Browsing Category

from around here

from around here

Moving day

These past few weeks have been crazier than usual because we’re moving this weekend. After being in this rental apartment for almost two years, the owners  have decided to sell the place so what this means is that we will have to vacate the premises at the end of the lease, which is in two days time.

Amazingly, we received notification that our new place is ready ahead of schedule and we’ll be getting our keys today (cutting it very close, I know!). This gives us no time at all to prep the new place before shifting but on the bright side, we won’t be homeless so that’s something to be thankful for. We’ll have to work on the minor renovations after we shift in, which is not ideal, but I’ll take it.

Since the start of the month, I’ve begun progressively packing stuff and clearing our furniture on carousell. The kids were like “MOMMMMM where’s the sofa and dining table and bed??? Where will we sit and eat and sleep?” and I had to tell them that minimalist living is all the rage these days. I don’t think they bought it.

This process of packing up my life into large boxes has been very cathartic. Shifting homes is an excellent time to go all out and ruthlessly declutter like Japanese cleaning guru Marie Kondo. I’ve been very inspired to Kondo my life after watching a video of this dude who has less than 50 items in his entire home. Like a spoon is 1 item, a tshirt is 1 item, a toothbrush is 1 item…the guy has a total of 50 items in his life. So I’m like, okay, I have 8 people living here, we are allowed 400 items, surely I can make it under 400.

I grabbed a large trash bag, double bagged it as a signal of intent, and went around my home looking for stuff to clear. First stop was the kids’ toy bin. I peered into the lego box and there were about 200 pieces in there, mixed in with random stray parts from other toys. This was going to be more challenging than I thought. Maybe if I build it into a large structure, it would count as 1 item? And then maybe if I stuff that and all their other toys into a large bin, it would also count as 1 item? Looks like I’ll have to improvise the nesting doll application of the KonMari method.

I also tried to explain the concept of decluttering to the kids, like “guys, we need to be ruthless. If you look at an item and it doesn’t bring you joy, we need to let it go to a better home” and Truett immediately went to his stack of 新天地 magazines and said “mom, I think we need to let these go, they bring me zero joy.” Smarty pants. I told him to consider if it would bring him even less joy to have to explain to his Chinese teacher why his homework has been sent away to a new home. That would be in the negative zone of joy.

//

We’ll miss this place we called home for the past two years; it’s been good to us and we’ve made some awesome memories here. The next couple of weeks will be exciting though, but then new beginnings always are.

More updates to come after we settle in to the new place. :)

from around here

School holidays? Yes please!

Okay whaaattt it’s june and we’re in the middle of another school term break again??

You know I love spending time with my delightful offspring and does anything sound more delightful than having all my babies all to myself all day every day for a whole month? Ummm, yeah, no, not a single thing!!

This is, as they say, not my first rodeo so I’ve been buckling down and getting ready for the human hurricane, but it still hits you hard no matter how you’ve been bracing yourself for it.

Here are some things you need to know about kids on school holidays:

//School holidaying kids have no chill. There’s something about not having to spend half a day following rules and walking in line and having meals at designated times that makes them all jacked up on adrenaline. I can see it in their eyes the moment they wake up in the morning – instead of the usual undead zombie eyes, school holidaying eyes are ALIVE like them hills with the sound of music.

//Somebody is getting all up in my business at any given time. I make a coffee and someone is next to me going “Is that coffee, mommy?? Are you making coffee? Can I have some coffee like you? It’s super delicious!!” I go to the toilet and there’s yelling for “MOMMY I MISS YOU, YOU NEED TO COME OUTSIDE NOW!” I open up my emails and someone else is literally breathing down my neck like “What are you doing, mommy? I need to help you do some work, can I? Can? Can?? Can????” and I’m like “OKAY THAT’S IT, I’m declaring this a no baby zone, nobody breathe near me I just need to have 5 minutes understand.

//Time passes slower in June and Nov/Dec. There’s some magical time freezing voodoo that goes on during the school holiday months that make it go extra slowly. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if scientists discover some precession of the equinoxes rotational axis wobble that’s causing an actual slow down of time during these months. That or 5 kids are wearing me down more rapidly, such that I’m completely exhausted by 11.45 in the am. By 4.30, I’ve basically lost the will to live, much less survive the daily dinner apocalypse.

//On the bright side, they’re in a fabulous mood all the time. By fabulous, I mean that there’s extra bouncing on furniture, running around the house at full speed, inventing of crazy games, and a general increase of happy squeals. On that note, they get so excited with every small activity, it makes me feel like a legit celebrity.

“Guys, let’s go to the library!” and they’re like “YAYYY thank you thank you thank you, you’re the best mom ever!”

“And tomorrow, who wants to go to ah ma’s house?”

“ME ME ME!! I like to go to ah ma’s house!!”

“There’s also bible boot camp on Wednesday, followed by grandma’s house on Thursday!”

“WHAT??? SO AWESOME THIS IS THE BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE!”

And I’m like “hold the applause, guys, because next week, we’re going to Sentosa.”

**The crowd goes wild**

Yeah ok, school holidays ain’t so bad.

from around here

That’s what they said

I love that the kids are turning out to be genuinely fun to talk to. As a newly minted stay home mom, the one thing I missed the most was having a decent conversation with someone, anyone.

Most days, it was just me going on a monologue all day, and even when the kids started using words, it hardly counted as a conversation because nothing toddlers say is remotely interesting. I might have looked like I was interested in what they were saying, but it’s only because they are my babies and I’d do anything for them, including having to participate enthusiastically in the most boring conversation in the world. If those words were coming out from anyone else’s mouth, I am not even tryna do it.

But big kids, they’re actually wonderful to talk to.

***

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Truett and Kirsten were telling me about a kid who was very popular in school.

Kirsten: [this kid] is so popular, I think everyone in the whole school knows who she is.

Tru: Ya. Everyone definitely knows her.

Me: Wah that popular??!! Would you guys like to be popular too?

Kirsten: Of course! If you’re famous, everyone will be like “can you please sign my autograph?!!”

Me: Hahaha, okay fair enough, popularity has its perks.

Tru: And people will treat you like royalty everywhere you go.

Me: Where are you guys learning these things?? Although that is also true. But hey, being popular is not the most important thing. You know what’s better than being popular?

<I was setting it up for a teaching moment here, expecting them to be all like “what mom? Please impart to us your great wisdom on life and other important topics”>

Tru: RICH!!

Me: Hahahhahahh What? No. WHAT?? I wasn’t expecting that answer. Okay, here’s the thing, when you look back on your primary school years, the things you’ll remember fondly are the friends you had and the fun moments you spent together. Also, being a good person is more important than being popular. Be kind, help people, make a difference – you guys don’t need to be rich or famous to do that.

Tru: HUH? That’s it?? That’s kind of boring, mom.

Me: Haiyah, one day you’ll remember this conversation and realize that I’m right, as I am with most things.

***

Kirsten: You know why it’s better to be a girl?

Me: Why?

Kirsten: When boys grow up, they have to go to work, earn money. Girls can just stay home and play with babies all day, good right?

Me: Whatever gave you that idea???

Kirsten: You lah. And papa.

Me: First of all, not all girls want to have babies. And having babies doesn’t mean you have to stop working, plenty of moms keep working after they have babies. When Hayley is bigger, I’ll totally go back to work. What do you think mommy does all day anyway?

Kirsten: Hang out with the babies, play toys, read books, go pick us from school, go playground, eat dinner…all the fun things.

Me: Okay, when you put it that way…

Kirsten: And if I work when I have babies, then who will take care of them?

Me: I’ll watch your kids for you if you like, I’m pretty good at it. How many are we talking about here?

Kirsten: At least 5-6.

Me: Wow nice.

Kirsten: Kor kor says he only wants 2-3 kids, then plus Finn and Theo and Hayley, maybe 15?

Me: Hahhahahahahhahaa ok challenge accepted.

Kirsten: Just kidding lah. When I have kids, I will take care of them myself. My husband will work hard like daddy.

from around here

Getting ready to paaaarty

It’s been a very long three weeks but we made it. My helper is back and I can finally take a bit of a breather. In fact, we will immediately celebrate tonight by going for Coldplay!!

I’ll be dropping all the kids off at my mom’s house and then RUNNING out of there like…

party

Imma get a whole evening without any babies getting all up in my face yelling “MOMMY LOOK AT ME I WANT…”?? That alone is enough to guarantee that it’ll be a glorious night. Also, sorry guys, mommy will definitely not be looking at you because I’ll be looking at my delicious dinner at a place where people are not allowed to speak above 30 decibels and then after that I will be too busy looking at Chris Martin instead.

//

I’d like to say in retrospect that the past several weeks weren’t so bad but then I’d be lying. It was pretty bad. I hope I never have to do it again without significant advancements in the field of cloning. Kidding. I’d be totally weirded out if I had a clone, that would never work.

On the bright side, here are some of the things I’ve learnt from having to manage 5 kids alone for 3 weeks.

1. Kids are actually very useful. 

No question about it, I would not have survived without the help of these kids who took on everything from babysitting to food prep to packing and even laundry. You know how when you try to get the kids to do stuff and they’re not very good so they end up doing a half-assed job and you have to redo it and you’re like “okay, it would have been so much easier to just do this myself?

I learnt that sometimes, a half-assed job is better than a no-assed job, and after they get in enough practice, they’ll be able to full-ass the thing, so everybody wins.

2. As are husbands. 

Husbands are extremely useful for tagging in when you need to go lie down and cry into your pillow at the end of the day.

3. I can be a better parent when things are in order. 

When I was younger, I used to have a very respectable tolerance for mess – an organized mess, I used to call it (which is basically an excuse to not clean my room). My room could look like I just got robbed and it wouldn’t bother me one bit.

These days, for better or worse, I feel my cortisol levels rise when the house in a state of disarray, like my world is spinning out of control. Which makes it very hard to be all “don’t worry about the mess, I’ll just be over here carpe-ing the diem with these babies for 5 hours straight“. If I bought into the whole cleaning can wait, just enjoy the moment with the kids all day nonsense, I’d be living in an actual slum by day 3.

I realized that while it seems counterproductive to pack and repack and rerepack multiple times a day, it makes me feel like a better parent who can seize the day when my world is in order.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

4. A little slack goes a long way. 

Few nights ago, it was one of those exceptionally rough days. The post dinner mayhem was in full swing, the babies were refusing to shower, Kirsten’s eye was hurting and Tru was all “why do I have to be the one to clean up this ridiculous mess? I didn’t even play with all this stuff!

Because I spent years packing up after you and now it’s your turn to do the same, it’s called the circle of packing,” I wanted to say. “And we’re a family, it’s what we do. We clean up each other’s messes.

But I knew this was a lot to ask from a 9-year-old. He had already done a lot of cleaning up after his siblings the past several weeks, much more than I had expected. So I told him that it’s ok and he could take a break.

Hey Tru, you can go get a can of 100 plus and read for a bit. Just make sure you’re ready for bed by 8 okay?

I went about bathing the little ones and getting them in their jammies and when I came out, I saw that Truett had cleaned up the entire house. And it wasn’t a shoddy job either. It was like the gold standard of packing, all the toys were put away neatly and everything was in order.

Thanks Tru, that was an amazing job! Why did you decide to do it?” I asked.

I just wanted to help you. And everything was so messy, I couldn’t take it.

I think I’m just gonna go ahead and keep these kids. :)

from around here

Welcome to crazy town

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

So you know it’s been a non-stop crazy train ever since Hayley was born. Adjusting to 5 kids has been an adventure, and by adventure, I mean the kind where you get attacked by giant spiders only to escape into a snake pit and barely make it out alive then eventually get ambushed by a tribe of angry cannibals. Basically the kind of adventure where even Indiana Jones would be like “dude, no.

But guess what’s crazier than having to deal with 5 kids? Having to deal with 5 kids alone. All day.

Last week, my domestic helper went home for a 3 week vacation so it’s been just me with 5 kids and let me just say right now that I’ve never been more tired in my entire life. It’s been 16-hour days with zero downtime where every minute, it’s like somebody’s on fire or in mortal danger.

It’s made me question all my life choices up to this point.

My days are like playing a very elaborate game of “how can I do the most number of things at any given moment?” Like if I activate the play doh corner for Finn and Theo, I can buy 20 minutes of quiet to put the baby to sleep. Tru and Kirsten can keep an eye on the boys while working on their homework. Then I’ll put baby Theo to bed and hope Hayley doesn’t wake up and cry.

If by some miracle both babies are napping, I’ll blitz clean the house, clear laundry and prep dinner in advance while going through the big kids’ 听写. In between, we’ll ride out the mayhem one insane minute at a time with toys, books, coloring pages, playground time, and intermittent mommy-curling-up-on-the-floor-rocking-back-and-forth-time. And that’s the plan for a good day.

On the slightly less good days (which is everyday), I’d be feeding the baby and just as she’s falling asleep, someone would scream because someone else was breathing too near to him and by the time I break up the fight, the baby would announce with her wakey eyes that sleeping time was over. Which makes for a tired, grouchy baby for the next 3 hours. Play doh corner would turn into an exercise in let’s see who can smear sticky stuff in tiny crevices around the house and dear God, I can’t even look at this mess right now. I’d try to cook and the baby would cry so now I’ve managed to add cooking to the list of things I can do with one hand.

One time, I took a quick shower (with the baby in her bumbo next to me in the bathroom) and when I came out, Theo was covered in Pokémon temporary body tattoos, even his face. It’s when I discovered that temporary tattoo is a poor name because this stuff lasts forever unless you scrub it out with rubbing alcohol. Do I have rubbing alcohol lying around for such contingencies? Sadly, I do not.

Another time, we couldn’t find Theo in the house and we were all on a panicked manhunt for the missing baby, only to discover that he decided to take his scooter out for a spin without telling anyone. When we finally found him, he was all like “don’t worry mom, I just went for a walk. I’ll come back later ok.

Maybe I’m going about this all wrong. Just look at hamsters. Hamsters have 12-20 babies at one time and hamster mommies don’t get all flustered about handling all the babies alone. They just lie down for a nap as and when they wish like it’s no big deal. And hamster babies don’t mess around because they know that those who don’t fall in line get eaten. If the kids are flinging food around during dinnertime or being all whiny about how this food is gross and can they not eat this for dinner, they end up being dinner. Mom will be like “Remember your 11th brother, the one who ran out of the house without asking? Of course you don’t. He doesn’t exist on this earth anymore.” Boom, problem solved.

//

But then in the midst of the madness, I’ve discovered that kids will rise to the occasion if you just give them a chance to. Tru and Kirsten have been a tremendous help, watching the babies in between doing their homework. They would make up fun imaginary games for the boys to play and take turns carrying Hayley while I cleaned stuff. Finn would come up to me and ask if there’s anything he can help me with because he wants to “make my day better”. Even Theo would take toys for his baby sister and sing to her.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

I’ve also got a husband who comes home to do the dishes and clean up the house so while it’s been crazy, its the kind of crazy I’m thankful for.

I just need to survive the next 10 days COME ONNNN!!!

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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset