Officially a Full Time Working Mum Or Not?

Since adulthood, whenever you catch up with long-time-no-see friends or relatives, one of the questions they confirm will ask is so what are you doing now? As in where are you working? For the past couple of years, my answer has always been “Oh I work for myself, you know… digital and social media kinda stuff?” Then come the puzzled looks and I can almost see all the question marks floating over their heads. “Oh you know? Online publishing and advertising?” Ohhh…

Still puzzled.

Then the next question will usually be, “So you work from home? That’s so good.” Ermm… at this point I’ll usually just shrug my shoulder and try to change the topic.

Working from home is NOT good!

Everyone who works 8 to 9 hours in the office will tell me that they envy me because I get to work from home. At first (about 2 years ago) I thought so too, and really did enjoy the flexibility to be able to work wearing my giant-worned-out-tshirt and boxer shorts and being able to just let out fart grab a quick nap whenever I have to. After your work starts getting kinda crazy, juggling multiple accounts and projects at one time, you start to realize working from home is NOT GOOD AT ALL.

Because home is where you do EVERYTHING, I ended up spending 70% of my time at home working. That’s more than 12 hours every day, and there’s like no-day-no-night please. In the morning, after sending the girls to school, my fingers will start typing non-stop on the keyboard right up till 5pm where I had to prepare dinner and fetch my girls from childcare. Thereafter a quick dinner, wash-up and spending some time with the girls, I will be back working away on my keyboard till 2am in the wee morning. And then the cycle repeats itself EVERYDAY! No weekends for work-from-home-mums ok? And I totally forget what it means to be on leave, on medical leave or just being away from office. All these terms just didn’t exists in my clients’ book nor my own.

Working Full Time Vs Working for Self

For the past one year, I’ve been working with a team at Alvinology Media. Thanks to the 101% trust from the big boss, I run the show well and managed to bring steady projects for the team. And I must say, the past one year has been the most hardworking period for me since I became a mum. It must be the desire to be able to run an agency again that pushes me, and the pressure to bring in enough to feed my team and myself that kept me going. And so I’ve been working full time on the team for a year already.

But a recent conversation with the big boss saddened me. He thinks I’m not committed to the company full time yet! WHAT???? 

According to Ministry of Manpower, a person who works for more than 35 hours a week is considered as working full time. So I am working way beyond the full-time definition can?

Working full-time in my context means I commit myself to producing and completing what I have to for my clients and assigned projects. I may not be physically seated at a work desk 35 hours a week, but the time committed to doing proposals, managing projects, communicating with clients, meetings, running errands etc all these surely add up to more than what is lawfully defined as working full-time.

I still consider myself as working for self, just because I am able to manage my schedule flexibly and is able to make decisions for the team and company (thanks to the empowerment given to me).

Say goodbye to coworking space
Say goodbye to coworking space

Officially with a Proper Setup

Though we have been running Alvinology Media for one year now, I still feel that there’s a lack of officiality because we are neither here nor there. The team works remotely and I sometimes feel like a lost sheep in between meetings as I have no place to work. Things will change officially from tomorrow.

We are officially moving into our very own office!

Together with our extended family of companies, we will be entering the next milestone of our agency life. A proper space with carpet (LOL!), our own furniture, a space for meetings, for learning and discussions. I can finally hold a proper meeting with my team with stable Wifi, screen for projection, space for brainstorming and walls to paste post-it notes on!

I miss having our own offices!

Previous office for 24seven at Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre
Previous office for 24seven at Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre
DICE Studio at The Modules
And the space we had for DICE Studio at The Modules

With this new milestone in life, it’s going to be my third baby, one that is still in the infancy stage and waiting to bloom and blossom. Am thankful for the opportunities the big boss, my team and our clients have given us. And the years ahead is looking even brighter! It’s going to be one hell of a journey and I’m super pumped!

Our new home before we took over, and now empty waiting to be filled with our creativity and adventures

Go team AM and OUS!

Watch this space as we transform and bring you bigger, better and awesome work and content. Stay tune!

The Girl Who Doesn’t Smile Turns Five

My first born turns 5 today! The quiet princess who is otherwise known as “the girl who doesn’t smile”, a title given to her by other kids. It’s not true that she doesn’t smile, she just doesn’t smile all the time! Ayra since young has been the shy girl who’s afraid to express herself when with unfamiliar people. Up till today, at 5, she’s still the same or perhaps a little more confident but still very wary of how people see and think of her.

The Perfectionist

Ayra doesn’t want to do things that she is not confident with, she refused to read because she’s uncertain if she’ll be right. She gets frustrated way too easily whenever she do something that’s not up to her own standard. When in front of unfamiliar people, she choose to stay reserve and hide behind a shield; the shield that prevents others to read what’s on her mind.

The Artist

Ayra loves to paint and draw. Give her a set of colours and paper, she’ll draw you a beautiful princess, a pokemon or a family portrait sometimes with additional friends she like from her class. Let her pick doing her homework from English class or to paint, she’ll happily focus on painting pictures after pictures (so that there will be no time left for homework).

The Caring Sister

I’m glad Ayra is growing up to become a very caring and sensible elder sister. The two sisters are always looking out for one another and have their unique way of loving the other. Of course there are plenty of fights, snatch and cries, but everything resets itself after a short or long nap.

The Sensitive Girl

I make her cry, a little too much. When I fail to fulfil my role as her Mum she will be very upset and often meltdown happens. At the moment of anger (or just because I’m too occupied with task on hand) I will raise my voice at her just so she stop repeating her request. And always almost immediately I regret how I handle it. Seeing her break down and cry pains me. But I do it over and over again, the subconscious simply choose to forget all these emotional tortures for both Ayra and I. Sorry Ayra for making you upset so many times. Mummy will learn to control myself, but please also try to learn to listen to me and not make me keep repeating myself till the point it pisses me off.

The Girl Who Doesn’t Smile

Those who rarely get to interact with Ayra will only get to see that expressionless face of hers. That’s just her being her. But once she warmed up to you and finds you less threatening, she will open up and be comfortable with you around her. This is when you can see the other (rare) side of her which only close family members get to experience. The happy and cheeky girl.




Today, Ayra turns 5! The best 5 years of my life because of Ayra and Zara. Mummy loves you! 

Let’s dance!

VID_20160910_213851

Things My Three Year Old Is Teaching Me

Zara officially turns three today.

Flashback to the day she was planned to come into this world (few weeks before she was due because of placenta previa) – the c-section procedure where you can hear and feel everything happening in the bright and cold operation room, that first cry of joy, the first touch with her in my arms and my first kiss on her tiny forehead. That day was magical and an emotional one for my husband and I.

Now a three-year-old, my little adult, who so often emits that strong mature aura that frightens me. Over these years I have learned and is learning so much from her. My pride and joy, my dearest baby girl Zara, thanks to you I’ve got a teacher that shows me what is it to live life with less stress and agony.

It’s ok to cry.

She is the drama queen in the house and in class. Every little thing that frustrates or irritates her will make her cry, and sometimes drive her crazy. She will cry, even if it’s just a short while, and there after she’ll be fine like nothing has happened. Learning from her anytime anywhere also can cry character, I have learned to sob and melt down when I have to. Whenever I have too much bottled inside me and didn’t know how to react I will just let myself go. After releasing those bottled up emotion and thoughts I get my focus back and am able to move forward. So cry when you want to, it helps one forget and move on.

Kickback, slither and lepak!

Zara sure lives up to her Chinese zodiac sign! A slimy slithering snake who is always ready to curl right into her act whenever wherever. The Mummy and Grandma are her favorite targets – slithering and twirling herself all around our body like a snake with its prey. She would throw herself in the most relaxed and bo-chup manner just to get that stretch or comfy rest on her back. Thereafter she’ll give a very satisfied smile to show how much she’s enjoying the moment in the comfort of our embrace. I do that whenever I can too, and it sure feels damn shiok.

Demand And You Shall Get It (Most of the time)

Being the youngest in the house usually means she get whatever she wants and is able to do whatever she want to do. Most of the time the girls will be keeping themselves occupied with toys, books or the iPads. Once a while, the girls will fight and cause havoc just because Zara wants whatever the sister is playing or using. Or the other way around. Usually when that happens, the one who cry the loudest or demands first win.

As we grow older, we somehow forget how to ask or demand for things. We have learned to take on responsibility on our own and avoid troubling others with our demand. But sometimes we really neeeded that extra help to make things work or a demand from family or friends to make oneself happier. I’ve learned to never be shy or afraid to ask for something, as long as it is legit and no harm caused, just ask and usually you’ll be surprised how much support and help you will get in return.

A big hug a day keeps bad thoughts away.

Every day we hug, a great big teddy bear kinda hug, for comfort. That few seconds of touch makes all bad happenings, thoughts and emotions go away. It is that magical. When Zara is feeling down, I’ll give her a hug and she would throw herself into my lap and surround herself with Mummy’s love. These contacts not only help calm her but also makes me forget my bad day and how tired I may be after a long day out for work.

Thank you Zara for teaching Mummy these little things and more in life, thank you for your love and hugs. Happy Birthday my feisty princess. Let’s grow old together. To an awesome year ahead!

Love Mummy.

Ayra The Funtastic Four

Everyday I look at you, with 100% focus, I see a different you. You have grown so so much and I am asking myself where has my little Ayra gone. Your words, your actions, the way you scream and cry, the way you interact with your toys bringing them to life and how you can transform from a 3+ year old to like a 7 year old instantly; you are always amusing me.

I have been treating you rather unfairly lately, wanting you to behave like a big girl and stop crying and screaming for little things every day, just because you are turning four. How silly of me to do that! You are ONLY four!! And I must admit you have been doing very very well already.

You have learned to give-in to your younger sister at play, you will off the TV, pack your toys and switch off the lights and fan when its time for bed, you let me explain to you why things should be done the right way and the one-thousand-and-one reasons why you need to listen to your parents. You know when to give in and accept that you are wrong.

Ayra, my darling 4 year old, you really have been growing up well and Mummy is very proud of you.

We do of course still have our many days of unnecessary melt-down, screaming and angry moments, creating too much blue and red memory balls in our long-term memory. All these will one day be gone and forgotten and those which ended up into our core memory will serve as a reminder of how and why we do things the way we are. It is ok to cry when we are sad, but screaming just because you cannot get what you want or due to the lack of rest is really not acceptable, Mummy will help you get over this phase so you know how to better control your emotions.

I love it when you wake up with a big smile and jumping out of bed on your own. I love it when you “lecture” me for not doing things I promised to do and you really sounded like an adult, just like how I would say the same to you too! (insert sweet voice of Ayra) “Mummy you know right, you are always working working working, you must remember to cut my nails ok. You must remember you promise to play with me and bring Meimei go out you know. Mummy you know?“.

Thank you for being such a lovable, smart, outspoken (when with me) and understanding 4 year old. Together we will do more happy things, we will guide and teach one another the many joyful things in life, we will share and create many many yellow memory balls and we will share our emotions and cry if we have to. Mummy promise you I will do my best to provide you with the best I can and love you 101%, and also will always remember to give you and Zara 100% focus everyday, even if its just for that short 30 minutes.

Happy 4th Birthday my darling girl!

Stay curious, keep smiling and fill our family with your love. Please try to be less shy when surrounded by family members and friends, Mummy know you can be the way you are even in big groups too. You just need to pretend everyone you don’t recognise as invisible and they cannot see you. LOVE LOVE LOVE you very much Ayra. Happy birthday darling!

Zara The Terrific Two

That day when I walked out from the kitchen with your huge rainbow cake, that smile on your face lighted from within you, that precious moment I wished I had captured it on video or photo. That sweet innocent delighted smile witnessed by myself and your grandma, I wish I will never ever forget. Now a yellow memory ball stored in my core memory powering my family planet.

Today you turn two. My second born, the one who reminds me of me.

You may be the stronger headed child, with incredible will power and that special instinct to know exactly when to do what you know would drive everyone insane. The totally opposite as your elder sister whom you just have to snatch every single thing she is holding in her hands all the time! And yes she does that a lot too to you. Mummy is slowly getting used to this and started letting the two of you sort things out on your own.

Zara you are such a lovable and forgivable little girl. Your crazy laughter is insatiable and will forever be contagious. I love mumbling into your tummy just to hear you giggle and laugh, tickling you so much that both of us would lay flat laughing together.

You love to squeeze between me and my computer whenever you have a chance to; squeezing my thighs, blocking my view with your baby scented head, and the occasional head tilted back with big round eyes asking for my attention (or to let you watch YouTube on my mobile).

Our body clock seems to be working in sync every night, with every gentle stir in your bed (which is in no way connected to mine) I get awaken too. And when the clock strikes 0330/0500 we would both be awake and we know what you will ask for next. Then it repeats again around 0800/0900. It’s ok you know to ask for milk, but Mummy really hope you can sleep through every night so we can all have good undisturbed sleep. Oh and Mummy is still very puzzled how you can transform your sleeping position so many times every night! Some of your favourite pose are with both arms and legs wide open spinning 360-degree a couple of times, snuggling on your tummy with all arms and legs hidden out of sight and the most disturbing one must be you climbing up onto my bed and pushing yourself into my underarm and smelling it through the night.

For everything you do and will be doing in the days ahead, Mummy hope you will always have your goofy and cheeky planet working; bringing more laughter into our house.

Happy Birthday Zara!

May you one day (soon) stop looking for your Tu-Tu and show everyone more of your unblocked adorable face. Love you ge zillion!

That Day When Ayra Met Our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Photo from PM Lee's Facebook Page (MCI Photo by Terence Tan)
Photo from PM Lee’s Facebook Page (MCI Photo by Terence Tan)

Because it was kind of a big deal so I just got to record this memory on the blog. The news of this once in a lifetime opportunity came on my birthday just when we were about to leave home for dinner. The lady from Capitaland called and asked if Ayra would be able to join them at the launch and present a token of appreciation to PM Lee at the Straits Time exhibition, Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow, where Capitaland is the main sponsor for. The first thing that came to mind was “Oh no! Ayra? Our super shy Ayra presenting to PM Lee? Surely cannot loh! It’ll be a photo disaster!“. But of course I did not say that and politely accepted the invite. The moment the phone call ended, I started prepping Ayra immediately! Yes I am THAT kiasu although we were two weeks to the launch.

Days preceding to the day when Ayra meets our Prime Minister at the launch, I explained to her what she was going to be doing, who PM Lee is, how he is related to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew (because Ayra knows about him during the period of national mourning), what she can expect at the launch and how she should behave and smile all the time. Ayra was even told to imagine that she will be invisible that evening and only Mummy can see her, so she does not need to worry about strangers looking at her. It was quite a stressful experience for me because this is confirmed going to be published in the papers loh!

See she was all smiley and happy before dinner. Ayra you would have been such a doll if you gave that big smile when you met PM Lee that night.

Everything went well and Ayra was all set and ready for the big event that evening. We arrived at Marina Bay Sands slightly earlier to slowly set her mood and have our dinner. All was smooth and great until when we were ready to walk over to Art Science Museum (ASM) where the launch and exhibition was taking place!!!

I was almost lost for words and ran out of ideas to coax this little shy princess of mine. She refused to walk towards ASM and insisted her feet were too tired to move. There is no way we are backing out of this so I used all mighty power of imagination to help ease her anxiety and we managed to go through the whole event without any need to tame any crying girl. All these wouldn’t be possible without the great help, hospitality and patience from the ladies from Capitaland.

The all adults crowd probably intimidated the tiniest little girl there.
Keeping Ayra occupied and warmed up while waiting for PM Lee to reach our exhibit hall, which is the last in the entire exhibit.

As I had expected, Ayra was too nervous and stunned like vegetable when the huge entourage of media and photographer engulfed PM Lee, CEO of Capitaland and her during the presentation. Her feet were stuck to the ground, lips tightly sealed into a straight line and refusing to smile for the cameras. I am very very grateful and thankful for the initiative taken by PM Lee during the presentation, he taking the extra effort to ensure photos were taken for the news piece and even giving us a second chance to have some more photos taken.

Ayra in the feature in The Straits Time
PM Lee making small chats with Ayra, trying to get her to warm up. Photo taken by not-sure-who-cos-camera-passed around.

And the one most unforgettable thing he did was to reply to my posting on his Facebook page, acknowledging Ayra’s presence that night.

Besides the Past and Present, the Future and what it can be was a big part of the exhibition. Capitaland organised the…

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

If you are wondering why Ayra was invited to do this, well because she is the youngest participant of #BuildSG2065, a campaign by Capitaland.

Ayra’s art piece duplicated and now on display inside Art Science Museum together with many other creative submissions for #BuildSG2065.

Thank you again Capitaland for this memorable experience for me. As for Ayra, I think she would probably laugh at how silly she had been that evening when she sees this post and view the photos taken that night with PM Lee.

Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow, at ArtScience Museum from now till 4 Oct 2015. Go check it out!

Terrible Two Even More Terrible with Number Two

Oh boy! I don’t know where or how to begin recording this core memory of ours with our number two. With Zara turning two next month, we are already feeling the strain and exhaustion from guiding her to learn to understand herself, expressing herself, controlling her emotions and knowing what’s right and wrong, what’s acceptable and not acceptable behaviour.

Being the strong-willed child in the family, she is constantly challenging our limits and tolerance to her high pitch screams. Her signature antic is the plunge-self-on-floor-scream-and-lay-face-down-and-cry motion. This happen almost every single day! When she couldn’t get the chips she wanted, when her sister didn’t want give in to her demand, when Mummy’s hand was too busy to carry her, or when she couldn’t get us to let her do what she wanted to. When we are at home, we would just let her cry herself out and leaving a small puddle of saliva on the floor; because she needs to learn what is wrong and not acceptable, so we try not to give in to her. But when we are out in public, we would try not to let her get to her extreme stage unless absolutely necessary. Either we try the distract-till-she-forgets tactic or we grab on to her preventing her from getting to first step of the plunging antic.

One of those days where she got cranky while in the train home.

It’s MINE!” she would insists when we have our phones or tablets in hand and proceed to snatch it off our hands. “Can you help me?” will come next when she require our password to unlock the screen. Then she would swipe through the screen like a pro and tap on the too-familiar YouTube icon and give us her million dollar smile. Zara sure knows how to cool off any kind of heat we may get from her!

Since she was 20 months young, she started requesting to do things on her own. “Eat… self“, “Do… self” and “I can!” are the commonly used phases when we are feeding, changing or trying to help her wear her shoes. This I’ve to thank the child care for starting their toddlers young. Zara is also able to tell us she needs to poo and would do it in the toilet, we didn’t even try to train her. Probably because she sees her elder sister doing it and picked it up on her own. That’s toilet training in progress already. Can’t wait to get her totally off diapers, hopefully by end of the year!

As we move towards the Terrible Two phase for the last time with our number two, I really hope I be more patient, more kind, more forgiving and more tolerable with what may be thrown at me by this little cheeky daughter.

Zara, oh our dear precious Zara. Please do learn to control and express yourself ok. Mummy and Ayah really do not want to scold you every day just because you don’t want to listen to us. And please stop giving us the “I don’t care nor give a damn” look. It really drive us crazy! Come what may!