Friday, 26 December 2014

Day 1: Bobbidi Bibbidi Boutique

We arrived at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel at 7.20am on the same day we departed from Singapore!
I was surprised and relieved that the hotel granted our wish for a super early check-in at 7.30am. The usual check-in time is 3pm and an early check-in is 2pm. I had emailed the hotel about my concern about our early arrival and was asked to check with the hotel upon arrival.

The Deluxe room was as quaint and beautiful as it was 4 years ago.
The comfortable beds made everyone reluctant to leave them, but Baby and I had an appointment at Bobbidi Bibbidi Boutique at 9am.

We were possibly the first customers at the boutique.
Bobbidi Bibbidi Boutique caters to girls from 3 to 12 years old. It dresses the girls up as princesses of their choices and allows them to go to Disneyland in a princess outfit and feel like a princess all day! It also includes a photography session which entitles you a picture out of the many pictures they have taken.
There were two packages, Crown and Castle packages.
The difference between these two packages is the absence of a princess costume in the Crown package. It is probably for girls who bring along their own costumes.
I had booked the Castle Package at HKD 1580 at the earliest timing so that we could go to Disneyland at 10am. Well, that was my original plan anyway.
I requested to try on a few princess costumes to see which one was the most suitable and comfortable, as advised by a mummy blogger.
She said,"No."

Many girls had chosen Belle for its comfort and beauty, but it didn't delight my princess.

She was eager to try on the Cinderella costume, but she thought it was a no-go.

She liked the Aurora costume the best.

I was happy that we found something she liked, but we spent the next 30 minutes finding the right Aurora fit.
It turned out that the princess costumes were made differently even though the sizes were the same. Baby noticed that at least 3 sets had necklines that were too low for comfort and one that had awkward-looking off-shoulder.
The Fairy Godmother in-training was a nice young lady by the name of Wini.
She was the most patient service personnel I have ever met! Despite our repeated requests of changing the costume, not once did she show signs of impatience or displeasure! By the third time I asked for a change, I was getting very paiseh. I actually asked Baby to settle for the one with a low neckline. Thankfully, Baby refused to, citing that her nipples would show!
Through it all, Wini demonstrated the best customer service I have ever experienced. Penning this post reminds me that I need to write in to compliment her service!
Making up and dressing up took another one hour!

The dressing room

Finally done!
There were at least 5 Elsas in the dressing room!
The photography session that took about 20 minutes

This is Wini!
By the time we left Bobbidi Bibbidi Boutique, it was 12pm! Other mother bloggers recommended a 1 to 1.5 hours allowance for the session, but ours took 3 hours!
Overall, the experience at the Boutique was fantastic. The only thing that marred the otherwise marvellous experience was the pushy aftersales for the prints after the photography session. I had read that they were not pushy and it was alright to just have the entitled picture that comes with the package, but that was not my experience at all. The lady who helped out at the photography section kept asking me to buy the whole photography package, which cost about HKD2388 if I remember correctly. She would not let me go when I just wanted my entitled picture. I was not impressed with the prints and was not keen on it, but Baby was delighted with her glamour pictures naturally and wanted a few more prints. We finally bought one more print at HKD168.
Would I recommend Bobbidi Bibbidi Boutique?
Hell yes! The magic lies in the impeccable service by the Fairy Godmothers-in-training and how your little princess feels like a real princess at Disneyland for the whole day!

The Best Budget Carrier: Scoot!

The not-so-great experience I had with Jetstar had deterred me from booking flights with budget airlines for my subsequent flights. The too-upright seats, the narrow leg room even for the petite, short-legged me and the awful chicken rice I had to pay $10 for were not a great start and end for a holiday. However, I had heard and read about good reviews on Scoot, so I decided to give it a try.

Scoot did not disappoint indeed!

I booked 'FlyEatBag' for the trip to Hong Kong and upgraded us to ScootBiz on the return trip as the upgrade cost just another $50 for four of us. The next day when I logged in to check the prices of the air tickets, the prices had changed and the upgrade price was a lot more per person.
I was prompted to choose the meals prior to the flight.

Coco had beef stew, a wonderful meal with unforgettable aroma.
She liked it so much that she had the same meal on her return flight.

William and I settled for soy sauce chicken rice. Not fantastic but edible. We are no fans of beef, pasta or thai curry with brown rice so this was the most comfortable option for us.

Baby chose marcaroni, but she was too soundly asleep for the meal.
Coco ate it instead, but commented that it was so oily that it gave her a queasy stomach.
So halfway through our trip, I amended Baby's return flight meal to croissant with ham and cheese.
'FlyBagEat' put us in the Economy Class seats. I was happy that the seats were comfortable with ample leg room. I didn't think the seats were any different from the ones in non-budget carriers.
ScootBiz seats had even bigger legroom that  I totally didn't need! I did a quick count and concluded that there were only 32 seats in the Business Class and we had 2 toilets to ourselves.
The best thing about ScootBiz was the luxury of priority boarding.
On return, there was a very long queue for Scoot Economy Class.
I suddenly remembered that we were on Business Class so I went in search of the counter for priority boarding. And there was no queue! Wow, wow, wow!
However, I must say that with everything in ('FlyBagEat' (to) and 'ScootBiz' (return) tickets, seat selection cost and insurance), Scoot was not the cheapest. It came up to about $2200 for 3 adults and 1 child for a Hong Kong trip.
But for all the great experience I had with Scoot, I will definitely check Scoot out for my next trip, or subsequent trips.

Hong Kong Again!

I went away from my blog for a while to feast and make merry whilst the holidays lasted.

I don't travel much. At best, I take a plane once a year. And I almost always do that in June, or latest, September.

December is a cold month for many countries, so I stay home most of the time.

However, given that the last time I boarded a plane was 1.5 years ago, my eyes started to turn green at the sprouting of Florida, Manhattan pictures on Facebook, my ears started to itch with envy when my neighbour mentioned that they were travelling to London and Paris. My ears continued to itch big time when Baby's ballet classmate's mother said that she would be going Hong Kong.

I decided that I would also be going on a plane, in December!

The destination was quickly decided: Hong Kong.

Hong Kong had been on my mind ever since my first trip there 4 years ago. Besides the food that had been on my mind for the past 4 years, I felt that Baby was old enough to appreciate Disneyland a lot more than when she was four and a half.

Baby had whipped out a photo of herself and Coco with Pinocchio at Paris Disneyland during a Show and Tell at school.

The moment the children saw the picture, they shouted in unison,"Hong Kong Disneyland!"

It took Baby by surprise. She clarified,"Paris Disneyland!" and surprised the rest of the children back!

When she came home and told me about what happened in school, my first thought was 'My poor Baby!', so taking Baby to Hong Kong Disneyland had been at the back of my mind since then.

I booked the air tickets and hotels on a Sunday and we flew on the following Thursday morning at 1.55am!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Putting in the 6 Choices for Secondary School Selection

Every year after PSLE, parents would be seeking advice on how to put in their 6 choices on their Secondary School Selection Form.

At first, I was perplexed.

Coco's primary school principal was very detailed in informing the parents how they could fill in the 6 choices on the day PSLE results were released. I had assumed that what she did was the directive given by MOE, until my own boss did her talk with the students' parents.

So, I will share what Coco's principal had shared with the parents two years ago, with what's left in my memory.

Example: Child's T-score is 240

1st and 2nd choices: Child's dream schools eg. Raffles Institution (259) and Hwa Chong Institution (256)

3rd and 4th choices: Schools with slightly higher cut-off points eg. Nan Chiau High School (242) and Chung Cheng High School (Main) (241)

5th and 6th choices: School that Child meets cut-off points eg. Swiss Cottage Secondary School (239) and Commonwealth Secondary School (238)

Placement of students in secondary schools is by MERIT, NOT BY CHOICE.

As long as you meet the cut-off point, you will be accepted into the school, no matter where you place the school. If another child's first choice is Chung Cheng High School (Main) and he scores 239, the child who scores 240 and placed it as the 4th or even 6th choice would get in first.

The above example is given without considering home-school distance, so home distance to secondary schools will play a big role in the selection.

Many will think that the first two choices given by Coco's principal is unrealistic. I think what she was trying to say is that since the selection is by merit, it doesn't hurt to put the dream schools down as the first two choices. Personally, I would not have done that. Instead, I would select two schools with cut-off points in the range of 242 and 245.

Appeal Intended
Then there are parents who have their children's dream schools in mind and their children's T-scores are just one point below the cut-off points. For these parents, they may put the dream school as the first choice, and put in an appeal to the school. For appeal cases, you need to put the school as the first choice. Most schools do not entertain your appeal if they are not your first choice.

Lower versus Higher Cut-off Points
Some parents make the mistake of putting schools of lower cut-off points above schools of higher cut-off points. That is what I call 'wasting the choice'. If you can't get in the school with a lower cut-off point at the first two choices, what is the chance you can get in the school with a higher cut-off point at the third or fourth choice?

IP versus O level
Generally, IP schools have higher cut-off points than O-level track schools, so it doesn't make sense to put O-level track schools ahead of IP schools. Even within schools that offer both IP and O level programmes, the Integrated Programme has a higher cut-off point than O level Programme. So don't make the mistake of placing O level programme before IP. And schools that offer both programmes have different codes for the two programmes. You do not get considered for O level programme in the same school automatically if you had only put in the IP code.

Affiliation Matters
For secondary schools affiliated with primary schools, you must put the affiliated secondary school as the first choice to qualify for the affiliation, if you meet the affiliation cut-off points. If you put the affiliated school as any other choice, you will be considered for entry on equal footing as students from any other school and your T-score will have to meet the non-affiliated cut-off point.

My list on how to put in the 6 choices is not exhaustive, and different children have different T-scores and needs that require different placement of the choices, so nobody is obligated to follow what I say as  THE rule.

Just sharing what I have learnt and observed.

Monday, 24 November 2014

If you feel you have failed: for the PSLE parents

At one of my lowest points in parenting, I came across this letter by the writer Darci on Facebook.

It is for the parent who feels he or she has failed.

In the event you feel you have failed as parent, especially after you have received your child's PSLE results, please read the letter. It is for you.

A love letter to parents

Dear moms and dads and caregivers out there: I have said this before, but I am feeling the need to say it again - This is a love letter to you.

Time and time again while talking to parents, I hear about the intense guilt and fear that we feel in our parenting. We worry that we are doing something wrong, that we don't love our kids enough, or in the right way, or in the same way that our friends love their kids. We worry that we did the wrong thing or said the wrong thing or that we have somehow missed the boat with our children.

We worry that our kids are eating too much or not eating enough. We worry that our kids aren't getting enough sleep or reading enough books or learning the right things. We worry that our instincts are wrong or that we chose the wrong parenting book to follow or that we are pushing too hard or not pushing hard enough.

Every day I talk to parents who are doing their best and striving to do better. Parents who are reading and thinking and changing and growing along with their children. Parents who are contemplating their own practices and interactions with their children and challenging themselves to go deeper into this world of parenting than ever before.

And I think it is amazing.

And I think you are amazing.

And I think we are all human. Destined to be less than perfect much of the time. It is easy to find countless things to worry about and regret and struggle over. It is easy to find things that don't make sense or that we did differently from others. It is easy to get lost in those things and lose sight of what is in our hearts. And when we do that, it is almost impossible to trust ourselves, our instincts and our own inner wisdom about what is right for our families. And that is when we get lost, feel alone and judged and scared and overwhelmed. It's easy to go there.

But instead, let's be gentle with ourselves and realize some simple truths:

1) There is no perfect parent.
Parenting is not about perfection. It is about supporting another human along this path called life, with all its twists and turns and bumps. There is no perfect path, only amazing journeys. When we stop judging ourselves on how imperfect we are according to others, we can start truly being present in the path we are on.

2) We will mess up.
If there is a parent out there that hasn't lost their cool, said something they regret, done something they wished they hadn't, I would like to meet them. Most of us will have moments, days, weeks that don't look like we want them to look. The question is not whether or not that will happen, but what we do about it. How do we pull ourselves back together? How do we process it with our children? How do we get help when we need it?

3) It is never too late to change course.
So often I hear parents say,"It's too late, I did X when I should have done Y and now my child will never ..." It's never too late; that's the beauty of being mindful and aware of our parenting. If we are aware, we can be flexible. If we are gentle with ourselves, we can understand that something isn't working and try something new. If we are open, we can become aware of changes in our children, ourselves and our environment that call for a change of course. That's life. It doesn't mean we did something wrong.

Parenting is a journey. The path is rocky. We will probably trip and fall sometimes, and it's never too late to change direction. When we realise that we are walking this path with our children, rather than for them, the journey becomes so much more enjoyable. When we spend our time looking back at all the things we stumbled on, we miss the connection to our child in the moment, we miss the scenery we are currently passing by and, maybe most importantly, we miss the road signs that are up ahead. Our child, our families, our hearts may be trying to tell us something and we just can't hear it because we are too busy feeling like bad parents.

So, this is my love letter to all of you, all the moms and dads and caregivers who are thinking about parenting so deeply. Instead of focusing on guilt, let's focus on what we are doing right. If we are leading with our hearts and doing what we feel is best for our child, we can and should trust our own path. If we are listening to our families and exploring our own patterns and becoming aware of our own mistakes, then we are leaps and bounds ahead of the game. If we are guiding our children with love and respect, they will feel it. Even if we mess up. Which we will. And if we treat our children like people in their own right, they will live up to the task. Even if they mess up. Which they will. And together, our messiness becomes life. A life worth living.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Sleepless on the Eve of PSLE Result Release

Tomorrow is THE day. Technically, it is 'Today' as it's past midnight, but since it is 1am of 21 November, and I haven't slept yet, I will call it 'Tomorrow'.

The day when PSLE results are released.

Strangely, ever since Coco sat for her PSLE and received her results two years ago, I have developed a 'habit' of losing sleep over PSLE result release, even if I don't have anyone in the family who sat for PSLE that year, like this year.

I am not sure what the feeling is called. It can't be 'excited' because PSLE results can be unpredictable. I am not rooting for a top scholar in the country. There is no expectation of any sort for anyone. Or perhaps, there is. I happened to tutor a motivated boy for a few sessions about two or three weeks just before PSLE. He has been placed on the waiting list for a top boys' school through DSA, and it's no secret that the waiting list offer will be converted to Confirmed Offer (Then why go through the hassle of offering a wait-list?). He didn't need to do any better than he already was. He just wanted to get a better score. I was moved by the boy's intrinsic desire to do well. Two or three weeks was too short a time to do anything substantial, but I was willing to give it a shot if the boy was that motivated.

However, I don't really have anything huge to look forward to. The mother understood that time was a constraint and she didn't expect too much of me. She was happy that the boy managed to learn something new within a short span of time. To claim that I could push up his score by a large margin would be too optimistic. We hope for the best though.

Back to why I lose sleep over PSLE result release, it can't be 'anxious' since I have no one close to me straddling between 'pass' and 'fail' or 'express' and 'normal'.

I am not a Primary 6 teacher who looks forward to receiving her report card, as indicated by the performance of her students, tomorrow.

Maybe I am just a kaypoh.

Or maybe I am indeed 'excited'. I learn more about judgement of standards with each PSLE result release. I learn how to gauge possible T-scores of different students.

Maybe I hope to be surprised.

Whatever it is, I hope that no parent will show his or her disappointment should the child's T-score falls below parents' expectation.

That is the least we can do for our children we claim to love.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Studying at Cafes

There have been strong, nasty views on students occupying seats at fast food joints and cafes.

I would like to oppose to those views, but I quickly realised I would invite a backlash from the working adults.

When I was a teenager, I shared a bedroom with 5 other siblings. My father did place a study table in the room, but it was difficult to study in a 4-room flat filled with people constantly talking loudly and sometimes having a bone or two to pick with you over things that were trivial to you but mattered gravely to them.

I went out in search for a place to study. My final destination was the airport. I could get a drink when I was thirsty. I could have my toilet breaks when Nature called.

I also remember having our Bible study sessions at the Bedok Central KFC on weekday afternoons. We would buy a drink and sit there for at least two hours doing Bible study. On Saturday afternoons after our cell group meeting, we would fellowship at KFC, eating a big tub of whipped potato and occupying the seats for hours. There were times when the crew chased us away.

So, while I am annoyed that I can't get a seat at Coffee Bean or Starbucks cafes, I totally understand the need for these students to study at a cafe.

I do believe some of them, like me, do not have a conducive environment to study at home. There are too many distractions at home eg. TV, titbits and siblings. And sometimes, it helps when you have an abler study buddy with you to help answer your questions.

And to people who ask,"Why don't they go to the library?" Have you tried studying at a library yourself?

I hate to say this but students in the north area of Singapore are not the most hardworking students around, but even then, when I tried looking for a seat at the Woodlands Regional Library for Coco to study on a weekend, I could not find one! Students were sitting on the floor to study. Others invaded the Children's section to occupy the seats meant for young children and their caregiver.

We learnt to arrive at the library at its opening hour, and rushed to the study tables to get one seat. The tables were quickly taken up within the first hour the library was opened. And the seats were occupied for the whole day. It was obvious that there were some inconsiderate users who left their belongings at the tables while they went for a one-hour lunch, but there was nothing much one could do.

If we ban students from studying at cafes, being economically strapped or powerless, they would have nowhere to go. Changi Airport may not be viable for students who live in the west and north although it is accessible to the ones residing in the east.

I would appeal to the public to leave the students alone. You were once students. You might have the good fortune of having a room of your own, or a conducive environment to study in, but many of us don't.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Primary One Orientation Day

Yesterday, the whole family woke up early to go for Baby's P1 Orientation which started at 8am.

We took her to the canteen, the gathering point for the P1 classes.

The principal made a quick speech about the school motto.

When the boss speaks, everyone listens.

After a 2-hour briefing in the hall, we reached the classroom to see our children watching cartoon.

Filling up the forms

The previous night, Baby was lamenting that she was the only one from her kindergarten who would be going to the primary school, but she saw her Nursery mate in the school!

We met him at the Orientation.
He apologised for not winning the contest eight years ago!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Imagination Talk

While decluttering Baby's mountains of toys, Baby found her toy pram in a box. She placed a few of her favourite things into the pram.

I laughed,"Your doll looks like she's staring at them!"
She quipped,"And the tiger is afraid of her!"

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Intimate Relationship of Blogging and Photoshop

One of the reasons I hadn't blogged consistently was because we had a new computer, ironically.

Our computer was at least 5 years old. Its storage capacity was incredibly low.

So we got a new one, with a significantly smaller-built CPU. William said that no one used bulky CPUs like ours anymore.

However, removing my old computer effectively means that my Adobe Photoshop 4 is gone.

My Adobe Photoshop software was a one-time installation due to the low price Adobe was offering, so it was not possible to reinstall it unless I purchased a new one.

It's kind of depressing not to be able to edit your photographs. I am not an expert at photo-editing although I had attended a basic Photoshop class. I mostly simply brightened and cropped the pictures. Without the software, I couldn't make my pictures better, and it demotivated me to blog or even upload pictures on Facebook.

Although the desktop and laptop do have photo-editing function, but the images they created can't be compared to Photoshop.

So now, I take pictures with my Samsung S4, upload to Facebook before posting them on my blog.

Using a camera-phone for picture-taking and posting online is not all bad though. Its greatest merit is convenience. Not just the convenience of taking pictures anytime and anywhere I want, but also posting. I simply post it to Facebook before saving it into my laptop, and then post it on my blog. It's not as troublesome as taking out a bulky DSLR and a USB cable, connecting the camera to the laptop, waiting for the about 1000 pictures to load, and then go through the pain of selecting the pictures I want before saving on my laptop, and then post on my blog. Not to mention the stress of worrying that something might crash and corrupt my entire SD card! I did have the experience of my SD card becoming corrupted as I was transferring pictures to a laptop, and I also had the experience of an external hard disk crashing when I was saving the pictures from my camera to the hard disk. I certainly don't want to go through any of those again!

I have to admit that sometimes, just the thought of connecting the camera and the laptop makes me go into the 'sian' mode, and then, I skip blogging altogether!

That said, I still hope to get another Photoshop software installed in my computer or laptop so that I can edit my pictures. Till an offer comes up!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Love for the Alma Mater

A friend who is teaching in Nan Hua Primary School has enrolled her child in her alma mater, St Margaret's.

Prior to the P1 registration exercise, everybody had thought she would enrol her child in the top school. It was a no-brainer to everybody else.

Nan Hua was so 'top' that it even beat Nanyang Primary School last year at its PSLE scores, in terms of the percentage of children who achieved T-scores of 250 and above. If I remember correctly, Nanyang only had 38% of its cohort achieving that feat, while Nan Hua had 48% or thereabout.

However, to my friend, what she did was a 'no-brainer' as she had 6 years of her fondest memories at her alma mater.

I feel that what my friend did is truly a demonstration of her love for her alma mater. As a staff of the school, she qualified for the priority phase, 2A2, for the registration exercise. Although the phase did require the applicants to go through balloting due to over-subscription, she stood a good chance no less.

Above all, she lives in the far west of Singapore. It would have been a natural choice to pick the nearer school, other than the convenient access consideration, rather than the other one in the centre of the island.

Love for the alma mater is something so intangible, yet at the same time, so tangible it affects important decisions for someone you love with all your life. It can be so irrational it makes you send your child across half the island to attend school.

I can't help but draw a comparison with those who advocate distance priority for the P1 registration exercise. For all the 'distance must/should come first' slogan they had shouted, many change their tune when their children are selected for the gifted programme. Suddenly, people living in different parts of Singapore are all eyeing Nanyang Primary for the gifted programme. Didn't they say distance was important? Didn't they say the long journey would tire children out? Suddenly, all these don't matter anymore. Of course, there is still a minority who adopts the 'nearest school' approach, but from what I read on the forum, it seems Nanyang is the preferred choice, even if one lives in Jurong.

Perhaps, having a child getting selected for the gifted programme is the litmus test of whether a person truly embraces or advocates distance as the priority for school selection. I know someone would then say that the same could be said of the love for one's alma mater. Perhaps, but it does seem to me that there are more parents who choose to have their children stay put at their alma maters when the children are selected for the gifted programme than parents who advocate distance priority.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Of Swissrolls and Weight

If it had not been obvious, I am a big fan of Rich and Good mango swissrolls.

I would travel all the way to Bugis for about an hour just to buy two or three mango swissrolls. I would give one to my mother and covet two.

I love eating. And I am not satisfied with tasting something I deem delicious. I must devour, and devour a lot of it at that.

The wide gap between the two edges of a swissroll in the picture above shows the approximate length of a mango swissroll. 

Yes. I ate all of that at one go, after my lunch.

When I stepped on a weighing scale, I was shocked to see the number '48' appearing on the digital display!

I told myself that was the last mango swissroll I would eat, at least until my weight goes back to 45kg. 

Sigh. 45kg. How little am I asking of myself now! 45kg used to be my bane. When I hit '45', I would swear upon my life to return to '42' - the weight that I find myself looking best in: no double chin, no protruding tummy.

Now I just look like a fat aunty. I considered posting a picture of my 'current' picture to show my fallen state, but decided it would be better for me to do so after I slim down - if I ever do.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Once a Ballerina, Always a Ballerina

Back when Coco was 5, she didn't have much interest in dance, much less ballet.

I sent her to a ballet class to fulfil my own mommy dream of having a cute and pretty little ballerina. I simply love little ballerinas in their cute tutu and tiny hair bun.

She took ballet lessons till she was 8. In the process, I changed her to different ballet schools for different reasons, mostly for more competent teachers or schools that were more serious about ballet. She wanted to stay with a ballet school that played more than trained, but I saw little purpose in that. Above all, after more than a year in the same grade, the new teacher sent only a few girls for their graded exam, and she didn't seem to be sure when the girls would be ready for their exams. She told the rest of the girls that they would go for the next exam in a few months' time, but when the 'few months' came and passed, she said they would go for the next exam! I didn't want to be subjected to a guessing game, so I switched Coco to a Community Club with a small ballet class.

I liked the last ballet teacher actually. She was older and more experienced than most of the ballet teachers I had met. Parents were and still are welcomed to sit in the class, unlike other ballet classes Coco had been to.

However, she was too strict for Coco's taste. Coco's lack of practice at home was apparent to the teacher's trained eye and she was often singled out to repeat the dance steps the girls were instructed to do.

So after a while, Coco asked me to withdraw her from the class.

I accepted that my dream of having a daughter competent at ballet was not to be, and Coco stopped her ballet lessons at that. All of 8 years old and Grade Two.

Then some time this year, she suddenly told me she would like to learn ballet again.

When quizzed further, she replied that all her classmates were learning ballet and they had a certain graceful pose unique to dancers.

I was not so sure this time though.

It was her 'streaming year'. Although Coco is in an IP school where most students go through the through-train programme and continue their pre-university education at an integrated junior college, Sec 2 students who don't meet the promotion criteria are 'streamed' to an O level track class.

Coco was not exactly tip-toe in her performance in Sec 1, so we preferred her to focus on her academics this year to see if she was merely distracted by demanding CCA last year or she was indeed a bad fit for the Integrated Programme.

I told her,"Meet the promotion criteria and you can learn ballet again after exams."

As it is, she cleared her promotion criteria with grades better than what we had expected. So she got to learn ballet again.

Then came the herculean task of finding a ballet school for her.

As Coco is all of 14 years old now, the ballet schools I called up sounded reluctant or elusive when I asked for a graded ballet class. Most of them replied that they did not have such a class ie. 'old' kids as beginners and they were not willing to allow such a big kid to join the much younger ones at Grade Two. In fact, all of them were doubtful that Coco could join at Grade Two.  One proposed that Coco should join the adult class that did not have graded exams, which was not what I wanted. And there were still one or two who didn't bother to get back to me after promising to check with the teacher which class Coco could go!

I announced to Coco that she was discriminated because of her 'old age' and conveniently reminded her that I had warned her that learning ballet and piano has window periods.

Then it occurred to me that I could call the last ballet teacher that Coco was training under.

After giving her the information required, she asked to see Coco at a Grade Four class.

And Coco is now learning ballet under the same teacher.
Among smaller kids no doubt, but she is undaunted by the apparent difference. 

When asked how she felt about the first lesson, she replied that it was 'confusing' since there were many steps involved. On the other hand, her gymnastics CCA finally redeemed itself with some merits - Coco maintains a certain level of flexibility that the ballet teacher thought she would not have since she had stopped learning ballet for 6 years. The punishing rituals of bending and stretching beyond the girls' limits actually interests Coco to try out challenging bending poses from time to time so her body is still flexible enough to learn ballet.

Incidentally, the day we first met up with the ballet teacher, I saw a girl doing character dance through the peeping window.

While Coco was busy getting ready for her lesson, I told Coco that the girl in the class looked very graceful doing the character dance, and her outfit was beautiful.

When it was Coco's turn to peep through the window, she remarked,"She reminds me of Z. (one of her P1 and P2 best friends)"

When she opened the door, the two girls squealed in delight. She was indeed Z. Both of them were glad to meet each other again after all these years.

The demure and soft-spoken girl mentioned that as the years passed, her ballet classmates dropped the lessons one by one to cope with the academics or they had simply lost interest in ballet, but her love for ballet continued to burn throughout the years. She didn't stop her ballet lessons even when she was preparing for PSLE! It is heartwarming and refreshing to know that there is a teenager who is passionate about ballet. 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Evening Tide

I didn't blog constantly for a long time.

I found it difficult to blog when storms of life keep coming at you.

I thought the worst was what happened to my father, that he had oesophagus perforation, and he almost  died from it.

I thought the worst was over, although we still have an outstanding hospital bill of $100k, pending review from the authorities.

Then I decided to pay a visit to the kids' great grandparents whom I haven't seen for 9 months.

We are not close to the great gramps by any measure. There are issues between William and his grandparents so each time, I am the only one bringing the kid/s to visit them.

The great grandfather is in his nineties, but he had always been healthy and strong. He could walk independently and even held a driving license in his early nineties.

But what appeared before me two weeks ago shocked me.

The great grandfather walked with an almost-L-shape bend. Holding a walking stick, the maid had to support him from the back as he inched slowly from the kitchen to the hall.

He asked after my father and was surprised that my father had to go through an extremely rare ordeal.

Then he dropped me the bomb:

He had prostate cancer. The cancer cells had spread to other parts of his body, causing pain to his spine and pelvis.

I felt terrible. I wanted to ask God why all these were happening around me.

I could not blog about something so sad.

I asked myself if my bad luck was coming back to haunt me. Then I had to tell myself that there are more downs than ups in anybody's life, not just me. I tried telling myself that the great grandfather has lived to a ripe old age, and few have lived for as long as he does, but it didn't make me feel any better - he doesn't deserve to die a painful death.

When I broke the news to Coco, tears welled up in her eyes. She shared the same sentiments: he is a good man. He doesn't deserve to die this way.

Last Saturday, I took the kids to visit the great grandparents. I don't know when it will be the last we see of the great grandfather.

The old couple was sitting in the hall. They were visibly happy to see us.

We stayed for the dinner and had the tastiest chicken rice for the longest time. For so long, I didn't know that the chicken rice shop a stone's throw away from Great Grandparents' place was famous for their kampong chicken, and people from far and near would come by just for the chicken rice. When I left at 8.30pm, the shop was still packed with discerning customers.

The maid commented that Great Grandpa finished his dinner well that night. She said that we should join them for dinner every day so that Grandpa could eat so well.

I made a mental note to myself that we would visit them once a week from then on.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Pretty Minis

Baby's ballet classmate gave out pretty mini cupcakes wrapped in the shape of a butterfly to the young ballerinas. A creative mummy she was!

So small, so cute, right?

They tasted as good as they looked! 
Within each little cupcake was a little blob of melted chocolate. 
I don't have a sweet tooth, so that made me a happy girl!

Monday, 3 November 2014

(Very) Frequent Leg Cramps

I have been experiencing frequent cramps in the legs. Mostly on the stretch from the back thighs to the buttocks.

I did have such cramps once in a while in the past, about once or twice a year.

When it happened, it would be so painful I would lie on the floor (fortunately, it usually happened at home) and screamed for help, begging for someone to help back-pull my sole in order to stretch the muscle. And all would be fine after a few minutes.

However, this year, similar cramps have been occurring very frequently, usually in the night when I am sleeping.

Sometimes, it happens to the right thigh; at other times, it is the left thigh.

Sometimes, it happens every night.

And gradually, the cramp even 'spreads' to other times of the day. It could be as random as when I am getting up from a bench after eating, or when I bend my leg/s backward.

The clinic doctor I visited suspected no malicious disease. He advised me to do some stretching in the day.

I haven't tried it yet. Probably because I am not convinced that it will work.

Today, I was in the Adventure River at Adventure Cove.

I decided to try swimming a stroke or two in the shallow water.

As I kicked my legs out, the cramps came in on both thighs. Ow ... !!!

One is bad enough. But two?!!

There was a flight of steps to dry ground about ten metres away. Oh, but when you have cramps, ten metres seem ten miles away. I thought I would never reach the steps. The only thing I wished was to be hauled up from the water immediately to have my pain relieved.

When I finally got there, William tried back-stretching my leg to relieve the pain. A lifeguard saw what happened and instructed me to lie down. After that, he lifted my leg (to allow blood to flow to the cramp) and massaged my sole (to encourage blood circulation).

It felt better after he did the same thing for the two legs.

Although the cramps went away, the muscle aches of the buttocks didn't, and haven't. Even right now as I am typing away, I am sitting on a heat pack hoping to relieve the aches.

I have googled for possible causes of cramps, particularly the ones occurring on the hamstring (back of thigh):

1) Altered neuromuscular control (whatever that means)
2) Dehydration
3) Electrolyte depletion
4) Poor conditioning
5) Muscle fatigue
6) Doing a new activity

I didn't think they were very useful to me. My priority was to treat the cramps. A search on the internet told me that I should:

1) lie on my back
2) lift my leg up high in the air at a 90 degree angle to the floor or bed
3) use a towel to pull at the sole while pulling at the two ends of the towel
4) hold the stretch until the cramp stops

This method did work a few times. However, its effectiveness seems to be wearing off.
And it's truly a pain to lift your leg up in the air when you are in great pain. No pun intended.

Till I find another method that works, I'll have to stick to this yet.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Hearing on Sept 11

During the September holiday, and incidentally, a September 11, I went to the State Court for a City Harvest Church Trial hearing.

I have 'liked' the Facebook page of CHC Confessions and read that anyone could attend the hearing. And some of them posted what the court, but not the mainstream papers, revealed on the page. I thought it could be good to be there in person and experience for myself if it was true that Pastor Kong and the other 5 accused were as what the Facebookers made them out to be.

It was the school holiday. I woke up bright and early and left the house at 9am.

It was the first time I attended a court hearing as a bystander. I walked through the scanning device at the court entrance and got in Court 1 at 10am. 

Outside Court 1, I saw Suraj, the long-time follower and trusted man of Pastor Kong, and another petite, bespectacled man who stared at me as I made my way to the Court.

As I walked into Court 1, a female Indian security guard asked me for a court ticket. I said I didn't have one. I had read on the papers that the court would open the seats to members of the public if they were not taken up by 10am, so I thought I didn't need a ticket.

She directed me to the security guard counter to get a ticket before admitting me into Court 1 again.

The 5 accused were sitting in a separate section from the members of the public, a row or two behind the lawyers and their assistants. 

Pastor Kong was in the witness stand, giving his testimony and answering questions posted by his lawyer, Edwin Tong.

While I could hear Pastor Kong clearly, as he was side-facing us, I had problems hearing Edwin Tong who was back-facing us. His voice was soft and somewhat muffled.

I was terrible at trying to comprehend what was going on.

I had imagined that Edwin Tong, being Pastor Kong's lawyer, would seek to defend Pastor Kong aggressively and show evidence to discredit the Prosecutors' claim of Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) upon the 6 accused, but all he did was to refer to the different figures on the minutes and statements and asked Pastor Kong what they were for. Most of the time, Pastor Kong replied that they were donations to the construction of Chinese schools in China.

Then Pastor Kong spoke.

He maintained that as a senior pastor, he had some level of influence over the church, the Crossover Project and the Xtron directors, but he did not have total control over the church or the Xtron directors.

To the collaboration with Wyclef Jean, he had this to say,"I love my wife, and I love the vision that God has given to our church, but I cannot agree to a proposition, in good conscience, that will cause CHC to be in a precarious financial situation, to lose money."

In explaining why the church did not continue to work with Wyclef, he maintained that,"Although the prospect of collaborating with Wyclef was tempting, I could not agree to the budget." Besides the upfront payment of USD30mil, Wyclef and Justin Hertz were asking for a 50-50 profit split. He felt that the request was 'beyond reasonableness'.

Halfway through the hearing, my fifth sister whatsapped me to task me with the mission of collecting my father's lab test report from the cardiologist's clinic, so I had to leave after the morning session of the court hearing ended.

Subsequently, I read from the Chinese evening papers that Pastor Kong teared in mentioning how the adults and children in his son's school had taunted his son by asking,"Has your dad gone to jail yet?"

The poor child is probably in P3 this year and he has to suffer the stress even adults can't handle.

I saw a humbled, and somewhat resigned, Pastor Kong that day, but I maintain that he loves his wife the way he did when he first married her, if not more. I don't know of any other man who dares to proclaim his love for his wife in a court, especially when the case has nothing to do with his marriage.

Based on what I saw and heard that day, I feel that Pastor Kong already know what is to come.

The Feedback to Ta-Q Bin that Never Got Sent

I had bought some party favours from a forummer in preparation for Baby's 6th birthday party celebration at school.

Unfortunately, my purchase exceeded 2kg and the forummer had arranged for courier service to deliver the parcel to my doorstep.

I said 'unfortunately' because I absolutely hate to deal with registered mail or courier companies.

Besides DHL who had arrived on time, I haven't come across a decent courier company who doesn't frustrate me. I work, and the range of time the courier company say would deliver the parcels is often very wide, like a 3 to 5 hours stretch. Sometimes they arrive early, and leave before the stipulated delivery time; at other times, they arrive late, and leave - whether anyone is in the house. And the one that really riles me up is the kind that presses the faulty doorbell that does not ring and leaves when no one responds, without even lifting their gold-plated knuckle to knock on my door!

So, I had yet another frustrating experience with Ta-Q Bin last week.

I had read of the fantastic luggage delivery service by Ta-Q Bin in Japan when a mother-blogger went to Tokyo and Niko so the least I had expected of Ta-Q Bin was on-time delivery.

It was meant to reach me on a Friday between 12pm to 5pm. See what I mean by wide time range?

I stayed home just to wait for the darn delivery. And the courier man never turned up.

It turned out that the delivery reached my place at 9.30pm but the man never did the delivery!

And we were all home by then!

So, I went onto Ta-Q Bin's website and penned a feedback. Interestingly, it could not be sent.

The message:

String or binary data would be truncated. The statement has been terminated.

kept appearing.

So, my feedback to Ta-Q Bin is posted here:

The parcel was supposed to reach me between 12pm and 5pm on 10 October. We spent the whole Friday waiting for the parcel that never came. My husband was home since 6.30pm and never once was the delivery made.

The next day, I noted that the parcel's status was 'delivering', so we waited again from 12pm, thinking that you would keep to the requested timing. At the same time, I tried calling in to check what time the parcel would come in. Disappointingly, I could never get through your line. If I ever did, I was put on hold for ever.

When I finally got through at 4.30pm, I was told the driver might reach my place before 8pm, but he would try to get to me 'as soon as possible'. So we waited again. We waited our Friday and Saturday away just like that. I called again at 7pm. Apparently, the driver did not try to get to my place 'as soon as possible'. I had tried to be a very patient customer but making customers wait for more than 10 hours is unacceptable.

You are not the first courier company I have worked with but you are definitely the most irresponsible courier company I have ever come across. I will try my best not to work with anyone who uses your service again.

It was stressful waiting for Ta-Q Bin. You don't know if the driver would go away without delivering your parcel again.

When I called at 7pm, I shouted at the lady over the phone asking,"Are you delivering my parcel or not?!!"

The parcel finally made its grand entrance at 7.30pm.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Discharged, Finally!

My father was admitted to the hospital on a Monday, the day right after my last post.

The operation was a success. My father would be able to consume food through his mouth within 10 days.

However, I was starting to worry that I might not have enough money in the bank for the stay when the doctor continued to keep my father in the hospital after 8 days.

As if in an answer to my prayer, I was having lunch when the hospital called and informed me that my father could go home yesterday.

I was thrilled.

So at 4.30pm, I was there to pick my father up. And I prayed repeatedly for a bill well within my means.

I was grateful that the bill really was within the doctor's estimation.

Today, my father had threadfin porridge, and he managed to down the fish too. It was an achievement as he could not even swallow a teochew porridge rice grain a day before, the first time he ate solid food since 3 months ago!

Saved for the pain from the huge, fresh cut on his stomach, my father is happy that he is returning to normality and will be able to enjoy food the way he used to.

Months of anguish and pain. I hope they are things of the past, real soon.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

My Father is Not their Priority

Alas, I was in denial when I said my siblings had stopped shouting and screaming at me over my father's matter.

Yesterday when I was at my parents' place, my third sister adopted a very hostile tone with me as she 'talked' to me.

I had gone to my parents' place to speak to my father. I was worried about the operation. I wanted to be sure that he feels the way I feel about the 'need' for the surgery.

I asked him,"Are you scared?"

He replied,"Even if I am scared, I still have to do it, right?"

I mused,"Actually, if you don't do it, you will still live. You won't risk dying on the operating table."

He said with undoubted certainty,"If I have to live with a feeding tube like this, I'd rather die!"

So we are on the same page.

I went on to tell my father he should let his friend who had visited him during his first stay at the hospital know about his stay for the second operation.

When my third sister heard that, she immediately 'said',"NO! You MUST NOT let your friend know! After the operation, you will have an oxygen tube inside your mouth. You will have different tubes all over your body, remember?!! You CANNOT ask your friend to visit you DURING the operation. You CANNOT talk right after the operation!"

Duh. Who will ask their friend to visit them right after the operation?

Little did I know that was just a prelude to the impending scolding.

As I was sitting in the living room, my third sister 'asked' me what I would do if there were complications, meaning 'where (which hospital) are you going to put him if there are complications?'

I said,"Huh? I can't watch him die, right?"

She said,"He said he wants to go back to Malaysia to die there if there are complications."

My father nodded his head.

Well, that settles it, doesn't it, if it comes to that? So why ask?

Then came the bottomline,"We DON'T HAVE money!" (reads: Don't ask us for money to treat the complications.)

I didn't think of asking them for money if anything happens, anyway!

She started harping on the complications, complications, complications.

I kept quiet. The doctor had mentioned that risks for complications would be low ie. 2 or 3% compared to the last surgery.

But I knew she was not in a state to listen. So I didn't say anything.

Then came the real thing.


I was shocked,"I didn't ask you to drive him or us to the hospital! I will take him there myself!"


My father was upset. It was clear to him that my third sister was vehemently opposing to him going for the operation.

He spoke up,"I am for the surgery. You should not keep talking about negative things. What complications? Doctor already said it's very safe."


I couldn't talk to her at all.

I could have explained to her that for the first operation, I was the one who asked the surgeon, in everybody's presence (excluding my father),"One of the reasons for not wanting to go through the operation is the great fear that he might die on the operating table. Can you give us a number on what the survival rate for the operation is?"

The doctor replied,"95%. We are not worried about the operation. We are more worried about the post-operation. He is a high-risk patient. High-risk because of his age. We are worried that his body may not be strong enough to fight the infection after the operation as there would be a large area of infection due to his condition."

Apparently, my siblings had only heard what they wanted to hear:

Our father had a 95% rate of survival from the condition!

If they had listened attentively, and googled for my father's condition, they would have known that survival rate for my father's condition was low. Very low in fact. Many die within 24 hours of nil treatment due to infection.

If not for the fact that he was in the private hospital, under the care of the competent surgeon, he would have died.

But I couldn't tell my third sister all this.

She was not in the state of mind to listen to me. She just wanted to shove "WE DON'T HAVE MONEY TO PAY FOR THE OPERATION!" down my throat.

I told her I didn't have the intention of asking them to pay.

She continued to harp on her complications,"Did you read the fine prints? Do you know that the hospital can transfer him to restructured hospitals if you can't pay?"

To which I replied,"By then, it wouldn't have been vital already. The operation would have been done."

"If you don't have money to pay, YOU CAN GO BANKRUPT!"

I said,"Bankrupt, bankrupt then."

She appeared agitated by my nonchalant response.

She said,"The 5th sister has guessed correctly. You just want to leave us out of the matter and do it your way."

Well, why don't you hazard a guess why I have to do this?

She 'explained' to my father that after I pay for this operation, I wouldn't have the money to pay for the first operation - and it has not been paid.

The thing that really hurts is this: my siblings were talking behind my back, when I am ready to fork out the money for the second operation alone to let my father go through the operation as soon as possible, purely out of love for my father.

It was also clear to me that my siblings had this 'plan' in mind: to let me settle the bulk of the bill for the first operation while the rest of them split up and pay the remaining sum.

As the devil's advocate, William thinks that they are so angry with me is because they feel that I have 'spoiled' their plan. They were hoping that by saying,"I don't have money." they either do not have to pay or pay less for the bill. And they were shocked to find out that I wanted to play the same game by claiming that I don't have money after paying for the 2nd operation.

Yes. I won't have enough to pay for the first operation after paying for the second, but I have never harboured the thought of claiming "I don't have money" even if I don't have. I would return to working full-time. I would try to think of ways to bring in more money to pay off the bill.

Everything can wait. My broken bedroom door without a knob can wait. My full-height shoe cabinet can wait. My bomb shelter feature wall can wait. Coco's education fund can wait (even though I know it can't). But my father can't wait.

I left in a huff. I could not stay in the house a second longer. My father was asking my third sister to stop. She would not.

In my utmost anger, I hurled a vulgarity phrase at her before I left.

Not the best testimony for God. But I have had it up to here.

They are so blinded by the lack of money or the reluctance to part with their money that their judgment is blinded, and accuse my father being blinded by his desire to have the second operation.

They are so anxious to keep their money to themselves that they are not willing to share how much they have in savings even when I told them openly that I have $40k, thinking that it would set their mind at ease to share since I have taken the first step in sharing.

They are so selfish towards my father that they would insist that the restructured hospital is better when clearly, the doctor at the restructured hospital does not have the relevant experience at my father's case and my father would be his guinea pig if he ever goes there.

They are so blinded by their unwillingness to pay for the bill that they insisted on delaying the treatment. They claimed that my father was not ready for the second operation when three doctors had already given the green light for my father to go under the knife, after questioning and checking, on top of running tests on him to make sure he was fit enough for the second surgery.

They insisted that my father should have the physique as any other 70-year-olds before he could go for the operation. I questioned that possibility,"Have you gone on a diet before? He doesn't consume meat or rice. For an adult, how can a milk diet suffice? How can milk alone provide enough fats or nutrition for an adult body?"

They said they haven't gone on a diet before, but milk is sufficient for an adult body.

This is how blinded they have become.

I asked William if I could have done it better, to avoid having the scenarios of my sisters shouting and screaming at me. Was it because I refused to discuss with them when they called for a discussion?

They held a discussion at my parents' place after my father was deemed fit, by the doctors, to go for the next operation.

They asked me to attend it at 3pm. I told them I was not free as Coco's exams were near.

At 5pm, my mother called. She asked me if I would be attending it. They seemed to be waiting for me.

I said no.

I asked my sister what they were going to discuss since it was straight forward: Father wants the operation at the private hospital, and he wants that surgeon who did his first operation.

She refused to divulge more but asked me to simply turn up.

My father told me the next day that they had pressured him to go to the restructured hospital and also, delay his treatment till the first bill's review was over.

I told him no. He may die if he goes to the restructured hospital because the doctor is not confident and he has never done this before.

William said that they are angry with me because I did not go for the 'discussion'. And the 'discussion' was not meant to be a discussion. It was meant to be a session where they pressure me to agree with their decision of delaying my father's treatment and going for the restructured hospital after the delay.

"Don't even think about you changing their mind at the 'discussion'. It was meant to change yours."

I was still hopeful,"Could I have prevented all the shouting and screaming from happening by coping it better?"

"No. They have different priorities. As long as their priority is not your father, there is nothing to discuss. They will not agree with you."

My confidante colleague asked if it could be because my siblings thought that I was eyeing my father's wealth and had ulterior motives behind my 'rush' for the surgery.

I replied,"My father has no wealth."

I have read a story about a guy whose wife was suffering from a terminal illness.

He spent all he had just to search for a hope.

His colleagues were talking behind his back,"He should not have given everything just to treat his wife. He is so stupid. He should let her be."

The guy wrote that they were saying the things they did because they did not have a family member suffering from such an illness. If they did, they would also give all they had to treat their loved ones.

And I had always thought this would be our stand.

Now I know, those colleagues that the guy had would not do what the guy did even if their loved ones were dying.

My father is not suffering from a terminal illness. He could be normal again and live for at least another 20 years after the second operation. He wants to go for the operation.

It is simple to me. I will give all I have to treat my father. It is a 90% success rate and complication risks are 2 to 3%. Why shouldn't I? If any of his children is suffering like this, my father would not hesitate to let us go for the second operation either, even if it means incurring a great debt.

I may be jumping to conclusions, but my gripe is: my siblings want me to absorb the bulk of the costs despite knowing that Coco's varsity education would be at stake when I take out my savings. For all their talk of love for Coco, they don't have any qualms of it happening. For all their talk of how close-knitted a family we are, they are determined to keep their money theirs and make me spend mine.

There are 6 or 7 of us. If we split the bill up, it is bearable. Each person bears the load of less than $20k. For me alone to bear the bulk, it's a heavy load on me. My elder sister said this,"Those who have money, fork it out. " The spirit behind it was to encourage everybody to pool the monetary resources together, but it seems to me they have taken it to mean that 'I don't have money' is a convenient excuse to bill themselves out of the need to pay.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

A Mixture of Prayer and Worry

I had a big fight with my siblings.

All six of them wanted my father to delay his surgery or go to a restructured hospital for his treatment - because of the high costs involved at the private hospital. They kept insisting that my father was not ready for the surgery. My father sank into a state of helplessness and hopelessness again. I was sad to see him like that.

I asked the high-EQ Coco if I could be in the wrong. If not, how could six of them were unanimous in wanting my father to go to the restructured hospital or delay his surgery?

Coco felt that if she were them, she would think that I was being selfish. 'You made the decision. The choice (of the hospital) is yours. Yet you want us to pay for it!'

Hmm ... that makes sense.

But William said,"How can wanting  to spend more on your father for a treatment be selfish? You mean you like spending more? They are the selfish ones. They want to save money at the expense of your father's life."

I confided in a close colleague and she said,"Because it's my father, if he wants the private hospital, I will pay for it. If we don't trust the doctor or the hospital, it will make us anxious or uncertain, and it will affect us mentally and physically."

I decided to liaise in secret with the private hospital. I arranged for the surgery to be booked on Monday. Fortunately or unfortunately, the clinic called me when I was unavailable, and it called my sister to inform her about the details of the surgery, and my siblings were in the know.

Most of them came to 'accept' it, or at least, they stopped shouting and screaming at me or pressuring my father to go their way.

My elder sister drove us to the hospital for the pre-admission today.

The actual admission will be done on Monday.

I was happy at first, after the admission was confirmed.

Then, in the evening, as I walked home with Baby from her ballet class, fear suddenly gripped me.

Will anything happen to my father during the surgery?

Will there be any complication that prolongs the stay in the hospital, like the last time?

Will I lose my father?

I tried thinking for an answer in vain.

The only answer is prayer.

Please pray for my father for a smooth and successful surgery, and a speedy recovery to normality.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Good News :)

My father was discharged from the hospital after a 43-day tumultuous stay.

He couldn't wait to get out of that place, and I totally understood it.

I already felt like it was an eternity when I stayed at the hospital for 3 days! The treatment for my excessive bleeding after a caesarian was utterly painful. You get broken sleep every 4 hours - for medication or blood-pressure taking. You get worried about whether there would be more complications that require more painful treatment. And in my father's case, he had to worry about the hospital bill that jumped by thousands every night.

He got ready to leave at 11am and made a big fuss when the nurse came around just before he left to feed him through his tube. He refused to stay any longer. But it was all good in the end.

That happened nearly 3 months ago.

He has been home, with milk fed through a tube that goes into his stomach.

It has been miserable for a man who loves food.

Although the doctor mentioned that my father could have another surgery done within one to three months to get his remaining oesophagus reconnected to his stomach so that he could consume food through mouth normally again, my elder sister insisted that the doctor was giving us false hope. She said that the internet says that patients with perforated oesophagus normally do the reconnection within six months to one year.

It was bleak for me, at least. And I think my father suspected it to be the case too. We just stopped talking about the reconnection so that he didn't feel so bad about it.

My mother stopped cooking. Everybody abstained from eating in his presence. We even tried not to mention 'eat', 'food', 'hungry', 'lunch' and other food-related words when he was in earshot.

Last Thursday, when my fifth sister took my father for a review at a restructured hospital and enquired about the possibility of the reconnection surgery, the doctor was positive that my father was ready for it. However, he said that he had no experience with my father's case ie. having a two-part surgery for a perforated oesophagus. He had only done surgeries that remove and reconnect the oesophagus in one sitting. He also insisted on doing a scope to measure the length of the remaining oesophagus, which my father absolutely resisted. The breaking point for my father was: the doctor stated that there was a possibility of the reconnected oesophagus leaking or disconnecting, and if that happened, my father would have to survive on milk that feeds through his nose, for life!

The next day, we took him to the surgeon who operated on him to remove a large part of his oesophagus. We checked with him if my father was fit enough to have the remaining oesophagus reconnected to his stomach. And he said yes, after some checking and questioning. He needed to check with the cardiologist if the heart is strong enough for the second operation though.

We had tentatively booked the surgery some time next week.

I am excited about it. My father will be able to eat again!

This surgery will set us back by yet another $30k - $40k.

My sisters, as usual, hope that he goes to the restructured hospital to save costs, but I am glad that my father insists on going private. I don't know how we are going to pay the bill. As it is, we haven't settled the last bill yet. Even the surgeon urged us to go to the restructured hospital to save costs. But I know  this doctor is the only one we can entrust our father's life with.

The restructured hospital doctor mentioned that to survive a perforated oesophagus is very rare. To survive an operation from a perforated oesophagus is yet rarer. And to survive a second operation from a perforated oesophagus is the rarest! He probably never saw it (I assume this myself - the way he put it!). So how can my father go to him?

Please continue to keep my father and our medical bill that is under review in your prayer. I find that prayer had been a source of comfort and solace to my father when he was in the hospital. And it has been powerful. For so many times when situations were life-threatening, we prayed, and my father became well. For a high-risk patient, coupled with old-age complications and weaker-than-average heart and lungs due to heavy smoking, it was nothing short of a miracle that my father's life-threatening conditions became better or well over and over again.

I overheard my fifth sister telling my father that he should follow her to church after he was well and he nodded his head. For a proud man who proclaimed that he was his own god, I can't help but sometimes wonder if this incident is something that God 'allows' to happen to bring my father to Him? I can't imagine my father opening his heart to God in an otherwise strong and healthy physique.

Please pray for us.