Kirsten

8 is pretty great

This is a special birthday post for a really special kid. Yeah, this kid.

Hey Kirsten,

You’re 8!!! You were looking forward to turning 8 so much and I’m so thrilled that it’s finally here! :)

For your birthday this year, you wanted a huge party with fireworks and life sized balloons and a giant cake, but then I was all “WHAT??!! How about a day out at the pool, extra hugs, no balloons and a much smaller cake?” and you were immediately like “Yeah ok sure sounds fun!“, no questions asked.

You’re such a great kid and everyday, I’m thankful that I get to have you as my baby. I kind of miss having you as a tiny baby, you were so adorable and squishy with your crazy chubby cheeks. I had the best time munching them. I tried to munch your cheeks while you were asleep last week and I’m sad to say that they’re extremely unmunchable these days. Also, you swiped me away with your sleepy hand, so I get the idea. Ain’t no more munching for me. I guess 8 is where the munching stops.

Watching you grow up has been one of the greatest joys of my life. And it’s extra special because you’re so much like me. You and me, we’re cut from the same cloth. Rule followers. Overachievers (ahem, model pupil award, congrats again!). People pleasers. Problem solvers. Non-confrontational (most of the time). A little bit bossy but it’s only because it pains us to watch people doing it wrong when there’s clearly a better way to do things (although we try really hard to rein it in). We like people to like us, which is both good and bad. Big crowds make us uncomfortable and we’re most happy being with family and a handful of good friends.

I know all the potential pitfalls that come with this particular personality trait and I hope you make different mistakes than I did, because those that I made aren’t worth making again.

What kind of mistakes? So many. We’ll talk more about this but here’s one:

One time there was a sports meet in school and we were all grouped according to houses to cheer for all the runners. When it was my brother’s turn to race, I thought I was being cool and badass by jeering him instead of cheering for him. I was such a brat and that was a totally bratty thing to do, which I immediately regretted but it was too late because it had already been done. The craziest thing was that I liked my big brother and I secretly wanted him to win – I just didn’t want to look like a baby in front of all my friends.

If anyone ever tells you that it’s not cool to cheer for your siblings or whatever, do it anyway because taking stupid coolness advice from other kids is the very definition of uncool.

Although looking at how much you adore your brothers and baby sister, I think you already know this.

I know being such a good kid can be a drag. You’re always expected to do the right thing and give in to the little babies and be the thoughtful, responsible older kid. When the mayhem escalates, you have to wait your turn while we sort out everyone else. I’m sorry it seems like we take you for granted sometimes. I want you to know that mommy appreciates all the things you do and I’m so, so glad you’re my baby.

Actually now that I think about it, you’re also pretty different from me. You’re basically like a superior v2.0 upgrade with more awesome features. You’re not terrified of lizards and bugs. Lizards are the bane of my existence but you’re like “I don’t even care if a lizard climbs on me, I’ll just flick it away.” Just so you know, I’ll fight a lizard with my bare hands for you if I have to, but since you don’t mind fighting them yourself…well thanks!

Also, your pain threshold? Very impressive. When you fell and split open your chin, you were so calm even when it hurt and blood was pouring out of your face. You sat bravely through the stitches and at the end of it, you just smiled and said “Phew, that wasn’t so bad!” I had a similar stitching incident on my finger (while trying to cut frozen chocolate) when I was about your age and grandma will tell you that I was nowhere near as calm or non-screamy.

In a few years, we’ll have to navigate the teenage situation that parents of teens try to warn me about. Hey, promise you’ll talk to me ok? In return, I promise to listen without judgement. I will however, offer excellent advice and also ice cream.

I know I say this a lot but one more wouldn’t hurt – mommy loves you so much! Happy birthday, sweetheart.

travel

Bangkok without the kids!

So after four years of not traveling without the kids, we finally decided to go for a no-kids getaway to Bangkok for 4 days.

Before we get to how the trip was (pretty great!), let me tell you about getting to the trip. Remember that time when we left all the kids at my mom’s house and went for Coldplay? It’s when I discovered that my threshold for not seeing the kids is like half a day max. Anything more than 6 hours makes me all antsy and twitchy.

I think it’s because I’m spoiled after being a stay home mom for so many years, having access to all the baby cuddles anytime I want. Like when I’m having a rough day, I can just stop and go hug my babies until I feel better. Anxiety coming on? Closing my eyes and inhaling some of that delicious baby smell makes it go away. My default stress coping mechanism is a rabid munching of chubby baby rolls, it always works.

This condition makes traveling without babies such a dilemma. I mean, I want to do it – I know that I’ll enjoy it when I’m there – but my baby withdrawal symptoms are severe. My brain is all “Just go! You need a break, no, you deserve a break so just take it, the babies will be ok.” but then my everything else will be like “84 hours without baby kisses and thigh roll munches? The babies will be fine but you won’t.” Underneath all the bravado, I’m just a huge pile of mushy baby-needing mess.

The night before we left, I was putting the kids to bed and smothering them with extra kisses to make up for my mom guilt when the realisation of my impending departure started to sink in for Finn and Theo. Truett and Kirsten were very cool, like “Have fun, mom! We’ll miss you so much!!“, but then the two boys were like “Wait, what?? You’re going to Bangkok tomorrow morning??? I did not agree to this!! Can I go to Bangkok too? I like Bangkok I will go wherever you go…

Both of them started tearing up with great big sad tears. “Please mommy please please please can I go??

I almost went online to buy 2 more tickets for the flight right then because I have no resolve. Just look at this face.

And this face.

Okay wait, I actually did go online with every intention of buying 2 more tickets but I discovered that the price for the extra 2 seats were 3 times what I paid for our original tickets so ummm, that’s a hard no. What am I, some kind of oil tycoon? They will just have to learn to deal with disappointment like us normal humans, with giant hugs and sobby whispers of “I’ll miss you so much!

//

Bangkok was excellent for a quick getaway. We went shopping, we ate Thai food, we went for massages, we sat in coffeeshops to read. I had time to finish two books while we were there: Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody and Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, both of which I enjoyed thoroughly. We took walks around the city like two people who didn’t have five kids. **Here’s where I should put up some pictures but we took a total of zero selfies. Sorry, zero points for blogging effort.

It’s a strange feeling to not be in mom mode for four whole days. There’s the silence, which I didn’t realise how much I had missed. We were on the plane and I turned to the husband to start a conversation only to see him enjoying this rare moment of silence with such bliss that I decided to enjoy some of it myself. Over the four days, we had fun conversations, but we also had long, glorious extended periods of silence and it was really nice.

There was also a constant sense that I forgot something. I’d be walking along Chatuchak market and there would be a flash of panic, thinking that I left something behind because why is my life so easy right now? Then I’d see a frazzled mom holding on to a sweaty, squirmy, screamy baby and realise that why yes, I did leave something behind and it’s called responsibilities.

Most importantly, we could only have done this with the help of my in-laws and my mom who had to watch the five babies, so thanks dad and mom and mom!

Advertorial

Keeping it clean

I didn’t use to be this way but with 5 kids at home, I’ve become the kind of person who is borderline obsessive about cleanliness. The husband will tell you that it’s not my natural inclination to be bothered by dirt or disorder but one of the lessons I’ve learnt over the years is that a clean home keeps the illnesses at bay and also, it makes for a far more pleasant environment to live in.

Why? Kids are super gross germ machines who wouldn’t think twice about ingesting week-old crumbs that they picked from behind the sofa. Crumbs that are covered in dust and hairballs and maybe even bugs.

They will cough straight into the back of your throat if you happen to be going in for a kiss at an inopportune time.

They will smear their giant snot bubbles all over their own face with their grubby fingers, then use those same fingers to wipe the floor, followed by their siblings’ nostrils.

My kids are always one snot smear away from a full blown illness, and the moment one of them falls ill, it immediately sets off a chain reaction of sick babies and adults around here. Which is guaranteed to result in a very bad quality of life for me.

One time a few years back, the kids had a terrible bout of stomach flu (which is the worst of all the minor illnesses) and they were all taking turns to throw up everywhere. For a week, it was a blur of cleaning up toddler diarrhoea and puke, and just as I thought that we had finally turned the corner, it got me too. It was agony – I remember crouching in pain next to the toilet bowl for hours thinking I was about to die. I was ready to gather my children next to my deathbed to deliver my final words. I also remember thinking that if I had done a better job at getting rid of these nasty germs, I would not be in this state.

While I can’t make my kids any less of a germ generator, I can make sure our home is a difficult place for dirt and bacteria to have a party.

***

When it comes to cleaning, my philosophy is to make it as quick and painless as possible without compromising on effectiveness. Basically something that works with minimal fuss and maximum efficiency because ain’t nobody got time to be spending hours on cleaning everyday.

Also, all the kids have to pull their weight in helping out with the cleaning at home so it’s a bonus that these are things that they can all do.

Here’s a list of things we do every day to keep the germs away.

1. Clean the floor every morning.

After vacuuming, we give the floor a thorough mop using Magiclean Floor Cleaner every morning. It’s a mystery to me how sticky stains will appear at various spots on the floor and you know what, I don’t even want to know what they are caused by. It’s like living in a house with invisible elves except instead of cleaning up, they just leave me little presents of dirt and stains.

Magician Floor Cleaner effectively removes sticky patches/oil stains and dries quickly without leaving any residue. More importantly, it kills 99.9% bacteria, working on even the microscopic level to keep the floor clean and bacteria-free. We typically for for a Fresh Floral scent, but there are 5 other fragrances (Fresh Lemon, Aromatic Lavender, Refreshing Green Apple, Flower Bliss, Minty Cool) to choose from.

2. Clean the floor some more. 

Did you think this was a one time a day thing? Nuh uh. Floor cleaning happens after every meal and snack time because somebody will almost always accidentally spill chocolate milk on the floor or smear milo into the grout like it’s an artistic masterpiece.

Instead of having to mop up 4-5 times a day, we use the Magiclean Wiper Mop and wet sheets for quick cleaning up with hassle free preparation. It is just as effective in eliminating 99.9% bacteria to remove dirt and stains. The 2.8cm thin mop head reaches narrow spaces effortlessly and maneuvers easily around corners, making spilled beverages mop up quick and easy. This is available in 3 scents – Fresh Mint, Relaxing Jasmine, Happy Rose.

This is baby Theo showing off his cleaning skills. The stick is adjustable so we made it shorter to match his height!

3. Clean surfaces. 

What kind of surfaces, you ask? All kinds. Dining table, chairs, high chairs, benches, bumper mats, toys – as long as my kids come into contact with these surfaces, we have to clean them. With these surfaces, the important thing is to avoid harsh chemicals that may be toxic for the baby, but at the same time, we can’t just use a cloth with water because it isn’t good enough to remove stains + bacteria.

We use the Magiclean Natural Plant-based Surface Cleaner (a new limited edition item that has just hit the stores this month!), which is made from 100% naturally-derived cleaning agents, making it gentle and safe to use on dining surfaces and surfaces of baby items. It’s so easy to use that the kids can help with the wipe down. They just give it a quick spritz and wipe over with a cleaning cloth.

4. Clean other fabric-ky surfaces. 

For fabric surfaces that can’t be cleaned with the surface cleaner, there’s Magiclean Fabric Freshener to get the job done. We use this on the sofa, fabric chairs, baby bedding, car seats and fabric toys. It is able to penetrate deeply into fabric fibres to kill 99% flu virus and bacteria, as well as remove funky odour with natural deodorising extracts.

There was a point a few years ago where we were hitting one bout of illness after another and it was just a non-stop nightmare of sick, sniffly babies. It’s been really nice having the kids all healthy and happy, and as a bonus, the house has been super clean.

**Magiclean’s range of products are available in hyper/supermarkets. Check out the website for more information.