Author Archives: heroonthebeach

‘Big Brother’ Training

Andrew: We’ve taken another long break from blogging – well, because we’ve been busy managing both kids. We’re homebound currently as Dylan is recovering from HFMD and Emmy’s sort of mid-way through, hence what better time to start blogging again!

We’d like to share more about how we’ve been helping Dylan grow into his role as an elder brother and take care of little Emmy. I’ve never thought that there was much that could be done, given that he’s still so young and largely dependent on us for most of his needs. However, I’m surprised at how he has stepped up and impressed us on many occasions with his sweet, brotherly behavior! Here are some ways which we have involved him more as a big brother…

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“Is this the ‘off’ button for her crying?” (Obviously things don’t always work out well from the start…)

1. Small care-giving tasks

Andrew: while he might not be able to do things like carry Meimei or change her diapers, we’ve involved him in as many ways as he can.

One simple way is in getting his help to get tissue paper for us to wipe Meimei’s spit-up or drool. We did this not only by giving him instructions on what to do, but also sharing with him the context and the effect of what he did. For example, we would say, “Oh, Dilly, Meimei is crying now and she’s spit up her milk. What should you do?” Initially, he’d look a little lost, so we’ll tell him to take tissue paper to pass it to us, which we would use to clean Meimei. He gradually realises what’s going on and now, he will not only pass the tissue to us, but even take the tissue to clean Meimei’s spit-up on his own.

There was once he didn’t even need any prompting from us. I recall I was carrying Emmy and then Dilly came by and looked at her. He then walked towards the tissue box and started pulling out pieces of tissue, which I didn’t think much of as he usually does that as part of his play. He then walked towards me and cleaned up Emmy’s spit-up! It surprised me because I hadn’t even noticed it myself. Little kids really impress you with the things they learn.

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There are other small tasks we involve him in to varying degrees of success, like helping to rock Meimei in the bouncer (which sometimes ends up making her cry even more when he gets too excited), carrying Meimei when she cries (yes, we do put her in his arms occasionally and he does try to rock her), hugging/kissing Meimei when she cries and even feeding milk!

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Jasmine: Don’t be fooled by the pictures. Emmy is still as determined as ever to refuse the bottle, spoon, teat etc. Haha.

2. Prayer time!

Andrew: We’ve shared previously about our family devotional time and how we put Dylan to bed. Well, he’s progressed leaps and bounds since then and now is able to lay his hands on people as we pray (thanks to Grandma for teaching him that!). It’s quite cute to see him as he closes his eyes very earnestly and has now even learnt to say ‘Amen’ (sounds more like ‘Amah’ for now) whenever we close the prayer in Jesus’s name.

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We let him be the ‘big brother’ to lead, by letting him do the laying on of hands while we pray and we also let him decide who’s next in line for prayer. If Emmy is not in the room, he’ll always stand up and stretch his hand towards the door to pray for her. It’s really quite sweet!

3. Taking turns

Jasmine: Sometimes we have to attend to Emmy or hey, even our own selves, so we ask Dylan to wait. For toys, instead of sharing, which is abit abstract (and to the child, “sharing” is equivalent to losing the toy) and applies more in the context of food, we ask him to wait for his turn.

4. Care-giving through play

Andrew: Well, trust Jasmine to find toys on Amazon that will help older siblings learn care-giving. (Jasmine: Actually I just bought them coz they were cute.) I believe these toys are actually more to cultivate the heart of care-giving, rather than actually teaching them practically how to care for the kids, given that it’s not quite possible for Dylan to actually do these things for Emmy yet.

Jasmine: There has been much research about the importance of doll play in helping children make sense of their world in a miniature way, so we bought him a Manhattan Toy Sweetpea Snuggle Pod (aka his beloved “baebee”). I also have a spare Snuggle Pod (with bunny ears) for Emmy but am hiding that from Dylan for now.

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Jasmine: Dylan actually showed zero interest in Sweetpea for months, so she went on vacation at Grandma’s house, when one day Dylan re-discovered her in a box and has played/ napped with “baebee” everyday since.

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Jasmine: I also bought a doll sling and matching cloth diapers from Etsy to extend the doll play.

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Only one problem… Sweetpea doesn’t have legs.

Of course, any shawl will do, but this sling has special plastic rings that snap off for safety reasons.

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And here is a pic of the original ring sling, the one I used to carry both Emmy and Dylan from birth- and still do now for quick errands!

 

photo(37) Slinging Emmy at four days old

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Andrew: Dilly really enjoys slinging Sweetea… just this morning he asked to sling her again, then walked around patting it/her(?).

Jasmine: And nobody taught Dylan, but he will rock, pat and shush the baby when he slings her! I think he learnt that by watching us carry Emmy!

Andrew: Lately, Ee Ee also bought him a little baby doll bathing set, which is his current favourite toy! (Jasmine: I let Dylan choose an old face towel to serve as rubber baby’s bath towel.)

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Jasmine: Dylan likes to soap up rubber baby…

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Then towel her dry…

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But he’s found a new use for the shower hose…

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As a nasal aspirator! Yes, Dylan still remembers those traumatic times of flu when we had to aspirate his and Emmy’s nose. When he saw the shower hose, he immmediately said “suck nose” and put the purple tube to rubber baby’s nose. Oh dear, why does he look so gleeful…

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Jasmine: Just to end off by assuring mums of boys that doll play will not make boys effeminate, but rather let them experience what it’s like to be caring and nurturing- traits which mass media ironically seems to stamp out of boys. We did not force Dylan to play with dolls but waited for him to be interested. On the other hand, he is still like any other little boy who loves cranes and trucks and running around.

Andrew: It’s our hope that both Dylan and Emmy will grow up to be close siblings and best friends in future.

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Behind the Scenes: Emmy’s Newborn Shoot

Andrew: Emmeline’s journey into the world of photoshoots began last Monday at 11 days – a bit later than Dylan’s, because unfortunately Dear had a tummyache on Day 7 (which was the original date scheduled).

Jasmine: Yes, I was starving at 6am after breastfeeding Emmeline, but there was only a box of blueberries in the fridge, so I ate it… and woke up with such terrible diarrhea that I felt like passing out.

Anyway, I chose this photographer because she had a stunning portfolio of newborn photography. While Dylan’s shoot was very staged, I wanted something abit more natural and organic, with a timeless feel, so we went with this photog.

Andrew: This was a much ‘larger’ studio (a whole apartment bought specially for the full-length windows that let much natural light in) than our first newborn shoot with Dylan, in that there was a dedicated room for the shoot with all the props and the rest could wait at the living room, where there was a play-kitchen and eventually, even a cute little jie jie to play with Dilly:

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This little boy makes friends so easily! Heh. The sofa also became a convenient place to put him down for his nap after lunch.

In the studio itself, we were so impressed with the whole range of props that the photographer had amassed over the years. Her passion was clearly evident!

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Rows of hats, blankets, baskets and backdrops. The blue, pink and ivory checkered fabric is actually a 1950s vintage quilt that the photog got in Portland.

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Trolley full of baby wraps

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Trayful of little girl headbands… something Dylan couldn’t do during his shoot. Many of these were just little fabric scraps and dried flowers that the photog made herself.

Andrew: We were told to set aside maximum 5 hours for the photoshoot and innocent ol’ me thought to myself, ‘Why would we need so long? We should be done in about 2-3 hours!’ Dylan’s shoot took about 4 hours, with a lot of it spent feeding him and I thought it’d be better with experience. We had planned a whole arsenal of goodies to ensure good behaviour like expressed milk for Emmeline (to prevent Dear from being over-stressed with breastfeeding), breast-feeding cloth, bread for Dylan and all. But as it was, things didn’t turn out quite as planned.

Dylan was well-behaved this time, probably because we do have his patterns figured out better and can manage him better. However, Emmeline took much longer than expected getting settled down including multiple breast-feeds and syringe feeds – the syringe feeding didn’t quite work out too, as the milk kept leaking out of baby’s mouth. Also, the photographer only wanted to take pictures of Emmy when she was fully asleep, as compared to our previous photographer who begun taking photographs even when Dylan was not asleep but calm. That made for rather cute shots too as Dylan had rather funny expressions, even at the newborn stage. (Jasmine: Yes, the photog caught Dylan letting out a gas-smile and yawning, which were adorable!)

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A famfie to entertain little Dillie while Meimei was being photographed

Andrew: Our confinement nanny wasn’t experienced with syringe feeding and kept blaming it on the size of the syringe, but even when we gave her a smaller one, milk kept spilling out still. It turned out to be a rather stressful and tiring start, especially for Dear who just kept feeding Emmy non-stop.

Jasmine: Yes, it was real heart pain to see half the expressed milk leaking out. Quite honestly I would not recommend this photog: even though the photos are beautiful, I’m not sure it was worth putting tiny Emmeline and the whole family through that experience again. I felt that both Emmeline and us parents got blamed multiple times for the shoot not proceeding as planned, largely because Emmeline refused to sleep and the photog refused to take non-sleeping pictures. I’m sorry but I’m not going back.

Andrew: It was only at about 4 hours in that the photoshoot really began as Emmeline acclimatised to the surroundings/fabrics and started sleeping so soundly that the photog could take her in various cute outfits and positions:

Jasmine: We started with wraps to keep her feeling safe and secure.

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Similar concept but in a bowl. I love those precious hands and feet peeking out.

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And then Emmeline got flipped onto her tummy when she was sleeping more soundly. Here she is flashing her bum. Heh. Incidentally you can see the lovely natural light filtering through the large windows.

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And one in a darling rustic iron pram:

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Andrew: Honestly, it was a stressful experience for all, but we’ve just received the first pictures and are pleased with them! Looking forward to the rest of the shots!

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Maternity Shoot for Emmeline

Andrew: We’ve done a ‘behind the scenes’ post for this second maternity shoot, where we wrote that we weren’t sure how the pictures would turn out as most of the shoot was unposed (mainly the PasarBella and the Playground segment). We got the pics back and they turned out really great  – lots of laughter and fun and as usual, Dylan was the star! I love the PasarBella shots especially as the backgrounds are so varied and shots are so colourful and vibrant. Let the pictures do the talking!

PasarBella

Jasmine: We chose PasarBella as it was a place that we liked to frequent plus there was a variety of settings that we thought photograph beautifully. Unlike the previous maternity shoot, where we’ve gone mainly outdoors and featured lots of greenery, we wanted something more urban and eclectic. I like that every corner of PasarBella had a different feel and that Thomas was able to capture a range of atmospheres in just one location alone. All the visual clutter of PasarBella made for a very rich backdrop.

Andrew: Dylan took a while to warm up and was quite straight-faced in the beginning, but he gradually got more lively and started being more smiley and fun. I liked this portion as we were able to go back to our favourite store – the Russian cake shop and enjoy the cake while taking pictures.

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Along the way to the Stables

(Some shots here resemble a pre-wedding shoot!)

Jasmine: Given our outfits, our photographer suggested that we would stand out better against greenery, so we hopped in the car and drove to the stables which was just five minutes away. We literally pulled up by the side of the road for some outdoor shots, which took 15 minutes max. These did turn out very nicely against the evening light – I just wish that I had asked Thomas to highlight my baby bump and maternity gown more.

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Clock Playground @ Bishan

Jasmine: We had one last pit-stop at the clock playground at the Bishan bus interchange. I walk pass it everyday on my way to school and have always found it rather whimsical. A word which pretty much sums up the feel we were going for for this shoot.

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Dylan’s Baby Dior Shoot

Jasmine: So we blogged about the wonderful pampering experience of being invited to Baby Dior’s opening at MBS. As always, the impeccable Dior team mailed us two prints upon hearing that I had given birth (instead of us going down to the store to get it), and emailed us more softcopies in the same day that I requested them. Here they are!

A shot of the handsome little boy and his new friend, Gabriel the Bear. This little white shirt is amazingly cut- I’m still thinking of it but if I had that kind of money, I’d sooner spend it on home reno than a shirt that Dylan will outgrow by next year.

Andrew: This whole outfit that Dylan is wearing probably costs close too $1000, more than any of Daddy or Mummy’s outfits. What a privileged boy he is – his Mum and Dad never got a photo-shoot in branded clothes ever. He looks so proud in this photo and his classic ‘soft-touch’ on the nose of the bear is perfectly captured! The shirt is so smartly folded up too. It was this shot that was developed for us.

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Jasmine: We also got in some nice family shots in the store. This first one most obviously shows my tummy.

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And one with Mona, the Grande Vendoir who secured our invite. The photographer asked me to move my bag but I told him I precisely wanted a photo with it. Heh.

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Jasmine: A couple more shots of happy, cute Dilly! These are totally going up on our family gallery wall!

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Emmeline’s Birth Story

Andrew: We wanted to combine this entry with the post on Gleneagles Staycation, but the post became too long and difficult to write coherently, hence we separated it. This was logical too, given that the birth story deserves a post on its own!

The labour process took a while as we waited gradually for Dear to enter into active labour. Gynea checked in a few times and we both had time to slip in a few naps here and there and watch some TV too. I will never forget that we were watching Wheel of Fortune before Emmy arrived, commenting how the puzzles were so ‘Americanized’ and also on how Pat Sajak and Vanna White never seemed to age. LOL. Soon enough, Dear entered active labour and the ‘pushing’ process began. With 4 hard and long pushes, Emmy arrived! It was surreal how fast the whole process was. Must have been all the naps that helped Dear gain all the strength to push – or perhaps the motivation that the nurses gave that she will get a diamond after pushing. *shudder*

Jasmine: I don’t ask for much, just the Dior Bagatelle ring:D

Personally, comparing Dylan’s birth and Emmeline’s birth, I no doubt prefer the experience of birthing Dylan. I felt very much more in control as I was able to stay at home and eat, shower and rest during the early stage of labour, going into hospital only when my contractions were five minutes apart and ready to enter active labour, which was why our whole experience in the birthing suite for Dylan took two hours from the point of entry to the delivery.

However, with Emmeline, we checked in and spent almost nine hours in early and active labour. The experience was quite immobilising as I was on epidural and could not walk but had to remain on my back- this is actually quite contrary to the natural rhythms of labour, where you can walk to relieve labour pains and rest when you need to. However, the good thing was that it was a natural birth that didn’t need further assistance- when the contractions started coming hard and fast (like every minute), the pushing only took twenty minutes and four pushes and our little Russian doll was out!

Andrew: The moment she arrived, our little girl was wrapped up completely, which has thus earned her the nickname of ‘Russian Doll’ or Dolly. She’s so cute!

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Mummy: My first thought was, she’s beautiful! My second thought was, she’s got Andrew’s lips but they look good on her! Pouty. Heh.

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Daddy comforting little girl – trying to examine if she has any moles, like Dilly!

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Emmy taking her first peek at the world, looking even more like a Russian doll!

Emmy @ NICU

Andrew: Emmy had to be put in the NICU for a while, because her breathing was a little ‘grunty’ and there were concerns about whether there was still water in her lungs.

However, it was really nothing to be worried about as our ped told us later that it was more that Emmy couldn’t be kept any longer in the delivery suite, but also couldn’t be moved to the nursery as her breathing hadn’t stabilised, so they put her in the NICU as a ‘lodger’.  Wow, this little girl is really getting the best treatment from birth eh!

Jasmine: With Dylan, we were able to initiate breastfeeding minutes after birth, which was a wonderful experience, as he was quiet and alert, and it made for a lovely hour of family bonding time before he had to be taken away and washed.

With Emmy, due to her breathing issues, we weren’t able to initiate breastfeeding for several hours, and she unfortunately had to be put in the NICU. Of course, I was pretty worried when I heard “NICU” and “lung problems”, especially since I was having severe afterbirth pains and couldn’t do much apart from intermittently whatsapp family/ friends to update them on Emmy’s condition, based on whatever I heard from Andrew, who went down to NICU to check on her, or so he said…

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Andrew: I couldn’t stop taking pictures of her and must have spent about 20 – 30 minutes at the NICU, taking photos of her. The nurses must have thought I was a little crazy, especially when I set the timer, so that I could take this shot:

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Well, it was more for Jasmine’s peace of mind as she had asked me to go to NICU to let her know how baby was doing…. so, my photo-craze is perfectly understandable!

Jasmine: I never expected Andrew to take a NICU selfie?! I really have unleashed a trigger-happy man.

Emmy arrives in our room!

Andrew: After her short stay in the NICU, Emmy finally arrived in our room all wrapped up and peaceful.

What a beautiful head of hair and such red, chubby cheeks!

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I had forgotten how delicate and light (!) a newborn was after carrying Dylan for the past few months. This little girl is light as a feather – I can carry her in one hand and she’ll just lie there peacefully and fall asleep, without squirming. Lovely!

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Jasmine: Do not be fooled by these serene little newborn expressions.

It’s only been one week in, but based on her crying alone, we can already tell that her personality is different from Dylan’s. Dylan’s hunger cries were very sad and he could be coaxed to wait for his milk, whereas Emmy is a feisty little thing, who cries so loudly when she is hungry that her double chin just quivers tremulously, making you feel amused and sorry for her at the same time. In that sense we think that Dylan takes after his father’s personality while Emmeline takes after mine. Which is a good thing for a girl… I think. Heh.

Visiting

Andrew: As it was a rather short stay (plus the time spent in the NICU meant Emmy could not have visitors the first day), our visitors were our immediate family members. Of course, we wanted Dylan to visit so we could spend time together as a family and not want him to feel left out. We heard he was really cranky the first day after he came to visit, so we’ll be spending more time with him, so that he won’t feel left out.

Jasmine: What helped was that we prepared a present from his baby sister to him, plus we and my family played with Dylan when they brought him, instead of cooing over Emmeline straightaway, so that Dylan wouldn’t feel neglected. In fact, Andrew and I also tried to fuss over Dilly first whenever he came to visit, instead of holding Emmeline, so that he would get his fair share of attention.

Andrew: Back to the hospital visit, he had lots of fun running around and eating my bread bun!

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Family Photos

Jasmine: Of course, this entry would not be complete without some family pictures!

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Our first full family portrait!

Jasmine: We’ve been teaching Dylan to use “soft touch” on his penguin and Chong Chong bear, in preparation for his meeting his sister for the first time. Here’s Dylan stroking his mei mei! He also loves to dig her ear and peer at her when I’m breastfeeding her. Of course, sometimes he still gets a bit excited and pokes her but I’m sure it’s not intentional. Heh.

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What a loving brother

Shots of our families:

Andrew’s side

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Jasmine’s side

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Andrew: To end off, we’d like to say a big thank you to Jasmine’s mum and siblings for taking care of Dylan while we were in the hospital. We could see that he was well taken care of and had a great time at Skang-rila, once again. Heh. In fact, if we have time, we might do another post of his staycation there.

Jasmine: One last thing, it really is easier the second time around. Though both were natural births, my recovery from Dylan’s birth was much longer and more painful, whereas with Emmeline, I was able to get up and potter around that same night after the epidural wore off (she was born at noon). I can’t say I’d wanna go through childbirth again but I am grateful that baby Emmeline was born safe, sound and healthy!

Gleneagles Staycation

Andrew: ‘Staycations’ seem to be the running theme lately, so we thought we’d use that theme for our time at Gleneagles, combining it as part of our birth story post! It’s easiest to organise this post chronologically.

Birthing Suite

Andrew: So our first “destination” was the birthing suite, where baby’s vital signs were monitored for a while. This was the bed that Dearie had, with unlimited supply of pillows to make her cosy and comfortable!

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Jasmine: The L-shaped pillow was a lifesaver. After giving birth, I asked if I could bring it with me to our room, but was declined. Heh.

Andrew: I got a very comfy recliner arm chair, which could be stretched out fully. I was so cosy in that blanket. Dearie insisted to take a shot of me in the blanket – yes, even just moments before giving birth, she was thinking about capturing key moments of the staycation.

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Nice bathrobe

And this was Emmy’s little ‘bed’ with a warmer to receive her when she first comes into the world!

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Andrew: So, to cut a long story short, it took 9 hours for Jasmine to reach active labour, but once she did, things accelerated quickly and ready to push. Once she started pushing, everything just happened so quickly and within 4 pushes, baby Emmy was out! It was like twenty minutes ago, we were watching Pat Sajack and Vanna White on ‘Wheel of Fortune’, trying to solve the puzzles before the participants, and the next minute, we are holding our daughter in our arms. 

Unlike Dylan’s birth where I was just kind of taken aback by what had happened, I was more in the moment this time and could really feel the joy of seeing my cute little girl and seized the chance to snap many shots of her first few minutes in this world.

[We’ll write more about this in our ‘birth story’ post. This post was getting way too long and Dearie heavily cut down my initial post, because she said I was trying to do too much in it and it needed heavy editing. ]

Our room

Jasmine: Ok, so this is the “staycation” part of the entry.

Andrew: After waiting for about 2 hours, Dear was transferred to the room where we would be staying for the next 2 nights. We kind of lucked out last year where they didn’t have any single-bedded rooms available, so they gave us a double-bedded room in place of that. Because of that, I had my own bed, but this time, I had to sleep on a sofa which was quite narrow and hard. Nonetheless, I made myself quite comfortable there in my little cosy corner, which had a good view of the balcony outside.

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The sides can be removed and bedlinen was put down to convert it into a bed every night. Also doubles as Daddy’s cosy corner for snuggling with Emmy.

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And the mandatory picture of the bed!

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Jasmine: Usually on staycation we take pictures when we first enter the room and everything is still neat. Obviously, I was too exhausted and bedridden and in afterbirth pain upon being wheeled to the ward, such that my first thought was: “Huh, I still have to climb off the trolley and onto the bed?” So we anyhow snapped a shot before we left.

Plus bonus shot of our newest addition to the family- Emmeline!

The bathroom

Andrew: Check out the full range of toiletries, including soap, shampoo and conditioner from Crabtree & Evelyn! Not too shabby for a hospital!

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Jasmine: Oh yes, and since no post of mine is complete without some “fashion” comments, I just wanted to say that the hospital gowns were actually quite comfortable and breastfeeding-friendly, with concealed slits as well as button-down shoulders. Here are the two, erm, styles, they have:

photo(35)Andrew: If you’re wondering what that ‘watch’ is that Jasmine is wearing, it’s actually a device that helps match the baby to the mum. Emmy had a tag too and when both tags came in close proximity, music came out of the tags. This was something they didn’t have last year – quite an advancement, I must say. However, the ironic thing was that half way through our stay, the nurses lost Emmy’s tag, so it was back to using Mum’s NRIC and name to match. So much for technology, huh! 

All day bites

Andrew: We were indeed treated to all-day bites as we had 5 meals a day with tea time and supper everyday. Here was our first tea-time snack – chicken pies with milo or…

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Vegetarian sandwiches (yuck!). I didn’t know that the sandwiches were vegetarian, if not I wouldn’t have chosen them. To their credit, they tasted incredibly healthy!

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Jasmine: Of course, we brought in some snacks of our own, including my then-craving, unfulfilled from the day before I went into labour, hotdogs (Charlene brought in at least 11 hotdogs for me!) and a must-have-  Lay’s chips! 

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And something I really looked forward to: eight treasures tea with a honey swizzle stick, served in pretty clear glass crockery!

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Extensive menus for our choosing, including Western, Asian, deli (mostly sandwiches). There was also a separate confinement menu which we could choose from. We had some dishes from the confinement menu the last time, which were decent:

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Some of our dinners:

Kenna cheated by the impressive-sounding “deli” menu. I thought I would get good quality bread with large servings of roast chicken. Didn’t expect little finger sandwiches made of Gardenia.

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This was what Andrew had:

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  Baked chicken with mozzarella cheese, potato, vegetable and spicy tomato sauce

This was infinitely better than my deli menu. Chicken was juicy and tender and the sauce was delicious!

For lunch the next day, we tried to mix it up with both their Chinese and Western menu. Andrew had:

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 Double boiled fish with ginger and soya beans soup; Steamed chicken with sesame, wolfberries, spinach and lotus root and steamed jasmine rice

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Braised beef cheek with wild mushroom, mashed potatoes and balsamic jus

The beef cheeks were quite tender as well. They came with mashed potato and French onion soup with bread and gruyere cheese. The Chinese menu was light and healthy!

And for dinner, we both had the same dish:

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French Onion soup; Steamed white fish, potatoes and steamed seasonal vegetables and marble cake

This was a light and healthy option; not filling enough for most guys, but sufficient for me!

And some samples of our breakfast choices!

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Chicken sausage, hash brown, grilled tomatoes and sunny-side up egg

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Soon Kueh
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French toast with peach compote

Welcome gift

Andrew: To prevent Dylan from feeling any sibling rivalry, we got him a welcome gift when he arrived, from his sister. It was a Melissa and Doug airport set.

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Granny and Ee Ee also bought him a gift – this new bag from Cotton On!

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Jasmine: Oh yeah, and for our welcome gift, we got a diaper bag with a nursing shawl, a receiving blanket, some Kodomo and Johnson’s baby toiletries (downgraded from Cherub Rubs last year eh).

Other amenities

Jasmine: Probably similar to other hospitals, there were free ParentCraft classes (newborn care), free consultations with lactation consultants, in-room discharge and billing procedures (for single wards). We attended the ParentCraft class the last round with Dilly, so we didn’t bother going this time, but it was quite useful and comprehensive, with a lot of useful info and tips packed into 1h15min, including bathing and dressing newborns. For those who’d rather not attend, you can access the Parent Craft channel on hospital TV.

Our room also came with balcony and a “garden view”:

The glass was extremely dark so we could see Dilly from the inside but he could not quite make us out. Ah well, I think he still had fun scooting around on the ledge!

Best of all, free limo service to transport us from hospital back home upon discharge! The last time we got a SUV. This time, this was our ride:

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Hospital Bag for Gleneagles

[Andrew: We wrote this entry earlier this week, not expecting to see baby girl this weekend, hence we can now add some comments retrospectively!]

Jasmine: We are usually advised to pack a hospital bag between 34-36 weeks, but I only just got around to doing it at almost 38 weeks!

We are fairly light packers plus we stayed at Gleneagles for Dylan’s birth, so we know roughly what to bring this time round. Most hospitals have maternity/ newborn packing lists online, so you can check those out to see what you need.

1. Toiletries for Mummy

Jasmine: Gleneagles provides basic shampoo, body soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, so I’m just bringing my skincare along, mostly chosen to deliver maximum moisture since I’ll be spending a few days in air-con.

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If you’ll also allow me to sneak in some quick beauty reviews:

  • Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum: my combi skin turned to dry skin this pregnancy and this serum helps to restore essential balance to the skin- minutes after application, dry patches are smoothed out! The Sulwhasoo website lists 100 ways to use this very versatile serum- I’ve tried it on stretch marks, on the eye area, for aromatherapy and facial massage. You can even use it as an overnight mask, or mixed with your BB cream/ foundation!
  • Hada Labo eye cream: the best and most moisturising eye cream I’ve had for only $22 at Sasa- skin is still plumped and smooth an hour after application
  • Shiseido Ibuki face cream
  • Crabtree & Evelyn Pomegranate hand cream
  • Clarins Huile Tonic travel size
  • Stila cosmetic pouch which I bought from DFS 10 years ago and which goes travelling everywhere I go

2. Maternity clothing and other essentials

Jasmine: Postpartum recovery often involves serious blood loss, to the point of giddiness (for me), so I’m planning to just live in the hospital gowns to avoid loads of messy washing later on. Towels are also provided by the hospital, so I’ve only packed one black dress with nursing access e.g. snaps down the front to go home in.

Other things that you may like to pack include nursing bras, disposable undies (see blood loss point), maternity pads (so much thicker than the overnight sanitary pads, they’re more like mini foam mattresses). Yup, how fun and glamorous right.

Two other noteworthy things that made it to my hospital bag:

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I’m not going to go into detail, but google Medela’s Purelan and you’ll understand. It came in extremely handy the last time for  breastfeeding, and food-grade so that it need not be wiped off every time before baby latches on.

Also, my Belly Bandit from my previous pregnancy, which can be worn immediately after birth for back and tummy support! This is in bamboo fabric, so unlike the original version, it’s comfortable enough to wear to sleep. I remember that my previous time in hospital, I was in alot of pain and ended up clutching my stomach alot just to painfully, gingerly get up from bed. Hopefully this helps!

3. Logistical and electrical necessities

This would include camera, phones, chargers and laptop (for blogging heh). [Andrew: Or updating on Facebook :)]

4. Presents from baby sister to Dylan!

Jasmine: We came across a helpful tip to present the older sibling with gifts from the newborn to help minimise any sibling rivalry. Now that Dylan is in an imitation stage, my gift to Dylan was a doll sling and matching cloth diapers for him to carry or change his bear if he sees me doing the same with his baby sister.

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Andrew’s gift to Dylan is this Melissa & Doug airplane carrier that he scored for just SGD20 at a sale at his workplace!

Andrew: When Dylan first arrived, we passed him his present from his sister and he excitedly started playing with it. Yay! Hopefully that alleviated some of his feelings of sibling rivalry.

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On a side-note, am quite amazed at the number of ways this toy can be played with. The box of the toy actually contains a list of extension activities, most of which would require Dylan to be older to really understand though:

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  5. Going-home outfit for baby girl

Jasmine: When we referred to the hospital packlist during Dylan’s birth, we didn’t bring any clothes, and were quite surprised when the nurses asked us what we’d like to change him onto upon our discharge! In fact, he would almost have had nothing to wear (except the swaddle cloth) if a nurse hadn’t given us one of the little shirts that they let newborns wear in the nursery.

This time, we’re better prepared, so we’ve got an Aden + Anais white swaddle, a rosebud dress and Seed romper (we will choose one, depending how big baby girl is), and the teeniest mittens and socks handed down from my Ee Zhai. It’s hard to find newborn mittens that fit such tiny wrists (think Ee Zhai found hers at Pumpkin Patch), and I remember Dilly scratching himself lots in the hospital, so this I think will be very, very useful! In fact, I’ve decided to bring both pairs, just to allow for a change!

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Andrew: Seed maternity romper brings back lots of memories as it was the first piece of baby clothing we bought in transit on our way back from Tasmania!

The mittens and socks proved to be very useful as baby girl kept sneezing a lot, so we put them on to keep her warm (and cute)!

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Jasmine: The one thing we’re missing is a hat, but that’s no biggie as the hospital provides them, and they make a wonderful, sentimental souvenir- I’ve still got Dylan’s hospital hat in a box 😀

No need for diapers either, as the hospital provides a pack for use during the stay, which you can bring home. It’s Johnson’s, which I don’t particularly like, but if baby girl can wear that with no skin issues, I don’t complain about free stuff. Heh.

All set! Now, if only baby girl will come out…. (Andrew: Haha, well, your wish was granted!)

A Birthday Spent with Loved Ones

Andrew: Okay, I promise this is the last birthday post – given that there have been 3 posts on my birthday within the last week. Heh. Anyway, we intended for my birthday itself to be a more quiet day in case Jas gave birth. In fact, I was hoping little baby girl would be born on my birthday so we can celebrate two birthdays together in future and Jas would have to pay for it – since you can’t possibly make the birthday boy pay for his celebration right? 🙂

Jasmine: Moot point. I’m still around, as pregnant as ever.

Andrew: Anyway, in spite of it being a more quiet day, it was still a very meaningful day spent with those dear to me – my 3 ‘families’ – Jas and Dylan; my church family and my family (mum, brother and relatives)! This post will be divided, as such.

1. Jas and Dylan (actually, mostly Dylan)

Sunday mornings are usually time with my son, as it is my helper’s off-day and Jas is well, resting. Sometimes I bring him to the playground, or to NEX for Toastbox while he has his raisin bread.

Well, since it was my birthday, decided to treat myself to a dim sum breakfast at the Fortunate Restaurant outlet at the Food Republic food court. Honestly, it was my first time trying it, but I had always noticed the queue being very long.

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Shark fin dumping, siu mai, chee cheong fun with char siew and bo luo bao (From top left, to bottom right)

It was surprisingly quite good – especially the bo luo bao, which was so soft and pillowy with tasty, char siew filling! One of the best I’ve tried in a while. Chee cheong fun was good too – very light with melt-in-your mouth texture.

After breakfast, it was back to the usual Sunday routine with putting Dylan down for his nap, buying back lunch, then doing a bit of cleaning up after lunch before heading down to church. Thankfully, I had a little helper for the cleaning up:

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Jas was resting most of the time, preparing for little girl’s arrival. 🙂

Jasmine: Have been seriously wiped out by enduring three months of contractions. Even changing positions or stretching my legs can trigger a contraction. We managed to work in a staycation for D’s birthday last week, so on his actual birthday, I tried to accompany him to things he would like doing, like going to cell and his family’s for dinner. I know it wasn’t a big deal but I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the night. Sorry D.

2. Church Family

Andrew: As we headed down to church, I didn’t know my boys had planned a little celebration for me with a cake and an ‘e-candle’! We always struggle with lighting candles at our cell venue, because it’s so windy, so one of my cell-boys found an interesting phone app which had a blow-able candle – the candle would go ‘off’ when you blew into the speaker! Genius!

We didn’t have a knife, so we improvised and used Dylan’s baby fork:

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Dilly sees these people regularly enough that they have also become like ‘family’ to him. He usually takes a while to warm up, but after about 10- 15 minutes, he’ll be running all around and playing with everyone. Here, he’s being entertained endlessly by Yihan’s water-bottle cap .

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Cute, glum face

The boys also got us two piggy-banks – which they had won at the Touch Young Arrows funfair last week using the coupons I had bought – supposedly to help Dylan and little girl with financial planning. How thoughtful and long-sighted of them. Heh.

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3. With my family

After church, we headed to my mum’s place for dinner, where my sister-in-law had prepared a sumptuous Western spread, with some ingredients all the way from Melbourne!

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Baked Portobello Mushrooms

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Roast Chicken with potatoes, carrots and herbs

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Baked fish with garlic

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Pasta with pesto (pesto was freshly made!)

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Pizza with ham and rocket

It was a meal of my favourites, so besides all the above, there was lotus root soup and kou rou bao (fatty pork with mantou)!

Dylan also had a feast. Besides his porridge, he had lots of spaghetti and a fruit platter –

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Little boy amused everyone with all his cute antics, like banging his feet non-stop on the sink as I washed him up after his dinner, and learning how to kick a ball around.

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It was great to see him so comfortable in my mum’s place, just roaming around and exploring the cabinets, wall decals, the mirrors and the other rooms!

Ended off the celebration with a small black forest cake!

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What a happy, meaningful birthday spent with my loved ones!

Bali Birthday! (2013)

Andrew: For my birthday last year, Dearie planned a getaway to Bali which was just pure pampering – a beautiful villa, a refreshing massage, great restaurants and shopping (where I finally found a suitable casual bag for myself)! With her usual trip-planning finesse, Dearie had meticulously researched all the good restaurants and possible things we could do. It was also our first time away from Baby D, as my mother-in-law helped us take him. (Jasmine: Thanks alot Mum!!)

This being our first time in Bali, we were actually quite surprised at how easy it was to get around and how much there was to do, in terms of dining and shopping. We didn’t actually do any touristy-stuff, but did most of what we would usually do in Singapore – which was great too! 

Here are some highlights from this wonderful getaway:

1. Great Restaurants

Breeze at The Semaya

Andrew: I am not exaggerating when I say that this is the most romantic restaurant I’ve ever been to – I really went WOW when we arrived at the restaurant.

IMG_4331Beautiful Dear with our celery amuse bouche

Jasmine: This was the top-rated restaurant in Seminyak and I could totally see why. The path leading to the restaurant was stunning too, lit dimly by candles floating on long narrow pools. When we reached the restaurant, we were given seats right by the beach. It was the very definition of romantic, dining by the waves under hurricane lamps.

Andrew: There was something just so calming about dining by the sea, with the sound of the waves gently crashing and the sea breeze gently blowing. We even had to use reading lamps to peruse the menu. It was amazing. We were so hungry by the time we got there, so we didn’t take many photos and since it was dark, the photographs are too blur, but we can guarantee you that they certainly didn’t disappoint in terms of taste! The less blurred photographs are below. 

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Bread, with butter & chives

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Roasted Pumpkin Soup, crispy bacon

The pumpkin soup was rich and hearty – each scoop was flavourful and the cheese souffle was the perfect texture, absorbing and complement the flavours of the soup.

As for our main courses, we wanted to try a mix of their Western and their Asian dishes so Jasmine had the pork belly and I had the duck curry (bebek menyatnyat). Both were good! 

Sardine

Jasmine: Even after a year, I’d still say that this was my favourite restaurant in a long while, period.  The lunchtime atmosphere was buzzing, and the view of rice paddies drenched in water was not only serene but provided a respite from the busy-ness of the lunch crowd, as you could walk into the rice paddies from the restaurant.

Sardine, as its name implies, specialises in fish, and I relished the freshness of all the dishes. The drinks were refreshing and good for countering the heat too!

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Andrew: I ordered coconut water, and they put the coconut water in one cup and the ice and lemon in another cup, so that you could just transfer it over when you wanted to drink it and not let the coconut water get diluted! How thoughtful!

These were the dishes we had there, all of which were excellent: 

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 Home Cured Salmon on Grilled Flatbread, Lemon Aioli, Arugula Salad

Andrew: As I don’t even like salmon in any form except for sashimi, I was very pleasantly surprised that I loved this dish so much. The flavours balanced off so delicately and the whole dish tasted so light and refreshing. Great appetizer to start off the meal!

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Salad Nicoise, Fresh Yellow Fin Tuna, Mix Greens, Tomato, Olives, Green Beans, Anchovies & Quail Eggs, Red Wine-Herb Vinaigrette (what a long dish name)

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Grilled Whole Fish “Jimbaran Style” with Sambal Matah Organic White Rice & Bedugul Vegetables

Andrew: If there’s one thing that characterises the food here, it’s the freshness and lightness of it. The flavours are not intense, but  all the flavours are well thought-out, playing off each other in a well-balanced manner, which is light on the palate. The grilled fish was done just right, with the fish moist and tasty with natural flavour – it went perfectly with the rice on its own, the sambal added a nice sourness and spice! Loved it all.

After our lunch, we took a little jaunt around the rice padis and even though the sun was hot, there was a nice breeze as well. I could imagine us just spending a whole afternoon here, chilling out and chatting 🙂

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2. Wonderful Villa!

Jasmine: Our hotel, Seiryu Villas, was quite special. 5 min drive from the main shopping stretch, yet so tucked away and exclusive that taxi drivers usually got lost, giving me a heart attack one night as the driver had us circling for 20 min and could not call the hotel because, as we later found, he was illiterate 😦

The Japanese-Balinese decor was striking and graphic. The open space of the zen garden at reception gave way to a completely dark passageway lined with heavy wooden doors, that seemed to hint that we were being transported to our own private hideout. Then the space opened up again, as we opened the doors to a lush Balinese garden with a pool, that would be our villa and home for the next two nights.

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My favourite feature of the villa was that you could walk right into the pool from the bathroom or vice versa, which makes perfect sense since people usually shower right after a swim, and who needs those silly standalone showers by the pool, anyway? The pool was framed at one end by the bathroom and at the other end by a pavilion which was perfect for breakfast or lounging.

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Some of the more traditionally Balinese aspects of the villa, including the stone and wood finishings in the toilets:

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And as mentioned previously, we could walk right out from the bathroom to our plunge pool!

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Had breakfast at this pavilion on our last morning too!

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And the Balinese entryway and garden!

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Andrew: We didn’t take any shots of the room in the morning, but you can imagine how it’d be like too. I spent the morning swimming in the pool and just chilling out in the pavilion reading.

What we forgot to photograph as well was the breakfast which was served in the kitchen in this villa itself. It’s almost like having your own private butler service, where they come in, lay out the table and prepare hot drinks for you. It was quite a feast, really! They also prepared a birthday cake for me, which was your usual chocolate cake – nothing fantastic, but a sweet gesture nonetheless.

3. Great shopping!

Jasmine: Shopping in Seminyak was lots of fun. I had feared that it would be touristy and overpriced, but there were many independent Indonesian and European (living in Bali) boutiques, and I managed to buy 3 or 4 dresses. The prices were not cheap (think about SGD$60 a dress) but the level of detail in the beading justified those price tags as such embellishment would easily cost twice as much in Singapore. Just driving along the shopping stretch was like window-shopping in itself, as all the storefronts were beautifully lit and the collections appealingly presented.

Seminyak shopping was more upscale and sophisticated, whereas Ubud shopping showcased Balinese artistry and craftsmanship for prices you can haggle down in the markets. I love both places and can’t wait to go back to Bali a third time!

Andrew: Managed to get myself a casual sling bag here, which I had been looking for for ages – so I’d say the shopping was fruitful enough.

Thanks Dear for planning yet another wonderful birthday!

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden

Mummy: I was really inspired after reading this article to bring Dylan to experience nature more after reading this article about the benefits it has on children. Dylan can get abit restless being cooped up at home all day, especially when the adults are doing their own thing, so it’s quite a change to see how quiet, engaged and independent he was at Jacob Ballas. Being outdoors provided different sensory experiences for Dylan that can never be replicated in an indoor playgym- although some of the built play structures were more suitable for older kids, I could see how the natural environment encouraged him to hone his vestibular sense (sense of balance). Dylan walked gingerly to hear the crunch of gravel underfoot, smelt pandan leaves and touched mini-banana plants, and even tried balancing on a fallen tree trunk with Daddy’s help. Who knows, I may even try some nature-related extension activities with him at home when I go on maternity leave!

Andrew: I must say we are really quite blessed in Singapore to have so many places to bring children too, especially outdoor spaces! I’m a big fan of outdoor spaces and activities, whereas Dearie enjoys more indoor spaces (malls!). However, for the sake of Dylan, she’s been more willing to go outdoors!

So, we took a little trip down to the Children’s Garden. Granted, most of the areas there are more suited for kids 3 and above, but Dylan had fun nonetheless, just being out in the open! We put him down and he just kept running around and exploring on his own. We’ll let him relate his experience.

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Dylan: I remember Mummy and Daddy had wanted to bring me here when I was still in Mummy’s womb, but the people there didn’t allow them in because I wasn’t seen as being a ‘kid’ then…. Hmph, so strict! Technically I was still a kid, though stuck in Mummy. I could sense Mummy’s boiling anger then beneath her deep blue evening gown… Must have made her ‘glow’ more during the photo-shoot later though! Heh.

Anyway, we finally made our way here after Mummy pestered Daddy to go. Our first stop was the treehouse! Faster, mummy!

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This treehouse was obviously for older kids and there were many of them running up and down, sliding down non-stop. Mummy and Daddy just love to stretch me, exposing me to activities that are above my ‘level’ – in more ways than one…   

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Mummy, I want to go to the slide… 

There were these little cute tree stumps at the base of the tree-house, which were just the right height for me! Daddy, can I have one of this chairs in our home? After all, we already have a bar-counter that looks like it was taken from here too, made of rotten wood?

(Andrew: Actually Dylan, that bar-counter is extremely expensive and the wood had to be varnished specially to preserve it in that ‘rotten’ state.

Jasmine: Don’t exaggerate Daddy! That table was a real steel and it’s ‘mango wood’ from Indonesia, which is sustainable.)

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Okay Daddy, I have made my selection. I like the design of THAT chair… Take it for me!

Daddy was too weak to lift those chairs up and bring them home. Boo! Instead, we went to these huge, scary mushrooms behind the tree-house! Are these the truffles that Mummy loves so much in her pasta? 

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We went to the potting garden, but it was closed…. Daddy wanted to take a picture, but I didn’t want to, so I just ran off to the gravel pit in front!

Which was my favourite place in the whole park 🙂

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Mummy and Daddy were bewildered that of all the cool treehouses and play areas, my favourite was this bare, empty gravel pit. I guess I’m just a simple little man 🙂

Stomp stomp stomp… Love the feel of these rocks under my feet. Let’s have some of these at home! In fact, I heard Mummy telling Daddy she wants to convert our balcony to a ‘gravel pit’, since we still haven’t found a use for it. There was quite a long silence after that…. 

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Loved playing with these dye-ing plants too…. There was a nice fragrance of pandan all around.  I spent such a long time there. Mummy and Daddy kept trying to get me to move on, but I refused.

They brought me to the log nearby to use as a balancing beam, but again, that was too high level for me….

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I want to go back to the gravel pit… Let me go!

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There were many planes flying over that day. Granny told me to cover my ears whenever I heard those sounds.

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Mummy wanted to take a short break in this hut (she wanted to take breaks everywhere, actually), but I just wanted to run out! This was a better balancing beam for me. After this hut, I ran all the way to the swinging suspension bridge….

Daddy kept rocking the bridge cos he was so heavy… I wanted to run away from him!

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Stop holding me back Daddy!

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Go ahead of me Daddy. I want the bridge all to myself!

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After the bridge, we went over to the cave and waterfall! Daddy tried to relive his teacher days by telling me that it was a waterfall – DUH?… it’s water that’s falling? No wonder Daddy’s an English teacher. 

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Bored by Daddy’s ‘lesson’, I ventured into the cave on my own to explore, which was way more fun! 

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And Mummy was totally off-topic. She was going on about how the flooring would make nice toilet tiles. No wonder Daddy had to go into his man-cave as u will see later..

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I was so attracted to the water… Why can’t we have a shower like this in our home?

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Below’s a pic of Daddy again, sitting down trying to teach me about the ‘man cave’… Something about how every man needs to have his own space from time to time.

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Well I could relate. I needed my own space too, away from my parents and their camera, so on to the highlight of my trip – baby bananas!

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I could easily eat 10 of these!

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Oh… the plane sound again!

Next up, we went to the maze! Honestly, this was the one area I could have really played in, but Daddy was too warm, so all we did was…

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… Take a photo there. Didn’t Daddy read all those articles Mummy sent him about the importance of free play? (Psst.. scroll all the way up, the article up there is Mummy’s favourite)

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SO, we didn’t get to play in the maze, but went on to the sand pit with a see-saw that was way too big for me (and too small for Daddy). 

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And this musical play area with various percussion-like objects…

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I heard Mummy mumbling about the objective of the trip being nature exploration.. But really, what I liked most was being able to walk by myself…

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And run!

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Had to take the chance to run ‘coz I’ve been overhearing whispering about getting me a baby leash for shopping malls as I run too fast now *doe eyes* that’s baby cruelty!

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Dylan: That ends my first trip to the Jacob Ballas Garden. When my baby sister is born, I’m gonna bring her here and introduce her to the awesome gravel pit.