Papa is away

Their papa is away for reservist these two weeks, which means I’ve had to do double duty. One of the jobs I’ve had to take over was to send Jason to school in the mornings. Jason is an early riser, (the kind who jumps up the moment the alarm goes off), so is his papa. Unfortunately, I’m not, (I snooze for as long as I can…). It doesn’t help that night time is the time I do my freelance writing, and I don’t usually sleep early, so his biggest worry was that I would not wake him up on time, and he would be late for school. It hasn’t happened yet.

It also means I’ve had to handle their bedtime routine on my own. While most of it is fine, as they’re both fairly independent now, it becomes challenging when Jason has school work that needs my help in the evenings, while Shannon is impatiently waiting for me to read to her. My husband and I would usually divide and conquer, but I’ve had to ask one of them to be patient while I attend to the other.

They bombard their papa with questions when he can get out for a night. Questions I don’t have answers to: How many people sleep together in your bunk? Do you sleep on double decker beds? Is the food nice in army camp? Is it buffet style? What do you DO in army? Why don’t you come home every night? And on it goes.

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While there have been inconveniences because our usual routine is disrupted, there are actually many things to be thankful for, and I would rather focus on them:

1) I’m thankful I’m the only one who has to struggle to wake up at 6.30am. Both kids are cheerful the moment they are up, yes, even Shannon who usually sleeps until 7.30am or so.

2) I’m thankful Jason makes his own breakfast in the mornings, so I literally just have to get up, brush my teeth and leave the home.

3) I’m thankful both kids help out with the dishes and laundry while their papa is away. Shannon, who will be six at the end of the year, has been helping with soaping and scrubbing the dishes after dinner every night. She thinks it’s fun. Jason wipes the table and throws the rubbish, even though he doesn’t find it fun. Now I just have to figure out how to make this a regular thing instead of it happening only while their papa is away.

4) I’m thankful both kids wolf down my simple dinners, because it got even simpler while their papa is away. It’s difficult to cook anything elaborate for an adult and two kids.

5) I’m thankful my workload is flexible. These two weeks would have been far more challenging if I had to juggle a full-time job and fly solo.

Best of all, this is their papa’s last in-camp training. Yay!

Shannon and Ballet (Part 3)

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After a six-month wait, we finally decided to opt for a weekend class instead. The weekday class we wanted was not able to start as there weren’t enough pupils signing up, so after Shannon went for the first trial class, then the second, we had to wait further.

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She would ask ever so often, “When is my ballet class starting?” So even though we had conscientiously kept the kids’ free from any sort of classes during the weekends, we decided to make an exception this time. It’s the only class she attends, or wants to attend.

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She was all excited last Saturday. The school provided instructions on how to bun up her hair, both a dvd and a sheet of printed instructions. So I now know how to do a proper bun. They also gave a “beauty box” of rubber bands, two types of bobby pins, hair nets, scrunchy – all the ingredients for a perfect ballerina bun.

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Signing up for lessons meant having to buy the leotard and tutu. She wore her own socks, and her cousin’s hand-me-down shoes.

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She was ready to go for class an hour before her lesson, and we were the first to reach there. She was all smiles as she put on her shoes outside the classroom.

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And cheerfully waved me off as she went into the class with her teacher. Even better was seeing her come out of class with a big grin. :)

 

Shannon’s “new” table

The kids have been back to school for a week now. Jason in P3, and Shannon in K2. I’m still luxuriating in the fact that I have mornings free to do my own thing, now that both are in school in the mornings. Unfortunately, I’ve been down with a cold the past few days, so my plans to exercise and do a variety of other activities have been put on hold.

Meanwhile, Shannon was recently gifted my sister’s old study table. There is a corner in their shared bedroom where her kiddy table used to be, but I thought a proper study table would come in useful when she’s in P1 next year.

It’s not very obvious but her old table is just beside the bunk bed.

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We didn’t measure the table before bringing it back, thankfully, it fits, and perfectly too.

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A “new” table meant an excuse for decorating and organising.

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I had planned to put up the balloons painting we did over the holidays, revamp her old noticeboard (a Teachers’ Day gift her papa got from his students), and add a colourful bunting garland.

Using three types of scrapbook paper, I cut out triangles about 10cm in height.

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Punched holes in them.

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Threaded a string through.

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And that’s it. I hung them up above her desk, using a clear Command wall hook in the middle. I tied one end to the window grille and the other end to their bunk bed.

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Her old noticeboard was given a coat of white paint at the rim. I used a piece of fabric sticker from $2 Daiso to cover up the cork board.

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And called it done.

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Here’s her new desk with the painting and notice board added.

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I filled a desk caddy with colour pencils and markers, so she can do her crafts here.

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There it is, a small corner to call her own in the bedroom she shares with her korkor.

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I included a little trash bin because she loves cutting up paper and I don’t want to be picking up little bits and bobs all the time.

I did this as a surprise while she was in school so the best part was seeing her delighted reaction when she got home!

December, in summary

It’s been a good, long break. I turned down any work that came along in December, and have been soaking up time with the family. We did many things, we also did nothing on some days. With everyone at home, I haven’t felt inclined to sit in front of my laptop to blog, not even at night when everyone’s asleep.

We took a trip to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh, more on that to come in a later post. The rest of the time, we spent mostly at home – they watched way too much TV, while I had time to do housework and do up the home. We also did crafts, painted and played board games. Oh, there were sibling fights too, lots of them, every day.

We put up our little 10-year-old Christmas tree. Actually, the tree has been up since mid-November, after Shannon’s birthday. As is the case in the previous years, it is just easier to pull down one set of decorations and put up another while we’re at it. I started with a small carton in my storeroom for Christmas decorations, and it has since expanded to a small carton and a big basket. All decorations go in clear Ziptop bags according to their colours and I pick some colours to use every year.

We went with gold and red this year. The tree topper star is from Finland, my sister bought it for us when she went there for work some years ago.

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Apart from putting up our usual ornaments, I made some photo ornaments to go on the tree. I pulled out the digital pictures of our past Christmases, added frames and the year it was taken, using the photo-editing website PicMonkey, and had it printed – two pictures on one 3R print. I then laminated it, punched a hole at the top and hung it with silver string!

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This is how it looks on the tree.

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I also put out a basket of Christmas books – a couple are ours, the rest are from the library. I don’t notice them much all year round in the library, but when I went in search for some in early December, I found lots of them!

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We also had our usual basket of December toys (the Christmas-related ones that come out from the storeroom only once a year).

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We did get out in the evenings when it did not rain, and most memorable was when I took them on a trip to their papa’s school. They on their bicycles, me on foot. Their papa cycles to work every day, and while we go down to cycle at the park connector fairly often, both have yet to cover the full route which takes them to their papa’s school. I decided they had to experience it. So off we went, on a day when their papa took the car to work. They started complaining about how far it was halfway into the ride, but I had my speech prepared (along the lines of how papa cycles this distance every day, to and fro, just so that we have the comfort of the car to send both of them to school, so they should not be complaining… and so on.) I was mentally prepared to have to carry Shannon and somehow drag her bicycle along at some point. But miraculously, both trooped along willingly with one water break in between. Their papa takes 20 minutes to reach school, we took more than double the time.

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But we made it! Below, Jason with his act cool look for the camera which he knows I dislike…

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Then, the boys tried rock-climbing at Kallang Wave Mall.

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The rest of the time, they turned into couch potatoes.

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They painted on canvas.

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Shannon drew the balloons but lost interest after finishing the background with her papa. So I coloured them in for her.

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Jason found his groove since the last time and has been asking for bigger canvases. The only problem is we don’t have space for so many big canvases.

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Then the year-end festivities began. Below – grilled vegetables for pasta.

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Yummy Christmas Eve dinner at my sister’s.

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Christmas Day dinner with my in laws at our place.

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Christmas tree veggie-platter, an idea I saw online.

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Kid-decorated log-cake which they did with their cousins, using store-bought swiss rolls.

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Slightly more elaborate breakfasts in the morning from leftover sausages and ham.

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And a wonderful family picnic, marred only by a slight drizzle. It was breezy, food was good, company even better. Here are the adults while the kids were playing on their own. 
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They got to fly a kite with their granduncle Edward.

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I’m so thankful for my younger cousins(I’m the oldest among them), who make it a point to play with my kids at each gathering, leaving me free to catch up with the rest of the family.

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Here’s to a wonderful 2015. Happy New Year!

Want to enjoy primary school? Find some good friends first

Before Jason entered Primary 1 last year, we did all sorts of things to prepare him. They ranged from teaching him how to order food, to packing his schoolbag, to telling time, and it went on. Then he started school. Each day when I dropped him off in school, I would send him off with reminders to pay attention in class, drink more water, be courteous. How dreary, now that I think back on it.

He didn’t take to Primary 1 the way I thought he would. He would drag his feet to school, saying it wasn’t fun. I found out later he did not have close friends because he rubbed his friends the wrong way, demanding to have his way all the time during group work. In Primary 1, he never spoke about his friends. In preschool, he had never had issues making friends – he always came back with stories about his best friends. So I didn’t think it would be any different in primary school, or that it would be necessary to teach him about friendships. Eventually, my husband and I gave him some gentle reminders about being a team player, about being a good friend to others, and left him to work out the issues.

Thankfully, by the second half of Primary 1, something clicked. It could have been the interclass singing competition practices that bonded the playful boys in his class, or the subsequent sports meet where his competitive streak was put to good use as he strategised the best way his class could win other classes. They didn’t win but Jason made himself a bunch of good friends in the process.

Having a best friend, and a group of close friends, made all the difference in his attitude towards school. I suppose it’s somewhat like having good friends at work. I could totally understand that. From dragging his feet to school at the beginning of last year, he progressed to begging me to leave home earlier every day by the end of last year, so he would have more precious minutes to play with his friends before the school bell rang. And instead of issuing him dreary reminders, I found myself telling him, “have fun in school!” as I dropped him off each day. I was so grateful he looked forward to going to school every day, little else mattered.

“I love going to school,” he would declare, proceeding to list recess breaks, PE and play time before the first bell rings, as his favourite moments. I didn’t bother pointing out to him it wasn’t really school school that he loved.

It didn’t matter what the programme was in school, everything was more fun when you had friends to go through it with you. Anything unpleasant became instantly more bearable: lectures from teachers for talking too much; 10-minute detention during recess, everything became that much easier to get through because he had friends in the same boat. I loved hearing about all the scrapes they got into.

His class was quite close-knit, largely due to their form teacher who rallied them all the time. They finally won the sports meet this year. Many of the parents were enthusiastic and supportive (in the Whatsapp chat group we’re in) and the class even had a year end party on the last day of school, including their teachers and parents.

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The class party was also the last time they were together as a group because the kids are split into different classes next year, after two years.

While their friendship is still going strong, Jason and his buddies have been having playdates during the school holidays. The boys (minus one who is overseas) came over to our place today and did all sorts of boy things, totally out of my depth. Nerf Guns, pillow fight, soccer in the void deck, Beyblades… I got my husband to keep an eye on them!

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They chattered non-stop from the time they came, they argued over which games to play, made much inane talk that only kids their age would get. Bottomline? They had loads of fun and are already planning the next playdate.

They’re in different classes next year. It’s a little too much to hope that they will remain best friends, but here’s hoping these boys will always find firm friends no matter where they go.

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