Friday, 31 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 22

Day 22: 30 Oct 2014, Thursday

So far I have been catching up on my recording. I find that it's difficult to recall what I am grateful for. From now on I will try to do it one day after at the latest.
I am grateful that:

1) A friend shared a poem about 'The Last Time'. The part that really struck a chord in me:
The thing is, you won't even know it's the last time
Until there are no more times.

Good friends share things that they feel you will like. This is a good reminder for me to treasure the time spent with my family. Now put away that phone!

2) My mentor introduced me to a group of capable youngsters, whom I met for the first time during dinner tonight. They are young, ambitious and full of energy to want to change things. At the same time they are so humble, so willing to learn and hear what you have to say. Seeing them like this humbles me too and reminds me never to get cocky, which I can get sometimes. That is not a good way to learn!

3) Once again I have a fantastic mentor. I was telling him about this colleague in my team who has a good attitude but does not deliver. So he advised me on how to do it effectively and kindly. Just tell the facts, and that you also don't know what to do. On the other hand, try to get some compensation for him from HR.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 21

Day 21: 29 Oct 2014, Wednesday
I am grateful that:

1) Lucas is showing progress in his year-end concert. In the first year (PN) he was standing at the side. During the concert he did not follow the pace, he danced (or rather jumped) for a littlewhile not according to when he was supposed to do it, and most of the time he was standing on the stage staring at the background and at his shoes. In the second year (N1) he was standing at the back at the side. He was standing there partly also because he missed quite a large part of the rehearsals because he was out sick. He danced through 90% of the performance, movements not the best and not always in tune, but he did. I was super proud! This year Teacher Punitha said he is standing in the first row! At the side but first row nonetheless! I am super looking forward to his concert next week!

2) Luis seems to like me more than the helper these days. Some mothers have no problem being the first person in their children's hearts. I have no problem with Lucas but I had a lot of problems with Luis. Because I have a helper and because I also need to spend time with Lucas, I did not have as much time with Luis. When I come back from work, he would prefer to stick with me and sit at the dining table, or ask me to bring him to see the wheatgrass that we are growing, than playing with my mother in law or the helper. I don't care what you think, but hooray mummy, your hard work pays off!

3) My colleagues are kind enough to eat and commend on my muffins. I do not feel that they are better than those sold outside, but they are very kind to say they are nice, moist, not hard, good enough to be sold etc. I have thin skin, so I really appreciate that they are so nice about it.

Gratitude Challenge Day 20

Day 20: 28 Oct 2014, Tuesday

I am grateful that:

1) My husband is fillial (even though hot tempered!). When bringing Bobby to the vet I brought along both sons, and still wanted to send my in-laws back (husband is driving). There were not enough seats to be comfortable. My in-laws offered to take the bus.We left for the vet, my husband on the way complaining I shouldn't have brought Luis, that Lucas is not being easy, blah blah blah. But at the same time he kept thinking that we shouldn't have allowed his parents to have to walk so much. So he went back to pick them up from the bus stop and sent them home.

2) Bobby ate his dinner tonight after I stirred the food and gave it to him again. His appetite is getting worse, I also don't know if it's due to old age, therefore bad teeth. Or he doesn't like the food, or he just generally does not feel well. It is common that he only eats a meal a day because he gets so hungry that he just decides to eat it. These few days he is eating less than that. I am grateful that at 16 years old, he is considered a relatively healthy dog. Tonight he slept in a funny position, reminds me of many times when he was younger where he did many funny things that my husband and I will often ask each other to look at and also talk about.

3) We had a short fun time making wheatgrass juice tonight. We didn't have a juicer, so we had to blend it. Lucas was very excited to cut it. Husband quickly blended it with honey, then we drank the juice. Luis had a spoon and did not want anymore. Lucas took quite a few spoons. It was fun nonetheless!

Gratitude Challenge Day 19

Day 19: 27 Oct 2014, Monday

I am grateful that:

1) My mother is still considerably healthy. I brought her for her diabetes check-up today. Each time during her doctor's visit, a small part of me is nervous about her test results. I'm worried that her kidney is no longer good and that she will need dialysis, or her blood sugar or blood pressure or any other issues have gotten worse. Today the test shows her blood sugar is slightly raised, but her kidney health is maintained. So she gets a small dose of medicine for her blood sugar. To me this is A+ report card! What else to ask for, she's 79, walking and healthy and happy!

2) I have a very strong relationship with my siblings. Last time I used to bring my mother to all her doctor appointments when it was just diabetes. After that many more came in and my siblings ungrudgingly stepped in to help. My brother on his own accord keeps track of all the appointments via an excel file and frequently sends out the roster for us to take up the appointments. When I expressed one day that I do not have enough leave, my brother immediately said it's ok and he will take over bringing my mother to that appointment. But I also know not to take advantage, because he is already shouldering a lot of the blood test trips and trips to the GP, so I said I will do it. Nevertheless, in times when a parent is sick, it makes me grateful that I have a solid support system together with my siblings. Also, we hardly quarrel. We don't talk very often but I know our relationship is strong. I like that all of us are mature adults who appreciate the relationship that we have.

3) There are nice people around us. The nurse at the doctor's office was very friendly. Later at the pharmacy it looked like I will be late to pick Lucas, so I asked the registration staff if he could ask the pharmacist to hurry the prescription. He did and we completed the transaction in a jiffy.

Gratitude Challenge Day 18

Day 18: 26 Oct 2014, Sunday
I am grateful that:

1) Lucas is an energetic boy. We left at the house at before 9am to go to his first piano class (which will not be continued because he doesn't listen to the teacher's instructions!), then to Chinese class, then to swimming, then a nap and then dinner at grandparents' house. The energy of small kids!

2) Luis is getting more interesting to spend time with. While Lucas was napping, he woke up and I let him play a little with the batter of my steamed lemon cupcakes that I was preparing.

3) Every night before Lucas falls asleep we have a good night ritual. He always wants to be the first to say it. If he doesn't want to close his eyes and seriously try to sleep yet then he won't say it. And if he is ready to sleep then he must say this before he falls asleep. I treasure it very much:
Lucas: "I say first. Good night mummy."
Me: "Good night baby."
Lucas: "I love you mummy."
Me: I love you baby."

Occasionally he will also say "Mummy hug me", so I will put my arm around him for a little while.

I once read an article about treasuring all these little actions because each time it can be the last time that it is happening. Perhaps the next day they will decide to be independent and not want to do it anymore. 


Monday, 27 October 2014

Healthiest muffin I have ever made!

I had apple sauce left in the fridge for about a month and when I started scooping flour my husband texted me and asked if I can make a banana cake with wholemeal flour, oats and chia seeds. Of course I said yes. So I adapted the recipe. Tastes all right, I regretted the assorted spice so you will not see it in the recipe here. It is surprisingly moist and not flat-dense too. This one you can really eat without feeling guilty!

Makes 11 silicon cupcakes.
1/2 cup oil
Between 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup apple sauce
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup plain flour
1/2 spoon slightly heaped baking soda
1/2 spoon cinnamon powder
1 cup filling (I used 1 banana, raisins and oats)
Chia seeds for sprinkling
Oats for sprinkling
1) Pour oil and sugar in a big bowl and mix together.
2) Add egg and vanilla extract and mix well.
3) Stir in apple sauce.
4) In another bowl, mix wholemeal flour, plain flour, baking soda and cinnamon powder together.
5) Prepare your cup of filling and then preheat Air Fryer at 175 deg C.
6) Pour flour mixture to wet mixture. Mix well with spatula, aim for 10-14 strokes. It's ok to have some flour visible.
7) Fold in filling.
8) Fill silicon cups to almost full, sprinkle with Chia seeds and oats.
9) Bake at 175 deg C for 13-15 min.

My taster was very happy with the muffins. Certified children-friendly.


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 17

Day 17: 25 Oct 2014, Saturday

I am grateful that:

1) Lucas is not aversed to all vegetables. This morning we went to a coffeeshop for breakfast. There was a durian roll dish that came with some green leafy garnish (tasted like mint) and he asked if he could eat it. I said of course and he put it in his mouth. Luckily before he heard daddy's friend say 'do you dare to?'. He liked it and finished the rest! Kinda weird, I wouldn't normally eat it, but good for Lucas!

2) I remember how to make a mean ondeh ondeh. I followed a recipe once, recorded it on my iPhone but lost the notes when my iPhone was spoilt. I've been meaning to try out again so I could document the recipe. Today I did it while the boys were napping and it turned out very well!

3) Lucas is a very good boy today. I enjoy spending time with him. Tonight we went to our friend's place for dinner. He cooperated and had his soup quickly, ate his dinner on his own and played happily. Before he fell asleep I told him that I am very proud of him because of his good behaviour. 

Gratitude Challenge Day 16

Day 16: 24 Oct 2014, Friday

I am grateful that:

1) I have a manager who was very tough on me. I suffered for two years, weaving in and out of low self esteem and prolonged stress and unhappiness. Gradually I learnt to buck up and while some things are not going well in my team, I learnt to take it in my stride. Specifically, this morning I received an email from my manager, in short, telling me my team member screwed up big time in a project and asking me why. In the past I would immediately feel it's my fault and I slipped big time because I did not prevent the screw up and I would feel guilty and useless. When I see my boss I'll be super guilt-striken. But instead I was calm and asked about what happened, and I replied my manager that I will follow up on it and revert. I also do not feel overly responsible for it. I will have to solve it of course, but without the guilt. So thank you manager, in a weird sort of way, you helped me to mature. 

2) My in-laws are thoughtful people. Even though we send them home on most nights, they do not always expect us to do it. As usual tonight my husband is working. I was supposed to bring Bobby to subcut but Lucas waited very long to build his giant Lego house so I decided to bring Bobby tomorrow instead. My in laws graciously offered to go back on their own so I can spend time with the boys. 

3) I made the right decision to stay home and build the Lego house with the boys. We had a good quality time together and they super enjoyed playing in the house! Until Lucas decided to bring the iPad out.  (Well he still enjoyed watching it in the house...)

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 15

Day 15: 23 Oct 2014, Thursday

I am grateful that:

1) My husband let me take the car today even though he has to pick Lucas up because I am playing badminton. What a thoughtful husband. 

2) My husband is the type who will spend time with his son. He brought Lucas to the football match. Even though he said Lucas was not watching the game, I'm sure he enjoyed going to the football game with his daddy. 

3) Luis is growing up very well. He's slow in talking compared to Lucas, but he's babbling happily everyday, including at night before falling asleep in his cot. 

Gratitude Challenge Day 14

Day 14: 22 Oct 2014, Wednesday 

I am grateful that:

1) We have friendly neighbours. Because of our helper, we are friendly with our Filipino neighbours. The boys always say 'Mimi! Mimi!' when we are going out and Mike, Mimi, Joy and her children often come out and say hi (instead of being irritated with us!)

2)  Lucas likes to help me in the kitchen at times. I haven't cooked in a long time, today there was food in the fridge and I managed to cook easy and good tasting long beans and ikan bilis for Lucas' dinner tonight. And Lucas had a good time cutting up the long beans. 

3) Again I have friendly neighbours. After dinner I brought Lucas downstairs to cycle with Menglin, while I pushed Luis on the tricycle and chit chatted with Shao Hong. Mentioned to her that our maid is going home in Decembeg and she readily offered to us to let Lucas go down to her place everyday after dinner so I can do my stuff for a little while. I think I'm gonna do that!

Gratitude Challenge Day 13

Day 13: 21 Oct 2014, Tuesday

I am grateful that:

1) Tomorrow is Deepavali! It's a nice mid-week break and today will be a less stressful day. 

2) Lucas' childcare has rather good management. It's moving to a further away place. Yet it still remembers to provide school bus for the existing children, albeit only to and fro the stadium. And the new place is really nice. So the management is trying to make the transition a really smooth one so there is not too much stress and unhappiness due to the move. 

3) My helper has decided to renew her contract with us. Even though there are some things which I hope she can be better at, she's at least good at the things that are most important to me - taking very good care of Luis and is a decently honest maid. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 12

Day 12: 20 Oct 2014, Monday

I am grateful that:

1) I did not go out for lunch today. Because I brought vegetables and eggs yet I was tempted to go out for lunch. At the last minute I somehow managed to say 'no' when Jiuyu asked if I'm going for lunch. 

2) One of the helpers whom I shortlisted was considering working for me, and my current helper Anna is also considering renewing her contract. Therefore I am not stressed at all with regards to securing a helper. 

3) I spent a nice 10 minutes with Lucas at Limbang. He was a very good boy, we quickly bought his toothbrush and toothpaste and we left. He thought of his brother too, and he wanted to buy a set for him as well. When we passed by the toy shop he wanted to see toys but I said we will be late to pick daddy, he nicely said 'all right' and moved on promptly. 

Gratitude Challenge Day 11

Day 11: 19 Oct 2014, Sunday

I am grateful that:

1) My sil, Bee Leng, was able to help me with Lucas today so that I could go to the agencies to interview for a new helper. She brought him to and from his Tien Hsia and swimming classes and even got him to nap. At times like this I am grateful for supportive family members. 

2) After spending 11am - 4pm at Far East Shopping Centre and Roxy Square at East Coast and 7-8 interviews later, I managed to narrow down to 3 helpers. At least I know that I won't be in a rut and left without good help. 

3) I managed to sneak in a jog in the evening despite a busy day. I'm glad to have done it. I seriously need to lose weight and I do want to get fitter. Sometimes I remind myself that I have two young sons who depend very much on me. I don't want to be caught in situations where I fall sick or somehow is not fit enough to protect them. 

Gratitude Challenge Day 10

Day 10: 18 Oct 2014, Saturday 

It is now getting harder and harder to be disciplined and record everyday. Today is already Tuesday! Nevertheless...

I am grateful that:

1) There is a nice vegetable farm near our house. We went there to feed the fishes, goats, bought vegetables for eating and seeds for growing. We had a really relaxing and enjoyable morning, and still in time for Luis to nap at 1pm. 

2) Luis had a good 3-hour uninterrupted nap and Lucas did not take too long to fall asleep too. I had an hour plus to experiment with a a steamed orange cake. Well it was a disaster, it looked so ugly and tasted so bad that I could not stand to take a picture and I threw it away! 

3) We met our friends and their kiddos for dinner, followed by animal rides which was the highlight of the night. Lucas was a little apprehensive at first and daddy had to ride with him, but after one round he was confident to go in his own. Luis was very excited from the beginning. We managed to get a monkey, his fav animal, which he calls 'ah ah'. And later when Lucas rode with Luis I was very grateful for their brotherly relationship.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 9

Day 9: 17 Oct 2014, Friday

I am grateful that:

1) I have a resourceful partner in my husband. I asked him to find out which vendor is taking over Mulberry's location at the stadium and he managed to find out! Even left my contact for them to call me back next week!

2) Lucas is developing confidently. When he was younger I worried that he will be bullied because he is a quiet boy. At times he doesn't like to play with others too. But over time I find that he's quite adaptable, when I drop him off for Heguru and Tien Hsia he didn't cry at all despite the fact that he is a little apprehensive. Today when I picked him up the teacher also told me that she felt Lucas has developed a lot and now shares and spends time with his friends, is talkative and talks to the teachers on his own initiative. This may seem like no big deal for many children, but I am damn proud of Lucas. 

3) My helper gave me two months advanced notice that she is resigning end of year. Though I have a tendency to grumble that she did not finish her contract, I try to lok on the bright side that at least I have time to get a new maid. Perhaps it's a chance to get a better one too. 

Gratitude Challenge Day 8

Day 8: 16 Oct 2014, Thursday

I am grateful that:

1) My husband is supportive of me playing badminton after work. He agreed to pick Lucas up (without the car cos I drove it to work) and so I get to play for an hour. 

2) The badminton players are nice and accommodating. So picture this, all the players tonight were men, and all of them are good players. Yet they were very welcoming towards me joining them and I slugged it out in order not to torture them with overly boring games!

3) After 3 dormant years I did not play too badly! Last time I used to make many mistakes, well I still make a fair number today but overall it's not too bad. There were a few good shots and saves too, so I guess I can return without shame next week. 

Gratitude Challenge Day 7

Day 7: 15 Oct 2014, Wednesday

I am grateful that:

1) I have a team made up of members who are mostly capable and committed. Over the last two years we have improved a lot and we are all ambitious on what we want to achieve. And we are capable of doing that!

2) I managed to find interest in my job again. There was a period of time when I was dejected and uninterested and I dread going to work everyday. Now I like working with the test houses, especially when I know it's going somewhere and it's something that I can contribute significantly to. One thing though, if we win the test I expect to be duly recognised and rewarded!

3) My manager is out of office for three days! This means there is no overstretched section head meeting this morning. Even though most days I do not need to interact with him, knowing that he's not around makes me feel less stressed. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 6

Day 6: 14 Oct 2014, Tuesday

I am grateful that:

1) My sons' diets consist of healthy food. This morning Lucas had Greek yoghurt with honey, cranberries, walnut and oats. And Luis has homemade bread or oats usually. So they are both growing up healthily!

2) I enjoyed a nice day out with my husband. We went for breakfast followed by some shopping, then lunch, vet, groceries and to the gym. A very relaxing day with fitness built in. 

3) I have a husband who gives me good guidance on exercising. He teaches me efficient exercises and tells me what to eat in order to lose weight. Now it's all up to me!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 5

Day 5: 13 Oct 2014, Monday

I am grateful that:

1) My husband is faithful. He just came back from Shanghai and told me about a girl who asked for his contact and sent him sexy photos, which after a while he told her he's married. 

2) My husband and I still go out on dates together. He said he's not working on Tuesday and so I took leave so we can go out for a day together. 

3) I have a mentor, Chew Meng, who has taught me that not everything has to be ruthless in the corporate world. I have a colleague who is not doing so well and at times I get frustrated, but because of Chew Meng I remind myself to be respectful and not be condescending. Many things define a person, working ability is just one, and a very small one. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 4

Day 4: 12 Oct 2014, Sunday

I am grateful that:

1) I have nice and friendly neighbours. Our next door neighbour, Mike, invited us to his birthday bbq tonight. Met Lucas' friend's mummy, Betty, downstairs and we sat by the pool for a nice chatter. 

2) I found someone I can click with very well in Kevan's (Lucas' swimming friend) mummy. Carrie is so nice to talk to, no airs and can talk about anything. And she gave me two bottles of eucalyptus oil and refused that I pay her. This is someone whom I can totally relax and bitch with. 

3) My neighbour invited us to his bbq. I know it sounds like a repeat point, but really it's not. Because the reason I am grateful this time is he saved me from cooking dinner tonight!

Gratitude Challenge Day 3

Day 3: 11 Oct 2014, Saturday

I am grateful that:

1) I have good and close relationship with my family. Family relationship is not to be taken granted for. My husband is away and I could just at the last minute pop by my brother's place for a morning with the kids and feel so welcome at their house. 

2) My mother is in good health. She almost died this year and I have many times felt thankful that she didn't, and is in considerably good health and spirits after that scary fit episode. I am happy to send her to play mahjong after lunch!

3) Lucas is improving in his number memory at Heguru class. Today he got 2 whole rows correct! This is the first time he wrote down so many numbers and so many were correct. Even though his plate puzzles were not as good but the number memory is a huge improvement and encouragement!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 2

Day 2:  10 Oct 2014, Friday

1) I have a good helper whom I can rely on to take care of Luis, for instance tonight my husband is on business trip and I can't put Luis to bed. 

2) The childcare teachers are patient and kind. Lucas shitted in his shorts again and the teacher helped to clean him up and wash his shorts and did not grumble when telling me about it. 

3) I have a job that allows me to leave work at 6 plus on most days so I can spend time with my family and have time to do other things (or mostly chores!). 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Gratitude Challenge Day 1

Day 1: 9 Oct 2014, Thursday

I am grateful that:
1) I have matured and not as afraid to speak up in meetings now. I was surprised myself during this category visit. 

2) I have a husband who can support me when I am busy. This week he ungrudgingly (most of the time) helped to prepare, send and pick up Lucas to and from school while I leave home early and come back late. 

3) I have supportive in laws who help us with our children so unconditionally. I do not need to worry about my children at all during the day when I work, and when I come home I have dinner spread out on the dining table.