Archive | October 2009

Work. Life. Balance?

I haven’t been very active on the blogosphere lately.
Partly because of work.
And partly because I’ve been thinking a lot about work-life balance. And the personal thoughts I’ve been sharing with DH on the matter, I wasn’t quite so ready to share on a public space.

But after having read this article, it made me think about the kind of hours DH and I put up and I really felt I needed to put thought to pen (or keyboard!).

Many will stir their kopi siu tai in the local coffee shop, lean forward in their seats with a frown and remark to their breakfast companions, see that is the trouble with life in Singapore – the sacrifice of health in pursuit of wealth. But that being said, it is also the general view of many that that sacrifice is necessary and entirely to be expected. And most people (in Singapore, at least) don’t consider a twelve hour day to be anything extraordinary.

Before our kids arrived on the scene, DH and I used to put in twelve to seventeen hour workdays without giving a second thought. It was just the norm. It was just…expected.

Now that we’re parents, we are at work in the day, and at home with the children in the evenings. On weekdays we wake up, breakfast with the children, leave for work, come home in the evening, bring them out to the playground if possible, or play together in the living room after dinner, give them their milk, and put them to bed. That doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? But what does it say when people’s perceptions are that, that’s too much time with the children and we’re having too good a life, we should be clocking the hours at work like the rest of ’em?

To make up for those hours, DH sometimes fires up the computer after the kids have gone to bed and beavers away till 3 am many nights in a row to meet a deadline. I have had my share of 2 am nights though not in a row. (cannot survive like he does…)

The net effect – our total work hours haven’t really gotten less from those early days without kids!

I actually did a Google search and read a few other working moms’ blogs and I find the same pattern. We all put in long hours, it’s just when those hours take place. A lot of us say we love what we do, but I guess we really need to start thinking about the implications when the things we love to do take us away from what we should do for the ones we love!

DH and I are currently probably not at risk of collapsing from overwork. At least, we think…based off our recent health medical checkup reports!
But it certainly leaves a sobering thought – are we going to continue at the pace we are going at? Here’s what’s worse…we were considering stepping up the pace!

Anyway, I wish this hadn’t had to happen and Mr Tan could have lived a longer and more fulfilling life. But I also hope you will take the time to read it and ponder about its implications on your own lifestyle. And maybe…if more of us start resolving that it isn’t the norm to do twelve hour days we’d be able to find that elusive meaning of what work-life balance really is.

Flowers at Sorrento

Sugar and spice, snips and snails


Dislikes getting her fingers messy or dirty.
Will sit quietly with a book or puzzle for a good twenty-minutes.
Is the one who will insist of having a tissue to wipe her face after a meal…


Loves running his fingers through sand, gravel, pebbles and soil.
Will climb every available “mountain” and ford every idle “stream” if I turn away for just twenty seconds.
Is the one who will smear spilled porridge all over his high chair tray and then, just for good measure, rub his face on the tray!

Sigh. 😉

Australia Travel Log Day 10: Perth – Singapore

One takeout pizza dinner…
Two tired out kiddos packed off early to bed…
Three hand carry bags stuffed to zip-bursting capacity (actually there were more lah, but I’m trying to maintain a pattern here 😉 …)
Four cabin bags sat on so we could snap them shut…
Five drowsy chilly am loading ourselves and our luggage on to the hotel’s airport transfer…

And we’re on our way to home sweet humid Singapore.
Goodbye Perth. It’s been a fantastic holiday.
I have loved every precious second, away from work, away from stress and in the company of our family. Not necessarily doing much. Just being. 🙂
I am still thinking about it even as I blog.

But. I am also very very glad to be back home.

Changi T3 Arrival Hall

Changi T3 Arrival Hall

Travel Scrapbook: Day 9

DD picked some leaves off the ground for her scrapbook page on Perth. 🙂

Leaves from Australia for my scrapbook!

Scrapbook-Kings Park Scrapbook-my trip

And that’s a wrap!  The My 1st Overseas Trip scrapbooks are now on the bookshelf along with the rest of our family albums and scrapbooks so the kids can look back at them again in the future. 😀

Australia Travel Log Day 9: Perth

On our way back to Perth City from Bunbury, and at the turn off around Mandurah, we chanced upon the Kwinana Freeway by accident. It wasn’t on any of the maps we had so we just made a decision not to take the coastal route again (Highway 1) since the signs for Highway 2 indicated Perth  and I’d read somewhere that the inland route was faster.

It turned out to be a great drive because the road was so smooth and we reached Perth city fairly quickly. 

Finding our way to King’s Park, we sat down on a grassy verge overlooking the sea and the freeway and let the kids stretch their legs while we sat down and munched on roast chicken sandwiches.

DS discovered that rolling about in the grass was great fun.  The differences between boys and girls are becoming more and more apparent to me day by day. DD would never have done anything of the sort. Or pick up pebbles from the road and roll them about in the mouth, like he did at Walpole!! 

It was a pity we had to leave so soon to return the car. I would have liked to explore King’s Park a lot more. 😦
Isn’t the view amazing? 🙂

King's Park 2

King's Park

Travel Scrapbook: Day 8

Although we didn’t see any real ones, we still got to watch a couple of short films about dolphins.  I learnt that there is a darker side to the dolphins’ often portrayed friendly, playful and helpful image.  There’s more than meets the eye.


Australia Travel Log Day 8: Bunbury

The weather at Bunbury was glorious!  For once the kids didn’t have to wear three layers of clothing. In fact the weather was so sunny, it was great for laundry! Good grief…We’re really establishing a reputation for ourselves in mundanity…

But we’d accumulated such a huge pile of laundry over the past few days that DH and I decided to roll up our sleeves and buckle down to some serious handwashing. So that we could save $3 on the washing machine and get value for money by tossing in a mega-ton load into the dryer for $2.
That was a morning of hard work!

Outside the laundry rooms there is a jumping pillow, which is like a huge trampoline of sorts. All four of us had tons of fun jumping on it after hanging out the laundry, and DH’s mum even found a $2 coin in the sand. Hooray! Free dryer expense! 😉

The dolphins didn’t show up at Koombana Beach, both days that we were there, which was a bit of a disappointment for DD, and for me too. 😦 Admission fee for the Dolphin Discovery Centre gives you access for a month, but of course we weren’t going to be there that long. They did say there was no guarantee that the dolphins would turn up since these were wild dolphins.

DH and I chatted to one of the volunteers there who explained that typically around this time of year there is a warm current, but this year they haven’t experienced that, which could be a plausible explanation for the dolphins not appearing very much this month, and no turtles getting washed up ashore as well. The water temperature was averaging around 12-14 degrees Celsius which is still pretty cold.

There are other exhibits and interesting information displays at the Centre to read up on though, so it was not an altogether futile outing.  The centre also takes care of baby turtles washed up on Koombana Beach, there is a feeding session at 10am daily.

Dolphin Discovery Centre

Baby Dolphin

Other sites we took in at Bunbury…

Timber Jetty

Timber Jetty

Mangrove Walk and Leschenault Inlet

Mangrove Walk and Leschenault Inlet

Australia Travel Log Day 7: Walpole – Bunbury

We pulled in very thankfully into the little driveway in front of our cabin in Discovery Holiday Park Koombana Bay after another long day on the road.

Discovery Holiday Park Bunbury

Along the way we made a lunch stop at Bridgetown and found this delightful little café and bric-a-brac store called Horti Towers. (When we asked, the owner confirmed it is a word play on the tv show Fawlty Towers). But he also told us that they are trying to cultivate the plants to grow around the house to form a tower, hence the use of the term “Horti (cultural)”.

Horti Towers

Something something soup and panini sandwich

Something something soup and panini sandwich

Quiche and Lasagna

Quiche and Lasagna

We're so tea crazy...

We're so tea crazy...

We were booked in at Bunbury for two days, and I’d planned this part of the journey as a nice long rest stop for everyone to just chill and stretch out their legs.


And guess what we did…we went grocery shopping!! How hilariously mundane is that! But then grocery shopping in Australia is so much more fun than in Singapore – the produce is so fresh, and there are so many different varieties of meats that grocery shopping is actually FUN!

I like their parent friendly trolleys – very thoughtful. 🙂

Mommy friendly shopping carts

In Singapore, when DS was younger, I either had to sling him or put him in our stroller whilst DD sat in the trolley and push both stroller and trolley side by side, which was a major navigational challenge!

Travel Scrapbook: Day 6


Introducing the concept of Superlatives: Big, Bigger, Biggest. Small, smaller, smallest.

Australia Travel Log Day 6: Walpole – Nornalup

We hit the road at 9am for the long long drive south to Walpole by Brockman Highway. Originally we had wanted to do the Valley of the Giants Treetops Walk and then drive to Albany but on second thought it would have been just too far after so many action-packed days at Margaret River!

At its highest point, the treetops walk is 40 metres above the ground.

At its highest point, the treetops walk is 40 metres above the ground.

The walk is stroller friendly!

The walk is stroller friendly!

DD and me on the walkway

DD and me on the walkway

On completing the treetops walk, there is a path that allows one to carry on over to the Ancient of Empires walk which takes you through the tingle tree forest and lets you go in and under some of the really huge tingle trees.

On a friend’s recommendation, we did make time to stop for Devonshire tea at Nornalup Teahouse though before checking in to our accommodation for the night. The tea was yummy but the ambience wasn’t quite there…mostly because rock music was playing in the background which I thought was just incongruent with scones and cream and Earl Grey tea. Hmm…

Nornalup Teahouse

Nornalup Teahouse2

It was 5+ by the time we drove in to Restpoint Holiday Village. A little road weary, we were pleased to find that our unit was pretty huge. DD and DS had their own room, and we and each of our mothers had their own room. 🙂

A funny thing happened…as I was happily exploring the unit, I opened a door from my mum’s bedroom which turned out onto the living room of another unit! Both me and the lady on the other side exclaimed in shock.

Later on, I found on that the whole block is interconnected. Through a door which looked out of place right beside DD’s bed which was up against a wall, I could hear footsteps and people speaking and that turned out to be the entrance point to another unit on the other side. So doors have locks on one side and additional latches on both sides to enable the proprietors to configure the individual units according to guests’ booking requirements. An interesting design, but what a way to find out! 😉

Restpoint Holiday Village

Restpoint Holiday Village

View from our unit

View from our unit

Pelicans and seagulls appeared on the beach of the inlet in the morning and DD and DS were very excited. A pelican is really intimidating when it opens its mouth though, especially when walking right up to DS! I picked up our innocent little guy who was holding his hand out to the pelican, in a great hurry!!

Pelicans at Walpole