The year has just flown by and I can't quite believe I've left it to the very last day to be writing my last post of the year.
Little N and I spent a couple of weeks almost alone together in January after the Mother-in-law went back to Hong Kong. After that, I started transitioning her to my mum's place during the day so that she could get used to the arrangement when I went back to work.
I still can't quite believe how blessed I am that my mum and dad would offer to take care of Little N during the day. It certainly isn't easy for both of them. Baby caring is hard work... and an active baby (who is a toddler now) is even harder. But I can see them bonding really well and I'm just so grateful to my parents, especially mum!
It took me quite a while this year before I got confident going out with Nicole. I was just at home a lot during my maternity leave. In the beginning, it seemed like every trip meant her daily routine got thrown off balance and resulted in a nervous mum and a cranky baby. It took a lot of pushing (Em.. I should say encouragement) from The Husband before I became more confident with bringing her out. I still prefer to ensure she gets at least 1 good nap at home in the day though.. And I still prefer going home earlier at night so that she can be in bed before 9pm.. because I think a well rested baby is a happy one.
I started work just before Chinese New Year and it isn't long before I settled into a rather fixed routine of work, breastfeeding and baby caring. My days are fully packed and it sometimes feel like I am running a race with no pit stops. Thanks to good suggestions from friends and colleagues who have young children, I started making sure I leave work by around 630pm everyday and then restart only at 9-930pm. This helps me get some time in the evenings with Little N.. I get to play a little with her and put her to bed. Driving to work helps me get a little bit more time and I used that time for some precious me-time in the morning during breakfast.
Things are a lot better now that I am quite used to the routine and night wakings, but I still really wish for the day that Little N would start sleeping through the night.
In April, I went for a business trip and training session in the UK for about a week. It was the first time I was away for Little N for so long! The main purpose of the trip was to attend this training session at the UK's Royal Marine's headquarters in Exeter. It was an extremely interesting training on leadership and team work.. but I missed my girl a lot. I insisted on freezing and transporting back most of my breastmilk for Little N so it was also a logistically challenging trip - with 3 hotel moves and lugging bags of frozen breastmilk all between London and Exeter. I was quite pleased with myself for doing it though.. because in a way the complexity and challenge of this trip kept me going and I managed to breastfeed Little N exclusively for the first 13 months of her life.
A meal at my favourite restaurant near the London office
In the middle of the year, I had some bad news at work (some of my key staff members resigned) and some really awful news at home (my dear grandmother was diagnosed with last stage liver cancer). These 2 events really make me look at my work quite differently. I realise that I need to live out the fact that health and family is priority and not work. It's really not easy. Especially the health part.
It was also around this time that Singapore got hit with one of the worst smog in recent history, with pollution levels hitting record high. There was a mad scramble amongst Singaporeans to buy air purifiers and I was no exception. I got my sister and my sister-in-law to lug air purifiers from Indonesia and Hong Kong because they were all sold out in Singapore. Again, it was another reminder that we cannot take things for granted.
The usual view out of the window from my office
The view when the pollution index hit record levels
I managed to squeeze in a weekend trip to Beijing on my own. 2013 is the year that one of my main projects whilst I was working in Beijing ended. It was a 6 years project that started in 2008. The team organised a couple of special dinners - one with the client and one with all previous members of the project. I got the opportunity to meet old friends and dine at some of my favourite restaurants in Beijing. I also had a couple of hours by myself to visit some of the places The Husband and I used to visit in Beijing. I enjoyed myself a lot and it was a good break from my daily routine.
I didn't have enough time to visit the others.
This was a market that The Husband and I frequented.
We visited it almost every weekend whilst we were in Beijing.
I went there to buy some peaches home this trip.
In September, Little N celebrated her first birthday. The Husband and I had a big row that day. I cannot for the life of me remember what the row was about. But I still have evidence of his unhappy face in the photos. Being tired most of the time makes me more irritable and makes rows with The Husband a lot more frequent than they used to be. We probably had more rows in 2013 than our previous years combined. I do feel strongly the need to do something about this perpetual tiredness.. but I don't have a good solution yet. I'm still amazed at how some other mothers seem to have so much energy.. and why they seem to have so little need for me-time.
Little N seemed to be blissfully unaware of our big row on her birthday. We went to the river safari that day and she saw pandas for the first time. Around her first birthday, she also started speaking quite a bit.. which is good, especially since it helps us understand her at times.
Little N feeling happy after seeing the pandas at River Safari
In October, we went for a trip to Taiwan. This was our first family trip overseas with Little N. Travelling with Little N meant we weren't able to travel light! There were just so many things we had to lug along! But Little N was fairly co-operative and though it was tiring, I did enjoy all the food and sights we got to see.
Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan
Highlight of the trip - Taiwanese food and drinks!
Another highlight this trip - onsen!
We also got our keys to the new home in the west in October. We have been looking around for an interior designer and going furniture shopping quite a bit since then. We've just recently confirmed our interior designer so things will be getting really busy and exciting soon. To be very honest, I am very worried about moving to the west, so far away from my parents, our main support system at the moment. I am also worried about how I'd cope with a house that's more than twice the size of our current place. The thought of all the endless housework kind of freaks me out. Though I do look forward to the space we'd have as I do feel with Little N, our current apartment is spilling over with her books and toys.
We'd be doing some renovations and then this place should be ready by April!
Too fast.. I don't feel prepared to move!
New view in 2014..
So there you have it. 2013 seemed rather uneventful... but it did seem to have just flown by.
I am excited, yet fearful of what 2014 will bring. To be honest, I am not approaching the new year with confidence that I'd do well in all my roles - as a mother, a wife, an employee and a boss. I somehow feel I'm just barely juggling everything at the moment and everything will fall apart with the renovations, move (gosh!), new home, new childcare arrangements and possibly new office next year.
May God carry me through the new year as He always have and grant me strength and wisdom. And may he do the same for you as well.
Have a happy new year and a good year ahead.
Photos of Little N through 2013