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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

How I survived 3 weeks with 3 kids under one roof

I've come to the end of having 3 kids at home for 3 weeks.

PHEW!

Feels like I just ran a marathon and have finally seen the finishing line.

The boys' kindergarten closed for the summer break and as much as I would have wanted to go for a holiday with the family, it didn't make financial sense since August was the peak period for holidays. Everywhere we searched, prices for accomodation was jacked up at least 3 times!

So we decided to go away for a week to Italy in September and take advantage of the last time when we can travel outside the school holidays.

I won't mince words. The first week with 3 kids at home was tough!

I'm spoilt by a husband who brings the two older ones to kindergarten every morning. This translates to me being able to "sleep in" as long as the baby allows me to. This baby, as much as he's my most chilled-out baby, still does not sleep through the night at almost 5 months - not that I'm expecting him to.

But this also means that I've only had broken sleep ever since he was born. I'm not stressed about this though, cos having the benefit of hindsight means that I know that its a matter of time when he would STTN and I would have to breastfeed him less, and he would eat more solids.

Liam might very well be our last baby, so I'm in no hurry to get him through the milestones. He's usually just contented lying on the floor without even attempting to turn! Seriously, that guy will laugh to himself, just staring at the ceiling. I kid you not.

Every once in a while, I do find him on his front cos he just turned on his own and he's very capable of holding up his head. But most of the time, he usually oscillates on an axis such that he's lying in a different direction.

With my first child, I was so keen to practise tummy time with him, cos of doctor's recommendations and I would even encourage him to turn. With my second child, I was more laid back about it but Gabriel couldn't wait to be more mobile like his older brother.

With Liam, I sing the tune of "as slow as possible my darling. I don't want you growing up so fast".

I rarely do tummy time with him and even when I see him attempting to turn, I don't complete the turning cycle for him. He's going to learn his milestones in his timing. I'm just savouring every single moment.

I digress. So back to how my life has been with all 3 kids at home.

I did miss my quiet mornings with Liam. Every morning, I would wake up to "Mummy! Ge Ge took this". Or "Argh argh!" - That's Gabe's favourite grump word at this moment. He seriously goes "Argh" and Sam repeats after him with his own "Argh". And before you know it, both of them are going "Argh argh" again and again. And this is even before they have breakfast!

And me not being a morning person, I go batshit crazy when I hear all that grumbling!

By the time the second week rolled in, I had all my playdates fixed up. We would do something outdoors every.single.day! And thank God for awesome weather because that meant lots of swimming, playground, cycling, outdoor time.

I signed the kids up for a summer swim course 3 times a week. My father-in-law would help me out with Liam on one day, while the hub would work from home the other day so I can bring the two older boys with me. The third day fell on a Saturday so we could all go to the pool together.

It was great to be outdoors BUT there was one big drawback. Liam is a serial cat-napper when we are out and about. His longest nap would be 15 mins! This boy, no matter how tired he is, would never nap longer than 15 mins. So he would manage 3 x 15 mins nap every time we're out. In comparison, he would nap about 1-2 hours at home, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

Well, you have to die one death. So I would rather deal with a 5-month old who is constantly awake, than 2 toddlers who play the snap-snap game ever too often!

Oh and have I mentioned that Sam did the sweetest thing this morning? Gabriel came to our room in the middle of the night and I actually prefer that because that meant that he wouldn't wake up with his brother and start squabbling before my day even began.

But this morning, I woke up to realize that my bedroom door was closed and so was Sam's bedroom door -- even though he was already awake! Apparently, when he got up, he went to our room and closed our door, went back to his bedroom, closed his door and played on his own! Ever so silently!

I went over to greet him "Good morning", to which he came over to hug me, said, "Good Morning, Mummy!" And when I asked him why he closed my bedroom door, he said, "So that you can sleep better".

My heart melted into 10,000 pieces there and then. Moments like this make all the craziness of motherhood so worth it!

Oh and have I mentioned that this boy can fix his own breakfast when he wakes up earlier than the rest of the family? He can get the milk out from the fridge and fix his own breakfast cereals with milk. If his brother wakes up with him, he would fix a portion for the younger one too.

Seriously these two boys can take over the world. IF they don't end up killing each other first.

Sometime into the second week, I decided that if we didn't have any morning plans, I would make us all an omelette breakfast with fresh croissants from the bakery downstairs. I even tried sending Samuel for his first errand - to buy croissants from the bakery.

I would watch him from the bedroom window as he entered the bakery out of sight. And he would march out with that small paper bag of crossiants and grinning the widest grin, like this boy just conquered Mount Everest.

I'd be the first to admit that I wasn't sure if he was ready, but seeing how well he managed to get the crossiants twice, and how proud he was of himself, I knew that this boy is growing up much too fast for me.

It's such a bittersweet feeling knowing that these babies of yours are only going to spread their wings and fly one day. And you can just hope and pray that they would learn all the right values in your family before they start up their own families one day.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but as much as I'm longing for my peaceful mornings again, I'm going to miss sitting on the balcony and having a leisurely breakfast with omelette with my two monsters babies. I guess I'll just have to turn it into a weekend tradition then.

This post has turned out wayyy too long. Its such verbal diarrhea. I always think that I got nothing to write, or I'm too tired to write, or who's interested in what I write anyway, but then once I start writing, I realized that this is such a therapeutic way of journaling my life.

Oh and have I mentioned that I'm probably going to turn parts of my blog into a book? Like compiling all the Dear Sammy / Dear Gabriel letters into a book each and giving it to them? There's even a website for it these days!

If you've read until here, clap clap to you!!!! May you have a lovely rest of the summer ahead! May the good Lord bless and watch over you!

My 3 little monkeys

What the hub gave me to encourage my heart!

Friday, July 08, 2016

Dear Gabriel - You've turned 3!

We celebrated Gabriel's 3rd birthday last Saturday.


How did he get from this....

to this? That's his latest hairstyle courtesy of Daddy!

How could my second-born be a kindergarten kid already? To me, he will always be my baby.

Of all 3 boys, he seems the most Asian because of his tanned skin and fiery temperament. He used to be a pretty demanding baby and only the good Lord knows how I survived his first year. But now that he's well into his toddler years, he's been such fun to be with.

He talks so much these days - that's one thing I do miss about him. Since he started kindergarten, we no longer do leisurely breakfasts together anymore. I pack his breakfast, let him sleep in till about 8am and he has his breakfast at kindergarten around 9am.

1,095 days flew by just like that. He's such a little man now. I look back at the time and am always so thankful and grateful that my little boy could be Mummy's little boy for 3 whole years. Being a Mum is truly one of life's greatest blessings.

Seeing that his birthday falls in June, I expected to have good weather and so went ahead to invite people for a potluck picnic where the kids can play at the playground while the parents chill in the sun.

But to my utter despair, the days leading up to Gabriel's birthday and the days after were bright and sunny, but it wouldn't stop raining on his birthday. It was dark, gloomy and wet. I kid you not.

We settled for an indoor picnic instead and oh boy, am I so thankful that we kept the list of birthday attendees short! Our apartment just doesn't do big birthday parties well. The noise level of a children's birthday party goes through the roof.

After much deliberation, we decided to get Gabriel a play kitchen. Unfortunately, one week later, the kitchen is not up yet because one part was spoilt! We have contacted the manufacturer but have yet to receive a reply. Nevertheless, Gabriel is already over-the-moon with his kitchen accessories like a chopping board and vegetables! 

Without further ado, here's my letter to Gabriel.

------------------------

Dear Gabriel

You turned 3 last Saturday.

We had an indoor picnic at home because of crappy weather and surprisingly you only had girls your age at your party! You're a friendly little boy but you do take some time to warm up to new faces. Bearing that in mind, we decided to keep your birthday party small because we didn't want to overwhelm you (and us) with a large number of children.

Much to your delight, Mummy made you your favourite salmon sushi. At first, I couldn't make the sushi fast enough because you kept eating whatever sushi I had made. In the end, Mummy had to hide the sushi from you for the sake of your guests.

You started kindergarten 2 weeks ago and took to it like fish to water. You look forward to going to kindergarten everyday and would even be disappointed if you couldn't go because you slept too late at night. We're still going through a period of adjustment at the moment because even though you enjoy kindergarten, you get so exhausted that you barely can make it through the afternoon without your afternoon nap.

However, if you do nap, you would fight your nighttime sleep until midnight! Mummy is still trying to figure out how to help you best without both of us going crazy. Help us to help you ok?

Being our second child, you have always been tagging along with your older brother's friends whenever we do playdates / playgroups. As such, you don't have many friends of your own but we know that its only a matter of time that you will find your own groove at kindergarten.

You seem like an audio person because you pick up words by singing. Mummy and Daddy have often been surprised at how you repeat songs that you have only heard on CD a few times. Oh and you love singing! We're thinking of signing you up for some music school.

You continue to have a very healthy appetite its such a pleasure to watch you eat anything and everything! One thing we've noticed about you is your sense of determination. You're pretty cautious by nature, so you would weigh your options before trying something new.

When we were in Legoland, which happens to be your new favourite place, we watched you scale a really high rope ladder thing. It took you so much determination to do that because you kept watching how the older kids did it before finally deciding to attempt it yourself.

Mummy's heart swelled with pride when she watched you scale that 2-storey rope wall. Once up there, you realized how high you were and started panicking a bit. Your older brother rushed over to "rescue" you and helped you to slide down the long slide back down.

You're talking a lot these days and it's so very interesting to have proper 2-way conversations with you. Like your older German brother, you're very interested in cars and have even started recognizing the different brands of cars on the streets. Your favourite pastime is lining up cars to indicate traffic jams!

Oh, you've started praying over your meals! Usually this is the job of your older brother, but you decided one day that you wanted to give thanks to God so you could start eating. You're usually the first one at the table and first one to eat. It was so heartwarming to hear you say a full prayer!

Our fiesty, determined, stubborn, strong-willed, funny, smart, talented 3-year old. We love you to the moon and back. May the Lord continue to guide your paths, expand your heart to love those around you, channel your determination to develop into a steadfast faith in God and fill your days with adventure, joy and zest for all things new!

Love,
Mummy & Daddy


The birthday train making its debut again


Mummy's maiden foray into salmon sushi using fresh salmon!

Ari's caprese in a stick

Hot dog rolls

Ham and cheese rolls

Tuna / Egg mayo sandwiches


Hub's chocolate cake for the birthday boy

Gabriel and his girlfriends. Guess where Sam was hiding? He absolutely refused to get his photo taken!


Opening the presents. Sam and B. were clamouring to open Gabriel's presents!


All my 4 Tews boys in one pix!

Trying to get him interested in one of his kitchen accessories




One of the cheapest but most fun present - a pull-and-fly helicopter
Gabe with his ever-so-doting Godparents

Glimpse into their future with 3 kids?

My little world of Tews boys and me!

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