FUN!

So that’s roughly what our lives have been like over the past 1.5 years. Routine notwithstanding (I have no idea how long this current routine would last, since I can’t seem to stop fiddling with our routines, and especially since my PhD deadline is looming – that’s sure to throw everything out of whack… gulp), I wouldn’t change anything else.

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