Pay Attention

Head. Thorax. Abdomen.

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Head, thorax, abdomen

Me: Kaius, tell me about the artwork you brought back from school.

Kaius: It’s an ant. It has 3 parts. Head, thorax and abdomen.

Me: (Thinking: he’s not even 4 and he knows the word “thorax”??) Oh wow ok.

Kaius: let’s use bendy straws to make
its antennas. They need antennas to talk to other ants.

As much as I am completely amazed at the stuff my son knows (smart kid!), I have also realised that if I don’t pay attention to him (even though it’s really tough at times to do so), I will miss all these magnificent moments.

#thesupermamapreneur #LiseChew #kaius #proudmama #mumpreneur #mamapreneur #mompreneur #mygreatmadness

Babies are NOT CUTE: 3 Situations Where I Wish They Came With A Mute Button

2 sick toddlers + 1 newborn does not a happy Mama make! I swear it’s the Universe’s way of pointing and laughing at me,
“HA. HA. HA. Supermamapreneur that.”

2 sick toddlers + 1 newborn does not a happy Mama make! I swear it’s the Universe’s way of pointing and laughing at me,

“HA. HA. HA. Supermamapreneur that.”

This is when running a business from home and mothering is a mishmash mountain of Icky, Sticky and Tricky.

#1: ICKY – When they are sick

This always happens to me. Two out of two. The 2 times I had newborns when there was already an older child around, the older child(ren) would get sick.

When Allegra was born, Kaius caught the dreaded Hand, Foot & Mouth disease (HFMD) when Allegra was barely a week old. He had the ulcers in his mouth and throat. But the most worrying thing was HFMD can be fatal for newborns. Luckily, Allegra didn’t get HFMD but she caught a mild version of the flu. The poor thing had a fever, cough and also a stuffy nose when she was not even a month old.

When Alexa was born, both Kaius and Allegra caught some bug from school which inevitably turned into bronchitis. They had to use the nebuliser for medication and were also on antibiotics. Alexa ended up with a stuffy nose.

I spent my confinement month* with all three kids at home (this was so not the plan!), and ferrying the kids to and fro from home to the paediatrician.

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Not allowed to go too close.

 

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The perks of staying at home. Get to paint whenever she wants!
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What better way to pass the time than to build his car and train tracks.
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Massive! He was so happy.
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Waiting outside the Doctor’s office. Still looking stylish with her brother’s sunnies.

Somedays I brought just Alexa for her routine newborn check up, other days, 2 kids, and on really great days, all 3 kids would have to go.

Imagine the bills. And the whining (from Mama too).

ICK.

#2: STICKY – When medication (& puke) ends up everywhere 

I wish there was a magic formula to help young kids understand that if they scream and scream to avoid taking their medicines, they will cough and cough, and then they will puke and puke.

ALL OVER THE FLOOR.

My carpet.

My sofa.

Their bed. My bed.

Puke

E

    V

         E

              R

                    Y (insert appropriate expletive) W H E R E.

Kaius is 3+, so he understands that he has to take his medicine to get better and the nebuliser is part of that process. He’s calm and takes what he needs to without drama. But to be fair he’s not a dramatic kid.

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No dramas with Kaius.

My spunky Allegra on the other hand, hated taking the powdery notsonicetasting antibiotics and using the nebuliser. She would scream and cry and shout and fight each time she had to take her medication. We’d usually have to carry her and let her watch some TV to distract her.

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Not loving the nebuliser. Barely sitting still for this!

So many times each medicine session would last 30 minutes and end with her in a pile of sobs and covered in sticky medicine and me exhausted. And y’know what’s the most “fun” part? When you think you finally got her to swallow her medicine, but she chokes and sputters and then pukes everything out. Which means you’ll have to do it all.over.again.

Good times.

lala2
Completely upset and drained after fighting the medicines. She was falling asleep on my lap AND crying at the same time.

But I also had to remind myself that she’s sick and not even 2 years old, so she’s allowed to be afraid and cranky and difficult.

Oh and since my office is at home, my poor gem of an assistant had to work through all the commotion pandemonium.

By the way, I will gladly pay money to anyone who can make antibiotics for kids in gummy form. My kids LOVE gummies and it will save Mummies everywhere the heartache of having to force medicine down their kids’ throats.

#3: TRICKY – When EVERYONE wants Mummy

And you know it wouldn’t help even if you could clone Mummy because the clone probably wouldn’t have the same smell as Mummy.

This was the most tricky for me. 

I had the newborn to attend to, and to get breastmilk production going for.

I had the aftermath of the birth to deal with – yes, painful boobs, stitches where nobody wants to have stitches (Google “episiotomy” at your own risk!), and just generally trying to bounce back quickly.

Then I had the 2 older children who just wanted to be near me because it made them feel better.

But because I couldn’t afford to get sick (cos if I do everything will fall apart), I couldn’t spend too much time with them also. They had to settle for brief cuddles instead of dozing off in the same room as me and Alexa.

The crying. The whinging.

On top of that, the Boss, I need your approval on this and that & what’s our marketing plan now? type questions. (Having the baby earlier than expected always brings about planning nightmares for work. And it doesn’t help when sometimes it is difficult to focus to get good ideas for marketing.)

There isn’t a quick fix for this. Only taking it 1 day at a time. Sometimes 1 hour or 1 minute at a time.

The general plan is usually this: When the shit hits the fan, eliminate shit maker(s), switch off the fan and then clean up the mess.

Just

one

thing

at

a

time.

And when it is all over, we celebrate by going shopping!

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The kids both loving the supermarket experience with their kid trolleys.

 

*In Chinese cultures, the “confinement month” refers to post-natal care which lasts between 28 to 40 days. Usually, the mother is encouraged to stay at home to recover from the birth. During this time, a special diet is prepared and herbal medicines brewed to help her regain her strength and vitality. Everything is specially prepared including herbal and/or lemongrass baths, red date tea (that is drunk in place of plain water) and green papaya fish soup to encourage milk production. The confinement nanny is hired to do all these things for the mother and to also help look after the newborn for 28 days, typically.

Remembering LKY: My Sister, The Eulogist.

My sister was the only female (and young!) eulogist for Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral last year.

Last week, we had a mini family excursion to Temasek Polytechnic’s (TP) library for a memorial exhibition for Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. It was especially exciting for us because TP was featuring one of its alumna and my sister, Cassandra Chew, in this exhibition.

If her name sounds familiar, it’s because she was the only female (and young!) eulogist for Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral last year. And as a thank you, she was given one of the artillery shells from the 21-gun salute that occurred during the funeral procession and it is part of the exhibition’s central display.

To give an idea to non-Singaporeans of what a big deal this eulogy thing was, she delivered the eulogy in the presence of many world leaders, including Henry Kissinger and former US President Bill Clinton. So you see, I’m not bragging just because she’s my sister. It really is a BIG deal!

Lots of people ask me how she received such a privilege and the simplest answer is this: She interviewed Mr. Lee and his family for a book about his life at home (not yet published) and the picture book Lee Kuan Yew: A Life In Pictures whilst she was a journalist at Singapore Press Holdings.

Besides the fact that she is my sister, I thought it added more heart to the whole funeral because it was important to the decision-makers that the eulogist who represented Young Singaporeans actually knew Mr. Lee and got to spend some time with him.

I brought my 2 little girls along because I wanted them to be part of this moment in time with their Aunt (Kaius was at school). When they grow up and realise what an insane honour this is, they can also be amazed (like we were) at Ah Mai* Cass’ achievements. For this is her legacy, and they got to be part of it.

lkycass3
LKY & I: Exhibition Area at Temasek Polytechnic Library

 

lkycass4
Wisdom. This applies to running a business too, no?
lkycass5
Artillery shell displayed next to a computer replaying her eulogy.
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Up close. I wonder where she’ll put it at home when all the exhibitions are done.
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So exciting! Me & Cass.
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“We don’t have everything but we have more than most, because of your lifelong labour.”
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Left to right: My brother, Paul; Cass; My other brother, Kevin; Me; Xaxa; My mama; My helper; Allegra

 

Exhibition information: 

‘LKY & I: Remembering 23rd March’ The exhibition is open to the public from 24 March to 15 April 2016 during the Library opening hours:

Mon-Fri: 8.30am to 7pm; Sat: 8.30am to 1pm. Sun/PH & where the eve of PH falls on a Sat: Closed

*Ah Mai is Hainanese for an Auntie who is younger than her niece’s or nephew’s mother or father.

Watch Cassandra’s eulogy here. The transcript:

I did not know Mr Lee Kuan Yew personally for most of my life. We met while I was on two assignments as a journalist – documenting his life at home and collecting photographs for a picture book for his 90th birthday.

I met him up close six times, for meetings and interviews, from July 2011. Most were large, formal meetings at the Istana. Naturally I was on my best behaviour.

After all, this was the man who had led Singapore to independence, triumphed over his opponents in a storied political career spanning over 60 years, and transformed a sleepy colonial outpost into a bustling metropolis. And there he was, in person.

I didn’t dare to say a word to him until my editor made me lead one of the interviews. He thought Mr Lee would enjoy the interaction with a younger Singaporean.

I was so nervous I could hear my heart pounding before the meeting, and actually felt a headache coming on. I braced myself to be peppered with questions on whether I was married, when I planned to have children or whether I spoke Mandarin often enough – questions Mr Lee, as you know, was known to ask young Singaporeans he met.

But there was none of that during the 80-minute interview, which was focused on the beginnings of his political career. There was no room for nervousness either.

He came in, sat down, and asked, “Who’s going to start?” And with that, the interview began. As always, Mr Lee was focused on the task at hand.

Over time, I gained more glimpses of what he was like as a person. For instance, it was a thrill for me to learn from his oral history that he once failed an art exam in primary school. But that was of course a small blemish on his distinguished academic record.

I also learned that in his later years he craved his late mother’s gado-gado and mee siam, which thankfully, his sister, Madam Monica Lee, could replicate.

I made at least eight visits to 38 Oxley Road, where I went into all the rooms. But the only time I saw him at home was during our 20-minute photo shoot which began in his study, where he spent most of his time while at home.

He was in good spirits that day, dressed in a white, short-sleeved shirt, dark trousers and his trademark sports shoes. It looked as if he had been going through his email at his desk, which also had newspapers, magazines, binders of papers and stationery, all neatly arranged.

It was clear that even at home, his focus was on his work. It didn’t matter to him that his furniture was more than 60 years old and outdated. They served their purpose and that was all that mattered. That was how he lived his life: very simply and frugally, and always putting the country first and his own creature comforts second.

We moved to the living room, which was also a very private space because it was where the late Mrs Lee was remembered. Her photographs were displayed in two rows above her urn, and I was told Mr Lee would gaze at them daily as he had his meals.

I could feel how much Mr Lee missed his late wife. She was his partner, his anchor, for more than 63 years.

The last set of photos we took at his home are my favourite. Seated on a chair by a wooden table on the verandah, Mr Lee flashed a bright smile. They turned out to be the best photos on the reel.

No one knows about this, but to thank him for the photo shoot that day, I had prepared two chocolate cupcakes after learning how much he enjoyed chocolate. I even got the bakery to label each cupcake so he’d know exactly what kind of chocolate cupcake it was. But, on the day, I was far too excited and dropped the box before I could present them to Mr Lee.

I had been reflecting on what I was learning about Mr Lee, as a person and founder of independent Singapore, and had just begun to understand just how much he and his family had sacrificed to ensure Singapore’s success. I realised how much I had taken for granted, and how much more I had to thank him for.

To me, Mr Lee had transformed from an elderly statesman who our textbooks say did a lot for us but didn’t quite seem relevant to my daily life, to a man for whom I developed a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation. So much of Singapore began to make sense to me now that I had seen the world through his eyes.

I decided to try to express my thanks again, and wrote him a Thank You card. I had so much to say, but did not know how to say it, and ended up writing four simple lines. A few weeks later, I received a reply. True to his personality, his response was brief and to the point. “Thank you”, he wrote, and signed off as “LKY”. I was thrilled to have heard back from him, but a little sad that I did not convey what I felt in my heart.

This is my last chance. Mr Lee, thank you for everything. Some days I cannot believe how fortunate I am to have been born a Singaporean. We don’t have everything, but we have more than most, because of your lifelong labour. On behalf of young Singaporeans everywhere, I’d like to say: thank you.