Terrible Tohs

Because 4 is better than 1

Author: terribletohs (page 3 of 7)

A Day As a Stay Home Dad

Zavier’s first day blues has now turned even bluer, now that he is down with cough, flu and a fever. Not that it’s unexpected though, it seems like the norm for kids to fall sick when they start school as their bodies get used to the multitude of germs floating around.

It’s like an initiation phase- everyone ends up stronger thereafter.

Die, damn illness!

The doctor recommended a 2 day stay away from school, and since Mama Toh took a big chunk of her working day yesterday bringing Zavier to the doctor and to her parents, I decided that it was my time to contribute by taking a day off to care for Zavier today.

Hopefully my boss wasn’t too anal about the last minute leave request though.

But family always comes first

Very thankfully, the kids managed to have a very fun filled long weekend before Zavier fell sick and Summer had to endure going to school alone for these 2 days.

First we went to an indoor playground

A dip at Gong Gong’s house

Lantern carrying with YiYis

Botanic garden with YeYe NaiNai

That pretty much sums up our very eventful weekend! Quite sure a few strands of white hair sprouted out whilst managing the kids during all these activities though.

Now as I wait for Zavier to take his afternoon nap, I have already done the following:

– Fed him medicine

– Washed and hung the clothes (there’s no end to this)

– Went to the supermarket to buy portobello mushrooms and salmon to cook for lunch

– Made him take a morning nap

– Fed him his snack of fruits

– Cooked lunch which he rejected save for for mushrooms (my kids really don’t like western food it seems)

– Scrambled to find him an alternate lunch of cheese and eggs and fruit

– Showered for him 

– Fed him medicine for the 2nd time

– Cleaned up after lunch

What?? It’s only 1pm??

Thank goodness I had a beer. I might fall asleep faster than Zavier does.

Nights!

One day stay home dad

First Week Blues

1 week into school, and… Zavier boy has not stopped crying whenever we send him to school. But positively, the length of crying has dropped from greater than 30 seconds to about 10 seconds, which is about the length of time me and Mama Toh walk from the school back to the car.

I would usually be ecstatic about this improvement, if not for the fact that him stopping his cries is due to… Summer starting to cry. 

WHAT? 2 years plus in school and there is a regression? These few days Zavier just stops crying and stares at his sister in bewilderment. And rightly so.

Oh well. Please let it be a passing phase.

Happy wanton mee time before school

Anyway the feedback from the school has been relatively positive, stating that he is quite a good eater and sleeper. 

What caught me by surprise is that he actually successfully attempted to feed himself over the weekend when we had a McDonald’s breakfast. 

Woohoo!

He really is good- in everything food related.

What’s up

Meanwhile, Summer’s talent seems to lie in making funny faces.

Anyhow, long weekend coming up!

Remember to spend quality time with your kids and have fun!

These jokers have fun everyday though

First Day Blues

At the end of last week, little Zavier boy made the inevitable plunge to start full-day school at 18 months.

In some ways, it’s a bit more taxing to him compared to Summer, given that Summer only started school at 20 months (or was it 22?) and started with a half day schedule for a good 6 months or so before going on full day.

But I guess there isn’t much to debate about this given that both sides of our parents are now occupied with the little infants.

Plus he has a maid to take care of him in school.

Full fledged service

Initially he adapted quite well when all of us went into school with him on the first day, and he managed to take his breakfast on his own quite well.

Surprisingly independent

Some company definitely helps

Together with a fellow student who has retained for 30 years

But like all things, we had to leave school after an hour or so to leave him on his own to slowly adapt.

And that’s when the wailing started.

Loud, shrieking cries. I was quite surprised how the rest of the school was so nonchalant about the cries given that the ground must have shook a little. Must be an hourly occurrence for a childcare centre.

Not proud to announce that the crying is still continuing on his 4th day today.

But anything less than Summer’s 9 months of crying is already a bonus. Yes you read that right.Summer cried for 9 months – I am still waiting for my plaque from the Guinness Book of Records for this achievement. 

Why so serious?

Anyhow on a separate note, I am genuinely quite surprised and secretly impressed with what goes on Summer’s mind.

Some questions she asked me over the past week:

1. Who decided that A must be the first alphabet and Z the last?

2. What is the biggest number in the world?

3. Why did God create mosquitoes if all they do is bite me?

What? From a 4 year old child? 

I think when I was 4 all I thought about was when my next mealtime was going to be.

Kids say the darnest things

An Appreciation to the Teachers

On this coming Friday, the school is celebrating Teachers’ Day with a half day filled with games before closing for the afternoon. Parents will then have to take leave or make arrangements to care for the kids.

Woohoo no school!

Many parents, inevitably, will grouse about this. Some will bemoan that they have to disrupt a work day, while some will complain that if they pay school fees regularly, they expect a consistent service day in day out.

Sadly, these are real life complaints which I have heard around the workplace across the years.

These complaints are sad on 2 fronts:

1. People are actually lamenting that they have to spend a weekday with their own kids (?!?)

2. Nobody seems to think that childcare teachers deserve their breaks.

As many of us can attest to, being a full time carer to toddlers might be one of the toughest jobs in the world. I would put it on par with my full time job of handling Mama Toh’s pissy fits, which probably puts it into perspective for you. 

Presenting the world’s most energy-sapping individuals

Childcare teachers are chronically under-appreciated. Period.

Can you imagine spending 10 hours everyday chasing after rowdy toddlers, cleaning up the inevitable mess after they attempt to feed themselves, showering for them and periodically clearing shit (literally), AND besieged with the unreasonable expectation to turn other people’s kids into child prodigies?

How much would you pay someone for such a role? If you have any slight conscience, the answer is: maybe double of what the current market pays.

Summer has always been blessed with extremely good and caring teachers in school. Teachers who really want the kids to enjoy their time in school with memories firmly etched in their minds.

Do you remember anything from your kindergarten? I guess not.

But I know Summer can, because…

Yes, the teachers take photos and periodically print out for our keepsake

For someone who cried for almost 9 months whenever we send her to school, I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for the teachers getting her to her current state, where she excitedly tells us about her day every night.

And coming back with random drawings which are slowly becoming wallpaper

For that, we appreciate their hard work.

So parents, show some appreciation to the teachers this coming Teachers’ Day, because they absolutely deserve it.

P/S: Zavier boy’s first day of school happens tomorrow! Any crying period of less than 9 months will guarantee that he is the bravest kid in the family.

Chillaxing before D-day

An Old Man at 33

So my birthday came and went in a blink of an eye last week, which was just about fine with me.

As Mama Toh can attest to, I am highly allergic to birthday celebrations. But it didn’t stop her from doing this to me a few years ago…

Did my smile hide my embarrassment successfully?

A big part of me doesn’t like attention of being the recipient of a birthday song and cake, and the other part of me doesn’t like the money that is spent (wasted) on me on presents that I rarely use.

That being said, I have to admit that I am slowly warming up to the inevitable cake cutting ritual, but of course only the one at home.

Looks like it was a surprise for one of us

The kids love it, Mama Toh loves it, the kids splatter their saliva all around when helping me blow out the candles – that’s what makes a good celebration.

So I am 33 now, which sounds really old considering the first time I met Mama Toh in school was when I was 21 years old.

Throwback to the days when we had more sanity in our lives!

All in all, I must say that I am extremely blessed throughout my life.

– A pretty wife who chose me instead of the the other buffoons in Uni. Fantastic foresight.

– 2 cute kids who still have not grasped the concept of peace but I’m sure that will come in time.

– Supporting and fun families on both sides who are always willing to help out with the kids. If not for them me and Mama Toh would have probably be full fledged alcoholics by now.

– A house and a car. Not the biggest, but more than sufficient for the 4 of us.

Looks like it’s still a surprise for one of us

To be honest, there’s not too much else that I want in life now apart from watching the kids grow up happy and healthy, spending quality time with our families and kicking the kids out of the master bedroom to sleep in their own rooms. And drink lots of beer.

My life is quite complete.

Young Aspirations

I guess everyone should know by now that the biggest news over the past weekend, and very probably the next few months, is the fact that Singapore won its first Olympics Gold Medal via Joseph Schooling.

A very far cry from this wannabe

That all is extremely amazing and no doubt an admirable achievement by the boy (can’t believe I am 12 years older), what hit me as even more admirable, is the often overlooked story of how his parents supported his ascent to the top.

If you have read some of the interviews with his parents, the below points might have struck you:

– They’ve spent more than $1 million of their own money on Joseph’s quest so far.

– In the past few years when Joseph (am I sounding like I am being too chummy with him?) was, and still is based in US, they only see him for a maximum of 3 weeks in a year.

– Personally going through lengths to appeal for their son’s NS deferment.

In all honesty, that is TRULY admirable.

And very naturally, I began to ask myself if I would do the same for my kids.

Now I come from a rather traditional family and my parents are those who value security and loyalty in jobs. Kinda old school, but probably not outliers for their generation.

If I had mentioned at 5 years old that I want to be a professional swimmer, I have no doubts that my parents would have tried to dissuade me by telling me tales that swimming to much makes one grow a third leg due to radiation, in a bid to sway me back to the ‘normal’ path.

But of course the definition of normalcy has gradually changed with time, and I would think that I am quite an open parent who will support all of my kids endeavours. 

Until of course, a few months ago I asked Summer what she wanted to be when she grew up.

A year or so ago she gave fickle and not-too-practical answers, such as Princess Elsa from Frozen and Princess Celestial from My Little Pony, which we just laughed off.

Nope, not going to happen

But this time, she replied with a firm.

‘I want to be a baker!’

Umm. Not what I had in mind. 

So I tried to check again. ‘You mean a BANKER? Work in banks like Papa and Mama?’

She sighed in exasperation and repeated, ‘BAKER! Make bread and cakes and muffins! You don’t know meh??’

Okay, point taken.

I thought it was just and passing phase but through the months she repeated it in fervent, and even asked to watch baking videos on YouTube. Which honestly is quite admirable for a 4 year old.

And then I slowly see that she really enjoys it. No doubt spurred on by the occasional baking lessons in school.

Like this instance

And this

And this

Ah well, what matters most are that our kids grow up happy with a passion of their own right?

So I encouraged her by telling her that I will soon find some stuff to start baking with her and also send her for kids baking lessons if I manage to find one.

Time to start saving for my own retirement! 

Only half kidding.

A Short Getaway

So here I am blogging from the bed with a beer in hand while Mama Toh and the kids are taking their afternoon nap. In terms of naps, I have to say that Mama Toh leads the kids by example. Well done!

We’re curently on a 4D3N trip to Phuket, and I have to say this is one of the most relaxing trips we have been on with our kids.

The TV and pool are the only things the kids need

Which just came at the right time actually, given that the last weekend I was diagnosed with shingles. Yes, you read that right.

It came as a rash that didn’t go away after 1 day, so the second day I went to visit the doctor hoping to get some cream for it and ended up being told that that was shingles.

The doctor was very slightly bewildered as he said that this usually occurs to old people (over 50 years old) or when your immunity system plunges due to stress. Logically speaking, mine should be due to stress.

Which is kinda disappointing to me, given that I have always prided myself as being quite the fit individual who always tries to push my limits. I guess the past 2 weeks when I tried to move my wakeup time from 5 a.m. to 4.30 a.m. (inspired by Michelle Obama by the way) really took a toll on me.

Oh well, time to take it slow and chill for the time being.

That is, assuming my kids allow me to chill and relax

We booked a short trip to Phuket some months earlier, with the intention to allow both me and Mama Toh’s parents to have a lighter ‘grandchildren workload’ given that there have been new additions to the families who require their care. And partly also to give Zavier boy a holiday before he starts school in September  (on hindsight this is a bit kua zhang for a kiddo who is not even 2 years old yet).

But hey, ends up that this trip is actually for me to take a break and slow down my pace.

Very rare couple shot

We’re staying at the Reinassance Phuket, which is quite serene and pristine. It is actually next to the Indian Ocean.

The waves are scarier than it looks

The exclusivity actually comes with a drawback, which is the fact that the place is quite far off from everything else.

We have to take a shuttle bus at an hourly interval to the nearest supermarket (the term supermarket is actually quite complimentary to the actual place), and the nearest shopping centre is like 1 hour away. ZOMG.

So we’ve been spending loads of time in our villa just swimming, eating and sleeping. Which Mama Toh grouses every now and then about being boring, but somehow enjoys the most (especially sleeping).

The kids seem to enjoy this stay tremendously, with Summer exclaiming every 2 hours that she loves Phuket. And asking every 1 hour if she can swim.

The simple things that make our kids happy

All in all, it’s been a good trip to recharge all of us (I’m guessing our parents back in Singapore as well), and we’ll be back in Singapore on Saturday ready to crush the Monday blue of work and school!

Just kidding. Monday blues can’t be fought. 

I think I don’t need to tell you who color coordinated the kids and herself

Pokemon Madness

If you have a smartphone like probably 95% of the Singapore population, chances are you would have heard of this gaming behemoth released over the weekend called Pokemon Go.

When it was first released in the US, I read quite a lot about it via the various media outlets, and promptly dismissed it as being a huge waste of time.

But… over this weekend I saw one or two Facebook posts whereby my friends brought their kids out for walks in attempts to capture some Pokemon. That struck a chord with me- anything which is fun and allows me to spend time with my kids is worth a shot!

So I downloaded the app, and brought a fairly excited Summer out to search for Pokemon!

The first Pokestop was just opposite my parent’s place, so as we ascended the overhead bridge… Summer requested that I carry her.

Ok fair enough…

1 minute later after collecting the Poke balls…

‘Papa can we go to the coffees hope for a drink?’

Clearly this is not working out.

‘I would rather chill out than catch Pokemon’

Looks like my daughter is not too much of a Pokemon Go fan then. And thankfully so.

Whilst I can see what all this hype is about, given that the game really brings people out of the house for some much needed exercise (it is indefinitely better than lounging on your bed playing Candy Crush endlessly), there are some behaviour which I have witnessed in disdain:

– Parents who leave their children unattended while glued to the phone catching Pokemon. WTF? Where did common sense go to?

– People of all ages who walk on the roads and look at their phones to see where is the next Pokestop. Your next Pokestop might be at a hospital.

– Prioritising Pokemon over family time. Come on guys, it’s just a game.

You can capture Pokemon, or you can capture memories

Your choice.

I Am Good Enough

I saw this article (link) shared by a friend on Facebook (thanks Wanni!) and funnily, in some way, this was the exact article I was looking for which addressed some of the insecurities I had sometime last week.

You read that right. Even near perfect men like me experience insecurities once in a blue moon. 

Such as my forehead being too glistening for my liking

Jokes aside, sometime last week I was bewilderedly struck by a random thought that I am not making enough money for my family. Hence somewhat a failure?

I confided in Mama Toh who said that I was silly and over-thinkig things. But not before a frown and long pause. Which wasn’t completely reassuring.

You see, the fact is (I think) I don’t earn as much as quite a few of my peers in Banking, even though we started working around the same time. 

Whilst it usually doesn’t bother me as I subscribe to the notion that comparison on makes one feel worse, I am not sure why it hit me on that particular day.

I have always put down the lag in my salary to 2 factors:

1. I am not the most ambitious person by nature.

2. I prioritise family time more than anything else. 

Times like these

That wasn’t always the case though.

As a fresh grad, I was a brash and for a lack of a better word, pia, when it came to work. I didn’t mind working late night shifts, doing other people’s work for them, or volunteering to come back to the office on weekends when someone was required.

I managed a team and was pretty well recognized in the firm.

And then marriage, and very quickly thereafter, kids happened.

I have always been quite a homely person, and this was further reinforced when the kids were born. I already spend the prime day time away from them during the weekdays- do I really want to only go home from work when they sleep?

I think the answer was quite clear for me. 

Which I guess probably played a significant part in landing me where I am now. After all, it’s really quite hard to push someone into a senior role with a higher pay if he is rushing home on the dot daily to spend time with the family.

On hindsight, and in a bid to make myself feel better, I reassured myself that no amount of money can compensate for the time watching my kids grow up.

You can’t put a price on playing Little Pony with your daughter

Or Nerf guns with your son

There is simply no monetary value which triumphs family time. 

Of course, that is just for me, as I believe evidently many other parents feel differently.

Reading the article made me feel much better about myself. 

I am good enough.

I’m sure my family feels the same.

Right???

Don’t Prioritise Your Phones

This is gonna be a short one because… well there isn’t that many updates since the last post.

This week served a very timely reminder to Mama Toh and do myself regarding phone usage in front of the kids. 

Stop using your phones else we’ll leave the house

Whilst I have been quite ardent on not bringing my phone to the bedroom once I am home, Mama Toh the perennial social media/online shopping user (addict) is guilty of that every night. 

However, for some unbeknown reason the kids seem to be pretty tired this week, and want to sleep by 9.30 pm daily.

This is quite a fix for me, because it is far too early for me to go to sleep, yet I have to be in bed to pet Summer while Mama Toh does the same to Zavier. To kill those 30 minutes or so till I properly lie down to sleep, I brought my phone into the room. 

Yeah, lame reason I know. On hindsight.

And of course I didn’t get away with it.

On one of the nights, 5 minutes after falling asleep, Summer suddenly opened her eyes and saw me on my phone, mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook updates.

‘Papa if you keep using your phone how do you concentrate on hugging me?’

Err ok. Shame on me.

Mama Toh got the same message 2 days later. Our kiddo has really grown up.

Dear parents, your kids are much more important than the photos of what your friends cooked or ate for dinner.

Get out if you want to use your phone

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