House Tour: A Ten-Minute Laundry Area Makeover

Jasmine: I have been putting off re-organising our laundry area for months. It’s kinda always been a source of embarrassment to me, since unlike other areas that you can just shut off, it’s right there in the open of the kitchen.

Thankfully, when I was at work, our trusty contractor Mr Poh came and helped us fix an Ikea shelf (thank Mum for overseeing!), so all I had to do today was shove things into these woven Daiso baskets, which again, I’d been holding on to for ages. (Andrew: Our contractor has been really helpful – dropping by now and then to help us, I mean Dearie, with all her little makeover projects, saving me the trouble of having to do any drilling or fixing of furniture.)

This is the neatened-up condition- not perfect, but better than before:

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Mr Poh also helped install these flip-up hooks from Ikea. They fold up to streamline visual clutter when not in use…

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And fold down if we need to hang some clothes, laundry bags etc…

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The before condition (only one shelf, un-coordinated and therefore unsightly open storage):

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And after:

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I really like how deep the Daiso baskets are as they help conceal all the unattractive laundry paraphernalia, yet keep everything within easy reach. I only wish they had more substantial bases for the heavy bottles I’ve put in there.

Check out the before condition of the other side of the laundry area:

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Mess, mess, mess. Sigh. We actually made this matching faux marble laminate to store our baby bathtubs, pails and stool, but for some reason, other things keep accumulating on the countertop, which is a pet peeve of mine.

Once we installed the extra shelf, all the soap bottles and bath toys could be contained in the Daiso baskets on the other side! Even the wet laundry and dishcloths hanging off our window grills can now be hung from hangers on the flip-up hooks…

But it looked a little too spartan, even with the fake orchid plant, which I just shifted over from the library dining room…

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So I tacked up a Paris map that Dear bought for me during our dating days with some washi tape. Dear is already not a fan of it, but I’m gonna just live with it there for a few days to see how I like it. If I like it, I may consider a more permanent way of framing it which would also protect it better from the afternoon sun.

Andrew: What I’m not a fan is the way it’s pasted/ ‘bandaged’ up and how the map looks so crumpled – but I have no objections to it being there.

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Best part is, this mini-makeover took 10 minutes and cost nothing, as we already had everything!

Sources:

Faux marble custom cabinet: Maple Construction

Paris map: Books Actually

Shelves, flip-up hooks, fake orchid and white vase: Ikea

Woven baskets (turquoise): Daiso

Woven basket (rattan): Bali

Laundry bag: King & King Wong

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.

Dylan’s Staycation at Skang-rila

Andrew: While Mummy and Daddy were away staycationing at the Quincy, Dilly was also having his own little staycation at Skang-rila Resorts. Shall let him relate his experience 🙂

Dilly: Mummy and Daddy always try out different hotels for their staycation, but I have only been to one place and it’s my top choice – Skang-rila Resorts, SK for Sengkang, and named after its giant mascot, the Rila-kumma, which I love so much!

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My Daddy is freaked out by this huge monster of a soft toy, but I love it so much… The soft toys in my home can’t compare – there’s only one pathetic little teddy bear which is so hard and uncuddly, even after I’ve thrown it on the floor endless times.

Skang-rila is my top choice because of its location (5 minutes walk from the shopping mall or playground), food (yes, just like my Daddy) and the range of activities over the weekend:

  • Full range of play activities from outdoor playgym, pull-toy extravaganza and other sensory activities;
  • All day drinks and snacks from Four Leaves (best bakery ever – even better than Dean and Deluca snacks that Daddy and Mummy had which were hard and dry – or so I heard);
  • Spacious rooms with lots of running space
  • All meals fully provided for, complete with personalised feeding and cleaning up services;
  • Full day photo shoot (provided by Ee2 Mobile-Photography Services) from start till end
  • Welcome gift, of my own selection!

With all these activities, what’s there not to be happy about! I’m a happy baby, especially when I get to try out spa treatments like my Mummy!

Hmm, isn’t it a bit inappropriate to be photographing me without my clothes! This is a family friendly blog here.

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After lunch, it was playground time! Even had my personal escorts – 3 of them!

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Doe eyes

Granny and Ee Ee patiently escorted me over…. Hey Ee2, isn’t this just below your house, I mean, hotel? Why you dress so nice?

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My body-guards, side by side 🙂

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This playground beats the one at my place! Nobody else is around…

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This whole playground is mine!

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Ooh… let me make my way to the other side to the slide – on my own! Daddy always never lets me go on my own, because he’s so worried for me…

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Yes yes yes… I’m getting closer to the slide… I can’t wait to go down!

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Yay I got there! Oh noooo Uncle YZ… Why are you holding me back? I wanna go down on my own! Let me go again!

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Bring me back to the slide again! Stop taking photos!

So after playground time, I went back to have the all day bites (just milk and raisin bread) and take a nap. This is the life!

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Wow – this photographer is really committed. Even photographing me in my sleep! Oh, by the way, don’t I look like an angel here?

After waking up, it was time to go exploring again! This time to the mall to buy a welcome gift!

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Met another friend at the mall, a fellow baby… but she was rather quiet, and didn’t move much. Her eyes were so big, she was kinda scary…

Granny ended up buying for me a truck, which was converted into a pull-toy! Now, why can’t I get an actual pull-toy instead of all these improvised pull devices… First, Mummy used Daddy’s belt on my truck which kept collapsing. Then we used our tape measure at home and now, raffia string… Wow, things just keep going down, don’t they? (Andrew: Dilly, please be appreciate of what you have!) Oh okay…. of course I am Daddy (you cheapo – by the way, I heard Melissa & Doug pull-toys are really good, I have them on my Amazon wish-list. Thanks!).

Anyway, in case anyone accuses me of being picky, I LOVED my new toy! Kept pulling it all around Granny’s place, which was so spacious and baby-friendly…

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And as you know, we brought almost half of my house over with me, so along with me came my favourite book – which Uncle YZ read with me. By the way, that little Panda you see there is kinda freaky but intelligent…. it copies exactly what I say, but in a higher pitch that sounds like Mummy!

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After a very eventful Day 1, I was all tired out and went to bed after a sumptuous supper of my favourite milk…. Life is good!

Just to add that I not only got porridge for dinner, but my favourite corn too, which was actually from Ee Ee’s dinner! I get away anything because I am so cute 🙂

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Day 2

Had a good sleep and woke up well-rested the next day…

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This is not a good just out-of-bed look of mine then started off with some quiet time….

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So Daddy woke up at 6 a.m. to sit by the pool to have some quiet time during his staycation. Here am I, having a pensive moment at 11 a.m. – holding my pull-toy and staring out at the grass patch below. Hmmm, fascinating….

After my lunch, there was a whole line up of activities for me!

1. Sensory Play with Paper Stars

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2. Make-Believe Play – bottle becoming chew-toy and telephone!

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Hello Mummy and Daddy, when are you all coming over? (Don’t come back too soon, I’m having too much fun.)

3. Musical Dinosaur!

This dinosaur, which used to be with me at home, but has since moved over to Skang-rila, much like many of my other toys, by request of Granny…

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4. Random photo-taking of my handsome face 

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5. And back to my pull-toy!

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Trying to transfer the ‘smell’ of my smelly penguin over to another penguin…

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Here’s even a collage of all my activities!

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After the 5 exciting activities above, I heard that Mummy and Daddy were arriving soon…. so I thought I’d be on my best behaviour and help with the housework before they arrive!

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Went down for my nap before they arrived and Daddy rudely awakened me from my nap… so I was very moody until they brought me out for dinner!

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Daddy walked so fast I had to chase after him….

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Wait for me, Daddy!

It was hands-down one of the best staycations ever! I love Skang-rila! A big huge for my favourite Rila before I go!

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[Afternote: Dilly really enjoyed this ‘staycation’ of his. As I was doing up this blog-entry, he kept staring at the computer, looking at the photographs and smiling or laughing. We are really thankful for family members who enjoy playing with him so much, so that Jas and I can go have a relaxing break too!]

Andrew’s Birthday Celebration

Andrew: Celebrated my birthday early this year as Dear is expected to pop any time soon. As always, it’s a combination of staycation, food and shopping and this post shall be divided as such.

1. The Staycation @ Quincy Hotel

Andrew: We selected Quincy this time, for its location (5 minutes walk from Paragon or Far East Plaza) and range of activities over the weekend:

  • Art Jamming at 3pm
  • Movie under the Stars
  • All day drinks, snacks and Dean & Deluca pastries/cakes (note that it is advertised as “all day bites from Dean & Deluca”, which is not entirely accurate- only some items like the teas and cakes are from Dean & Deluca)
  • cocktails with canapes from 6-8.30pm
  • breakfast
  • entry for 2 to Butter Factory (hahaha)

Jasmine: Although the amenities sounded really impressive, the hotel and service were only adequate at best- we’ll be highlighting some lapses and AFIs (sorry for geekiness) if you read on.

Andrew: We didn’t know that we could only sign up for the activities if we were on the Qool weekend package. However, given Dearie’s condition, I don’t think we’d be up for all the activities. The Art Jamming was done outdoors at 3 p.m. and I’m sure Dear would have complained about the heat and the Movie Under the Stars was actually done in their pool area, with sofas and some couples sitting in floats on the pool watching the movie. Dear would have been very uncomfortable on that float! Heh. We planned our own itinerary and had a really great time!

Our Room  

We got a Deluxe Studio room, which had a decent view overlooking Orchard Road. We had stayed at smaller rooms before, like at ParkRoyal@Pickering (Jasmine: actually we got a free upgrade to the suite, dear, but it may have felt smaller coz the bedroom and living room could be sectioned off), but somehow this room lacked that cosy feel, which we felt the ParkRoyal room had, which really made you just want to hang out in the room and chill out for the whole day.

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Jasmine: A very modern room (perhaps too cold and impersonal for my tastes).    IMG_5977

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Jasmine: The bathroom- again, only ok by my standards- lacked the luxury finishings and double sink that I expect from a really good hotel.

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Jasmine: However, the bathroom did redeem itself somewhat by offering Molton Brown toiletries- the only other hotel I’ve seen offering Molton Brown is Fullerton Bay, albeit packaged even more classily there.

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Minibar and mini pantry.

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Andrew: Free snacks in the room, replenished daily. Dear, of course, seized the packet of Lays and finished it even before I knew it!

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Jasmine: The mini fridge also held several cans of soft drinks and mineral water which were free for the taking! Never made sense to me to charge exorbitant prices for basic snacks in hotel fridges which you can get at nearby supermarkets for a fraction of the price. So glad Quincy at least got this right!

On another note, I’m kinda tempted to put a bar fridge in my bedroom, and stock it with cold water, midnight snacks and icepacks!

Tea Time Snacks

Andrew: After taking some photos around the room, we headed down immediately for the tea-time snacks!

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Tea time snacks included free flow soft serve ice-cream with toppings, juices and canned drinks,hot drinks, dried fruits and nuts as well as pastries from Dean and Deluca. Honestly, we felt the Dean and Deluca bites were over-hyped. The chocolate-pecan pastry I had was rather dry, but the Lemon Pound Cake was good – cake was moist and each bite was full of lemon zest! I didn’t expect to like it, but I eventually finished off Dearie’s slice!

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The free flow soft serve was something that would definitely have been a hit with kids! However, there weren’t that many kids at this hotel – it’s definitely built itself more of a niche with couples. Nonetheless, Dear had a lot of fun making her own ice cream concoction below:

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Andrew: After our tea time snacks, we took a little stroll around the hotel and Dear was quite intrigued by these  ‘busts’ around the toilet.

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We also went upstairs to take a sneak peek at the Art Jamming classes through the gym window! They have quite a well fitted out gym – decent for such a small size and this floor is also where they have their infinity pool.

The gym and pool are open 24 hours, so it’s a real nice place to chill out. I went to the pool at 6.30 a.m. on Sunday just to have my quiet time and it was really serene and peaceful, lying on the very cosy benches, looking out at the skyline slowly turn bright as dawn broke. Had a real nice swim after that too.

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Evening Cocktails and Canapes

Andrew: Quincy is arguably one of the most blogged about hotels we’ve stayed it – there were pages upon pages of Google search results when we did our search and most had quite mixed reviews of the dinner. Food was decent, spread was good, but not stellar – so we went out for our own dinner (and shopping) which we will talk more about later!

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Came back around 7.45p.m. just for some post dinner snacking and was actually quite pleasantly surprised by the food. What was good was that they kept the selection of hot dishes small, but because of that, the dishes were replenished very often, hence you could easily get a freshly cooked batch of food every 10-15 min. We sat there for about 20 – 30 minutes and within that span, we had freshly cooked penne, Vietnamese Chicken fried rice and mussels in cream sauce! I quite liked the Vietnamese Chicken fried rice and had about 3 servings of it (yes, even after I had my dinner) – mushrooms were juicy and tasty, chicken chunks moist and well seasoned!

There was also a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, fruits and desserts.

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Along with our dinner, we each got a selection of a cocktail/mocktail. I had a Singapore Sling and Dear had a Qool Breeze mocktail!IMG_6011

As a nice touch, they had this bowl of chocolates right next to their main entrance, with a cute caption ‘There’s Always Room for Chocolates’ and free flow of mini Mars bars! Looks like free food is the theme of this restaurant and certainly a way to win guests over and keep them in the hotel. (Jasmine: The all-day bites are a good way to distinguish them from their competitors in the same price range, as it’s for all guests at Quincy, whereas you would have to pay extra for club privileges at other hotels to enjoy free flow snacks.)

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The breakfast spread

Breakfast spread was the usual continental spread with pasta (yes, it appears quite often in their menu, because Modestos is just next door, part of Elizabeth Hotel), scrambled eggs, chicken ragout, spring roll,  sausages and bacon.

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Along with the hot food, there was a spread of freshly cut fruits, yoghurts, nuts and dried fruits as well as juices, cheeses and breads! I have to say, I really really liked the bread they served!

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Specifically, I loved the raisin and orange peel loaf that you see on the top of the picture below. I put one slice through the toaster, tore of a bit and ate it and immediately, I was won over. The texture was so light and crispy, and the bread so fragrant and flavourful – went great with cream cheese or even on its own. I had 4 to 5 slices of that. (Think Dear and I wiped out about half of that loaf on our own). I asked the waiter where they got their breads from and they couldn’t answer me – I shall have to hunt down this loaf.

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This is Dear’s platter below! Didn’t get to take a picture of mine, because I was too busy eating.

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An area that we felt could be improved about Quincy was the service. It was adequate, but it didn’t have that extra mile that great hotels have, which I thought was a pity and not something that require much more ‘investment’ in terms of money (perhaps though, in the form of training). We would have appreciated if the waiter or manager could have helped us find out where the bread was sourced from, given that we had given it a positive review. That would have scored them some points! Also, we only realised later that we could order eggs freshly cooked from the kitchen, either sunny-side up or an omelette, but this was not highlighted to us.

When we had to shift table as it was too warm for Dear, the wait-staff didn’t come along to help us move our stuff, even though they were standing by and evidently quite available. When I was swimming, the hotel staff asked me if I would like them to remove the floats from the pool. Honestly, it didn’t bother me, but since they offered, I said okay. However, nobody came to remove them in the 1 hour that I was there. It’s not that we needed such pampering or attentive treatment, but it would have added to the experience. Which is why I said the service was adequate, but didn’t have that ‘extra mile’.

[Plus points for service recovery – they sent us an email today to ask for feedback and I pointed them to our blog entry. The Hotel Manager, Christina,  immediately responded to share that they were acting on our feedback and also, that the bread came from Swiss Treats! I even asked specifically which loaf was it that I liked so much and she told me it was Traditional French Brioche with Fruits. Shall go hunt that down at NEX!]

Sunday Afternoon Bites 

Andrew: Oh, and what I didn’t mention earlier was that our offer came with a late check-out at 4 p.m. – which gave us another opportunity to enjoy their afternoon bites. Even though we had a lunch booking at Gordon’s Grill, we just had to eat a bit of what they had. The spread was much more extensive than the day before, with laksa (made to order) on the menu and sandwiches!

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The Dean & Deluca spread was similar to the day before, with the addition of… Rainbow cake!

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I had paid $7 dollars before to eat this cake at their Orchard Central outlet, so just out of cheap thrill, I had to have a slice here, for free! I didn’t quite enjoy it the first time, but this second time where it was free, I must say it tasted better. Haha!

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All in all, it was a decent experience at Quincy. Facilities and food were decent enough, room could be improved and service definitely could have been improved. For the price we paid, we could have gotten a room with club privileges at Intercontinental Hotel, hence I would consider this rather pricey. Propose the hotel looks into improving its service and also providing a frequent shuttle into the heart of Orchard. They could also allow an on the day sign-up for their activities, because not all couples would want to do all the activities.

2. The Food!

Andrew: It seems like we’ve already blogged so much about food @ Quincy that I can’t imagine there’s a separate section on it. This section is on the meals we had that were not at the Quincy. Unlike other times where we could splurge on more expensive degustation menus, this time we went to more mid-range places, and interestingly, by coincidence, places that we had been to during our dating days, which did bring back good memories!

Day 1 Lunch: Hatched!

Andrew: So, before we checked in, we dropped by Hatched at Evans Road for a quick lunch as I was fasting breakfast that morning (yes, even after a 10km run!) –so you can imagine, I was famished!

One thing Hatched hasn’t lost is its quirky charm and one of a kind decor and design. Just check out these really cute salt and pepper shakers! (Jasmine: actually, I know exactly where to buy them.)

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They had plenty of cute lamps about, but we didn’t take shots of them. These were our drinks below: a fruit tea and iced caramel latte!

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And my food – a ‘Burly Benedict’, poached eggs and corned beef on English muffin.  Ironically, the egg was the worst part of this dish. The corned beef was alright and the English muffin was light and fluffy, even the mashed potato with a mushroom sauce was creamy and comforting.

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However, the egg was disappointing – the sauce on top was tasteless and the texture of the fried egg was quite ‘rubbery’. Quite a disappointment! Serving was small too, given that I had already ordered the double egg – but I didn’t quibble too much as we had the light bites at Quincy to look forward to!

Dear and I had come to this outlet before while we were dating and quite surprised to find the standard drop quite significantly!

Day 1 Dinner: Everything With Fries

Andrew: We wanted a quick dinner on Saturday after we had spent more time than expected on shopping (more on that later!) and wanted to rush back in time for the dinner canapes, so Everything with Fries at Orchard Central it was!

It was extremely crowded, but a couple was nice enough to offer us their seat, so we returned the favour later too when we saw a couple finding a seat.

Here’s what we had – a crumbed fish burger with sour cream and onion fries, duck leg burger with curry fries and a side of har cheong kai.

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The har cheong kai was the best! Chicken chunks were so juicy, the batter so crispy and well-seasoned, and it went perfectly with the mayo sauce on the side.

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Of the burgers, I loved the fish burger more. The duck leg burger was interesting and tasty, but because it was duck, the patty lacked the chewiness and juiciness that we usually appreciate about burger patties. The fish patty was so light and soft that it almost ‘melted’ together with the bun with each bite! Completely divine! The fries were generously seasoned and tasty! Such a simple, sure-win formula.

This restaurant has significantly improved from the time we first went there during our dating days. Dear used to stay near an EWF and this used to be our dinner before we went for cell on Fridays. It has retained its high quality of food as well as strong following, and I can see the range of burgers has increased, as well as desserts!

Day 2: Lunch – Gordon’s Grill 

Andrew: This was the ‘birthday treat’ of the weekend – Sunday roast at Gordon’s Grill! I had been there ages ago with my family and always wanted to come back. This meal was a real steal – at $50 per pax for a 3 course lunch, and $60 for a 4 course (including coffee or tea at the end) – if you check out the a la carte menu, the main course itself is already $40 plus, hence it’s totally worth it!

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The courses included a starter – we had the escargoes and the cold cappellini with crab, truffle and caviar. The cold cappellini was their signature dish and rightfully so – each bite had such a delicate mix and cacophony of rich flavours. Fantastic! The escargoes were well done and juicy, but not out of this world.

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Next course was the soup, where we had French Onion soup and Lobster Bisque with a splash of Napoleon brandy. The Lobster Bisque was the winner here, with a rich, creamy and robust flavour. 

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And then, it was the main course! Since their wagon-roasted black angus beef was the signature dish, both of us had it! The other dishes didn’t sound as attractive anyway.

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As the signature dish of the restaurant, it definitely didn’t disappoint! The serving was generous and the beef was just divine – so tasty, tender and juicyyy! Loved the Yorkshire pudding at the side and the boiled vegetables with mash. Serving was so big that Dearie couldn’t finish half of hers, and of course, I volunteered to help!

Jasmine: I rarely eat beef, but I had read that the roasts were the star of the show at Gordon’s Grill, and it didn’t disappoint! Juicy, tender and one of the most generous servings I’ve ever seen! My one small disappointment was that the meat wasn’t carved and plated tableside, since the roast meats trolley is supposed to be a Gordon’s signature and dying trade in Singapore restaurants- a waiter later told me that that was just for the a la carte orders but I still don’t understand the difference…

Andrew: Finally, we had a mini Baked Alaska to share, because I didn’t want to over-eat!

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Besides the food, there were other nice little touches, which made this restaurant unique. Dear’s Dior Ling got VIP treatment, with a little chair of its own! (Jasmine:  Wow! I’m amazed Dear remembers the name of my bag! Last time he would have just called it “the pink thing”.)

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Andrew: And all around the restaurants were these paintings in recessed walls, which Dear is planning to do in our home! Oh, someone please save me! (Jasmine: relax… I said, future home.)
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Jasmine: As a sidenote, I love the decor of this restaurant: elegant but not stuffy, with a nod to the colonial building through its classic furniture but given a modern update with the neutral palette and fantastic figurative artwork in “reverse framing”, yet small enough such that you feel comfortable and not intimidated by the poshness of the surroundings.

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Andrew: All in all, a great meal. Thanks Dear!

3. The Shopping!

Andrew: As always, we save the best for last! Now, Dear had asked me where I wanted to go to shop and I told her let’s go to Orchard Gateway, since I wanted to try out Daniel and Jamie’s latest restaurant – Dulce and Sucre! Little did I realise that Orchard Gateway was a heaven for men’s shopping because they had an entire floor dedicated to men’s shopping! This is something that no other mall in Singapore has. I believe all the shops there are also unique to Orchard Gateway, giving it a true niche in the market.

We didn’t take a picture here, but they had a store where you could get custom-made shoes, with a choice of the material and design of sole, the type of material used, the design of the shoe etc. The designer walks you through the design elements, then they send the design back to Korea for them to tailor make it. We saw some truly stand-out pieces, but immediately left when they told us that each piece starts from $500. (Jasmine: Allow me to just point out that two days later, Andrew told me he was thinking of going back to check out this shop.)

One shop which we spent a lot of time at was this shop ‘S2VS’, where I bought 3 new shirts – one of which you’ve seen extensively in the pictures at Gordon’s Grill. This I quote from Dear, the shop ‘does colour blocking really well’, which is something I currently do not have in my wardrobe! Well, since she said it, I had to plug that gap in my wardrobe, didn’t I? Heh.

Jasmine: I’ve created a monster. I should never have introduced that man to the concept of coloured shoes. I should have just let him think shoes only came in black. Now he’s talking about colorblocking and custom made shoes, for goodness’ sake. Sighhhh.

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Jasmine: We also spotted this shop, City Flow, near the escalator, which sold a whole range of creatively designed products from Taiwan, some winning Red Dot Design awards, ranging from quirky Oscar trophy and industrial lamps, to ice cub trays which can make transparent ice cubes (instead of the normal whitish ones), to tissue boxes designed with springs to help get the last piece of tissue out!

Andrew: I was drawn to this amazing range of rings they had, which resembled my wedding band. Dear identified a really nice design in ebony and stainless steel and bought it for me as my birthday present:

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Even the ring box is stylo

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Nicely matches my skin tone…. and my new Ted Baker watch! (Jasmine: I don’t understand.. why is this watch picture here? Told you I created a monster.)

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Andrew: Wow, now that we’ve blogged about it, I can’t imagine so much was done in the short span of just 1 day! Thanks Dear for this amazing birthday celebration. Beyond all the treats and presents, what was truly good was the  couple-time where we had, just laughing, chatting, and reminiscing about our dating days. It was a much needed recharge for the week ahead and also, for the next phase of our lives when baby girl arrives!

Baby Dior!

Andrew: Because of Dear’s frequent visits to (and purchases from) the Dior outlet in Ion, we got invited to the opening of Baby Dior in Marina Bay Sands!

Jasmine: Nonsense, actually I only own the oui ring which Dear bought for me, and the Diorling handbag which I use daily… or for now, whenever I’m allowed out of the house, that is. I like to think it’s more because I struck up a friendship with Mona, the grande vendoir at Dior Ion, over our admiration for the fantastical designs of Dior jewelry. Her (and Dior salespeople’s) service has been exceptional, inviting us to movie premieres, giving me coffee-table books and now this! In fact, our invitation to the Baby Dior store preview, a French-inspired card, was delivered to our doorstep- how charming and wonderfully old-fashioned!

Andrew: We were really excited because we were informed that Dylan will get to try on some of the clothes and there will be a (free) photoshoot for him. Seriously, how many photo-shoots has this little boy been on? This would be his 5th – and he’s less than 2!

We were greeted with this very pretty display when we arrived – which we later realised wasn’t just for display, but was for us to feast on! More on that later.

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Andrew: I have to say that the service was really top-notch at Baby Dior. They had scheduled us such that there were at most 2 customers during each 2 hour slot and there were at least 10 staff around, giving you your fullest attention – from giving you a tour of the shop, talking about the merchandise, playing with your baby, serving you drinks and food, taking photos. It was a surreal experience, almost dream-like – it was like we had entered a little joy-filled bubble of luxury and pampering!

We were guided through the collection upon arrival and I immediately pointed out this cardigan, which I thought looked really nice. (Jasmine; Was really surprised that Andrew asserted himself so quickly in the area of baby high fashion!) Soon after, the sales associates went to pick out a selection of BabyDior clothes for Dylan to wear, incorporating that cardigan.

Dylan really got royal treatment! He had two sales associates helping him change up, though of course Daddy needed to be around since he was rather afraid… (Mummy was too caught up perusing the girls and newborn clothes with the boutique manager– that she only came in 10 minutes after)

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Poor Dilly!

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Finally all dressed and handsome, silenced by the Woody figurine!

Andrew: This changing room was actually very well-equipped with a full range of toys from Toy Story figurines to a miniature version of Crocodile Dentist – so old-school! I remember playing that when I was young.

They even had a make-up artiste for him – we didn’t want to put any blush on his face, because of his eczema, so what she did was just help style his hair. He looks rather apprehensive here… I have to say though that the staff were extremely patient, bubbly and evidently loved kids. They knew how to handle him well and were all over him, as you will see later when he warmed up. This little boy’s a real charmer!

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The final look! Hope there would be nicer shots taken by the professional photographers…

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Of course, the parents’ father’s needs were not neglected too as there was free flow of drinks – champagne for the dad and juices for mummy. There was also non-stop flow of little sweet treats like lemon meringue tarts, opera cake and dark chocolate tarts.

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Andrew: We initially thought the macarons were just for display, but were later informed that we could consume them and that they were from Laduree! Oh – I didn’t hold back and ate at least 5 of them… the flavours were Liquorices (black), Rose (red with white centre), Raspberry (red with red centre) and Vanilla (white). My favourite was Vanilla, followed by Rose. Dear was still chomping on these macarons, even as we left the store.

Jasmine: The sales associates, as Andrew has said, were exceptional. Not only did they create a lifestyle experience for their adult customers, charming us with little stories about the brand’s heritage and inspiration/ workmanship for the decor and apparel, they managed to entertain Dilly for a full half an hour. Free babysitting by Dior staff leh! We should just go every weekend haha. And us? We just lounged around eating macarons and cakes and for Andrew, drinking champagne. Closet alcoholic!

A picture with just some of the wonderful staff!

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After taking quite a few photos, Dilly started to warm up and became very smiley and happy around the store!

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Rubbing nose with ‘Emilie’ the bunny rabbit

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Stylishly posing next to Gabriel the Bear (apparently Gabriel travels all around the world whenever a new Baby Dior outlet opens!)

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Lovingly patting the dog…

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Jasmine: As you can see, it’s total photo overload but we just couldn’t decide which photos to choose, coz he looked so cute! The outfit is all Baby Dior from head to toe, down to the high-top sneakers- the lovely sales associates offered him costume changes but we declined as he seemed so miserable being stripped. Well, not only did Dilly get his hair volumised and styled by the makeup artist, he also had a photographer following him around, taking photos of him (and us) in different corners of the store.

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Running around the store like it’s his little playground and getting very comfortable with the sales associates! The classical furniture, scaled down to kid size, and oversized stuffed toys, made the store more welcoming for its little customers!

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This sales associate, Ashini, was his favourite! He kept pointing to her and even let her carry him a few times!

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Andrew: Now, I shall leave Dear to give her extensive description of the decor and merchandise. She even wants to adapt certain elements for our home *shudder*.

Jasmine: As with the Taka and Ion flagships, the Baby Dior boutique at Sands is modelled after Christian Dior’s own apartment, and done up in the brand’s sgnature dove gray. However, the Baby Dior boutique is a touch more whimsical and homely. Check out the faux fireplace below:

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And Dior-related mementos on the fireplace panel:

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The store is divided into three main zones, the changing area, which you’ve seen previously, the children’s boutique, and the baby boutique. This is the children’s boutique.

The girls’ clothes feature stunning craftsmanship and (of course) high-quality materials. As Junita, the store manager, was bringing me through the store (or actually, was she following while I excitedly ruffled through the racks? haha), she mentioned that Dior’s philosophy was not to create “mini-mes”, but to adapt Dior designs for little children, that are stylish but still comfortable to move about it. Many of the dresses have alot of swing, which little girls love to twirl in.

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Girls’ couture dresses on display:

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And the baby boutique for younger tots (tip: ask for newborn clothes and blankets, which are nestled in the drawers). I spent a good amount of time admiring the newborn mittens, made of linen and embellished with the most delicate gold lacework I’ve ever seen. Apparently, this century-old lace company used to manufacture lace for European royalty before Dior took ownership.

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The baby boutique area was even cozier and looked like a personal walk-in wardrobe. The faux window supposedly has a view of Granville, where Christian Dior used to stay during summer vacations.

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I fell in love with this little swing dress with a rosebud print, which is Dior’s favourite flower… (But fortunately or unfortunately, sizes only start from 6 months up so I couldn’t buy anything for baby girl!)

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As well as this pink dress with woven silver Lurex thread – the glam version of the rosebud print above! I also really liked the way the pieces were framed, like keepsakes—methinks I can do that with Dilly and baby girl’s special outfits in future, and put them up in Ikea shadowboxes!

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This being Dior, they sweat even the small stuff. The detail on the confetti knob and handcrafted beaded wire hanger are so quaint!

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One more look at my future walk-in wardrobe!

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And a picture with Mona, the lady who made it all possible!

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All baby visitors were given a souvenir (which I’m holding)- a colouring pad of Dior figurines and fashions that you can cut out, colour pencils and organic cookies!

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We were invited to the store’s preview for existing Dior customers. I believe that it has since officially opened its doors to the public. We didn’t buy anything, of course, but it was such an escapist way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

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Light Play at Blue House

Jasmine: We brought Dylan to a class at Blue House! The description seemed really interesting- about playing with light to investigate properties of objects. Of course, Andrew had to come coz it’s almost impossible to bring Dylan out on my own now, what with the tummy and contractions. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do much for the hour that we were there- just sit down and be with Dylan while Andrew did all the chasing!

The class proceeded at a very relaxed pace- there was welcome and singing of nursery rhymes, followed by two light-related activities, and closure with bubble-blowing and farewell. We’ll let Dylan take over this post, since the activities were planned for him!

Dylan: I was just sleeping soundly in the car-seat, which had finally been turned front-facing after my whining for a few months, when Mummy and Daddy rudely awakened me to bring me to a ‘blue house’ – hmm, didn’t know houses were described by colours! Ours can be called the ‘White House’ then, since our door is white!

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Dylan: As usual, Mummy demands a shot with me, when I’ve just been woken up and have my bedhead. I bet it’s just to hide her tummy! No Mummy, I’m not looking at the camera or giving you a smile – of course though, any look I give at this point of time is still considered cute!

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Activity 1: Baby Introductions

The first activity required all parents (actually, only mummies! – Daddy felt kinda left out- hence you see him only behind the camera throughout) to sit round in a circle while this lady in the middle sang songs to introduce us to each other! I was the first she mentioned… Yay! Mummy and Daddy desperately tried to get me to wave my hands, but I just wanted to chew on my maracas… Nom nom nom!

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We sang some familiar songs after that, like incy-wincy spider, which Granny and  Mummy had taught me before – so I had an edge over everyone else, even though they were older! Yay!

Activity 2: Projector Light Show

Dylan: After that, we moved into a corner of the room, where… I’ll let Mummy do the describing of activities. [Mummy: It was the  projecting of a video in a darkened area.] Erm Mummy, that’s it?? I could have said that myself.

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Mummy: actually Dylan, do you remember that the teacher encouraged you children to interact with and name these high-contrast images?

Dylan: Oh ok.. a wall full of pancakes!

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That’s a nice boat – but my submarine at home is way better!

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I’m seeing stars!

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Ooh… what is this… black with two pointers…

Oh no, it’s a bug! Do something Daddy instead of just clicking away on yr phone… Oh no, there’s a bee too!

Activity 3: Light Table

Dylan: So, after being terrorised by the insects, we went on to the light table area, which I previously loved! This time, it was made even more fun with all these little balls of water! There were even juice bottles around, much like Mummy’s sensory bottles, which I haven’t seen in ages – think Daddy asked Mummy to keep them after I kept biting on them.

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Here’s me – practising what Mummy calls my ‘pincer grasp’…. They were fun to bounce and smash too!

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But what really zapped my brain cells was doing some transferring! Don’t be fooled by all these tender mother-son pictures, yo, I was doing all the hard work and Mummy was just sitting back most of the time, hoping this activity would last all day.

The beads looked so glowy and yummy I had to try some of them – after all, the cup they came from said ‘Food Republic’.

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Oh man, they look just like the pearls in Daddy’s bubble tea – Daddy, can you add these into my milk later? That’ll be 1 Similac Total Comfort with pearls, sugar level 100% – thanks!

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Hmm, one container of pearls might not be enough for my milk. Let me transfer some over from the other.

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I’ll just take the whole tray anyway – perhaps we can save these pearls for my night feed later!

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Ah, since nobody wants, I’ll do everyone a favour and take both trays then!

Final Activity – Bubble Gun

Dylan: Anyway, turns out those ‘pearls’ were not edible. They were waterbeads from the gardening section at Daiso. Found out when I tried to stuff some in my mouth and everyone started screaming for me to stop. Chill everyone – I’m just a baby, putting things in my mouth is what I do! Anyway, so much for the excitement about my milk with pearls.

We went on to the final activity, which was the bubble gun! Now granny had played this with me before, but the bubbles were nowhere as big – excuse me teacher, may I have this instead of the pearls?

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I couldn’t hit any of the bubbles and ended up having only one ‘pop’ on my head!

After the final activity, all the other kids left as the atelier was closing, but as Mummy and Daddy had to settle some payment – actually mainly, Daddy… I got to play a bit more! There was fogging outside too, which meant… UNLIMITED PLAY!

There were some of my old favourites, like the mirrored tent. This beats my Ikea mirror at home, now I can check my appearance in three directions at once! Bet Daddy would like one of this in his toilet, eh?

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Wonder where my own Yakult pit went to. I just can’t understand Mummy’s concept of storage…

IMG-20140620-WA0026Dylan: Enjoyed myself so much that I didn’t want to go off in the end… kept running back to see the play area and the lovely teachers there. Daddy had to drag me away. Mummy and Daddy, bring me back again some day!

Oh, Mummy is itching to say something, so I’ll let her end off this post!

Jasmine: Since we last came last year, Blue House has also switched out quite a few of its learning areas. I guess this is easier and cheaper to do so at Blue House since many of its learning materials are upcycled, such as repurposing cardboard boxes and egg cartons as shape sorters! Apparently, the founders had been inspired by a study trip to Reggio Emilia province in Italy to revamp some of its learning spaces as well as design new classes, such as this one on light.

There is now a nature/ wilderness corner, complete with tent and natural materials, quintessentially Reggio…

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And a basket of fabric scraps with a clothesline nearby. Not sure how this is meant to be used- probably as make-believe and also for exploring textures and “weaving” with fabric, perhaps? A nice open-ended play area with so many possibilities!

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And lastly, a cool wooden board with hooks, for hanging or lacing activities, which is great for toddlers’ fine motor development.

photo(28) Dylan was really quiet and engaged, especially with the light table activity. He was the last one to leave the area and had to be carried away. This may seem trite but it’s such a joy seeing him grow and overcome his stranger anxiety: he was so helpful and helped the teachers pack the books and plastic containers away. Then after we left the atelier, he ran back to the door and stared in longingly while the teachers looked up and waved byebye to him again.

Blue House has this Infant and Toddler Atelier, but they also have kindergarten programmes based on Reggio Emilia, with emphasis on creative expression, outdoor play and community. No flashcards or worksheets in this preschool- exactly what I’m looking for! If it weren’t so out of the way and expensive, I’d totally put him in preschool there 🙂

Our Second Maternity Shoot: Behind the Scenes

Jasmine: With weeks to go before baby girl arrives, we arranged for a maternity cum family shoot. We wanted to keep it simple, so we opted for a 2-hour shoot. and planned for most of it to be done indoors, in air-con, so that it’d be more restful.

Here’s Andrew, not to be outdone, getting his hair styled by my wonderful makeup artist, Chris. It was meant to be just hair and makeup for me but Chris was nice enough to blow-dry and style Andrew’s hair too. (Andrew: Took the opportunity to get some tips on everyday hairstyling too!)

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Jasmine: Dylan and Daddy wore matching vests. Andrew’s vest and pants were tailor-made during our Shanghai trip, while Dylan’s vest was a gift from my mum (sale somewhere).

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We chose the woven brown fabric for Andrew’s tailored vest and pant combi coz we wanted something different from the abundance of black, navy and gray in his wardrobe but still refined and gentlemanly. And of course, I’m totally biased, but Dylan looks cute in anything he wears. [Andrew: Totally agree! The moment my little boy tottered out of his room in that vest, my heart just melted! He was so so so cute!!]

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Kudos also to Chris, my makeup artist… If you remember, I bought this oversized floral accessory from Phuket, Thailand, which everybody hated. Chris cleverly turned it upside down and positioned it on the side of my head, so that it wouldn’t be too outstanding. [Andrew: Okay, so Chris’ fee was well-spent, for making THAT thing look good.]

Yup, that’s the look Andrew gave me. But I still bought it anyways.

The final look – as styled by Chris!

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Andrew: As always, Chris did a great job with Dearie’s make-up and she looked absolutely gorgeous!

Jasmine: Anyway, Dilly and Andrew were dressed in brown to complement my maternity gown, which I customised from Etsy- I requested a gown with different lengths of fabric, and that the innermost layer of fabric (which was originally beige) be swopped out with a deeper shade of mocha for more dimension.

This silly dress gave me a lot of headaches coz I ordered it express, but instead of taking the 5-6 days (including tailoring from scratch and international shipping) as promised, it took almost 2.5 wks, which meant I had to postpone the shoot by a week. Thankfully we managed to reschedule with our makeup artist and photographer- I just hope the dress photographs well, for all that trouble! It looks a tad too bright (the peach layer) and dishevelled here…

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Coaxing little Dilly to smile – this photo was standing between him and
his milk feed!

Without even asking, Chris styled my hair so that I could have two looks in one shoot- the illusion updo above, which I then let down in the car and released the waves for a more casual bob:

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Jasmine: This was the most chill photographer we’ve worked with. Thomas didn’t give us any direction except “let’s keep posing down to a minimum” and “treat it as a family outing, I’ll shoot like a family friend”. In fact, these shots taken with our phone cameras are probably even more posed than the shots taken by our photog!

We weren’t quite sure what the shots looked like even at the end of the shoot, but we are trusting that all will turn out well as we really liked his online portfolio! Fingers crossed!

family shoot singapore, the peeping thom,

Andrew: I guess that’s why he calls himself Peeping Thom! Didn’t even feel like we were at a photoshoot this time, honestly. For our first maternity shoot, we were really going for more of a ‘home’ feel, as we wanted to showcase everyday moments at home, with the two of us just enjoying each other’s company and the arrival of our little one. With this second shoot, it was more about enjoying a chill day out and having fun with Dylan and our second one. Dilly was good throughout the shoot and surprisingly, he even managed to nap on the way to our final location. We can’t wait to see the photos!

House Tour: Our Bedrooms

Jasmine: So it’s been two years since we moved in, so I thought we should probably photograph our first home for memories’ sake.

I didn’t take pictures at the start because I feel a house needs to be lived in and real. The public areas of our home are still works in progress (Andrew: So when will they stop being work-in-progress??), so I’m just showing the two bedrooms which I am (mostly) done with for now.

We were going for a whimsical fairytale theme. We didn’t have an interior designer as we thought it would be more fun and authentic to do it ourselves- I have seen pictures of ID-led home renovations and I find them too similar, over-designed and with way too many built-ins.

Our Master Bedroom

In architecture, there is a hierarchy of privacy where the most private rooms are accessed last or at the back of the house. However, our master bedroom door was right where this white branch mural used to be, opening onto the living room and very near the front gate. Hence, our first step was to move the doorway further from the front gate.

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This then allowed us to build in a bank of full-height wardrobes. For a seamless feel, we opted to have floor-to-ceiling doors instead of splitting them up- this technology only became available a year before we moved in. Due to space constraints, we wall-mounted our Sony Bravia TV- which can swivel to face the bed or be pushed flat against the wall.

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We fixed the crystals to the chandelier ourselves. (Andrew: Yes, Dearie actually personally conceptualised the design of this chandelier and well, I was just the labourer.) It casts some really nice, almost tree-like shadows on our walls.

We wanted it to be a relaxing sanctuary with hints of a woodlands feel, so we went with this Ikea wrought-iron bed, and lots of lilac.

We saved on a lot of things by sourcing them ourselves, but we wanted a quality mattress and bedsheets, because a good night’s sleep is essential! Thankfully, my uncle got us 40% staff discount off the King Koil mattress, and I usually buy 500-threadcount sheets when they’re on sale, which means a set could cost us just $60 instead of the usual $300. (Andrew: And because there was some credit card offer going on, I got our Ikea bedframe for only $69 dollars! Another great thing about this bed-frame, which Dearie isn’t too pleased about actually, is that it’s so convenient to just ‘hang’ stuff on it, like plastic bags, clothes etc. I’m all for functionality!)

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To ensure a good night’s sleep, blackout blinds are the best but they are pricey to make, so we just chose a dark, opaque curtain, and a coordinating sheer one to further block out the light from the glass door of the bathroom. They are in chocolatey shades to balance the more feminine tones of lilac and white.

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This is my dressing area. It is safe to assume that a bit of tidying up has been done. Haha. I just moved the carpet in last night, and I really love how it is the perfect size for the dressing area (whereas previously in the living room it looked abit lost), and makes it look like a jewel box. It’s hand-loomed from silk, so it’s both plush yet cool underfoot, unlike the chevron rug from Pier21, which feels kinda rough. A wonderful everyday luxury! I was concerned about having a Persian carpet in the house with a baby, much less putting it outside the bathroom where it might get wet, but in the last 18 months it has only been subject to one coffee stain. Carpets are made to withstand a lot more than bathwater and babies, so just go for it! [Andrew: I LOVE that corner now that there’s a carpet in there – it makes that corner have a hotel-like feel. I was even thinking of converting that corner into Dylan’s second play area – only issue is that the ventilation is not so good there.]

The coat rack is from my student days in Edinburgh, Scotland. It functions as a catch-all area with the dustbin, weighing scale and Andrew’s weights below. Ideas for improving this area are welcome!

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When Andrew saw my dressing area, he immediately asked for one of his own… So we hung up a 1940s mirror that we found in New Zealand. The smaller mirror is actually a magnifying mirror and has some storage behind. [Andrew: Unfortunately, I hardly ever use it now because a man’s ‘dressing area’ needs to have a sink nearby and this one is nice, but impractical.]

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Our toilet is quite small.

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We were lucky enough to fit in a carved mirror as well as an oval sink and shower area. I’d love to add a pink mosaic backplash behind the mirror. 

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Shopping list:

Bedframe: Ikea ($69 with Andrew’s credit card!)

Bedlinens: Intero bedsheets, quilt coverlet from Nex

Andrew’s bedside table, Jasmine’s dressing table and mirror, bathroom carved mirror: King & King Wong

Andrew’s boat lamp: Air

Chandelier: Random shop along Balestier

Wall mural and Jasmine’s “book” bedside table: Etsy, with her own books piled on top

Jasmine’s storage stool: Furniture Mall

Persian carpet: Arab Street

Coat rack: Edinburgh, Scotland

Vintage 1940s mirror: Auckland, New Zealand

Dylan’s Nursery

Jasmine: We knew that this would be a children’s room when we moved in, and would have to grow with them, so we deliberately minimised built-in cabinetry and chose the gender-neutral  mint green. I don’t really like to have too many built-ins but prefer to let the space evolve according to our needs, so when we moved in, it was essentially a bare room.

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We opted for a striped wall and slowly bought the rest of the furniture, but still in keeping with the fairytale theme, albeit in a more exuberant color scheme. I trimmed the Roman blinds with turquoise washi tape and slipcovered the rocking chair with an apple-print fabric.

The iPad is not for Dylan to play with, though he tries reaching for it sometimes. It’s strictly used as a lullaby and white noise machine, heh.

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Dylan’s changing station.

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And the wardrobe with two sliding doors, which take up less space than fronted doors. If you look carefully, you can see the subtle glossy swirl finish on the wardrobe. The height chart was designed by Andrew’s boys and goes so well with the decor theme! [Andrew: This was a really great gift from my boys – so meaningful! It’s covered in plastic too, so that we can mark the various height mile-stones. I’ve still been trying really hard to get Dylan to stand by the height chart, so I can take a cute picture of him taking his height, but he just won’t stand still. No wonder they have to take his weight with him lying down in the clinic.]

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Finally, Dylan’s bookshelves. We installed these before I learnt about Montessori and the principle of having toys easily accessible to the child. These shelves hold the children’s pop-up books I’ve collected over the years and other knick-knacks, such as his first gift of baby shoes, a wooden train set from my boss that her son used to play with, his jiu jiu’s beloved Le Petit Prince tile from Vietnam and toothboxes from his man yue cake. [Andrew: Not to forget – a picture of me as a kid, which had been displayed in my house for more than 20 years!]

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I plan to have a children’s table and chairs below these shelves, or maybe a play kitchen set when he and his baby sister are older.

Shopping list:

Crib, light pendant, diaper trolley and book ledges: Ikea

Painting: art market in Bali

Rocking chair and footstool: Mothercare, with custom slipcovers

Beanbag bear: Etsy

Mirrored dresser: King & King Wong

Shopping for Maternity Clothing

Jasmine: One of the key differences between this pregnancy and the last – where I previously couldn’t wait to try all the maternity fashions, I am now trying to stay in my regular clothes as long as possible. This was possible until the end of the second trimester, but now that I am heavily pregnant, I have little choice but to wear maternity clothing- and I am grateful for the added give that specialised maternity wear provides, through gathers/ pleats and longer fronts to accommodate a growing belly.

I previously wrote an entry on renting maternity clothing, especially if they are one-off pieces that you need for travelling or special events, and we were so surprised by how popular it was! It’s still one of our top three posts of all time, so strange! Anyhow, encouraged by that, here are some of my favourite, most-frequently worn maternity dresses and how I went about sourcing them. Almost all were recycled from the first pregnancy and cost less than SGD$40 🙂

1. ASOS Maternity

This was my first stop when I found out I was preggie for the first time! I went on a crazy rampage and bought at least ten dresses from the sale section, each costing between maybe SGD$20-40. [Andrew: Oh yes, I remember the two whole boxes of clothes that arrived. Thankfully they were good buys as good maternity clothes are not easy to come by locally.] However, do scrutinise the product information closely. For instance, I didn’t realise that this double-layered chiffon dress had a sheer back, which meant that I had to wear a tube underneath, when your basal body temperature is already higher during pregnancy. This minor inconvenience was fine when I was working in aircon all day at MOE HQ, but now that I’m moving about in a warm classroom, having to wear additional layers definitely isn’t practical. [Andrew: Ah what a waste – this pink dress is one of my favourite!]

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Another ASOS buy. I like the lace flutter sleeves and cheery yellow! There are many maternity body-conscious styles available on ASOS, but I’m not really one for showing off the bump too much (except when I need a seat on the train), so I stick with more flowy silhouettes like this.

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My favourite ASOS dress, which can be layered for colder weather, but also smart enough for cocktails and canapes at the Shangri-La (or maybe they just close one eye for pregnant women).

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What’s great about ASOS is that alot of the prints and fabrics from the regular sections have also been used for maternity styles, so no worries about looking like a frump! While I’m glad for the low prices and au courant prints, I probably would not buy from ASOS Maternity again as the maternity dresses cannot be worn for breastfeeding.

Come to think of it, I could probably write a whole post on breastfeeding fashion heh… But suffice to say that if you are a preggie mama with the intent to breastfeed, do look out for button-down or surplice/ wrap dresses so that you can nurse discreetly and conveniently in them in future.

2. Raid your mother’s closet.

Well, I guess this depends on your mother’s style and size, but my mum had quite a few loose sheath dresses that she lent me. I’ve held on to this blue swallow dress through both pregnancies, even while travelling in Tasmania!

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[Andrew: Interestingly enough, I bought a matching swallow-print shirt when I was in Tasmania! Unfortunately, this unglam pic of me with the ‘shower cap’ at the chocolate factory in Bali is the best shot of that swallow t- shirt:

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3. Normal dresses that can be used as maternity wear

Jasmine: If you are determined to stay in “normal” clothes but not inclined towards wearing workout/ yoga gear everywhere, look for dresses that are empire-waisted and elastic-waisted. The skirt should be at least knee-length, so that it will not become  too short as your tummy expands.

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Do also keep an eye out for breathable, stretchy materials like jersey or cotton.

We found this dress in a vintage cum Korean shop in Compasspoint for $39.90, and it met all the above criteria… so I bought it.

4. When travelling, scour the summer sales, especially in beachwear boutiques.

During my first pregnancy, I found quite a few dresses in the surf shops in Australia/ Tasmania! The sizing tends to be more generous to suit Caucasian ladies’ frames, while typical surfwear styles like billowy tanks or airy drawstring dresses are actually quite perfect for pregnancy clothing!

I scored this maxi dress on sale at one of said surf shops, and wore it for our fine dining lunch at Peppermint Bay…

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[Andrew: Dearie looks really beautiful in this dress!]

As well as our newborn shoot for Dylan. It’s got some sequin detail on the V-neckline that you can see up close:

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5. Just buy la, especially if the dresses pull double duty for pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Jasmine: Anything to boost your preggie/ postpartum self-esteem :p

Spring Maternity does a great range of maternity wear with nursing access- I bought quite a few pieces when I was preggie with Dylan and am still wearing them for this second pregnancy, including this owl-print dress with hi-lo hemline:

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I have surprised even myself by buying only two dresses this pregnancy: the black and grey striped one in Point 3, which was just too comfy to pass up, and this lavender knot dress from Seraphine:

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I actually eyed it during my first pregnancy, then was quite put off because Kate Middleton bought two of these dresses, which meant that 1) it became too ubiquitous (I prefer wearing stuff that no-one else has) and 2) the “Kate effect” meant that the dresses were sold out everywhere online and our local maternity stores did not stock this brand. I actually stalked the Seraphine UK website for months before suddenly discovering that this dress was back in stock, in my preferred colour and size!

What’s a preggie mama to do?? When the universe gives you a sign, whip out your (husband’s) credit card.

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Where almost all my other dresses featured in this post are under SGD$40, this one rang in at SGD$100. I try to justify the price tag by noting how comfortable it is, and how flattering the knot front is to my bump. The tie at the back is also useful as I can adjust it during postpartum weight loss, so it won’t be too baggy on me then. Lastly, this dress has a deep V-neck which can be pulled aside for breastfeeding, so I believe it’s a piece I’ll be getting alot of wear out of for several more months, judging from how often I wore my other pregnancy-cum-breastfeeding dresses the last time around! That means my cost per wear will be lowered! [Andrew: That’s Dearie’s philosophy for shopping for clothes and how she justifies buying so many clothes.]

Fathers’ Day Feature 2: Becoming a Father

Andrew: I’ve been meaning to write this piece for quite a while, but I didn’t quite know how to angle it or if what I’d be writing would just be trite and cliched. Nonetheless, I thought I would just note down my journey as a father thus far, as it’d be something interesting to look back on in a few years time to see how things have changed (or not).

Pre-Dylan

Before Dylan came along, Jasmine and I were excited about his arrival, yet at the same time, I was filled with trepidation and fear, not knowing how I would handle a child of my own and if I was up to the task. Much of the advice given then was ‘You’ll just learn along the way!’ or ‘Nobody is ever ready to be a parent, you just do it!’ and one of the best advice, which I still hold on to right now is, ‘You can read many books and hear so many different pieces of advice, but at the end of the day, trust your own instincts as a parent’

Honestly speaking, we were not the kind of parents too who wanted to go for pre-natal classes or read up extensively on child birth and child development. Yes, I did buy the book What to Expect when Expecting, but beyond the first few chapters, it just got too much for me. The only book we kept reading was Praying Through Your Pregnancy, which became a very good prayer guide for us – very comprehensive in praying for health, against past bondages/hurts, for emotional wholeness, even your child’s future partner! One thing we were very conscientious about was to read Psalms/Proverbs to Dylan and to pray for him and talk to him every night. Honestly speaking, we’re less attentive to our second one right now and take it as part of the bedtime routine we do for Dylan. Dear used to read up from the web on how baby was developing each week and we’d pray for him and talk to him.

Dylan’s Arrival

After hearing many stories of long labours, I was surprised when just after 2 hours of labour, our dearest son was born! Was amazed at how delicate and small he was, however, I was just also in a state of numbness (as I’ve told Dearie before) – not quite knowing how to feel or what to do.

It was only the next day, when they pushed Dylan in after cleaning him up and he looked so small, so vulnerable and so sweet that my heart was filled with joy at the arrival of a child we could call our own. Then, the journey began of us learning how to take care of him.

Our very first family photo

I still recall the first time I had to change his diapers in the hospital and how I fumbled clumsily through it! The nurse had just left the room and within 10 minutes, BabyD started bawling and crying. I checked him and there was a distinct, foul smell that I immediately recognised! However, I had never put on diapers for a baby before – what should I do? Will I hurt him, like break his back, if I do it wrong? As Dearie was resting, it was up to me to do it, so I just went ahead to do it. Opened his diaper delicately…. pulled out the wet wipes and then wiped his ass as gently as possible, so I needed to wipe a few times – back then, my impression of babies were that they were so fragile. He was crying and kicking a little! Then I wrapped up the diaper in any manner I thought useful, and put on his new diaper slowly, not knowing which was the correct way at first, then trying to find the sticky-ends. After about 10 minutes, I completed it and my heart was practically racing! Talk about Murphy’s law – just about then, the nurse came in… and she said, ‘Oh, you changed his diapers? Well done!’.

During our time at the hospital, they taught us some basic skills like how to bathe the baby, swaddle the baby and for Dear, how to breastfeed. It just seemed to pass so quickly and soon enough, it was time to go back and we were on our own!

Bringing Dylan home and the first few months

As first time parents, we were so anxious for him at everything – he had jaundice, diaper rash, cradle cap + eczema and all these small things kept me so worried, especially the eczema as we went to the doctor and tried various soaps and treatments for it, most of them temporary. We were so anxious too when Dylan had to be warded to undergo light therapy for his jaundice – it felt like he had just been with us for a few days, then we had to be separated again.

Angry Dilly, after being sunned to treat his jaundice

At the same time, I was trying to hone the various skills needed. Bathing was only done by our confinement nanny when she was here, so it seemed like something that not everyone could do. I was similarly fearful when I first had to do it and I do recall there were times when my hand accidentally slipped and Dylan just cried out loud, causing me to panic and get rather anxious. Looking back, it just seems silly to be so nervous about bathing. Heh. I remember a lot of running around to get stuff, like 0-6 infant formula when Dear’s milk flow hadn’t yet stabilised and then being befuddled by the range of brands out there.

Of course, in the midst of the stress, there was also much joy in the house now, as we laughed and celebrated all the small moments with this new life. Lots of photo-taking and posting of cute moments on Facebook too!

Learning how to put him to sleep was another learning curve for me, but I was determined from the start to learn all these things. Still remember the early days of me carrying him in my arms and walking back and forth, while singing worship songs to him, before he gradually fell asleep and I would then pop him in the bednest and quickly to go sleep before waking up at 4/5 a.m. for his night feed. These were memorable moments as I saw them as father-son devotional time too – his favourite song was ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’ and ‘Still’. I would often use these times as personal worship time to praise the Lord too.

Honestly speaking, Dylan’s sleep patterns were relatively good as he only woke up once at night, so I could help with the night feed and still sustain myself at work, without being too tired. I remembered it was only around the 3rd month or so, when I started to realise, ‘Hmm, maybe this isn’t so hard after all?’.

Something that signified to me that my life was different was interestingly, my IPPT (a fitness test that all Singaporean men have to go through) – which I took soon after Dylan was born because my window was closing. Throughout the 2.4km run, I found that I had new motivation to run and to do well, because I knew that I was keeping fit and persevering for the sake of my family. This was the first moment that I did realise that I had entered the emotional journey of fatherhood.

Resuming our normal lives

Post confinement, it was time to return to our normal lives of church, family gatherings, socialising… It was also about time as Dear was bored stiff just being confined in the home mostly, though technically she wasn’t as she still had rather regular trips to NEX.

We have shared numerous posts before on how we’ve ‘integrated’ Dylan into our lives, so I won’t go into the practical things we did. However, what was more important was the idea that Dylan was now becoming truly a part of our lives, instead of previously where we ‘stopped’ our lives just to focus on him for a while. So many different things to think about now whenever you go out – you usually try to dress more casually to make the carrying of baby and his stuff out easier, you ensure that you choose locations with convenient nursing venues or not too crowded places, as far as possible you schedule outings around his nap-time. Basically, there was a whole new set of considerations to think about.

Bringing Dylan to Biennale 2013

Yet at the same time, there was a sense that things were the same. It’s a bit of a strange feeling – Dearie has asked this question to me before, “How much has having a child changed our lives?” (Yes, we do discuss such geeky questions, but it’s only during staycations or holidays when we have time to slow down and really chat). Honestly, yes, we have much more to think about right now, but fundamentally, we still do feel that we are doing the same things as before, while now having another companion with us. Yes, we no longer have the flexibility of flying off on a holiday whenever we want to or going off to midnight movies on a whim – in fact, movie-watching is kind of a rarity now. However, there’s now a deeper dimension to all that we do, because it is no longer just about us, but also about enjoying life together with our son and role-modeling to him through our lives at home and beyond.

Having Dylan has also deepened my wife and my relationship as we now really serve as ‘partners’ at almost every moment, supporting or relying on each other’s strengths at various points to manage Dylan and take care of him. There has been much more need for us to communicate clearly, understand each other and to work together to ensure Dylan, and both of us too, are well taken care of. Of course, as much as it can be a source of joy, having a child can also be a source of strain in the relationship when you disagree or when you’re both tired and one has to sacrifice to take care of your son. Nonetheless, these have also been opportunities for us to work on our communication issues. Being good fathers and mothers and building a strong marriage do go hand in hand, but ultimately, there still needs to be intentional effort to build the marriage, and that’s something I’m hoping we can continue to work on.

As for whether having a son has changed me, I can honestly say that it has – seems like quite an obvious statement as I’m sure all parents will say so. He has taught me to be more expressive and crazy, since babies respond mostly to extravagant and outward shows of emotion. He has taught me more patience too, especially over things that aren’t logical or beyond my control – I’d have to admit I lost my temper a few times when he just kept crying and refused to be comforted, and this still happens from time to time now. Always thought I was quite patient, but I guess not. Heh.

Most important of all, my son has taught me the importance of appreciating life, slowing down and not letting small moments pass you by. Every small thing that he does, that we often take for granted, becomes such a great moment of joy and celebration – from him learning to grasp an object, to flipping over, to crawling, to his first steps. There’s just such excitement when these happen and even, a great sense of pride that he’s growing so well. A simple meal with your son becomes an opportunity to interact with him, play with him and see him grow in his grasp and hand-eye coordination. For someone who was previously used to rushing through life, doing many things a day, just slowing down to appreciate time with my son has been refreshing.

I am even considering buying a much better camera so that I can properly ‘document’ all these moments with my wife and son. Recommendations are welcome. Part of the reason why we revived this blog too was also to capture these memories and I can’t wait for the day when Dylan can also start contributing to the blog – it’d be so cool – a family blog!

Jasmine: Andrew is a really great dad. There are times when I’m on bedrest and he will bring Dilly to church on his own and put Dylan in the carrier and run errands for us. Once, my pastor saw him and Dilly in church, and remarked to me later, “Wah, Andrew is quite good ah?” I can see how fatherhood has grown him –-not just in patience and endurance, as he was already much better with those two traits than me—but in being expressive, affectionate and letting his fun and playful side come out more.

Looking ahead

Andrew: 14 months on, I can honestly say many of the fears and anxieties I faced are no longer present. I’m more confident as a father, but I do honestly feel that the journey has barely begun.

Right now, the care Dilly requires from me is more practical and more in terms of ‘entertaining’, yet as he grows older, there will then be more needed for me in terms of growing him spiritually, in his character and conduct as well as, helping him to navigate the various phases of life, from school to work. Not to mention of course the additional challenge when Dilly has a new sibling! Wow, just 1 year on and Dilly is already going to be a big kor kor – it’s crazy.

Photo: At the clinic, i. asked Dilly to smile and he gave me this sweet little look... :)

Bringing Dylan for a jab

Honestly, parenthood has been a tough and challenging journey, but the rewards are immense. I’m looking forward to more adventures as Dear and I learn how to build a loving family together!