It’s the magical month of December when everything at work winds down and things move at a more leisurely pace. I feel less stress as I no longer have the anxiety of always rushing and being 100 percent switched on. If only this can be replicated to every month of the year! With an uplifted mood, I begin my annual exercise of reflecting on the top 10 highlights for Year 2023.
1) Birth of Lenora
On 26 May this year, the Heartland Boy household welcomed the birth of our 2nd child, Lenora. It has been a smooth-sailing 7 months thus far. In fact, every few weeks, my wife and I have been telling each other how incredibly blessed we are to have Lenora. As an infant, she has been unbelievably easy to bring up since day 1. Whether it is changing diapers, feeding, or sleeping, she has been most compliant, rarely whines and barely cries. Instead, she is forever smiling which makes for the most amazing start to my daily mornings! Even our confinement nanny who left us at the end of the 1st month said she was so lucky to care for Lenora because everything was just so easy.
Patience might be her strongest suit because we often spend more time dealing with the tantrums of her elder sister which shouldn’t have been the case!
Shortly after Lenora’s arrival, I was eager to arrange for an infant photoshoot within the first 2 weeks to capture this precious and fleeting period. We have been working with StudioPlay since 2018 when Olympia had her newborn baby photoshoot. Therefore, we arranged for Sean from StudioPlay to come to our household since that was the most convenient and safest option for us. The images from 1) and 2) are examples of the amazing products that Sean managed to put out in a couple of hours.
3) Lenora’s baby shower
Another major highlight would be the cozy 100-day baby shower we organized to celebrate the joyous occasion with our family and friends. While it was tiring, it turned out to be a very good decision as we met many people who mattered to us in our lives. As busy parents and working adults, some of us have not met for quite a while so this was a good excuse to catch up with the developments in each other’s lives.
Items 2 and 3 were also activities that we did when we had Olympia and it would have been easy to succumb to fatigue or the lack of novelty. Thankfully, we did not as I continue to honour this promise that I made when Lenora was born. Eventually, I hope both girls will grow up to learn that we have been fair since day 1.
4) Breakfast with Dad
In case events 1 to 3 have given you the impression that I have been neglecting my first born, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I found myself spending a lot of time with Olympia in 2023 and we grew closer as a result.
One incident that would be forever etched in my memory was “Breakfast with Dad” organized by Centre for Fathering. It was held at her preschool and in a role reversal, the children were tasked to prepare breakfast for the dads. That meal tasted especially sweet, not because it was cereal loaded with tons of sugar, but because I saw the dedication and sincerity that Olympia went about with the task.
That’s not all. The main highlight was this particular game where the group of dads and children lined up behind opposite sides of the classroom wall. Then, each of the dad would have to shout “I LOVE U” from behind the wall. Without peeping or calling names, the children waiting in line would have to run to the door if they suspect that the voice belonged to their dad’s. When Olympia got it right on her first try, and that was after waiting so patiently for my turn, I gave her the tightest hug possible. It was such a heart-warming moment that I will forever cherish in my heart.
5. Olympia’s Kindergarten 1 Performance
A memorable moment this year would be Olympia’s Kindergarten 1 Performance. Due to safety restrictions owing to the pandemic, this was the first time we attended in person for her preschool’s graduation ceremony. As such, I didn’t know what to expect and was totally blown away by the end of the performance. 3 cohorts of classes combined to put together a captivating performance that left the audience enrapt.
Olympia’s class contributed 1 piano piece, 1 song and 1 dance to the overall performance. During parent-teacher meeting, her music teacher commented that she “turned it on” during the live performance compared to her nonchalant performances during the rehearsal. I could tell that she enjoyed witnessing the fruits of her labour pay off. What I am certain is that all parents left the theatre that day feeling very proud of what their little ones had just put up.
6) & Juliet
Continuing with the theme of performance and theatre, & Juliet ranked as the best musical that my wife and I have watched till date. It was witty with many twists and turns in the story plot, moving as it tackled many societal issues head on as well as nostalgic sing-along of various pop songs that I grew up with. The decision to pay for front-row seats paid off handsomely as I could see the vivid expressions of the passionate actors. During the standing ovation, I also saw that several members of the audience were wiping away their tears as the show’s take on LGBT issues probably tucked at their heartstrings. All in, it was a proper date night and we left the theatre craving for more!
7) Best Date Ever
On the topic of date nights, we attended “Best Date Ever” organized by Focus on the Family Singapore. I signed us up for this event as I have always recognised that marriage is hard work and I don’t want my wife to feel that I have neglected this aspect. Not knowing what to expect, it turned out to be both money and time well spent.
Through various activities over dinner, it made us realize what each party values in the marriage and what each party is working for the marriage. During one part of the segment, I even shed a bucketload of tears as I read my “love letter” to my wife. I highly recommend this activity for any married couple.
8) A luxurious Bali holiday
With an infant this year, we limited our travel to a regional destination. What we did not limit was the budget though as I nonetheless still decided to exhaust our annual travel budget for this 1 short holiday to Bali. As a result, we stayed in luxurious hotels and experienced 6-star hospitality. This was a first for me and I will admit that it will be dangerous to get used to this feeling.
9) Medalled at a Golf Challenge
Continuing with my regional travels, I took road trips to Malacca and Batam to play in the golf courses over there. While they obviously couldn’t hold a candle to the pristine golf courses in Danang, it was ultimately the company that mattered the most.
Separately, as a result of buying some golf clubs at Takashimaya, I was eligible to join its golf contest. Wildly surprised to come in 2nd for its “Nearest to Pin” challenge as I never thought that I stood a chance. This was further justification to the wife as the prize would help to offset the cost of my purchase. Sadly, this brand-new club is still listed on my Carousell with limited enquiries. Readers who are interested to bail me out can get this at a special price 😀
10) CPF SA achieved FRS
Last but not least, I am super pleased that my CPF Special Account finally crossed the magical Full Retirement Sum mark this year. This was vindication of the hard work that I have put in for the past 9 years. With this milestone reached, it opened many doors on what I can do with my CPF from henceforth, which includes transferring from my OA to my loved ones’ SA/RA. I can also be more confident about my retirement prospects as a key pillar of my retirement funds has now been secured!
Here’s wishing Heartland Boy’s readers a better 2024 (with less wars and conflicts) ahead!
This blog post is published on 21 Dec 2023
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