Done and dusted

I don’t know about you but I am one of those parents who think that their own children are really, really cute.

(I also think that my toddler can be an arsehole but that’s another story for another day.)

Anyway, during one of those moments when I was absolutely overwhelmed by just how adorable my Zac was, I said to husband: “I make really cute kids. We should totally have another.”

To which he replied, “No thanks.”

Although this was something we had agreed upon, that still made my heart wrench a little in regret.

The thing is, I have always wanted two children and I have been blessed with two beautiful boys. They are enough for us and they complete our family. We are happy and contented, given how three years ago, we weren’t even sure we could ever have any children at all. We have certainly come a long way since those long, awful days.

But given our finances, our resources and our energy, having another child is simply not practical. So we decided we are not going to have a third. And I am done incubating babies.

But still, it doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn the fact that I will never be pregnant again. Does it make sense? I don’t want another child, I don’t need another child and yet I feel a tinge of sadness that I will never experience my baby’s kicks from within. I will never have to prepare for labour, to push my baby out of me again. My womb will never house another baby, a being that grows so miraculously from a little ball of cells into a tiny human. There’s a sense of quiet resignation. I don’t crave a third child the way I was dying to have a second. And yet, there is this emptiness in my heart, knowing that this is it.

Zac’s every milestone will be the last time we get to experience it. Every minute, every second that the boys are growing up is equivalent to every step that they take away from babyhood.

Oh, I am enjoying and savouring every moment that I have with them, don’t get me wrong, but there is a whole bunch of emotions tangled up in me at the same time. I felt it when my girlfriend gave birth to her little girl – her third! – and I feel it when friends announce their pregnancies. And I suspect that I will continue feeling it, even as the years go by.

But it’s all good. I look at my boys and I am deeply happy. Even on days when things seem to go wrong and somebody is screaming at any given moment, I remember how I used to cry in the shower. This emptiness keeps me grounded, it keeps me from ever taking my kids for granted.

Four months of Zac

Dear Zac,

Technically, it should be four-and-a-half months of you but really, nobody cares about the technicalities, pish. Well, you see, I was late by a week in taking the pictures and then another week went by before I remembered that I should have written this to you by now. If I get more sleep, I may have a better memory. Just sayin’.

The thing is, mama went back to work almost three weeks ago and it’s been challenging, adapting to being back in the office again. And as any working mother will know, one of the hardest things we can do is to leave our babies behind when we go.

I have missed you and the lazy days that we have spent together. Those hazy mornings when we nap together, those baby-wearing moments when our hearts beat close together as I took you out with me because you wouldn’t nap, the smiles and coos that make my heart sing. You don’t know how hard it is for me to peel myself away from you in the mornings now. And I guess you miss me too, because on the night of my first day back at work, you fussed and fussed a gazillion times. I will take that as a I MISS YOU MAMA thing.

Every day, I look at you and thank god that you are here and you are ours. Maybe it’s because we are second-time parents and we know what to expect, or maybe it’s because you are genuinely an easier baby to handle (and your brother was not even a difficult baby then) – but life with you is so, well, easy. It’s not tough to read your needs and give you what you want, be it to nap you or to feed you. You go to bed quite easily at night and even though you do wake up often enough to make me feel like death on some days, I never have to stay awake for too long to put you back to sleep again.

You, my little squish, are a darling. You are generally a happy chappy whom everyone adores. You are easy to please and a lively little song or a cheerful grin will make you break out into a gummy smile. Most of the time, you don’t complain or cry, and you only do either of these when you are tired or in the car seat.

I know it’s not diplomatic to compare but I think you will be a more reserved fellow than your brother is. At this age, he was already babbling a mile a minute from the moment he woke up. Put him down on any surface, say a few words to him and he would “talk” back to you. (He’s still like this today, at 2.5-years-old. He loves to talk to you these days.)

You, on other hand, have not been as chatty. You also have not bestowed your laughter upon us as freely. It’s almost as if you haven’t really learnt how to laugh! You’d sort of giggle a little but it never progresses to a full-on laugh that comes right from the belly. So when the giggle happens, I feel like SUPER MUM WHO MADE HER BABY LAUGH.

What you lack verbally, you make up for it in your physical movements. Boy, are you fab at kicking! I love to put you in the bouncer and see you kick vigorously, it’s really adorable. You are almost always moving, and I predict that you will be a very physical little boy.

Speaking of which, I got woken up by you at 2:30am one morning in a hilarious fashion. You were lying next to me on the bed and you were making “eh eh eh” noises (possibly translated as: I MUST I MUST I MUST) while kicking your legs in the swaddle. I sat up, checked the clock and stared at you as you continued your antics. Suddenly, you flipped onto your stomach and I realised, AH THAT’S WHY.

Alas! It was a one-way ticket to Bellyhood and you simply could not flip back. There were several more “eh eh eh” moments (possibly translated as: HELP ME NAO, MOTHER) before I, laughing, decided to lend you a helping hand. I would have given you a standing ovation for that performance – your FIRST FLIP! – except it was at 2 freaking am in the morning.

Also, nobody ever saw you flip again. And therefore, I am so glad you saved your one-off performance for mama.

Oh bubba! Stay little for as long as you can, okay?

Happy four months and we love you like crazy.

Zac at 4 months

Love you to the moon and back,
Mama

Sleep is underrated

A week back into work and I am freaking exhausted.

I am lucky enough to get home before 630pm everyday. And yet by the time the kids are in bed, I am just flat out with only enough energy to grab the ice-cream from the freezer and stuff it into my mouth. And then I crawl off to bed to surf the net and look at pretty wraps and ring slings.

Mr Thick has been working late too so I have been powering through the evenings, feeding and bathing the littles, and then attempting to put them to bed. I’m embarrassed to say that I have yelled more than I should but truly, the patience does wear thin when one child is crying and the other is screaming.

Urghs.

I guess I haven’t got this “work full-time with two young children” gig down pat. Yet. Slowly, but surely though, we are beginning to establish a routine. I work systematically and methodically to ensure that we reach our goal – bedtime!! – intact. Sometimes, Zac may have to be left alone on the bed to cry for a bit while I bathe Aidan. Sometimes, Aidan may have to play on his own while I nurse Zac. Sometimes, I end up nursing Zac AND reading to Aidan (who is lying on top of my body somewhere) at the same time. Sometimes, I just want to sleep.

No, scratch that. I want to sleep all the time.

But. I love bedtime. I love sleeping with my babies. I love having them nestled under the crook of my arm, their hair sticking to their sweaty foreheads. I love that they love cuddling close to me. I love watching them sleep.

So I guess it will be a while before I get to sleep like a log.

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Weekend brunch at Wooloomooloo

So. If you are looking for more excitement after the whole tofu debacle, I am sorry to have to disappoint you. There will, hopefully, be NO MORE TOFU NONSENSE happening in my life. My poor heart cannot handle it.

Anyhow, this is about our sixth wedding anniversary. Also known as the anniversary where we did not exchange gifts. It’s probably not the first anniversary that we have celebrated without any gifts but then again, it’s not like we need a tangible “gift” these days. Truly, the best gift my husband can offer me is his presence at home at 7pm on weekdays. Handling two littles in the evenings after work on my own – feeding them, bathing them, putting them to bed – can be a hair-tearing affair. At any one moment, someone is crying and demanding my attention.

But that’s another story for another day.

For our anniversary, I decided that the best thing I could do for Mr Thick – and myself – is to treat us to a good lunch sans kids. That’s right, we get to order food that we want to eat and shove food only into our mouths. We don’t have to distract a crying child or scold an errant child. We would get to eat in peace and with two hands.

At that time, I was seriously craving some steak. I blame it on my pregnant girlfriend, who kept talking about her beefy needs. Most of the good steakhouses were not open on a Sunday afternoon, however, and we couldn’t do dinner because Aidan would never let anyone else but his parents put him to bed. So lunch it had to be and after some serious searching, I decided upon Wooloomooloo‘s weekend brunch.

For $68++ per person, you get to tuck into a five-course brunch. And what a fine brunch it was!

For the first course, I opted to have eggs benedict while he had the fried hen’s egg.

Anniversary lunch

The eggs benny paired with the smoked salmon was a simple dish that was done excellently. I really liked the accompanying grilled asparagus and I am not even a fan of asparagus to begin with. Mr Thick’s fried hen’s egg was not the main attraction of the dish – instead, it was the little hash brown, tomato and avocado mountain that he enjoyed most.

Anniversary lunch

After the plates were cleared, I was presented with my choice of soup/salad: lobster bisque.

Anniversary lunch

It was marvellous! There were generous chunks of lobster in the soup and it was robustly flavoured. My only peeve was that it was a tad too salty.

He, on the other hand, decided on the Wooloomooloo Tuna Nicoise salad. Which was nice but did not blow his mind. Well. He’s a meat guy, after all, and it would take a super fantastic salad to impress him.

Anniversary lunch

My choice of appetiser was a no-brainer: HELLO OYSTERS!! I haven’t had one in more than a year (pregnancy and raw foods don’t really go) and I was thrilled to have some. These were some excellent oysters too, all fresh and sea brine-y flavours exploding in my mouth.

Anniversary lunch

And because I was also eyeing the wild mushroom risotto, husband kindly ordered it for his appetiser even though he’s not usually a fan of risotto. See? No need for gifts, a simple gesture like this will do!

Anniversary lunch

Oh man. The risotto. When it arrived, he took a whiff and said, “WAH. Potent.” And it was. The cheese, oh the cheese. I love smelly cheeses and the Stilton was so amazingly pungent. We thought that it was just a fantastic dish. Thank goodness that it wasn’t a full-sized portion though – you can and will feel a bit sick of the creamy risotto midway through devouring it.

For the main course, it was a no-brainer: BEEF! I chose the Australian grass-fed filet mignon while he picked the Australian Black Angus vs. USDA Prime Sirloin.

Anniversary lunch

Unfortunately, while I had requested for my steak to be medium done, it arrived on my table pretty well-cooked. The waiter sent it back to the kitchen when I pointed out the mistake and my dish finally reached me in the correct doneness. And it was DELICIOUS.

So was his beef, apparently.

Anniversary lunch

By the time the desserts rolled around, we were stuffed. We could not finish the Wooloomooloo cheesecake and bread & butter pudding, as yummy as they were.

Anniversary lunch

Anniversary lunch

What made this even more special was the wait staff’s attention to detail. I had indicated that it was our anniversary in my reservation and they did up the dessert ever so nicely for us. And the maitre’d promptly fished out a camera to take a photo of us with the cheesecake and had the photo printed and framed for us in a jiffy. You could tell that this was a very professional and well-oiled machine, although it could have been a warmer machine (they were very polite but also very brisk and non-smiling).

At the end of the meal, we were two very happy persons. It was great being able to spend time alone with each other AND have a great meal at the same time. I mean, we got to rock up to the restaurant all scrubbed up and in our Sunday best. I was actually wearing a jumpsuit! With makeup on! And carrying a – get this – CLUTCH. Awesome or what?

Anniversary lunch

And to cap off this wonderful day? We went home to a baby who had refused the bottle (and was starving) and then whisked the boys off for some grocery shopping at NTUC.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A tale of 21kg of tofu

So. This ridiculous thing happened to me and I just have to write it down for posterity. I mean, I told this to my friends and they thought it was CRAZY. It is pretty damn crazy. And hilarious. Only I didn’t think it was funny when it happened.

It all started on a Tuesday morning. I had taken Zac to see the paediatrician (AGAIN, I see him more often than I see my own family) and we were lucky to be in and out of the clinic in 30 minutes. WITHOUT AN APPOINTMENT, GUYS. It was as good as striking lottery. But on hindsight, I think God was preparing for me something and giggling in his throne made of fluffy clouds and pink candy floss.

After seeing the doctor, I was wondering if I should go for coffee at a hipster joint. But I was dressed in very unhipster clothes and had no make-up on, and I refused to be seen in hipster joints in my most aunty outfit. So I headed home. And the moment I went through the front door, my helper asked me, “Ma’am, did you order tofu?”

Erm, WHAT?

There were three large bags of TOFU in various forms sitting on my kitchen floor. I was flabbergasted. Did I order tofu? Why would I order so much tofu?

According to the helper, a man came by with the bags and insisted that we had ordered the tofu – all 21kg of it. Not only that, he demanded payment of $99.50 for the tofu. My poor hapless helper was scared of his brusque manner and promptly paid up with her own money WITHOUT CALLING ME.

“Why do you think that I would need so much tofu?!” I asked my helper, aghast at her idiocy. “And why would I not let you know if something needed payment? I would have given you the money. And why didn’t you call me?”

“I don’t know! I thought ma’am having party. The man tell me to pay so I pay.”

That’s right, girl. We be having a tofu party for our vegetarian friends.

The receipt that the man had given her had NO company name and NO number to call. I was getting more and more irritated. How on earth was I going to get her money back? And then I saw it – the mistake. The delivery was meant to go to the unit on the 16th floor, not the 6th (ours).

Bloody hell.

I left a crying Zac at home, took the receipt and marched up to the 16th floor. It was a Chinese family and they had their front gate opened. The elderly couple looked up expectantly, as if they were waiting for me. I waved the receipt at them, told them that the tofu meant for them was sitting in my kitchen, they needed to sort it out and pay my helper her money. They mumbled something about how they had been waiting for the tofu, they had gone downstairs to collect it once they had realised the mistake but my helper did not understand them. I told them I did not care, just look for me once it has been sorted.

10 minutes later, as I sat nursing Zac, the elderly woman came down with another woman. They waved an invoice at me and said, “Here. Call the company and settle it with them.”

WTF?

I asked if they could just take the tofu and repay my helper the money, and they said no, they couldn’t. Because the tofu was no longer “fresh” and they did not want it anymore. Like that’s my problem?

“But it’s your responsibility. Your helper stupidly took receipt of something that did not belong to you and paid. So it’s your problem. It has nothing to do with us,” they said.

What. The. Hell. Fine. I did not want to argue with them and promptly rang up the company. A Chinese lady answered the phone.

“I AM CALLING FROM BLOCK XYZ IN ABC DISTRICT AND YOUR MAN DELIVERED 21KG OF TOFU TO MY HOUSE BY MISTAKE. I NOW HAVE 21KG OF TOFU SITTING IN MY KITCHEN AND I WANT MY MONEY BACK,” I said politely.

The woman hemmed and hawed and said she would call me back after checking with her colleague.

“NO NEED TO CHECK. YOUR RECEIPT WAS WRITTEN 16TH FLOOR BUT I AM ON THE 6TH FLOOR. IT IS YOUR MISTAKE. I WANT MY MONEY BACK. SEND SOMEONE TO COLLECT THE TOFU AND REFUND ME.

“Okay, okay, give me your mobile number please. I’ll check what time the driver is able to collect the tofu.”

After I hung up the phone, I turned to the two women at my doorstep.

“If they do not collect back the tofu and refund me, I will get the money from you,” I said firmly to them.

“Us? Why is it our responsibility? You are being unreasonable. This has nothing to do with us. We did not make the mistake, they did. And you should not have accepted the delivery. This has nothing to do with us any further,” they huffed indignantly.

I tell you, I almost felt like punching something at that moment.

“My poor helper earns pittance each month. This was from her salary. This was your tofu, you should take it and pay her back.”

For 10 minutes, we stood there, tossing our arguments back and forth.

Oh, did I mention that this was conducted ENTIRELY IN MANDARIN? My Higher Chinese teacher would have been so proud (despite my dismal C6 – in my defense, I did not study for the paper, thinking that I was going to ace it because my Chinese is fantabulous. Clearly not).

Finally, I told them I WILL FIND THEM IF THE COMPANY DID NOT REFUND ME and they started beating a hasty retreat. As my helper closed the gate on them, I rang the company one more time and demanded that they collect the tofu and refund me the money in the next hour OR ELSE. I slammed the phone down and suddenly, a voice piped up from the door.

“We’ll take the tofu.” I eyed the women suspiciously. “You let us in and we’ll do a stock take. And then we will take it,” they said.

And true to their word, they did take the offending tofu back and paid up the $99.50 to my helper.

Which they should have done in the first place. URGHS!!!

And so ends the tale of 21kg of tofu. Or otherwise known as the “It Only Happens To You” story, according to my girlfriend.

(I was trying to find a picture in my library that represents the WTF-ness of the whole situation but I couldn’t. So I shall just leave you with the following.)

Oh and the 21kg of tofu? ‘Twas meant to be shared among eight families.