from around here

Solidarity and stuff

It’s 3 weeks into the new year and things are falling into a nice routine around here. That is if you can consider the madness that goes on around here routine. I like to think of it as an organised chaos, a beautiful mess.


For starters, there’s the return of the dreaded 听写 list. I try to pretend like I already know all the words on the list because I have to inspire confidence and make it look like this is easy peasy, you guys can totally nail this because mommy can too.

Except that all the chinese words I’ve learnt 30 years ago have since been pushed out of my brain by more important things like the new season of Sherlock (okay guys, we need to talk about this!).

Yesterday, I was marking Truett’s 听写 while feeding the baby in the room and for the life of me, I could not remember how to write 练习 despite having just seen it ten minutes ago. I tried several permutations of 练 (all wrong!) and when Tru saw me struggling, he was all “hahahahaha you also don’t know how to write this, so difficult right??” So when I was done feeding, I came out to learn all the words with him again until we could both get them all right.

Solidarity. Because if we have to suffer, we will do it together.


Getting the kids to save has been going pretty well this new year. The dollar-matching offer still stands, wherein for every dollar they save, we will throw in another dollar into their savings account. They can also choose to pack a snack for recess – a sandwich, some fruits, cookies, that sort of thing.

Kirsten loves the soup noodles in her school canteen and her idea of splurging a little is to have it from time to time, but she will go for the plain version with just noodles and soup, no other ingredients. I’ll be like “it’s ok, just order it with some chicken or meat or fishballs, you need the protein” but she will insist that she wants the plain version for 50 cents so she can save the rest. I try to make up for it by loading her up on protein during lunch and dinner.

Then there’s the question of why. They know that it’s good to save but they aren’t saving it with a purchase in mind, so right now, it’s just a generic savings fund for something they may or may not need in the future. I tried explaining the concept of saving up for a rainy day.

Tru: Actually, I don’t really need all this money in my savings. I don’t have anything to buy anyway.

Me: It’s important to save so that one day when you do need the money, it’ll be there. Trust me, having savings is better than not having any, even if it’s a few dollars.

Kirsten: Ya, like next time if you want to buy some minecraft toys, you can use your savings.

Me: Ummmm, we’ll have to discuss the purchases but yes, that’s the general idea.

Tru: It’s ok, I don’t think I’ll need it. Maybe I’ll just give the money to KK. (KK is what he calls his sister these days)

Kirsten: YESSSS JUST GIVE IT TO ME. I’ll use it to get you surprise presents.

Tru: Ok deal.

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from around here

Relationship goals

Finn and Theo are like peas and carrots. They’re as different as night and day, fire and ice.

Finn is a dreamer, super chill, all innocent doe eyes and disarming demeanour. Theo is way too sharp for a two-year-old, insanely playful, feels strongly about all of the things and only uses the talking equivalent of ALL UPPER CASE WORDS.

For the most part, they exist in each other’s orbit like two self-sufficient planets and when they do interact, it’d be variations of “KOR KOR FINN DON’T EAT FINISH THE COOKIES JUST EAT A SMALL SMALL PIECE OKAYYY!!” and “mommmmm look at this ridiculous baby he is sitting on my face…oof.”

Maybe I’m used to Truett and Kirsten’s BFF relationship where they’re bantering and bickering all day. They want to hang out together all the time, trading jokes and sharing secrets and annoying each other like best friends do.

I’ve been trying to get the two boys to do stuff like read and play with toys together because economies of scale for one and also, I’m doing my part to inspire bro-ness. That’s how we do things around here – YOU WILL HAVE FUN TOGETHER WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!! Except that they would just end up doing their own thing in close proximity and that’s ok I guess. Not all relationships have to be all talk and deep sharing; sometimes you just need to be alone together.

Earlier this week, they asked to set up a play doh corner by the pool and in the middle of it, they had a moment. They were sitting by the pool playing a game of spot-the-imaginary-sea-creature.

It’s a whale! Do you like whales kor kor Finn?

Ya I like whales. And dolphins and fluffy penguins. Oh look it’s a giant squid coming out of the water quick let’s shoot it pew pew pew…

No I don’t like it. I don’t like the scary monster giant squid.

Don’t worry I will protect you I’ve got my super powerful laser  gun.

Oh ok.

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from around here

Hey there, 2017

So that was a pretty perfect end to the year.

We didn’t have any grand plans or exciting adventures but the husband was on leave for the last two weeks of the year so we just hung out with the kids, made pancakes, went for leisurely brunches, cleaned out the house, played board games, and took things slow for a bit. It was nice.

While Truett and Kirsten were packing their bags for the new school year last week, they were all “For this new year, I’m going to make sure all my things are packed super neatly” and I was like “YES THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!!” If 2017 is the year that I don’t have to decipher coded messages from torn/crumpled/bitten?? scraps of kiam chye, it would already be an amazing year. To that end, I offered to wrap all their books with plastic wrap like I used to do when I was in Primary school. I got out the plastic wrap and after struggling with a 好公民 for 5 minutes, I looked at the remaining mountain of books on the floor and told them, “You know what guys? The books are fine as they are. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

I’ve had some time to think about 2016 and these are all the things I’ve learnt from the past year.

1. Time spent with the people you love is never wasted. 

With each year that passes, I’m terribly aware that my time is ticking away, not in a morbid I don’t have much time left in this world way, but like yeah, I guess I’m one year down from however many years I have left. I’ve spent all these hours and days and weeks and months doing the same things – feeding babies, bathing babies, cuddling babies, cleaning poop, checking homework, fixing the same blocks, reading the same books, telling the same stories, playing the same crazy games.

Mundane? Sure. But wasted? Not even a little.

2. Bad days don’t make a bad life. 

Some days are harder than others. Some years are harder than others. But once we get through them, there’ll be some not-so-bad days, and some mediocre-kind-of-meh days, and some above average days. And yes, there will also be some ridiculously good days. All these days add up to a pretty great life if we let them.

3. Smile through the really awful days. 

Kirsten is really good at picking up on my expressions. She always knows when I’m writing a blog post because apparently I look very serious when I’m doing it. Or when she sees my brow furrow in visible annoyance while I’m on the phone, she’ll intercept the babies and tell them, “Don’t stress mommy, she can’t handle you right now…” which is so thoughtful and adorable and it always makes me laugh.

It also makes me realise that the kids are so intuitive when it comes to picking up on my body language. When I’m high-strung or snappy or upset, it affects them too, which then just snowballs into one huge, unstoppable mess of bad feelings.

So even if I have to fake it, I force myself to breathe and smile until it gets better.

4. Do the things that need to be done. Then make some time for the fun parts. 

As the holidays were winding down, the kids were like “I wish we could have holidays forever. Just all play and no work forever and ever.” I wish that too but that’s not how life works. There are things to be done and we need to do them. Things like homework and housework and actual work that pays you money.

Although there have been too many days in 2016 where we did all of the work and forgot to have any fun. We’d get overwhelmed by the hustle all day and when it got to bedtime, there wasn’t any time left for a bit of fun. This year, I’ll try to be get-things-done-mom and I’ll also try to be superfun-mom. No matter how the day went, we’ll make some time for bedtime stories or chats or a short game, even if it’s just for a few minutes.


I’m glad for a new year. At the start of every year, I’d wish for it to be a good one, and by that I meant an easy one filled with many days sitting by the pool having people feed me grapes while other people gave me foot massages. Ok wait, those years do sound amazing, I’d take one of those years anytime.

But if I’m really honest, it’s the difficult years that help us become better, kinder, more resilient versions of ourselves.

Whichever sort of year this one turns out to be, I’m thankful I get to do it with these guys.

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