Kaius is 5.

Happy Birthday, Kaius!

I feel like I graduated as a Mother.

Dear Kaius,

You’ve just turned 5 and you have no idea how proud Mummy and Daddy are of you.

You have grown slowly but surely into this thoughtful, inquisitive, cheeky and kind little boy.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the pre-term labour scare at 35 weeks of pregnancy, and then finally the 26 hours of labour at 38 weeks to bring you into this world.

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Hello, my little boy blue.

Everyone says your first child is special.

As middle children, Daddy and I always scoffed at that statement because, well, what do you mean? We’re less special because we’re not the first or the youngest?

But when we had you, we finally understood this. (Although, we also came to the conclusion at that time (having no other children than you) that the first one will be special, the last one will be the baby, hence special, and the middle ones are *sigh* least loved! But I digress.)

And it’s not because we love your sisters any less. (Yes, everyone gets equal share when Mummy and Daddy kick the bucket).

It’s because with you, there were and will be so many “firsts”:

The first time we became “Mummy” and “Daddy”.

 

The first time I had to figure out breastfeeding and cursing at how painful it was at the beginning. (What do you mean I am supposed to do this for at least 6 months?! And why isn’t there some kind of epidural for engorgements??) In spite of all the pain and suffering, I did it for you.

The first time my heart broke when I had to leave you in the hospital when you were only 3 days old because of jaundice. I felt like I was leaving a precious part of me there. And it’s true, isn’t it? You are part of me because you were formed inside me, flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.

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The first time I left you at school and forced myself to walk away even though I could hear you screaming for me.

The first time you called me “Mama”.

Even though we were given this giant responsibility of shaping your life, you have no idea how much you have already shaped ours (and turned it upside down!).

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You have taught me that gentle kisses from your baby are far more precious than anything that can be bought.

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You have taught me the true meaning of sacrifice. Yes, I worked as a lawyer before you were born, and late nights at 1 or 2am were not uncommon. I thought then, that that was sacrifice, for my career. But, seriously, what did I know then? I was only responsible for myself and I could still be selfish. Nobody else needed me for their survival, but you did. And that meant I had to put you first.

I remember once I was holding you in the middle of the night trying to soothe you whilst I was crying because I was so exhausted. But I did it anyway because you needed me.

You have also taught your Father what it means to be his son’s hero.

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Super Daddy!
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After winning 2nd place at the Healthy Baby Contest.

I will always be thankful for your cheeky smile,

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Your gentleness with your sisters,

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Sibling love.

And every time you look at me and say, ”Mama, I love you”, even when we’re in the middle of something. It’s almost like the Universe telling me to STOPBEINGBUSY and pay attention to what matters. Because there will never be a second chance at watching you grow up.

Oh and you know what? It is because of you that we understood, so deeply and assuredly, just how much our own parents love us. Other assumptions, parental mistakes and definitions aside (because I am a lawyer and I gotta catch’em all), it is that self-sacrificial, tender, unconditional, enduring love that will always be there. It is the kind of love that will catch you when you fall, continually and tirelessly look for you when you’re lost, and will be there when you finally want to talk, even if it is to yell expletives.

It is the kind of love that will choose to let you have the last bit of my Cornetto cone with all the yummy chocolate in it even though I really wanted it for myself. Not because I don’t love myself. But because giving it to you and watching you scrumptiously enjoy it made me so much happier.

It is the kind of love that will fight fiercely for you. To. The. Bloody. Death.

Daddy and I are so fortunate to experience these lessons of love with you, first.

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Hello cutie!

In this crazy and uncertain world we live in, of this you can be sure:

Your sisters will always annoy you,

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Hugs from Allegra! Wait till Xaxa is old enough. I don’t know what your face will look like when they both decide to squish you!

Mummy and Daddy will always love you,

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Happy Birthday, Kaius!

And Mummy will always be the one who introduced you to chewing gum 😉

 

Date Night: Of Art, Dinner & Great Company

At the National Gallery Singapore Gala 2016

Instead of the usual dinner and a movie, date night this week was at the National Gallery Singapore Gala, thanks to our friends Jean & Pauline. It was such a lovely tour of the National Gallery.

This year’s Gala was held during the opening of the opening of Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies which marks an important collaboration between the Gallery and Tate Britain.

We were invited to a private viewing of the Exhibition and all funds raised for the Gala would be going towards enabling the Gallery to deepen their curatorial research, as well as grow, preserve and present their collection to the world. It also funds community and education programmes that inspire audiences of all ages.

Besides the wining and dining, there was a live auction and a silent auction as well. I believe they managed to raise over $1million that night.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to take as many photos as I would have liked because I was minding my gown whenever I walked.

But I felt so pampered the entire evening – perfect for date night! Right from the time we pulled up in front of the National Gallery where the valets took over our car and we walked up the stairs (so New York!), disappearing into the one of my favourite buildings in Singapore, taking photos at the entrance…

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Arrival at the gala

and we went up more stairs and breezed through the exhibits, arriving here for cocktails…

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..taking wefies with the beautiful background..

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Minister Grace Fu was the Guest Of Honour. 
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The gala was presented by Vacheron Constantin

 

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Weihong with  Jean Nasr, Managing Director of Mouawad Singapore

..and of course meeting up with our gracious hosts for the night, Pauline Chan and Jean Nasr…

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Our lovely company for the night

…to dinner with great people…

….To the end of the night where we were whisked away to another room in the National Gallery and exquisitely spoiled by a dessert table that offered turkish delight, giant trifles (one had coffee jelly in it instead of the typical jam jelly – so good!), berries, cakes, and gorgeously coloured meringues…

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And this wasn’t even the biggest trifle bowl!

AND a cheese table. Any kind of cheese you could imagine, it was there!

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Mmmm cheese!

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What a night!

This was a great way to spend a Friday night – with the husband, good food, great company and a worthy cause!

The Husband, The President & The Prime Minister

National Day Reception at Gardens By The Bay’s Flower Dome.

The husband got invited to the National Day reception by the President this year because he’s a grassroots leader.

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The invite: With embossed crest and edges gilded in gold.
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Happy Birthday Singapore!

Here’s who he met:

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With the President and First Lady in the middle
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With Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Vivian Balakrishnan and wife
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With former Prime Minister and Emeritus Senior Minister, Goh Chok Tong and wife
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With Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law, Indranee Rajah
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With Mdm Ho Ching (the lady holding the glass), CEO of Temasek Holdings and listed as 59th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. Yeah she’s the lady who made waves by carrying that dinosaur motif pouch designed by an autistic student to the White House during PM Lee’s recent US State visit. 

And he also somehow managed to take a photo with our Prime Minister:

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With Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong

So, so proud of him 🙂

Throwback Thursday

Life With 2 Kids

Seemed like ages ago and I’m glad we had the chance to take this photo.

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I actually cancelled this shoot because I had been in the hospital 2 days before for a second pre-term labour scare. We thought the baby was arriving and I was kicking myself for not planning this shoot earlier in my pregnancy.

And since we decided that this would be our last baby, I wasn’t going to get anymore chances to take photos like this!

But it’s a good thing the contractions tapered off and I was allowed to go home the day before the shoot. That was a Friday. I managed to reinstate our appointment.

On Saturday, we took the photos.

And on Sunday night, I was back in the hospital again. 

Alexa was born in the early hours of Monday morning. 

Super timing 🙂

Kitchen & Kids: Fig, Prosciutto & Mozzarella Pizza

So Easy Even My 3 Month Old Got Involved!

I don’t have time to cook as much as I would like these days but when I do I try to involve the kids so we have something to do together. Making food is one of my favourite weekend indulgences. It’s relaxing, and I’m always amazed at how many good business ideas I come up with while bustling around in the kitchen.

The kids always want to help and the great thing about pizza is it’s easy for them to do so. Also, it’s a good trick to get your kids to try something they otherwise wouldn’t eat. My kids love to eat what they have helped to make.

One weekend when I saw figs on sale at the supermarket (rare sighting in Singapore!) I knew I had to try making Lorraine Pascal’s Fig, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Pizza. It might sound a little huh?? at first, but I guarantee the combination is absolutely yummy! Salty prosciutto, contrasted with the sweetness of the figs. The creaminess of the buffalo mozzarella is cut by the slightly tart tomato sauce base. Top that with fresh basil leaves and you get an unbelievably aromatic experience.

It’s lovely to eat on its own but if you want to kick it up a notch, I like to pair this with a fruity Sauvignon Blanc. The fruitiness matches the figs and the crispness contrasts with the creaminess of the cheese.

It’s the ultimate lunchtime indulgence.

This recipe is super easy to follow and it has 2 parts. 1) Make the pizza dough 2) Top the pizza and cook.

Part 1) Making The Pizza Dough 

Ingredients

For the basic dough

  • 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 125–145ml/4½–5fl oz warm water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and drizzling

Method

Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the water and oil together, then pour the liquid into the well of the flour mixture and mix to make a soft but not sticky dough.

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Mixing flour, salt and yeast

 

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BABY HACK: What do you do when you need to get the dough done but the baby wants you to carry her too? Put her in the Manduca baby carrier for the win and get her involved too! This baby carrier is not cheap, but it is extremely worth it. It’s been a complete lifesaver for the hubby and me for all 3 of our kids.
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Mix it all up with water & oil
  • Knead for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured work surface or for five minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Bring the dough together to a smooth flat ball and place on a large, lightly floured baking tray.

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My favourite – KitchenAid. What would I do without you?
  • Cover the pizza dough loosely with oiled clingfilm, making sure it is airtight. Leave in a warm but not hot place for 30–40 minutes.

TIP: If you have a mixer that has the hook attachment, I recommend that you use it to knead the dough. This is way less tiring and you can do other things whilst the mixer is kneading for you. But if you’re in need of some catharsis, kneading the dough by hand will do the trick.

Part 2) Topping The Pizza 

This is the part where it’s easy for the kids to help out with minimum mess.

Ingredients For the pizza topping

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The makings of a great tasting pizza – good quality ingredients.

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

  • Remove the clingfilm from the dough and roll out to a 30cm/12in circle to knock some air out, then prick holes all over the dough with a fork. Spread over the tomato purée, leaving a 2.5cm/1in border, followed by the mozzarella, prosciutto and half of the figs.

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    Spreading the puree: Older kids who are more in control of their fine motor skills will find this task easier.
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    Allegra helped too ❤
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    The little miss was happy to just look after she was done with the puree.
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    Ready for the oven!

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    Doesn’t it look yummy already?
  • Drizzle with oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the bread is crisp and golden-brown and the cheese has melted. Scatter basil over the top and arrange the remaining figs on the pizza. Drizzle with oil.

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    I feel like I need to make this all over again now – num num!
  • Serve at the centre of the table so everyone can rip off their piece of Italian gold.

TIP: Be sure to use buffalo mozzarella or mozzarella balls. Don’t use regular grated mozzarella because it will be too salty and not at all creamy.

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They love it!
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All smiles 🙂

Maids Are The Backbone of Our Society

When I was growing up, we had a couple of domestic helpers around the house, usually from Philippines or Indonesia.

(For those unfamiliar with Singapore, domestic help is commonplace because it is affordable.)

From my observations, even as a child, I knew that good domestic help was difficult to find. When we did have a good helper, things at home were well taken care of and my parents and grandparents would be freed up to focus on more important things.

When the helper was not so good because of attitude, work ethic or other various issues, it would be stressful for everyone, to say the least.

Yesterday was Foreign Domestic Worker Day and all the helpers were enjoying themselves at the carnival that was specifically organised for them. We were there to attend the Foreign Domestic Worker Awards Ceremony because my Mother-in-law was nominated for Foreign Domestic Worker Employer of the year – and she WON! She’s travelling so my husband went to receive her award on her behalf and had so many interviews with the media.

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From left to right – 1st photo: Weihong receiving the award from Minister of State, Sam Tan; 2nd photo: arranging their pose for the camera; 3rd photo: SMILE!; 4th photo: Weihong & Marny getting interviewed by a Straits Times reporter.

 

(Read the Straits Times article here.)

It is always been amazing to me that my Mother-in-law has managed to keep her helper for 28 years. Marny came to Singapore in 1987 to work to support her son, and she’s been here ever since. 4 years into her job, Marny asked for a $10,000 loan to buy farmland in the Philippines and my Mother-in-law agreed to lend her the money (Read full article here.)

Of course we can all draw parallels to hiring employees to help in business. The good ones help to grow the company. The not so good ones are a drain on the company.

The really great, stable ones, to me, form the backbone of the company.  My stepfather’s secretary was with him for 30 years and that really helped to contribute to the success of his company.

As a Mum (to 2 munchkins under the age of 4 and a 3rd one on the way) and entrepreneur, it is imperative that my support network works. Without reliable domestic help (which we are fortunate to have because my helper is super), I would not be able to do a lot of things that I do today. My husband has a very demanding job too as a lawyer so we rely heavily on our support network (which includes our extended families too. Takes a village, and all that).

Lots of successful businessmen have their wives to stay home and look after the kids and all other home matters. That’s not the situation for me so I have to be highly creative and organised.

Today, I am thankful for my reliable helpers and employees, who, just by being great at their job, are helping me (more than they know) to achieve my dreams, goals, and and the life that I desire for myself and my family.

(Originally posted on lisechew.com on 7 December 2015)

The Past, The Present & The Future

As I write this post, I’m expecting my third baby, running a business with a few new businesses in the pipeline and I’m happily married.

It all seems so easy, but it wasn’t at first, and it still isn’t at times. It’s difficult sometimes to find that happy equilibrium, but not impossible.

Life couldn’t have been more different when I was in my 20s. It was about me and what I wanted, and then when I got married, I had to also make room for my husband and what he wanted.

When I got called to the Singapore Bar and became a full fledged lawyer, it was still about me and what I wanted, and what the husband wanted. He understood when I had to pay my dues and work the long hours because he’d been there as well, so he’d give me space to grow.

My life changed most drastically when my first baby, Kaius, came along. It was the toughest thing I ever had to do, putting this little baby ahead of all of my needs and wants because he needed me first.

When Allegra, my second baby, was born it wasn’t too much of an adjustment because I’d been through all the difficult changes of becoming a parent with Kaius. But of course it got busier. I got busier. The business got busier.

I start off with this as my first post not to complain or boast. It’s more of a stock take of my life – where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I want to go.

To say that becoming a mother has not affected me at all as an entrepreneur would be a lie. I’d say it has changed the entire way I look at life, business and my WHY for doing what I do.

This is why I decided to use the term “The Supermamapreneur”. Because to me being a mother and being an entrepreneur is an inseparable reality.

I don’t profess to be “super” every day, and there are days when I feel completely unspectacular, ugly and unaccomplished. But being super is a goal I strive to reach every day.

Besides the fact that I had to learn to put most of my needs and wants second to what my children need and want, I learnt that there are many things that a mother would do for her children.

It’s not that the husband has become unimportant. No. My husband is my life.

But my children occupy a very sacred part of my heart and I was surprised at first at what becoming a mother did to me.

When my son had to be admitted to the hospital for jaundice when he was only 3 days old, it broke my heart. It was so painful, watching him half-naked under the UV light and leaving him in the hospital for 2 nights.

I also remember tearing when my kids would scream in pain during vaccinations when the needles went into their thighs.

I would have gladly bore their pain.

See. Being a mother has ruined me forever. But I believe it is this change that will help bring me to greater heights and propel me to where I want to go.

There are so many things that I want to do, but maybe could not be bothered if I was doing it for me. But if I put it into the context of doing it for my kids and their future, it changes everything. I would gladly bear whatever pain I’d have to go through to get to where I want to be, for them. I’d want them to be proud of me.

This is not to say that I would not have gone after my dreams and ambitions if not for them. I probably would have, but doing it for them as well gives me so much more fulfilment and they are the extra push when I need it.

Being a Supermamapreneur is who I want to be, every day. And this blog is meant to be a reminder to strive to do so, and proof to myself that I.did.just.that. 

Sunshine, crayons & Christian Louboutins,

Lise Chew