Sunday, June 24, 2012

Excursion to the Botanic Gardens

Alex has been going to 'big school' for a term now. He will turn 5 at the end of July so we made the decision to send him this year - we would have sent him in term 1 except that we had a 3 week trip away in the middle of the term, so we elected for term 2. He has been going to Avondale Grammar, a small international school here in Singapore. It's Australian based, but has a mixture of nationalities attending. He has really loved it and I think we made the right decision to send him now.

On Tuesday it was his first class excursion. They were heading to the Botanic Gardens - specifically Jacob Ballas - the Children's garden. I volunteered to be a 'parent helper'. Although I work full time, I do get pretty generous leave allowances here. We get 25 days annual leave as well as 6 'childcare' days, which is awesome - you can take them for pretty much anything. Technically, because I'm not Singaporean or PR, I'm not eligible for 6, but as my company doesn't discriminate, we get 6. This is for anyone who has kids under 7. So, I booked my day off work with my childcare leave allowance and headed to school to accompany the class.

What a great day we had. Alex caught the school bus in and I left home 10 minutes after him just beating him to school. I met him at the front of the school and he very excitedly grabbed my hand and took me to his classroom.

We had a really fun morning. We got onto the bus at school. I had been assigned to look after Alex and Ollie. Ollie is this gorgeous little boy who was so sweet and affectionate, holding my hand as we went around the gardens and slowly warming up and chatting more and more. After touring around Jacob Ballas, we went to the nearby lake to a gazebo to sit down and have morning snacks. Then we sat down and listened to a story told by one of the teachers and then the children were able to do rubbings and colouring in. We headed back to school around midday and I dropped Alex and Ollie back to the classroom then headed off to do a spot of shopping (shoes at Takashimaya!) before going home to Tara to spend the rest of my 'childcare' day with her. Alex got off the school bus at 3:20 and we all had a lovely afternoon playing together.

Working full time can be difficult with young kids, but I'm very grateful that my work is quite flexible allowing me to work from home a bit and also to have days off such as these. I do really enjoy working and I think that I am probably a better Mum because it helps me to value those special moments that I have with the kids. I think they appreciate me more when I'm around too. I know that everyone is different and what works for some people won't work for others, but I like the balance of our lives. Our next holiday is in Bintan in 4 weeks time - I can't wait!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Post ACL surgery - 8 days on.

So last Monday June 4th, I had my ACL surgery. I was really nervous about it before hand. I didn't sleep well on the Sunday night. Early on Monday morning, I grabbed a taxi to the hospital and checked in. The ward staff thought I was scheduled for 9am surgery but when they realized it was 8am, there was a mad rush. I sadly had to remove my nail polish that was only a day and a half old! Then I was wheeled down to theatre. It reminded me of when Alex broke his arm as it was the same hospital and theatre area. I spoke with the anaethetist and signed my life away and then I was under (after the doc drawing with magic marker on my knee), I was relieved as I wouldn't want them to get the wrong one! I woke up in recovery around 11 and was desperately thirsty. I have a recollection of them giving me a syringe of water! I was wheeled back to my room - private room and loads nicer than Mount E where I had day surgery in Feb! I was so tired, I kept thinking I should call Gary but the urge to sleep was overwhelming. I eventually woke up at 1pm. No pain! Excellent! I had a sandwich and a cup of Milo and then a bit later the surgeon came in. He said the op had gone well and I would be free to go after the physio came. The physio arrived a bit later. She was this tiny young girl. She went over a few exercises, put my brace on and it was time to try out the crutches. I didn't realize my leg was still very numb, I stood up and went sideways nearly bowling the poor physio over! Whoa, that wasn't supposed to happen. Take 2 was a lot better. I got home around 4pm and spent a very comfortable night in my own bed. Yay for day surgery. On Tuesday, I was hobbling around with my crutches. On Wednesday, I went to get the bandage off and they redressed all of the wounds. I was slowly getting feeling back but I think the anaethetist was a bit heavy handed! On Thursday I went to see my physio. He had me off my crutches that morning. On Friday, I was walking a lot more and reasonably well. Today (day 8), I got a bit of pain and stiffness in my knee. I think this is normal, also my hamstring is a bit sore. But it's not at all bad. I was so worried about how I would cope post surgery, but it has been way better than I expected. I am so glad! So now it's the long rehab. Exercises every day and no biking for 6 weeks, no running for 5 months, no skiing for 8 months. Hmmmm, I wonder if trapeze would be allowed when we go to Bintan in 5 weeks?

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Tomorrow (Monday June 4th), I am scheduled to have surgery to reconstruct my ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in my left knee. It's now 10 weeks since my skiing accident and my leg is in a pretty good condition. The worst thing is that for the past 10 days or so, I have been suffering from lower back pain (I'm guessing caused by walking strangely due to wearing a brace for 8 weeks). This has impacted on my exercises that I have been doing to strengthen my knee. Hopefully the surgery will be successful and then I will be on the road to a full recovery. I have a great physio who specialises in knees and ankles. I am feeling pretty nervous about the surgery but am also very keen to get it behind me so that I can start the proper rehabilitation. I am hoping that there's not too much damage to my miniscus as this will mean my rehab is much quicker. My surgery is scheduled for 8am tomorrow. I need to be at the hospital at 6am (groan). I am not looking forward to going back to being on crutches and wearing the brace. However, hopefully it will be short lived. I am also not at all good at being housebound. I go a bit stir crazy. Hopefully I will only be on crutches for a few days and then getting back to normal. I am working from home for the rest of the week and will get out on Thursday to see the physio. Yay - an outing!!

Europe 2012 - getting back to England

On Sunday March 25th, we set out very early (our transfer was 6am and it was daylight savings morning so really 5am)! We set our alarm for 5am, but our iPhone updated the time and after getting up and dressed (which was kind of difficult with brace etc), I realized our mistake. Thankful we hadn't woken the kids up! I hadn't had a lot of sleep given my leg was braced and pretty swollen. We had a tense moment at Chambery airport when being asked if I could bend my leg. I managed to convince them that with an aisle seat I would be fine to let the trolley past. Phew. We had a good time getting to the plane, in a wheelchair and getting a hydraulic lift (Alex joined me). The flight was fine and when we arrived at Gatwick, I was told assistance would be arriving. Assistance was a wheelchair for 100m and then a motorized trolley. I was allowed to take 1 child with me, so Tara and I got on. What an amazing service, the lady who drove us was lovely - a volunteer and just so friendly and accommodating. We were driven to passport control and then met the boys at baggage reclaim and then we all got a ride to the car rental area! It was an excellent service. We picked up our rental car and drove to the Hilton hotel in Cobham in Surrey.

Gary dropped me off at the door of the Hilton - we arrived around lunchtime. I went in hobbling on my crutches with both kids. The check-in staff told us our room wasn't ready yet as they had been full the night before. The manager at the desk then looked at me and said, "You look like you could do with a drink, come to the bar with me" and she took the kids and I to the bar and told the bartender to get us what we wanted and she would sign the bill. She got the children 2 activity packs with colouring etc inside and it made me feel like crying - it had been such a journey to get there and everyone had been so kind. With the accident happening less than 24 hours prior, we hadn't really had a chance to process it all but she was so lovely and accommodating.

When Gary and I lived in England we had a house in Walton on Thames and this was one of the reasons we had chosen the Hilton at Cobham. As it was lunchtime, we decided to go to one of our favourite pubs for lunch. We drove there (got a little lost) but managed to find it ok and as it was Sunday lunch the place was heaving. Luckily we did manage to get a table and we had a gorgeous pub lunch at what used to be called "The Oatlands Chase" but had changed its name. Again, on leaving, Gary went to get the car and people were helping me out - opening the car door and just being so kind.

We drove back to our hotel and got our rooms, only to find out that they were on the 2nd floor and there was no lift!! I had a chat with the front desk staff and they offered us a room on the ground floor but unfortunately the ground floor had no interconnecting rooms so we decided we'd give the 2nd floor a go. I very quickly learnt how to get up and down stairs with my crutches. The rooms were lovely and it was nice to be able to relax and collect ourselves for a while.

On Sunday night we caught up with some old friends Mark & Liz and their 2 daughters, Rachel and Gemma. We went to an old favourite restaurant - Pizza Express. I was delighted that they still had my all time favourite pizza on the menu - Veneziana. The kids had a lovely time and it was so nice to catch up with old friends - now in a very different situation with 4 kids between us!

On Monday, we had a lovely day exploring Surrey again and just chilling out. On Tuesday, our flight was at 10:30pm so we asked the hotel if we could have late checkout. They told us it was 10 pounds an hour after 1pm and we organised to have the room till 4pm. They didn't end up charging us the extra 30 pounds which was again, so nice of them. We had a nice easy day and then at 4pm, checked out and drove to a nearby playground we had seen earlier in the day. The kids had a brilliant time playing and then we went to another of our favourite pubs on the river for dinner before driving to Heathrow. It was a lovely relaxing few days in Surrey despite me being on crutches and leg in a splint.

Gary did the drive back to Heathrow - our trusty GPS got us there without an issue and we managed to check in without a hitch. Gatwick definitely wins the prize for assistance. Heathrow was a lady with a wheelchair who was very kind. In Singapore we had a guy who crashed me into a number of objects and was going so fast that poor Tara was running to try to keep up. Eventually Gary asked him if he could take the hand luggage and Gary pushed me. The guy was a bit clueless. Anyway, we made it back to Singapore in 1 piece.

A big shout out to Gary for managing 2 toddlers, 2 heavy suitcases, 4 items of hand luggage and a wife on crutches. What a champion.