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Happy birthday to the raddest 10-year-old in the world

Once there was a girl who at first glance, seemed like any other 10-year-old. She didn’t possess unusual ability, nor was she considered to be a child prodigy by any means.

She wasn’t the sort to seek out the limelight; even though she would smile when the occasional praise came her way. She wasn’t driven by the achievement of an audacious life goal as precocious kids often are. When asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, her response would be a shrug, accompanied by an “I don’t know yet…something good that helps people.

She was bright, considerate, down to earth (perhaps a little too much?), had a fantastic sense of humour, always wanted to do the right thing and was generally a delight to be around. I suppose all of these qualities made her blend in even more, which suited her just fine.

Sometimes, she would wonder what it would be like to be someone special. “That would be really cool,” she thought, “if I were a princess or a president or a movie star.” But those thoughts didn’t stay for long, because then she would think, “I’m just me, and that’s kind of okay too.

What she didn’t know was that it was more than kind of okay. People couldn’t quite put a finger on it but everyone who met her would leave feeling…different. They smiled a little wider, skipped a little as they walked away and felt the sun shine a little brighter. She had a way of bringing that extra bit of joy to the those around her. If she wanted, she could be a princess or a president or a movie star, but she didn’t need any of those things to be special because she already was.

If you asked her mom, she’d tell you that this is straight up the best 10-year-old girl she ever knew and there’s no other kid quite like her.

Also, special is great and all but more importantly, she was loved.


Kirsten just turned 10 I’m not sure how I feel about this – I didn’t expect so many feels with this development, to be honest. I’m here watching this baby become a grown up human being and it scares me a little. She’s only 10 but in her exceptionally grown up moments, I’m already seeing glimpses of the person she would be in 10 years time. I’m so proud of the kid she’s grown up to be and excited for what she has ahead but also a little sad because this means I’m already done with 10 years of hardcore parenting and at some point in the next 10 years, I’ll just get to sit by the sidelines and watch her be her own person.

Right now though, she’s crushing it as a 10-year-old, being all responsible and thoughtful and making amazing big kid decisions in life. She’s always been emotionally mature and thoughtful beyond her years, but I think being 10 has really worked for her.

One of the underrated things she’s exceptional at is reading situations and knowing what needs to be done and then doing it without being asked to. In basketball terms, she’d be the player with a rock solid defence, who hustles for every loose ball, goes in for the screen, has the highest steal record, and is basically the real MVP even though she doesn’t score the most.

In this family, she’s the one who immediately steps in whenever I need an extra pair of hands. Like when I’m on the phone and one of the babies is yelling for grapes or a snack, she swoops in and is all like “What do you need, Theo? I’ll get it for you, mom is busy right now.” When we were in Tokyo and Hayley was suffering from severe separation anxiety, the baby would only feel better when Kirsten was with her. “I want jie jie to sleep with me,” Hayley would announce every night. Even though she wasn’t accustomed to being kicked in the ribs by a demanding baby throughout the night, Kirsten took her babysitting sleep duties very seriously those 10 days.

And she does all of these things so seamlessly without any prompting that it’s easy to not even notice. Sometimes, I’ll suddenly realise that my life has gotten significantly easier – like the yelling has stopped in the background while I’m on the phone, or that something I needed to attend to was already done – and it’s almost always because of this amazing kid and I’m just so pleased that I get to be her mom.


There was this time where we were trying to come up with an affectionate nickname for Kirsten. Truett has been Tru since he was a baby, Finn is Finny/Finn Finn/Fiiiiiinnnnnn (depending on the situation), Theo is Yoshi (don’t ask), Hayley is Hayley bun (probably not for much longer) but Kirsten was always Kirsten.

Tru suggested Kiki but she didn’t like it much. “How about Kir kir? Kit kat? Cookie? Curtain? Kirstenator?

I think just K will do,” she said. Somehow it suited her, it’s not fancy or too much; if there was a kid who could do with a single consonant, it was probably Kirsten.

I love this kid so much sometimes it feels like my heart can’t take it. Happy birthday, K!!


Happy Birthday, Kirsten!

Birthday season round 3 continues with Kirsten turning 9!

Look at how big my baby has gotten. This girl is perfection and I’ll never know what I did to deserve her.

So things have been very eventful around here lately. We just transited to a new helper a few days ago and Hayley had the hardest time adjusting, she’s been very sad about having to say goodbye. And I suppose there’s never a good time for the kids to be ill, but this is possibly one of the worst times for Finn, Theo and Hayley to be down with HFMD. In these few days, Kirsten really stepped up, like even more than usual. She basically took over my pervious helper’s role in feeding baby Hayley, showering her, playing with her and holding her to sleep.

She’s like “my plan is to take over Aunty Muan’s role so baby Hayley will be my BFF forever“, which is the sweetest big sister thing to do ever.

As far as big sistering skills go, Kirsten is legendary. She’s got a way with all the smaller kids, like she knows exactly how to handle them in any given situation, at times arbitrating disputes and being all firm with them; other times, she’s sweet and huggy and attentive, coaxing them with impromptu made up games.

Whenever we go out, she watches out for all of them, making sure they are not in any mortal danger and checking to see that nobody is trailing behind too far and getting lost.

I often ask her if she feels pressured to do these big sisterly things, like maybe she thinks it’s her job and she doesn’t have a choice but she’s always like “these babies are so cute and I like them so much.”


This is my first time having a nine-year-old girl and I have to say it’s better than anything I could have imagined. I really enjoy spending time with this kid even if it’s just doing boring stuff like talking or sharing a bubble tea.

I also have to talk about her comedic timing, it is straight up hilarious. The other day, Finn was trying to sell me a game of UNO for 50 cents per round, which is extortionate but seeing how much I adore him, I was willing to pay him imaginary money for each game. Kirsten was grinning as she watched the pointless transaction go down. Few minutes later, she came up to me with a stack of UNO cards + a deadpan face and said “Mom, want to play? Um, it’s free” and I seriously laughed very hard for a long time.

She also does killer impressions of her siblings and yeah, also of me. Sometimes, I’ll just ask her to do an impression of me for kicks and it’s one of the best things in the world because she nails it spot on.

It’s been 9 wonderful years of being Kirsten’s momma and each day that I get to do this makes me so happy.


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.

Hayley, Kirsten

Girls team!

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It’s no secret that I think girls are awesome. <<Okay, hang on, here’s a disclaimer for my boys who are reading this/will eventually read this: Mommy adores you and hand on my heart, I love you guys all the same, I promise.>>

But having a decent sample size of 3 boys and 2 girls, I’ve can definitively say that boys and girls are entirely different.

How different?

With girls, you’re basically getting an iPhone – gorgeous, sleek, well thought out, user friendly, pre-loaded with all the necessary apps – just have fun unboxing and you’re good to go.

With boys, you’re getting an unreleased beta version of the galaxy s7 – excellent potential, possibly a better processor, faster speed, more space, but unstable and very likely to set your house on fire. Boys are like incomplete downloads that glitch every now and then, and you have to constantly download patches to keep them stable.

Impulse control issues? Boys. Sensory issues? Boys. Difficulty expressing feels issues? Boys. Roughhousing until someone gets hurt issues? Boys. All manner of odd behavior issues? Boys. All of the epic meltdowns in my 9 years as a parent? Boys.

When I’m out with my boys, I have to be on high alert mode every microsecond because the chances of them destroying stuff at a store or getting lost or eating leftover food from tables is very high. Once, we were at a playground and there was a piece of half chewed/trodden on pandan cake on the floor. Baby Theo went straight for it and put it into his mouth. AND ATE IT. So these days, I also have to flying tackle food scraps out of his hands when we’re out.

Which is why I really enjoy these girl team outings with Kirsten and Hayley. We were out for a quick lunch last week and I was about to go buy our food with the baby in one arm like I usually do but Kirsten was like “don’t worry mom, I can watch the baby while you get the food.

So I did. It was so relaxing to be able to carry food with both hands and not worry about destruction of public property while I was gone.

Best of all, I got back to the table to see this.


Happy birthday, baby girl!!

Kirsten turned 7 last week. :)


When I had this baby 7 years ago, I didn’t realise how much better my life would be with her in it. I suppose all parents are obliged to think that their kids are pretty rad, but in this case, I happen to have one of those kids whose radness, is in fact, out of this world.

Have I already mentioned that I really really really like this girl?

So Truett and Finn love surprises for their birthdays and we’ll usually surprise them with secret presents that we’ve picked out and wrapped. Kirsten, like me, prefers to know exactly what she’s getting and also have a say in picking it out, so this year, I asked her what she’d like to have.

Actually you don’t have to get me anything because I’ve already got the best present…baby Hayley!!

And she meant it too (even though we also got her an extra present in the form of a sparkly pen set).

She’s been so thrilled by the arrival of baby Hayley that not a day goes by without her fussing over her baby all day. I often forget that she’s 7 because she handles the baby like a pro – far better than most adults do. You know how when you get your kids to handle small babies, it’s mostly perfunctory and they’re not really helping because you have to supervise both kids to make sure none of them gets hurt. Kirsten so good at it that I can count on her to watch the baby when I have to attend to any of the other kids urgently. She’ll cradle Hayley with one arm and shush her gently while patting her head and walking around. Pro level = very impressive.

All day, she’ll be all “Can I carry her, please please please pleeeease???” and I’ll be like “WHY YES! Here, take the baby!!

One of the best scenes in the final season of The Good Wife was when Eli Gold turned to his daughter, Marissa (who had done something quite spectacular), and said, “Now I get why people have children. So that they can admire themselves in someone else.

This is how I feel with Kirsten sometimes. One of the unexpected joys of parenthood is when you see the best parts of yourself in another human being, and you know that they’re going to be even more awesome when they grow up.

Speaking of, we were talking about babies one time and Kirsten told me that she was planning to have 10 kids when she grows up.

“10??!! You know that’s insane right?” I told her.

“I know. But I can do it and I’ll have so many babies to snuggle all day.”

She’s right though. If anyone can pull off having 10 babies, it’s probably gonna be her. And no pressure here, but if that happens, I’ll be the happiest grandma on the block. The husband says it’s not normal for people to dream of being a grandparent when they’ve just had a newborn and I told him that we’re here having our 5th kid – we’ve been done with normal 3 kids ago. Besides, the next best thing to having your own baby is having your babies have more babies when they grow up.

In the meantime, I’m just really glad to have this girl as my baby.

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Learning to listen

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as a mom is to listen. Like really take the time to hear them out when it matters.

So this happened yesterday evening.

It’s our usual evening roundup where the big kids will go shower themselves while I sort out the babies and clean up the house before we all gather for our book/chocolate milk/evening snack session. By the time Tru, Finn and Theo were showered and changed, I went in to check on Kirsten to discover that she had spent the past five minutes going to town on the entire bathroom (walls, ceiling, shelves, mirror, lamp) with the shower spray. Everything was soaked. Meanwhile, she was still very dry and noticeably un-bathed.

When I’m presented with a situation like this where my child is doing something they should not be doing, my immediate solution is to SHUT. IT. DOWN. and put a swift end to it.

This is where I suppose the listening parent would take the time to find out why this is happening but I’m still in the process of acquiring this skill and I’m not one to be all, “Um sweetie, may I enquire as to why you are causing a tsunami in the bathroom? Is something on fire?”

Instead, I delivered one of my perfected mom geyser beams and told her she had exactly 60 seconds to get her act together. As I walked out of the bathroom, I heard her sobbing while frantically trying to set a new shower record like it’s the third act of an epic greek tragedy. Which it isn’t. I mean, she’s in this predicament because of the poor choices she’s made and I was also considering having her sent straight to bed for a timeout.

But after I got her dried off and changed (all the while still sobbing), I thought I’d try the listening strategy. It was very uncharacteristic behaviour from my most responsible child who tries her best to be a good kid. This girl is the one I can count on to do the right thing at the right time and nothing crushes her more than to know that we’re disappointed with her actions. She’ll take any disciplinary action we dole out in stride but it breaks her little heart when she knows she’s been less than exemplary.

Also, I was very interested to hear what possible reason she could come up with to explain away my water-logged toilet.

“Hey baby, what was that about?” I asked as gently as I could.

She just kept sobbing.

“I’m really trying to hear you out. I’m sorry I was fierce. Talk to mommy, ok?”

“I wasn’t playing. I just wanted to make sure there were no lizards in the toilet,” she said between sobs.

URGHHHHH, I did not see that coming. That was a very good one indeed. I couldn’t have come up with a better explanation if I tried.

//The back story is that last week, she ran out screaming after getting ambushed by a fat, juicy lizard mid-shower and has been traumatised ever since. And as a first-hand survivor of a mid-shower lizard attack, I know exactly how terrifying this is. I, too, have a lizard radar to secure my surroundings before every shower, except my system is more advanced and does not require hosing down the entire toilet.

This was turning out to be a greek tragedy after all. Poor helpless girl gets raided by scary lizard and while trying to check for more lizards, she gets yelled at by tyrant mom.

There was a lot of hugging and some more sobbing and I told her I was sorry for getting mad and that I’ll teach her my anti-lizard perimeter sweep.


In the midst of the mayhem that goes on everyday, it takes a very conscious effort to hear them out especially when it seems like a waste of time. And the truth is, most of the time, it won’t be legit because kids act up without thinking things through a lot and then we’ll have to yell at them to wake up their idea. But occasionally, it is legit and if we don’t take the time to listen, we’ll never know the difference.

This is really hard. I thought having them as infants was the hardest part but that’s just physical exhaustion to deal with and they make up for it by looking at you with adoring eyes all day like you’re the greatest human being on earth.

The growing up part, that takes so much more out of you. We’ll just have to figure this out together.

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Kirsten’s Birthday Time Capsule 2015

Several hours into Kirsten’s sixth birthday, I asked her, “how does it feel to be 6?”

She grinned. “I think I like it.”

We have a birthday tradition (for all the kids) where they curl up with me on the couch and look through a whole bunch of their baby photos. They’ll ask me about where this one was taken, and why their face was so squishy and what manner of fun they were up to.


kirsten 2

kirsten 3

I feel like this daughter of mine was born to be a big girl, and she’s enjoying every moment of growing up. She started walking and speaking and hitting all her milestones earlier than the other kids, just growing on superspeed. She’s always been ready to be a big girl, like she is so much wiser and more mature on the inside and she’s just waiting for her outside to catch up.

Ok, now time for another tradition: Kirsten’s birthday time capsule 2015.


Hey baby girl,

Is it ok if I still call you my baby? I know time is running out on this baby calling with each passing year. **sad eyes emoticon with a tear on the side. But then again, I still call your daddy my baby and he’s 35, so there’s that.

You’re finally 6!! You’ve been so excited the past few days, just counting down to being another year older. Adding years to your age loses its charm after a while, you’ll see. I know you can’t wait to be as big as Truett, and in many ways, it seems like you are. Sometimes, I forget that you’re still a preschooler, because you talk and do things like a 7 or 8 year old.

You do all these crazy grown up things like putting yourself to bed, washing your little brother’s poopy bum, making your own sandwiches, reading to your baby, packing up stuff around the house (without being asked??!!). You’re like my supersub, and when things get out of control with the babies (which happens often), I can always count on you to be thoughtful and do the responsible thing.

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But dial back on the superspeed and wait up for me a little, ok? I like it when you still ask to snuggle at bedtime, or when you want to sit on my lap to read, or when you want to hang out next to me just to load up on mommy time.

You’ve got the most infectious laugh, and your enthusiasm for life is like a cannonball of sunshine that hits me right in the face. You wake up and get excited about sort of ordinary stuff. Library day today? YEAHH SO MUCH FUN!! We take a detour to get ice-cream after school and you’re like “WHATTT?? THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.” You go watch a game of waterpolo (you’ve never even heard of waterpolo right up to that point) at the SEA Games and you cheer your heart out. Your radness level is ridiculously high for someone this tiny.

This photo taken by one of the MCCY photographers at the waterpolo match is so quintessentially you.

kirsten copy-2

Hang on, we have to talk about your artistic ability for a moment. Where did this come from?? Not me, that’s for sure. I love your drawings!! They’re so whimsical and happy and full of you-ness. FYI I’m your biggest fan.

Maybe you’ll come to think differently as you grow up, but know that you’re so beautiful inside and outside and every possible side. And we’ll be here to tell you every day just how beautiful you are.

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Happy birthday, sweetheart. I’m really glad you’re my girl.

We’ve got so much fun in store for us, you and me. Stick with me, baby girl, I’ll show you how to have fun.

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