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how i pretend to be a cool mum

how i pretend to be a cool mum

Shredhead again

There comes a point after every pregnancy where I will have a sudden moment of realization that all that baby weight isn’t just going to fall off on its own miraculously and I have to get off my fat ass to do something about it.

It’s usually not a pleasant moment which involves some comfort chocolate. Oh trust me, I see the irony in the entire situation. But it’s necessary – sort of like my last supper before I embark on the journey to a much smaller ass.

10 days ago, my moment of epiphany finally came and it was time for me to dig out the yoga mats and get reacquainted with my old friend Jillian Michaels for a fresh round of the 30 Day Shred. It was super effective the last time I did this after giving birth to Kirsten and I managed to lose 5-6kg so hopefully I see the same results this time around.

Here’s a journal of my progress over the past 10 days.

Day 1: OHMYGODHELPPPPPPPPPP!!! I feel like a large tub of lard doing jumping jacks…can’t breathe…might. actually. die.

Day 2: I have so much pain in muscles I didn’t even know I had. Like there are 4 different spots on my butt that are hurting right now when I move how is that even possible?

Day 4: Was carrying Finn to walk down a flight of steps and my legs almost gave way. He laughed and thought I was playing with him but I wasn’t. Falling down the stairs is no laughing matter.

Day 5: Still as difficult as ever. But at least I managed to finish the entire workout without stopping. Mental strength, come on!

Day 7: Couldn’t resist weighing myself and guess what? I didn’t lose a single pound and I still look like I’m 4 months pregnant. This is depressing.

Day 8: I feel fitter at least. Less like a large tub of lard and more like a smaller tub of lard. Maybe like a small pail of lard if I had to be precise.

Day 10: I just weighed myself again and after 10 days of this torture, I’ve put on 1 kg. FML.

Still Day 10: Apparently this happens because I’m converting my fats into raw muscle and muscle is more dense than fats so an equal weight of muscle takes up less space. Makes sense since my pants feel looser. Guess this is what an additional kg of muscle feels like.

I’m moving on to level 2 of the workout today. Wish me luck.

how i pretend to be a cool mum, side effects of motherhood

Getting my game on

truett gaming

Ever since we introduced Truett to Angry Birds, he’s been obsessed with the game. How obsessed? Well, they get 30 minutes of TV/iPad time a day and instead of watching his favorite shows like he used to, he’s been spending it on unlocking new levels on Angry Birds.

I’m actually quite impressed because the kid is seriously good at this. Better than me, in fact. And that’s saying a lot because ahem, I’m pretty good myself.

If you’ve ever played the game, you’ll know that it’s not just randomly launching birds into the stratosphere. There’s strategy and skill involved. You’ve got to quadrate vector angles, calculate bird to pig ratio, account for the planetary orbit (on the Space version), optimize each bird’s special powers and most importantly, think outside the box.

One time, he was stuck at this particular stage and he was all “Mom, I need your help to win this stage.” I took one look at the stage and it was really difficult. Like 4 birds against a gazillion pigs wearing armor and protected by a massive steel structure kind of difficult. Aight, maybe a gazillion is an overstatement but I lost count because there were too many.

But you know how in their heads, we’re supposed to be good at everything? To them, mommy’s super awesome because she can do anything. Count backwards from 100? DONE! Fix a 5,000 piece puzzle? NO PROBLEMO! Make fire with rocks? Never tried but HELL YEAH GIMME THOSE ROCKS.

They’ll figure out soon enough that mommy’s not a superhero but and I wasn’t about to burst that bubble. At least not yet. And if It took clearing an Angry Birds level to do it, I was going to annihilate every single one of those pigs.

So I took over the phone and tried a few different strategies. None of them worked. Those were some resilient pigs.

I spent 15 minutes on it and I was still stuck at the same level. Usually at that point, I’m all like “stupid game” and that’ll be the end of that but my son was counting on me to be awesome so I sent him off to play with his other toys and I went to google “Angry Bird Walkthrough”. Ok, I know respectable gamers don’t do walkthroughs but desperate times and all that.

With my newly armed strategy, I taught Tru how to do it and I could see it in his eyes. “Mommy’s still awesome.”

*Crisis averted for another day

Truth be told, I know better than to pretend to be a superhero so I turned to him and said “Actually mommy doesn’t know everything. But I’m going to at least try to keep up, okay?” He nodded.

“And if you ever need to make fire with rocks, go ask daddy.”

how i pretend to be a cool mum, lists you should paste on your fridge, milestones & musings, unqualified parenting tips

Lessons from a 3rd time mom

When I first had Truett, I was as uptight as a new parent could be. My life was a variation of the following scenarios:

“He was supposed to take his nap 3.17 minutes ago, now his schedule is all ruined it’s a disaster!”

“Why is he not drinking his milk, quick call the PD for a consult!!”

“He fell asleep on the baby swing? ANOTHER DISASTER – WAKE HIM UP NOW!!!”


Thanks to all the expert baby books, I had a lot of rules to follow. No rocking to sleep. No falling asleep while drinking milk. No pacifier. I had a strict 3-hour schedule to abide by, right down to the minute.

Then I had a second kid and decided to break some of the rules. Turns out, the world didn’t come to an end and the baby did just fine. I realized that while some of those rules were good, they’re supposed to help make my life easier, not harder. And having my panties all up in a bunch all the time wasn’t making my life easier.

Now with the third kid, I’ve learnt some lessons that I thought I’d share.

1. Every baby is different. 

Some babies sleep more than others. Some babies need more attention. Some babies love being rocked to sleep, some babies hate it. Some babies thrive on having a fixed routine, some are a little more flexible. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Do what works for you and your baby. 

There isn’t just one right way to parent. Be a helicopter parent or an attachment parent or a sleep-training commando parent or a combination of all of the above. If it works for you, don’t let anyone guilt you into feeling otherwise.

3. Sometimes, it’s ok to break the rules. 

It’s ok if baby misses a nap or stays awake for an extra 27 minutes. Be a badass and break the rules. Or be a badass and don’t.

4. Enjoy the process. 

It’s hard to enjoy the baby when you’re stressed out and frustrated half the time. Take a break if you can afford the time. Watch your favorite drama, take a long shower, have a cup of coffee – do what makes you happy, even if it’s just for a while.

I used to be so hung up over trying to be the perfect mom that I allowed myself no margin for error. But guess what? This whole parenting process is one of trial and error. And I’m fine with the fact that I’ll never be a perfect mom.

As long as my kids think I’m a rockstar, I’m think I’m ok.

how i pretend to be a cool mum, i embarrass myself sometimes

How NOT to work from home

I really enjoy working from home. It’s very liberating. There’s no one breathing down my neck to monitor my productivity. There’s no one to judge me when I have crazy hair. There’s no one to give me the stink eye when I’m late or write me passive aggressive emails explaining why “jeans is not an appropriate dress code for work”. And there’s no one to tell me I can’t take a nap when I damn well feel like taking one.

I get judged on one thing alone – which is the quality of work that I deliver. Nobody cares how I do it as long as it’s done.

But I’ve come to realize that this sort of arrangement only works with folks who are self-motivated and organized and responsible and non-procrastinating. All the qualities I don’t seem to possess.

Instead, here’s how my typical day goes down.

Every morning, I prep the kids for school, pack their bags, drop them off and send the husband to work.

Then I get back and turn on my laptop to make a list of all the things I’m supposed to do for the day.

Great, list completed – this level of productivity deserves a cup of coffee. So I take my time to pull a beautiful shot of nespresso and froth the milk to perfection.

Wait, a Facebook alert. Must. Resist.

Ok, since I’m enjoying my coffee anyway, I might as well browse Facebook for 15 minutes.

Time check, where did the last hour go? And how did I end up with 13 opened tabs on my browser? Just let me finish watching this baby panda youtube video and then I’ll get to work.

10.52 am. I should probably start with the easy emails frist.

  • “68% off authentic Italian cuisine” – 68%? Blistering barnacles, buy now!
  • “Boost Your Stiffness” – Reply “Dear Maribel, my stiffness does not need boosting, stop sending me spam. Also, I’m not David.”
  • “ASOS Sale Now up to 70% off” – I’m going to be disciplined here but just in case, *bookmark for later browsing.

Clear a bunch of work emails. Look at how prolific I am today. Hi-5 self.

12.30 pm. Time to pick up the kids.

Bring the kids home, put them to bed, fix my lunch, read a couple of blogs and squeeze in a second cup of coffee before the kids wake up.

Finally get down to writing. Struggle to write a paragraph then realize I haven’t showered the whole day. Go take a shower to freshen up and clear my head.

Reread previously written paragraph – hate it. DELETE.

Maybe I should blog instead. Stare at blank screen while grabbing my face for 5 minutes. My brain seems to be broken. Screw this, I’m going to watch Alicia Florrick kick ass at her job for motivation.

“Mommy, can we go to the playground?” Why of course, sweetheart.

Come back, fix dinner, play with toys, feed the kids dinner, read stories and put them to bed before getting back to more empty screen staring. Decide to finish the work tomorrow instead.

But of course the same thing happens tomorrow and the tomorrow after, until my deadline approaches and I realize that I’m suddenly able to finish in 24 hours what I couldn’t in a week. Apparently, there’s nothing like a client breathing down my neck to maximize my productivity.

how i pretend to be a cool mum, i love christmas, side effects of motherhood

Ho Ho Holiday

We’ve really enjoyed our Christmas break this year. The kids have been in a spectacular mood all week and we’re all a little high from all the celebrating we’ve done. I’m taking a break from all that relaxing I’ve been doing and wrapping up with some final thoughts on the past several days.

Where’s Jesus, baby?

In explaining Christmas to the kids, we’ve told them a condensed version of the Nativity story and they know that it’s Jesus’ birthday. They were a little confused as to why they were receiving presents on someone else’s birthday but they’re not really fussed about it. At this point, they don’t care much for why they’re getting a present, because “LOOK A PRESENT FOR ME? WOW THANKS!”

Kirsten wanted to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and so we did. When we were done, I asked her where Jesus was and she looked at me for a moment before patting her little belly. “In my stomach”, she said.

“Sweetie, I think you mean *heart*, right?”

“No, Jesus is not in my heart. Jesus is in my stomach.”

“I’d love to know how that happened, pumpkin. Wait, on second thoughts, I really don’t. I think we’re going to have to spend a little more time on the human anatomy next year ok.”

Hunger almost always works

This time every year, the husband takes a week’s leave from Christmas till after the New Year. It’s like our special family time week. This year, the kids still have school so we figured we’d let them go the school in the morning and bring them out for fun activities in the afternoon. Truett saw the husband in his shabby state yesterday morning and asked “When Truett and mei mei go to school, where is daddy and mommy going?” We didn’t really have any plans except breakfast so we told him as much.

He immediately replied with “I’m so hungry, I need to eat breakfast, if not I will be sick.” It almost worked, if not for the fact that he just had breakfast and would be getting more breakfast in school.

It’s the thought that counts

I love everything about Christmas except the gift-buying bit, which is like the bane of my existence. I love the idea of giving gifts and seeing the person’s face light up when they unwrap the item you lovingly picked out after spending all day fighting off hordes of people along Orchard Road to get. But choosing gifts has never been one of my many talents and I hardly ever get that reaction. In fact, the only face-lighting I’ve seen is from the kids and that’s probably because they don’t care if I got them popsicle sticks. Their delight is in the fact that we bought them something special, wrapped it up and wrote their name on it.

Over the years, many of the gifts I thought were brilliant and thoughtful has turned out to be meh so I’m through with all this gift-choosing. Next year, I’m spending all that time I’m supposed to be out buying presents on something far more productive, like watching movies or reading a book while sipping my latte. Everyone is getting gift vouchers so they can pick out their own presents. Done. Best gift idea ever.

Hello, Kitties!

On the topic of presents, Kirsten has been amassing an impressive collection of Hello Kitty merch this Christmas. She’s got a Hello Kitty bag, 2 Hello Kitty plushies, a Hello Kitty dollhouse, a Hello Kitty hooded towel, a Hello Kitty comb, a Hello Kitty bikini and a truckload of Hello Kitty clothes.

I have never been in possession of this many Hello Kitty items in my life and it’s rather disconcerting in that I’m starting to develop a soft spot for it (her? them?). I would normally have gone into an anaphylactic shock in the presence of such saccharine sweet pinkness but I guess it’s true, being a parent does change you.

how i pretend to be a cool mum, kids in motion

I’m definitely going to need an ice-cream today

Last weekend flew by quick. I thought I was supposed to have 2 days for the weekend but it only felt like 1, and a short one at that. I did a Truett this morning when I woke up like “NOOOOO, IT’S NOT MONDAY!! It’s Sunday right, please let it be Sunday.”

I opened my eyes slowly, waiting to hear the kids jump on the bed and prod at my eyelids but there was just the gentle breathing of sleeping kids and it was the husband telling me to wake up. He never tells me to wake up on a Sunday so I knew it was well and truly Monday.

It’s a terrible way to start a Monday because I like to be prepared on Sunday nights. I mourn the passing of my weekend a little bit, then potter around the house preparing for the week ahead. But mostly, I brace myself for the Monday blues so that when I wake up the next morning and the feeling of dread hits me in the gut, I’ll be all “Hah! I’m ready.”

Sort of like when you knew the husband is waiting behind a pillar to jump out at you because you saw him hiding from a mile off. That’s much better than not expecting it and having him scare the living daylights out of you.

It’s all in the preparation. Or as Ross would say, the Unagi.

Anyway, this calls for happy pictures. And ice-cream. I’m going to get myself a large scoop of salted caramel ice-cream for breakfast.

Kirsten finally allowed me to tie her hair on Saturday. It’s ridiculously cute because it makes her cheeks look chubbier than they already are. Like a hamburger.

And happiness is discovering a new water playground on a hot afternoon.

PS. In other news, the results for the Strider giveaway are out!

PPS. In other other news, I was on 93.8 Live’s Raw and Ready with Sarah Cheng De-Winne to talk about Mother, Inc and other parenting stuff. If you missed it, the podcast is right below or you can download the mp3 (right click, save link as)  here.


a spot of singapore, how i pretend to be a cool mum, i embarrass myself sometimes, stuff best described as not safe for parents

My lunch date with Dr Tony Tan

Last week was a bit of a whirlwind. There was the SG Blog Awards on Saturday and the day before that, I was invited to attend a lunch with Dr Tony Tan. And I’m not referring to my general practitioner who happens to share the same name as The Dr Tony Tan.

Apparently, I was there because I wrote this piece on the General Elections that went viral and almost 5,000 people liked it on Facebook. They said that according to several sources, I was some sort of a trailblazer in the online world in Singapore. So not making that up.

From the invite, the purpose of the lunch was to discuss how digital channels are transforming discourse and opinions locally and internationally. I had to read it many times because I have no idea what many of those words meant and the only transforming I’m good at has to do with Optimus Prime and his gang of Autobots. But then I couldn’t pass up a chance to get up close with The Dr Tony Tan, so I turned to my good friends, Google and Wikipedia for help.

I figured there’d be lots of important people there and I could sneak in behind to blend in with the wallpaper but when I reached, I was brought to a room with a round table and 12 chairs. 12 chairs. Plus, there wasn’t even wallpaper for me to do the blending with. Or there was, but I couldn’t be sure because I had a mild panic attack and things got a little fuzzy by then. It was a good thing I arrived 15 minutes early so I had plenty of time to sneak off to the bathroom to throw up a little.

And then people started arriving. People who were like the biggest shots in the digital media scene, all of whom I stalk on a regular basis. People like Alvin Lim, Ravi Philemon, Pat Law, Mr Miyagi, Cherian George, Alex Au, Mr Brown and Kien M Lee.

They all looked like they came from very important meetings so I tried my best not to look like I came from a very important diaper change. Next to the table with 12 seats was an important chart with names and designated seats, which meant that I couldn’t skulk away and pick the least conspicuous seat. Not that there is such a thing as an inconspicuous seat at a round table anyway.

During the lunch, I wrote a mental journal in my head so I’m just going to post excerpts from said journal.

I’m supposed to choose between salmon carpaccio and goose liver. I’m not a fan of liver but I’ve always been taught not to order food I can’t pronounce. Is it kar-pa-chio or ker-pay-chio? What is carpaccio anyway? I’m going to be the dork that makes a wrong order. I’m just going to say salmon and hope for the best. Oh wait, Alex said kar-pa-chio. Guess I was 50% right.

Dr Tony Tan has arrived. I’m so close I can actually touch The Hair. Must. Resist. Temptation. Now’s not a good time to get myself incarcerated.

Oh, oh, oh, round table introduction time. Now’s the perfect time to start panicking.

Why are there so many forks and knives? I should casually stall for time and pretend to drink my water so I can observe what the others are using. I knew I should have paid more attention when I googled fine dining cutlery. All these tiny forks are so confusing.

Did Dr Tan just direct a question at me? I think that’s why all these people are looking at me. I generally don’t throw my hands up and shriek but I think this is one of those moments in life when one is allowed to. OK THINK, WOMAN, THINK.

Crisis averted. They are now looking at someone else.

I’m fairly certain I didn’t silence my phone. There is no discreet way to do this with my bag on the floor. Maybe if I step on it hard enough, it will disable the ring function.

Why is it that everyone else here is insanely smart? They are all taking turns to say things that I don’t understand. Now I’m torn between nodding thoughtfully or raising a questioning eyebrow. They may just see right through too much nodding. I’ll go with the eyebrow to mix things up a bit.

I really need to pee but nobody is moving. Hopefully this violent shaking of my legs will make it go away.

I actually came prepared with a question but it has to do with Dr Tony Tan’s hair and Mr Brown beat me to it.

I think I made it out from the lunch unscathed. As a reward, I totally managed to score a photo with Dr Tony Tan. Which I’m going to frame up and hang in my living room.