Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why do I want to go back to work?

I've thought about that question a couple of times over the past week.

I'm happy as a stay-at-home Mom. I've got more than enough to keep me busy with 3 kids aged 5 and below. My husband earns enough money for us to live comfortably on one income. We go on annual vacations and do long-haul flights to Singapore once every 1-2 years. We can't spend lots of money on a whim but neither are we struggling.

So WHY?

For the uninitiated, I decided to join ItWorks a few minutes before the clock struck twelve on New Year's Day. Sounds so poetic right?

Basically, I'm going to be a distributor in slimming body wraps, skincare and health products.

I'm doing this because I've always been waiting for a product like this to appear on the market. 

Let me explain. 

I have 3 kids, as you would know. And I often joked to the hub that I would want to go Marie France (a renowned slimming centre in Singapore) to get my figure back, if we ever had that type of money and time. A trial slimming session can cost up to the thousands.

Most women who have given birth in Singapore have the luxury of having a Malay masseur go to their homes during the confinement period to give them a massage as well as slimming bodywrap. Both the massage and bodywrap is meant to tone, firm and slim down their tummies, such that those women who have done it (my friends) have a significant improvement in their figures compared to those who don't (uh hmm, me).

Since I gave birth to all my children in Germany I've never had the luxury of having a masseur come to my home, give me an hour of massage bliss and end off by tightening my loosened stomach muscles with a bodywrap. 

We have what you'd call a post-natal exercise course where one learns how to tighten and strengthen the pelvic muscles. But none of those crazy awesome massage-bodywraps things as what they do in Singapore.

So can you imagine my excitement when I actually heard about ItWorks? Do the wraps really work?

The entire company was founded based on those bodywraps and it's their Number 1 selling product, such that they are #6 globally in direct marketing. So it can't be all photoshop right?

I'm a strong believer of being a product of the product. I already know that there is such a thing as "slimming bodywraps" like what they do in Singapore. It was only a matter of time that a company took all the ingredients in the slimming bodywraps, come up with a winning recipe and mass produce them to ensure maximum results in a uniform way.

My Dream with this job

I started this business because I simply wanted to see how much money I can earn an income by being a stay-at-home Mom. Doing a regular job where I would be away from the kids is not an option for me. I see myself as being a Mom first and earning an income as secondary.

However, I would so love to be able to have a separate bank account from the hubby just so I can say something like "I bought this present for you" and actually buy it with my own income rather than on the income that the hubby earned. Sounds trivial? It certainly is! But it's one of the things I miss about earning an income!And the best thing about this job?

It will be the first time that I can actually earn some money while doing what I love! This business works on word-of-mouth, social media and the good old wrap parties.

I've been writing on this blog for over 10 years, I have a somewhat active Instagram account and I go on Facebook more often than I should. So, technically I'm already doing all the groundwork that is necessary to start this business.

And last but not least, I can help people slim down, detox and live a healthier lifestyle by doing what I do!

We just got our first bodywraps in the mail today and the first wrap has already worked pretty well!

Stay posted for more!!!!

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Some random photos of the 3 monkeys!

Absolutely love this pic!

So impossible to take a proper pic with 3 kids!

Taken over Christmas at our church
Isn't this photo priceless?

This is why I'm a SAHM - can't get enough of morning cuddles!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Turning 34 - my epic children-free day off!

The older you get, the simpler and smaller your birthday celebrations become.

I'm a December baby and every year, December is always a stressful month. There's Christmas presents to be bought, photo calendars to be done, Christmas cards to be written and last year one top of everything else, I had to make 3 photobooks by the end of November.

Needless to say, by the time December came around, I was so uninspired to sort out photos that I was toying around with the idea of not doing a photo calendar for 2017.

However, with the encouragement of my in-laws, I decided to persevere with my photo calendar tradition because its such a great way to remember the best moments of 2016.

Bottom line was, I knew that I didn't want to throw a fancy schmancy birthday party for myself because it will be more work and stress than anything else.

I decided to go for something more fun and simpler - A day out to Strasbourg with my hubby and 2 of my closest couple friends!

It was the BEST.THING.EVER!



We had such a perfect day! One full day without children. No stroller. No diaper bag. No looking out for children who disappear among the masses. No feeding someone else before myself. No additional job other than to take care of my own needs.

Heaven!

The only thing was that we had to plan our outing way in advance. We informed our friends and locked in the date a month in advance.

Having 3 kids make the logistics of having a babysitter way harder than with 2 kids. We knew we didn't want to trouble my in-laws for the entire day and evening. So we decided that my in-laws would take care of the kids during the day while my neighbour D. would take over in the evening.

Closer to the date, we hoped and pray none of the children or babysitter would fall sick. Our friend, D. broke her finger one day before my Strasbourg day! She actually had to babysit with her finger in a cast!

Sushi! (What else?)

I was the birthday girl so I decided on the dining venue! We went straight for my favourite sushi restaurant where I could satisfy my grilled yakitori and sushi craving! YUM!

See all our happy faces! No kids = Freedom!

Sushi boat!


Christmas market

After lunch, we headed straight for the Christmas market. Strasbourg has such a gorgeous Christmas market and oh boy! Was it jam-packed! I was so thankful that we didn't have our children with us! The terror alert in France is still on high, so there was armed police all around and they cordoned off the Christmas market. We could could enter and exit by going through police check-points.

I think this is actually a very good precautionary measure seeing what happened in the Christmas market in Berlin. We really do live in precarious times these days!


Absolutely love this shot!

Drinking mulled wine (Gl├╝hwine) in the cold

Finally a couple shot again!


After about 2 hours of walking around in sub-zero temperatures, we headed straight for the mall to thaw ourselves. I didn't dress myself warmly enough, so my toes felt they were going to fall off!

There's this superbly yummilicious chocolate waffles in the main shopping mall in Strasbourg, Riverie. This is INCREDIBLE! My friends were getting so hungry that they wanted to go for crepes at the Christmas market but I told them to wait for the chocolate waffles.

And it was SO. worth the wait! I dream about this waffle until today! They really should open an outlet in Stuttgart!

I didn't share my waffle with my hub!

We shopped for about an hour, during which of course we bought a winter jacket for Samuel. What else right? Well, to be fair, that boy needs a warmer winter jacket. His previous one didn't make the cut and I always felt so sorry for that boy.

We didn't have any dinner reservations. Somehow we thought that it would be no problem to find somewhere to dine since we don't have kids right? - Wrong!

All the restaurants were packed to the brim! The French are world-renowed for their culinary skills so you can imagine that the last weekend before Christmas was filled with people wanting to eat out!

Thank God really that after about 30 minutes of looking for a parking space and restaurant, we did find somewhere that had space for all 6 of us.

We ordered sparkling wine and everybody just had a jolly good time! I can't remember the last time I had hours of undisturbed conversation with adults! No, "Mummy, xx did this. XX did that". I could actually talk in peace!

That was epic! From the time we got into the car, to the time we got home, we were all just talking and enjoying each others' company.

I'm so so so grateful for this group of friends that we have. These people are also our childrens' Godparents and they would go out of their way to help us. We can really count on them to go above and beyond the call of duty to be there for us. We're so grateful! They are actually friends we got to know from our cell group! Thank God for kingdom friendships!




My dessert on the left: Chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice-cream (seriously the best!)
Hubby had the good old favourite, Creme Brulee

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dear Liam - 8 months


My 8 month old baby!

I could kiss that face all day!
Dear Liam

You're 8 months old! 

I'm so sorry that your developmental updates have been far and few between. That's one of the perils of being a third child. Your two older brothers keep me so busy that I hardly have time to do anything!

What can I say. Without trying to compare, you're such a dream baby. 8 months on and you're still such a chilled and laid-back kiddo. You're seriously our first baby who can fall asleep while lying down on the floor! We are so amazed at how you're able to soothe yourself to sleep so easily.

See what I mean?

That said, you're not sleeping through the night yet. You still wake up at least once or twice to have a full boob feed before going back to sleep. I'm not complaining though. I somehow do enjoy the late night feeds when the whole world just revolves around you and me. Call me crazy but I know it will be all too soon when you do sleep through the night and I'll miss those night wake ups!

The past few weeks saw you making your biggest development yet.

You started crawling! My baby is crawling!

Since you're probably our last baby, I've been trying to drag out your milestones. I would not even leave you on your belly, such that you took your own sweet time to learn how to turn over. You would be so contented just lying on your back and staring at the ceiling or grabbing the hanging toys on the Fisherprice rainforest playgym - which was honestly the best thing we had for you.

However, one day you decided that enough was enough. You didn't want to lie down on your belly while your brothers were moving all around you. You pulled the playmat so hard, you managed to propel yourself forward. And all that effort was made just so that you could reach your pacifier! Mummy was contemplating running to get the video camera but it was such a beautiful moment that I simply had to cherish that moment!

And since that first commando crawl, you've become so fast by now! Mummy has to keep a lookout for bits and pieces on the floor that you might put in your mouth! Also, we've got to be extra careful to not walk around too quickly, because you might be right behind us and we could accidentally trample on you.

Your two brothers are so affectionate towards you. While Gabriel and Samuel might be all loggerheads with each other, somehow you can get away with anything with both of them. Gabriel allows you to hit and scratch him with your unstable arms and he doesn't complain. If Samuel does the same thing, Gabriel will hit him back with the strongest Rambo punch. Needless to say, Mummy has been doing quite a bit of shouting, refereeing.

Look how you get away with anything!

Now that you're crawling though, Gabriel has started taking away toys from you claiming that the toys belong to him. Uh oh. I'm seeing the next phase of brotherhood developing before my very eyes. I'm hoping that your brothers would continue to treat you with grace and acceptance since you are afterall the baby of the family.

You're such a smiley baby. Many people have commented on your cheery disposition. And that's so true baby boy. I don't remember you having a bad day. You might have bad moments but it's generally easy to calm you down.

Your favourite activity is going on the huge swing with your brothers. Even though the weather has taken a turn for the colder, we still try to go to our favourite playground where all 3 of you get to go on the swing together. Your two brothers would ride their balancing bicycle and scooter to the playground and ride the same way back again. This way, all of us have some outdoor time and your brothers get to burn some of those energy.

Your favourite swing! Check out your bug-eyed shoes!
Looking all snug in your Mongolian cap

Look at that DIY belt Mummy fashioned out for you!

We can't wait to celebrate your first Christmas with you. We're constantly so thankful and grateful to our beloved Lord for giving us 3 beautiful boys to love and care for.

We pray the Lord will continue to grow your happy and sweet nature. May your life be such a fragrance to the Lord. We love you our littlest one!

Love
Mummy & Daddy


Sunday, November 27, 2016

My routine with 3 boys - 5 years, 3 years, almost 8 months old

Most recent photo of all my boys. It's obvious to see who dislikes having his photo taken

I thought I should write a short post on what my life looks like now. If anything, it'd be a great way for me to document my life so that I can look back in the future and remember what it was like to be taking care of 3 young kids.

Samuel and Gabriel go to kindergarten from Monday to Friday. Hubby usually brings them there around 8.30am, depending on what time the children wake up. He packs their snack boxes for them and they usually stay in Kindi until 1.30pm.

Mondays:

I sometimes go for English playgroups with Liam in the morning. It's from 10-12noon and the group of ladies are the best to hang out with. But I don't go there often because depending on what our weekend was like, I'm either exhausted or there's much clearing up to be done in our house.

Sam's and Gabriel's kindergarten does not have lunch, so after I pick them up, I bring them to this place called the "Family centre". This is my little refuge where we get freshly-cooked healthy food for a meagre price of 3.50€. I usually order two portions and split the 2nd portion between two plates. While the boys are eating, I would feed myself and the baby.

Liam has started having babyfood for lunch. So far, he has tried pumpkins, potatoes, rice, carrots, bananas, melons, bread and bits and pieces of what we eat.



After they finish eating, they would play at the Family Centre for a bit before we head home. Usually when its not raining or snowing, I would get the balancing bike for Gabriel and the scooter for Samuel. We would make our way to their favourite playground where all three boys go on their favourite swing and swing forever. Liam is always laughing the entire time.

Sometimes I meet some other Moms at the playground, sometimes I don't. Gabriel has a fear of dogs (long story), so I got to be careful that no dogs get too close to him. We get home and I prepare dinner.

Because of the fact that I don't have to cook lunch, I have the motivation to cook dinner and I only have to cook once a day.

Tuesdays:

I signed myself up for Zumba course from 9.30am to 10.30am. There is free babysitting service for Liam so I bring him along. We haven't been very consistent because I haven't been able to get out of the house early enough, but we're working on that.

The usual happens at 1.30pm when I pick the kids up and we go for lunch at the Family Centre.

At 2pm, there is usually craft time at the centre, so I help the children with their craft. Samuel is pretty independent so he doesn't need much help. I get to focus on Gabriel, but this can be a bit of a hassle too if Liam is not napping or if he's cranky.

Depending on the weather, we either hang outside with the children on their bicycles or we head home.

At 5.15pm, Samuel and Gabriel have their childrens' gym so I bring them there. It takes about one hour, during which I either go for a walk with Liam in his stroller or I get home and try to put something in the oven / prepare dinner.

I pick the kids up at 6.15pm, walk home and try to get dinner ready / children bathed and the whole she-bang before the hub hopefully comes home around 7-7.30pm.

Wednesdays: 

I do pilates course from 10.45-11.45am. I bring Liam along and he just plays on the playmat while I do my core exercises.

Usually the grandparents come over to either hang out with the boys on Wednesdays or the grandfather picks up the older ones and brings them to their house.

Assuming that the older boys are taken care of, I tend to do stuff for myself in town on this day. I either meet up with a fellow Mum for lunch at a nice restaurant or I just go to town to run errands, hang out.

Winter being winter though, the grandparents have been sick / people have been sick so my me-and-Liam time on Wednesdays has been far and few between.

Last Wednesday I decided to brave the cold and brought all 3 boys to town for lunch while meeting up with a fellow Mom and her baby. I think it was really brave cool of her to agree to meet up with me and my 3 boys in town.

My best shot of 3 boys at the Christmas market


It turned out to be such a great time though! The boys cooperated relatively well (ie. no tantrums that we couldn't deal with) and they were SO amazed at all the Christmas decorations! The Stuttgart Christmas market has started and its so beautiful. I got the 10x ticket card for the steam train and the ferris-wheel so the kids have something to look forward to.

When my friend went home, I brought the kids to a shoe store to look for some shoes for Samuel. There's a TV with kids' cartoon there, so I could look for shoes relaxedly. The boys even followed me to an Asian grocery store to get some stuff and they were so well-behaved that we could even hang out in town for some sushi for dinner.

Hub took the opportunity to work later and came home around 8pm since we were out and about. I think it was such a successful time in town that we'll probably do it again sometime next week.

Thursdays: 

Thursday mornings are my only free mornings. I take the opportunity to sleep in for as long as Liam allows me to. The good thing about Liam still boobing through the night?

He doesn't wake up early! YAY! Hahah. If I keep offering him the boob in the morning, that boy would cat-nap until noon. Ok, I'm exaggerating there. But he's definitely not an early riser.

Thursday afternoons we have English playgroup from 3-5pm. The kids enjoy this routine since I've been bringing them to this playgroup since Sam was one. We have a singing session - which is the only time they get to sing English songs in a group. The other songs they learn in kindergarten are obviously only German. We have some craft, snack and story time. Great afternoon every Thursday.

I drive the kids home by 5.30pm and go for my cell group from 6.30-8.30/9pm.

Hubby takes the kids so that I can have some me time with the ladies, worshipping the Lord and reading our Bibles. Can you tell Thursday is one of my favourite days of the week?

Fridays:

My cleaning lady comes in the morning from 10am-1pm. While she cleans, I pack up and organise the house. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way my house looks at 1pm on Fridays.

The kids come home from kindergarten around 1.30pm and 10 mins later, the house looks like the cleaning lady hasn't been there.

I cook lunch on Fridays because the Family Centre does fish meals on Fridays and honestly, the fish portions are too little. I can understand that 3.50€ is not much and fish is expensive so they can't give much. So I would rather cook lunch on Fridays.

I usually cook fish for lunch on Fridays though. The drawback of having the cleaning lady there on Fridays mean that I can usually only cook when the kids come home. I try to make something fast / already do the preparation work while the cleaning lady is still there.

We have lunch and try to figure out what to do. I try not to plan a program for everyday since I believe children need some down time too.

Hub sometimes comes home earlier on Fridays (6pm) so we try to be at home when he's there. Once a fortnight he has cellgroup at 8pm, so bedtime routine is on me on Fridays.

Saturdays:

The children are learning how to swim, so we bring them to the pool by 11am. Gabriel has his swim course first, followed by Sam's one at 12pm - 1pm. We try not to plan much social activities on Saturdays since the children tend to be tired after swimming.

Once we tried to go to Ikea after swimming and it was a badddd decision. Gabriel got so cranky until he fell asleep in the Ikea stroller - an hour after we were inside.

Sundays:

We go to church usually at 4pm. We have a leisurely breakfast in the morning, hang out and go to church in the afternoon.

....................................

If you have read until here, great for you! I found it so therapeutic to write about my life!

I tell my hub that I sometimes feel my SAHM life gets so boring / monotonous. But writing about it reminds me that it's the little things that count. And actually I do love being a SAHM.

The activities might be the same but the days are definitely so different because these 3 human beings will always behave differently one day from the next. And it's not what I do, but WHO I get to do my SAHM life with.

Just today, Gabriel happily decided that he wanted to play with chilli flakes! Those very fine and VERY spicy chilli flakes! I didn't even know he was playing with the chilli until I heard him sneezing and I saw him rubbing his eyes immediately afterwards! I could not shout "STOP!" fast enough, so my poor baby was screaming his lungs out.

I tried to wash his eyes until running water (fail), put cold water bag on his cheeks (big fail) before going for my last resort of putting him in the bath tub for a full-body shower. He was crying and screaming the entire time! OH boy!

That was truly a painful lesson learnt! All that time, I had no idea if I should laugh or cry cos his face and even his ears (!!!) turned bright red!

Yeah, there's never a dull moment as a Mom.

So cherish this life I will. Enjoy these days I will. And document it I should do so more often!

How's your life with your children? I would love to hear about your life too!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dear Sammy - 5 years old

Dear Sammy

My handsome, charming, cheeky, boisterous firstborn has turned five!

You're one year short of entering elementary school, so that means Mummy has only one more year of cherishing you in your kindergarten days before you go to a different school from your brother. It's been lovely picking up both of you from the same kindergarten.

Both your little brothers look up to you and while you're all sweet with Liam, offering him the sweetest smiles, you're pretty tough with Gabriel because he certainly knows how to push your buttons!

But to us, you continue to remain our baby and we doubt that would change through the years!

This year, for the first time, we decided to hold your birthday outdoors because there was simply no way we could house rambunctious 5-year olds in our apartment. It was also the first time that we celebrated your birthday 2 days in advance (which is a huge taboo in Germany), but that was the only time we could celebrate your birthday because we would have left for Italy for our holiday one week later (more about that later).

It was such a huge success! The sun was shining, the grass was green and everything was a picture of perfection on the day of your birthday party.

We decided to do an outdoor BBQ with simple decorations of just balloons and DIY pirate party pickers. Grandma and Grandpa even came along too! There were about 10 children in total but within the confines of a huge garden with playground, it was so relaxing!

We started off with some skewered barbecued meat and sausages followed by free play while the adults ate. Mummy prepared a game of "poison ball", where a person would stand in the middle of a circle and the other children would attempt to throw a ball to hit the legs of the person in the middle. As soon as the legs were hit, the person in the middle would be replaced by the person who threw the ball.

It was all nice and fun until some of you decided to throw the ball at the faces of the children, such that Mummy had to decide to draw the game to a close!

Instead of a birthday cake, we baked you chocolate cream cheese cupcakes and used your birthday train as candles. It was such a mess-free, fuss-free birthday! Each of you helped yourself to a cupcake without any cutting or distributing of the cake. 

We ended off with a treasure hunt where all of you had to search for your treasure, which also happens to be your goodie bag. Your present from us was a scooter! You love it and have been using it almost everyday!

You had such a fantastic time that you told us at the end of the day that it was the "best birthday you've ever had!" I certainly hope you'll continue to have the best-est birthday parties every year!

Our beautiful firstborn, please know that we love you very much. We're so proud of the boy you've become. You've embraced the whole "older brother" role with gusto and have such a protective instinct over your brothers.

We're sorry for playing the "you're the oldest" card on you whenever we want peace in the house and want you to give in to your younger siblings. Your heart continues to be so tender inspite of all our parenting mistakes. We thank God for you and pray that God will continue to mold you to be a man after his own heart.

We pray that you will seek after God's love and not after man's praises and acceptance. We pray that while doing that you will also fight for yourself and not be easily bullied or taken for granted. We pray that you will have Godly wisdom and courage, lots of faith and hope, and a lot more joy in life in doing the things you do for yourself and others. We pray that your acts will be sincere and that there will be true joy when you choose to bless others in your little ways. We pray that God will also show you His compassion and shower you with His daily blessings and mercies. - prayer copied with permission from a fellow Mom.

Love,
Mummy & Daddy


Our simple balloon decoration overlooking a huge garden

We brought the table cloth and used the birthday train

View of our little birthday hut

Kids had so much fun on this double swing

Sam and his signature "growl" pose
Love this shot with my Mom-in-law

We brought a picnic mat for the baby

Hub did an awesome job with the BBQ

Kids tucking into the barbequed food

MIL brought meatballs and we made some DIY pirate party pickers


Our friend brought a vegetable platter with dip

Time for ball games - Poison ball!



It got rough!

Gabriel having a go at the ball



I tried to help!



Second game when Sam had to catch the others. For those he caught, he had to hold hands with them to catch the others

A rare shot with our Gabe

Our birthday cupcakes with our DIY party pickers

All the kids

They had to blow the candles which wasn't easy because it was in front of the cupcakes!

Opening the presents!

This boy loves lego!

Ending off with some ice-cream time!

And party sparklers

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