Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Letter to Steffi on Her 6th Birthday

Dear Steffi,

Thank you for being our daughter.  You are our gem, our precious and our pride if you do not know by now.  Mommy and daddy tried for the longest time before we finally had you in our arms.  With a blink of an eye, you had grown from a tiny infant to a bumbling toddler and now, an aspiring dancer.

In less than a week's time you would be 6 years old, and I will have to find you a primary school really soon.  My Facebook is filled with lots of your photos, leading to many friends accusing me that I favor you over your brother and sister.  You love taking pretty photos don't you?  Even your mommy complaints that I am exceptionally bias against Leroy while overly lenient to you.  But the truth is, you are smart and you know how to "behave" when I am around, and most importantly you know when to stop while Leroy would just go on and on.  

However Steffi,  that's looking at it from the positive side.  From another angle, you can also be seen as being shrewd and manipulative and that's not exactly a nice thing.  Daddy wants you to know that in life, no one wins all the time.  Look at the bigger picture and do not gain happiness at the expense of others.  Daddy hope you can find true happiness in giving and sharing and hope you can practice with your own siblings first.

Daddy had gone through lots of firsts with you, and thank you for showing me how it is like to be a dad.  I still remember the time when you had your first fits due to high fever.  It almost drove your mom hysterical and I was truly scared too.  Luckily you are alright and had grown out of it!  Daddy also practiced sucking out phlegm through your nostrils when you had trouble breathing through them.  Changing your diapers, doing the night shift milk-feeding duties and bathing you were things I never thought I would do but I did.  In return, you rewarded me with the truly amazing experience of coming home to your loud happy shouts of "Daddy! Daddy!" as well as your wet kisses after a long day at work.

But daddy is also very sorry.  I am sorry that you only got to enjoy the exclusivity of your mommy and daddy for a short period of 601 days before your little brother Leroy was born.  You had to learn how to share from such a young age, from toys to our attention.  Now when I look back, I can almost feel your pain when I see the tears that welled up in your eyes when you are unable to get what you want or the attention you needed as Leroy or Stacci needed them more then.  You would always say "Ok lor..." but I think they were never really okay and I am sorry. 

When we brought you out just this Monday, it was just the 3 of us, mommy, daddy and you.  I have not seen you being so exceptionally happy for quite a while.  You were grinning all the time and wanted us to hold one of your hands each wherever we went and we can sense that you thoroughly enjoyed the moment of having us all to yourself.  I have haunted by a sense of guilt since, thinking of whether we did the right thing, whether we should only have you instead of so many kids.  Without a doubt, finances would have been much better and we will all have more time, whether for ourselves or for each other.  There would be better toys, clothing and perhaps longer and further vacations but I really don't know what else there would be.

Steffi, at times when you are rejected by daddy when you asked for that spin and towel-wrapped-flying-out-of-the-bathroom routine which Stacci gets, remember that it's not because daddy don't love you anymore, it's because daddy had aged and is afraid of getting you hurt if I can't handle your weight.  Daddy is sorry if you are treated differently because you are already "grown up", and had to give up your favorite toy to a bawling Leroy or Stacci on many occasions.  At times when you even have to give up your sleeping space beside me to them, remember that daddy misses your cuddle too.  Daddy is still trying hard at learning and becoming a better daddy, and I pray that one day you would truly understand all that I have written so far.  But for now, never forget that mommy and daddy loves you no matter what!  Enjoy life with all of us and Happy Birthday my love!

Love always,


Monday, February 24, 2014

Gynecologist Visit With Wife and Steffi

Steffi had been bugging my wife since yesterday night, to let her tag along for the gynecologist visit and exclaiming how much she would like to see her baby brother.  As she does not have any important lessons today, my wife relented.  While on our way we came across a cute smiley face on the footpath just before the turn into the medical centre.  It must have been drawn by a happy parent while the cement was still wet.

Steffi was rather fascinated by the moving image of her little brother on the machine and the doctor and nurse were patient with her and accommodated her questions etc.  We were told that our little brother here has a bigger than average head, which was also the case for my 3 older kids as well.  I think we all can’t wait to welcome little baby “L” to our family!  

Can you make out the scan of baby “L” below? He was actually clutching his hands together and it seems as though he is praying. 

This visit cost me over one grand again but this time round my wife gave me advance notice (while on the bus) and even took pity on me, treating me to a Japanese lunch after the visit.  She did her sums well though, as I am still on a diet.  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Taking Public Bus: Managing the Stroller and Kids

I had shared this on my Facebook page before, I thought that it might be good to share it here.  I have to rely on public transport when I want to bring the family out, as the cost of owning a car is too prohibitive for my family.  Going to places near MRT station would be perfect, as there are usually lifts and I can push my "limousine" stroller (that can fit all 3 of them) in.  They get to enjoy the ride and bond, while I also get to reach my intended destination faster.  The problem arises only when the places I go, can only be reached by bus, or taxi.  It would still be bus over taxi, just so to save on the taxi fares.

If you are have kids, I believe that there would be times when the sight of your baby sleeping peacefully in the stroller is all you wished for.  What happened to us one day while we were waiting happily for the bus home after a long day of out with the 3 now-sleeping kids and a pregnant wife, was that we got a bus captain who opened the bus door and shouted out, "Ooi, cannot board the bus, have to fold your stroller and carry your kids up"!  And all we wanted to do was to bring the kids home, without any incident.

I tried explaining to the captain that it's gonna be a little difficult, that the kids might throw a tantrum if I wake them up, that there are a lot of stuff and it's only gonna be a few stops etc.  But it was still a strict no no as instructed by the bus company.  So what to do?  I have to start the arduous task of getting my pregnant wife on board, passing the 3 kids to her one by one, taking out ALL the items hanging on the stroller (parents would know how much stuff one needs brings out), folding the jumbo stroller and then bringing all these on board before finally having to find a place for everything.  I reckoned I must have made at least 5 trips up and down the bus, while trying hard not to make eye contact with fellow commuters.  The bus captain was helpful enough, sitting there and staring at my stuff on the pavement lest they get stolen.  I could have saved everyone 5mins of their time if we were just allowed on board.  *rolleyes* 

So to educate all parents, please note that SBS Transit doesn't allow an opened stroller on board, stating that the stroller can be thrown about, hurting other passengers and causing injuries to the child (see pamphlet)  Holding on to our 3 kiddos without any free hands, it does make me wonder in the event of an emergency braking situation, where would all my belongings and my folded stroller fly to anyway?  Shopping trolleys are allowed, no?  These are possible projectiles too!  

I am not trying to test the authorities but I am sure there must be better solutions (lol, maybe even preferential rates for COE for big families for example?).  The government is encouraging Singaporeans to have more kids and I am sure there would be more families with 2 or more kids in future.  But owning a car is not within the reach of everyone and these rules are really not helping.  Meanwhile, I guess I just have to be thick-skinned when doing commute by bus with the kiddos. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Warmth and Kindness from A Fellow Commuter

I was bringing Leroy to visit my Mom on my own today as she wasn't feeling too well lately.  Steffi went to work with my wife and Stacci went out with my sis-on-law.  

Leroy insisted on taking bus this time and so we waited.  It was a pretty long wait and when the bus arrived, it was packed to almost the brim.

First a nice guy made way for us and gestured to us to take his standing space at the side, so that Leroy would have a pole to hold on to and there's less chance of him falling.

Then an Auntie saw him and pulled him to her seat.  She lifted him up to her lap and carried him for me!  And now as I blog, Leroy is napping peacefully in her arms.  Can't thank her enough.  It's simply awesome that these acts of kindness were shown to us!  Singaporeans are a kind bunch!  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Addicted to Having Babies?

I am often being teased by friends and colleagues for having 3 kids and still wanting more.  Sometimes they would ask me if I have nothing better to do at night other than procreation or why don't my wife install a zipper since it's always C-section?  The best I heard was whether we did it for the baby bonus, as if the amount was HUGE.  Anyway, the cash bonus is barely enough to cover the checkups, tests, doctor's fees and hospital bills, not to mention the next 20 years of bringing the kid up.

Talking about bills, I actually felt pain when I accompanied my wife for her gynecologist visit just a couple of months ago.  I had initially thought that it was a routine "meet-the-fetus" session and didn’t knew I had to fork out money for the package at the end of that particular visit.  That, must be the reason why my wife specifically asked if I could make it for that day.  But hey, at least I got the following scan of him.

However I must say that the feeling is totally different when I was paying for the final bills at the hospital prior to discharge.  For the the past 3 occasions I didn't even blink or check any bill details but simply paid up and smiled all the way home with my wife and newborn.  All the three were Thomson babies and I am very familiar with the place by now.  Heck we even got a hamper for their frequent delivery program!  Just kidding, there's no such program but they do have some first / subsequent born incentives and we really did receive a hamper from the hospital on our third stay.

Okay back to why we want to have this many kids, it is simply because we desired to have kids!  After trying unsuccessfully to conceive for 2 years, we went for a medical checkup and were told that my wife had fibroids and that might have been the problem.  It was only after much pill popping for both of us that we were finally managed to see a “+” on the pregnancy test kit!  Argghh unfortunately it was just an emotional rollercoaster ride for both of us when the fetus did not survive pass 12 weeks and my wife was made to go through the D&C procedure. 

That made us feel very strongly that babies are really pecious and we did not hesitate having one baby after another.  We were also lucky that our parenting experiences with the 3 kids had been wonderful so far and it helps when I have my parents-in-laws staying just 2 units away and having my sister-in-laws who help out whenever it's needed too.  Family support is a must, especially when our double income is required to sustain the family.  It is hard to trust maids with the house, let alone kids and we are thankful for our supportive families.

Initially my wife was telling me that 3 kids is enough, that we are also not getting any younger and she have had enough of carrying a big load for months.  We are not sure if we can cope financially as every dollar had to be stretched now and money wisely spent.  We are also afraid that the kids might blame us later for not giving them the best they deserved, as we have to spread our resources amongst all of them.  But there was one night when she asked me, don’t you think that Stacci is so cute? What if we have one more?  We took the plunge and the rest is history.  By the way, any suggestions for a baby boy's name starting with "L"?  We have got roughly 2 more months before C-day!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Stacci, My Second Princess

We knew we wanted 3 kids, that's why Stacci is no accident. I remember I was sitting there in the operating theatre, armed with my camera and waiting for her first cries. I kept poking my head over the green sheet trying to sneak in some shots of the doctor at work but the nurses would have non of it. I ended up getting scolded and had to sit still holding my wife's hand.

When Stacci finally popped her head out from the incision made, and when the doctor showed her to me, my first words to my wife was, "she looks exactly the same, like a duplicate!" It's only when I tried to do a photo montage of the three kids that I realized Stacci looked much bigger and puffed up.
Anyway Stacci is not the same from her two older siblings. Stacci has this ultra cute look and her signature pose of sticking out her tongue like the Japanese character Peko Chan is simply adorable. But don't be fooled. If I said Leroy is stubborn, this little one packs double the punch.

And she had mastered the act of manipulation at the tender age of two. My mother-in-law is often the recipient of her skills, always falling into her trap. She can also turn on and off her tear ducts at will and would make a good child actress. I had lost count of the times she accused Leroy of bullying her, that led me to punish Leroy only to find out she was lying. Kind of scary that she learnt all these at this age if you would ask me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My First Prince, Leroy

Knowing how difficult it is to conceive and carry a baby to full term, we started early after Steffi was born.  Luckily for us, it was smooth going this time round and Leroy was born on 27 Oct 2009.  I knew I wanted more kids, and was secretly hoping for another girl first and I can still vividly recall my wife asking me why I look so down when the radiologist marked "XY" on the screen.

Anyway my mother-in-law was overjoyed.  It is the first baby boy in the family after all, and I guess she had always wanted to take care of a baby boy after all these years, as she only had four daughters herself.  I had also accepted the fact that it all good ("好") in the Teo family. 

Having being born in the year of the Ox, I am beginning to feel that Leroy's characteristics really resembled that of his zodiac sign.  He is often stubborn and likes to do things his own way (such as never looking at the camera when asked to take photo or making faces when asked to smile).  However, it is weird that while Steffi is always raring to try out new adventures, Leroy on the other hand is always apprehensive and even scared on most occasions.  Hopefully he overcomes all this when he grows older!

Steffi, My First Born

This is one of the first few photographs I have of my first bundle of joy, Steffi!  She was born on 05 Mar 2008 and time passes by so fast that she seemed to turn 6 in an instant.  This year, I will have to worry about registering her for primary school already.  Being the first born, I had definitely gone through a lot of "first times" with her.  

Many friends often complain and say that I am biased towards her, to the extend that I start to think that it is true too.  But I have to say that there is no way I can treat all my kids EXACTLY the same.  The kids demand different type of attention due to their maturity levels as well as their characters.   

It's true when they say that when you have kids, you no longer live for yourself.  It was one particular night in May 2011, at the age of 3, that Steffi came up to me while I was on the way out of the house to smoke, looked me in the eyes and said, "Papa if you smoke too much, you will die, then we cannot be together."  With those words, she did what my wife tried unsuccessfully for more than 10 years, getting me to quit smoking.  

She has always been sensitive and always knows it when I am feeling down.  She would always comfort me when she sees me acting "abnormally" and would ask me what's wrong.  I guess that must be the reason why she is daddy's girl!

Post Numero Uno

First and foremost, thank you for visiting my blog, and for reading my first blog post (the first line at least).  I am Steven Teo, youngest son in a family of 4 boys and talk about coincidences, my wife Laifong actually came from a family of 4 girls!  My childhood consisted mainly of after school hours with neighborhood friends, catching wild guppies in the canals, looking for tarantulas and centipedes in the forested area of Mt Faber and helping out my Dad at his butcher stall in the wet market (more like playing the fool).  But don’t play play, I know how to extract the brains out of pig heads perfectly okay?

I guess deep inside me, I knew I wanted to start a family early. I met my wife in polytechnic, we got together after a short courtship following graduation and she stood by me through my National Service.  We finally got our own HDB flat and registered our marriage when I was 23. I think that’s a fairly early age to get married for my cohort but we still ended up only having kids another 6 years later.  That's after we have finished paying our study and renovation loans and after going through our customary marriage.  This is also when we realized that one DOES NOT get kids as and when one wants.  We know, because we tried for a quite a while.

So why do I want to start a blog you may ask?  Well, I wanted to digitize and forever remember the funny moments and quirky quotes from my kids and present the truthful me to them when they grow up and gets to read this blog.  I hope it would be a wonderful gift to them and offer them insights into why Daddy (and Mommy) behaves the way he does.  I would also like to share with readers what it is like to have 3 kids (4th one will be due in Apr 2014) in Singapore and how a lower-middle income family like mine cope with the challenges.  Of course, I do hope to meet other parents, especially other Daddies and share our parenting tips!

I do have a Facebook page here and I hope to see you there as well (do like us too!)  Leave me a message here or via FB inbox to get in touch.  I will be updating this blog with photos and stories as much as I can, really soon!  And lastly, just to clarify, while I aspire to be the perfect father, no one is perfect (I am far from it) and hence the inverted commas!