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Truett is 11!

Truett turned 11 last week. I’m now at the point where I’m losing track of how old my kids are, like “Tru, you’re 12…, no, 10…, no, 11? Wait, you were born in 2008, which means…yeah ok 11.” And the kids will just look at me with sympathy like I am the epitome of old people problems.

I love this kid so much though, and 11 is such a great age. Look at how big this boy is now.

It’s been a whole decade ago since he was this squishy little baby face.

By all accounts, the terrible teens will be upon us in a year or so and I can’t say that I’m entirely ready for it. In preparation for this very difficult time in my life, I’ve been reading up on techniques to deal with the teenage transition.

Be prepared for mood swings, angst, frustration, emotional withdrawal, and all of the wisecracky retorts, they say. Give them space but always be there for them. Understand them but be firm at the same time. Set boundaries but provide opportunities for them to discover their own way. Know when to be a parent and when to be a friend and don’t take it personally when everything you try blows up right in your face. Basically all of the things I do not enjoy doing.


But for now, 11 is looking pretty sweet.

11-years-old gives the best piggy back rides.

11-years-old knows how to talk about his feelings. This is a huge jump for a boy who would bury his teary face into my shirt and refuse to talk whenever he got upset. It used to be so difficult getting him to give words to how he felt; he would just power down and keep everything inside like a locked vault. Now that he’s 11, he has become more forthcoming about how he feels. It’s like all these years of telling him that we’re here for him and he can talk to us is finally paying off. And if he’s unable to vocalise his feelings, he writes them down in long letters which I’m always happy to receive.

11-years-old still goes for the hugs and kisses. I have to say that this surprised me. I wasn’t a very huggy-kissy 11-year-old and I was fully prepared for my kids to be all “Ewww mom, please stop” but Tru still leans in for a hug and kiss when I drop him off at school or at bedtime and this always makes me smile. “I love you, mom!” he says, before running off. I’ll enjoy this for as long as it lasts.

11-years-old makes an amazing fruit salad.

11-years-old is the best company. Sometimes we talk about his favourite Avengers characters or trade new jokes, sometimes he joins me for a run even though he hates running, sometimes we split a strawberry cake and sometimes we just sit together because that’s fun too.

11-years-old is great at conflict management. He knows when to take the hit and look suitably remorseful, and when to talk his way out of a situation, and when to skilfully negotiate for what he wants.

He also uses these skills to mediate between his siblings’ squabbles and if I haven’t made this clear before, watching him intervene when the younger kids are quibbling brings me so much joy. “Ok, what happened? Theo, you talk first.” he’ll tell them. The small kids will take turns explaining themselves and he will give them the same look of exasperation he’s seen so frequently on my face, then sigh and be all like “This is not a big deal guys, ok Finn, you just say sorry for hitting his Politoed so hard and Theo, the Politoed has no nerves, he’ll be fine.

Happy birthday, Truett! Being your mom for the past 11 years has been the raddest ride.


Truett turns 10!

It’s birthday season again, my second favourite time of the year! And we’re kicking it off in style with Truett turning 10.

10, you guys!! This is legit big kid territory now, we’re talking double digits.

I look at this boy all grown up and I’m already starting to feel emotional because he was this tiny baby whom I held to sleep on my chest. And now he’s 10!! Two days ago, he just headed off to his first overnight camp away from me and I missed him more than I thought I would. I mean, for some perspective, there’s less time between now and him leaving for NS than the time I already had with him.

Admittedly, I haven’t really thought much about how it’s going to be like when the kids are all grown up. There could have been some level of denial there because I actively don’t want to think about it seeing how it makes me all teary but I’m here now and okay, it’s not so bad.


Truett at 10 is such a joy to have around. He’s thoughtful and considerate and witty and just a really fun, easygoing boy.

I like spending time with this kid so much.

For one thing, it’s so easy having a 10 year old in the house. When Truett wakes up, he fixes his own breakfast, eats it and gets himself ready for the day. Some days, he helps to prepare breakfast for his siblings and even nags at them to finish their food.

Watching Truett in big brother mode is one of my life’s greatest pleasures. It’s executed with a mixture of resignation + unbridled exasperation, and in these moments, I feel like we’re developing a real and lasting bond.

Exasperation aside, he really is an incredible big brother, possibly the best one there is. He watches to make sure their fingers don’t get caught in elevator doors, gives them a boost when they need to climb up the bed, and reluctantly offers to share the last bottle of Yakult with them. Sometimes, the babies will ask him to join them in their baby games and he does it with way more enthusiasm than even I could muster on my best day. While he was away at camp, the 3 small kids were constantly asking me “WHERE IS KOR KOR TRUETT?? I MISS HIM SO MUCH, MAKE HIM COME HOME NOW!

He hardly ever gets mad at stuff. He gets bummed when he has his privileges taken away for behavioural infractions but even then, he doesn’t brood or sulk. He just retreats to his room to read his favourite Calvin and Hobbes comic as a temporary distraction. I totally get that. Calvin and Hobbes saw me through some really rough moments as a kid too.

You know how when you talk to your kids, you’re always consciously relating to them as your baby? We’re starting to transit to relating to them as grown up, thoughtful individuals who can hold their own and contribute their perspective, which is remarkably refreshing.

When Truett was an infant, all he needed was for me to hold him and kiss his chubby cheeks and give him milk and clean his poopy diapers. I kind of miss Truett as an infant, he was so squishy and munchable and I spent so many hours inhaling his face.  These days, I still plant kisses on his muscular jawline but the rest of it, he’s like “eww mom, don’t be weird.”

Although he still holds my hand and it’s not because he needs to. He hasn’t needed to hold my hand for several years now but sometimes as we walk, he’ll slip his hand into mine for a few brief moments. Or he’ll casually drape my arm across his shoulders and it always makes me smile.

Happy birthday, Tru! You’re the best kid a mom could ever ask for.


You’re 9, Truett!!!

Truett turned 9 yesterday, so here’s one for my grown up little man.


Hey Tru, happy birthday!! Can I just say that I’ve really enjoyed being your mom for the past 9 years? People ask me why I have so many kids and you know you’re part of the reason right? You made the experience of being a mom so great, I just had to have more of these tiny humans, so thanks, I guess.

You’ll always be my first and firsts are something special. Remember the first time you tasted your favourite strawberry shortcake and your squishy face lit up with delight? Or the first time you rode on a rollercoaster and you couldn’t stop talking about it for days? Or the first snow angel you had so much fun making at Mt Buller? You’re like that for me, except waaayyyy better.

There are some downsides to being the first kid, for sure. We try to be ready for what’s ahead, but we’re always going to be noobs when it comes to you. We had to learn the hard way that babies scream uncontrollably at 2 in the morning on their first night home; that newborns are hella slippery in the bath and may slip out of your hands when you think you’ve got this bathing thing down; and that gummies at 9.45 isn’t a great idea. In my defence, we were out late with you and we thought, “3 gummies can’t be that bad…look at how happy he is!” 30 minutes later, so much regret. There are probably a couple more hard lessons ahead of us (hopefully not too many!), but stick with us ok? We’ll figure it out together.

But you know what? Being the first is great because life with you is like watching an awesome movie for the first time without any spoilers. You get to have the full unspoiled experience.

And as far as first kids go, you’re the best any mom could have.


This jump from 8 to 9 has been a big one. 8 still had one foot in little kid territory, but 9, 9 feels all grown up somehow.

Remember Finn’s pokemon sports day event a few months ago? The preschool teachers got us to join in the warm up dance, which was less of a serious warm up exercise and more of an adorable singalong session with cute dancey moves. Your siblings were all in, enthusiastically getting their groove on, but as you gradually came to the realisation that this was a kiddie dance, your moves got decidedly noncommittal, the way cool kids phone it in when they’re doing something that’s beneath their coolness level.

It was adorable and I teased you about it, but it’s when I suddenly realised that you’re done being my baby and I’ve got one of them cool kids now.

You’re just the right kind of cool too. Like when Kirsten came back with news that she was made chairperson of her class, you were so proud of her even though you didn’t care much for this sort of thing. You hugged her and said, “woahhh that’s so awesome!! You did really well, Kirsten!” I could tell that meant a lot to her.

9 is so amazing to talk to. Talking to you is one of my favorite things to do. I hope it stays that way because there are so many conversations we need to have. We need to talk about the best patronuses (patroni??) to have, whether we’d rather eat a live worm or a cooked cockroach, and discuss the best strategies for the most epic day at Disney World.

I love how responsible 9 is – helping to clean stuff, watching out for the little ones, giving me killer shoulder massages. It almost makes me look forward to the day Hayley turns 9. Okay, wait, no. That day can take its time to arrive. Although it will be so relaxing urgh I can’t decide.

Most of all, I want to say that having you changed my life. You’re an amazing kid and I can’t wait to see what life holds for you.


Your biggest fan.


My #1 fan

When I started the blog, I knew that one day, I’d want the kids to read it. After all this time spent writing, this would be a time capsule built for them one post at a time over at this little corner of the internet.

And when they’re ready, they’d be able to draw out all the memories of their growing up years strand by strand like in a Pensieve and experience what it was like for me to live through them. They would have a collection of words and pictures to look back on; to know that in every single moment of their lives (in all the good and bad and difficult ones), they were so loved.

From time to time, I’d show some posts to the kids and previously they’d be all disinterested like “um, okay cool“, which is a patronising way of saying “that’s really boring, mom“.

But recently, Truett has been asking to read the blog using his allocated weekly screen time, which is kind of a big deal because out of all the awesomely fun things he could be doing like playing the Wii or watching his favourite shows, he actually wants to use it to read the blog like it’s a treat.

I asked him if he was ok having all these moments in his life being out there on the internet. It wasn’t a conversation I was able to have when he was younger but now that he’s 8, I’d want to respect his right to privacy if he wanted it.

Hey Tru, if it’s weird for you, you can always tell mommy ok. I won’t write stuff about you unless you’re comfortable with it.

Of course it’s ok! I like reading it so you can write more,” he said, before proceeding to instruct me on the kind of posts I needed to do more of. “I like the ones with a lot of photos of the cute babies and them pretending to say stuff.

You mean like this one?”

Ya, it’s very funny. And I also like those about me.

Yes, sir! But if you ever feel like you don’t want to be on the blog, you’ll talk to me?”

Don’t worry, you can keep writing. I’ll be your biggest fan.

My son just told me he’s my biggest fan. :) 7 years doing this and I think this is the most glorious moment I’ve had as a blogger.

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side effects of motherhood, Truett

The beginning of birthday season!

Look who turned 8 last week.

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It’s still taking a while to sink in, that I’m the mom of an 8-year-old. I’m not ready for this, I need time to process this information.

I mean, I’ve got babies all figured out. They’re intense but all they need is milk and sleep and cuddles. I know toddlers too. They need milk and sleep and cuddles and playtime.

But an 8-year-old, that’s unchartered territory. It’s all new to me, figuring out when to be a mom and when to be a friend, a confidante. When to just hear them out without judgement and when to offer sagely advice. When to shelter them and when to let them go even if it means they might get hurt. Making decisions that will shape them into the kind of grown up people we hope they’ll become.

On that note, it’s getting harder to phone it in, or to get away with the little parenting inconsistencies that toddlers will give you a free pass for. Big kids, they’re sharp. They’ll notice when you say one thing and do another. They’ll question every decision you make and point out when you’re not being fair. They’ll spot every flaw and call you out on every parenting misstep because now, they know.

I think I’m getting better at this though, and it’s largely because I’ve had Truett as my big kid to figure all this out with.


If you’re wondering, here’s what 8 looks like:

//The most delightful conversations about all of our favourite things. Books, movies, music, babies…

The other day, he said “I didn’t know that watching babies is such hard work. Sometimes, I spend 10 minutes with them and it’s like 10 hours.” I laughed for a long time.

//Truett has turned out to be such a voracious reader. This boy loves books and I love introducing them to him. Recently, he’s been into Tintin and now I have someone who gets me when I say “Blistering barnacles!!”

//He’s still bringing the hugs and kisses, even when we’re out. I can’t tell you how glad I am about this.

//Tru really likes surprises. Which also means that he loves giving them out. Last week, he made me a coupon booklet with very cool vouchers for stuff like “1 hour of babysitting” and “20 hugs” and “a head massage”. I asked him what the occasion was and he said it’s a surprise just because.

//This doesn’t happen very often but on the rare occasion that I get to tuck him into bed, he still holds my hand till he falls asleep. :)

//A super star sub on Team Too Many Babies. Part of the reason why we have so many babies is because the big kids have been incredible babysitters and they make my job so much easier.

Happy birthday, Truett! You really are my rockstar.


So very Clark Kent

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How about Truett’s dapper new look? He had to get glasses done (sigh, that’s definitely a result of my visually defective gene pool) but on the bright side, boys with specs? So very Clark Kent. (Hang on, I shall be done with my swooning in just a bit.)

Speaking of, I’m like the world’s best person to fool with disguises because I’m very easily thrown off by things like glasses and facial hair. We saw a poster for the new Victor Frankenstein movie at Cineleisure a few weeks back and the husband was immediately like “whoa, Daniel Radcliffe and James McAvoy.” I stood there peering at the poster for several minutes, and at the end of it, I was still “wait, which one is whom?? No way that’s James McAvoy. I’ve never seen that face before in my life.”

Moustaches, messing with my facial recognition ability since forever.

But I digress. What I’ve meant to say is that this brainy geek look has coincided with a far more exciting development, Truett’s newly-discovered love of books.


Truett has always been just ok with books. During story time, I could always tell if a book was going too slowly for him. His eyes would glaze over and he’d start to fidget if too many adjectives were used. I know that he loves a good narrative, but if he could choose, he’d go for the movie version over the written one anytime. And I get it. I love movie versions of things too. I mean, did you watch that scene in Deathly Hallows where Snape duelled McGonagall? Can cry.

But books! I wanted the kids to experience being so engrossed in a good book that they couldn’t focus on eating or walking or sleeping. I want to be able to nag at them to put down the book because it’s dinnertime, but be secretly pleased that they wouldn’t.

So far, it’s just been, “Alright, story time over, books down, it’s time for dinner” and they’re like “Ok!” and I’m like “we need to work on this, you guys.”

Over the years, we’ve amassed a small library for the kids. Dr Seuss, Eric Carle, Shel Silverstein, Oliver Jeffers, Mo Willems, Roald Dahl, CS Lewis. Rhymey books, adventure books, picture books, talking books, wordy books, books that make you do things while you read. They’ve all been met with a passing interest, at best. We saw some success with the Gerald and Piggie series but after reading every book in the series, Truett has evidently outgrown it.

Last week, I introduced Truett to Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I wasn’t sure if it was too early, considering the liberal use of words like morons and wimps. Sure enough, we had this conversation.

“Mom, what’s a moron?”

“Someone who is exceedingly stupid.”

“Orhhhh, you said the S-word…”

“Yeah, remember mommy told you not to call anyone stupid? Moron is possibly worse. You can add that to the restricted words list.”


In my defence, they’re going to be exposed to these words soon enough. At least this way, it’s in a controlled environment and we can talk about it.

And just like that, he’s turned into quite the voracious reader. He’s been reading after school, during dinner, in the car, out on errands, before bed. He’s already done with book 2, and asking for books 3-8. As a bonus, he’s also stopped asking for the iPhone, or describing in detail the precise level of his boredom throughout the day.

I’m really enjoying how I get to nag at him to put down the book and go do his assessment books (hey, it’s exam season!!) and now he’s all “please just let me finish this chapter and I’m done…ok one more page!!”

Like I said, so pleased.


Truett’s Birthday Time Capsule 2015

Truett turned 7 when we were in Melbourne. 7!! If it was up to me, you know I’d choose to have my babies remain babies for as long as I could. Basically forever. Which is why I’m glad such things not up to me because this way, I get to meet Truett as a 7-year-old, and that is turning out to be such a delight.


Hey Truett,

One of these days, you’re going to wonder what you were like as a 7-year-old and when that day comes, I’ll be happy to give you this little time capsule made up of words and pictures.


7-year-old you is a pretty cool cat. You know how it is when you really like someone and it turns out they’re yours and you can’t believe you lucked out so madly? That’s how being your mom makes me feel all the time. Looking at you reminds me of how good I’ve got it.


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You’re enormous now, all limbs and joints everywhere, but I like that a lot. It’s the perfect height for me to put my arms around your shoulders as we walk. Daddy hopes that you’ll be as tall as Jeremy Lin, and who knows? At the rate those limbs are growing, there’s a chance of that happening. On the flip side, I tried to hoist you up onto a chair the other day and I couldn’t even lift you off the ground.

“It’s ok, mom, I can do it myself.” you said, half amused. Yes, you can. I’ll just need a little time to get used to this big boy version of you.

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Much as I want to be your entire world, I’ve come to terms with relinquishing control of Sole Provider Of Fun For Truett LLC so you can form your own friendships. It’s such a joy watching you hang out with your friends, and hearing stories of all the fun you had.

Although I’m not sure what I feel about all the semi-crushed handwritten love notes you bring home, which reads along the lines of “You must promise to call me everyday. I’ll be your friend forever.” I suppose you need to remember to put the notes into your folder so it doesn’t get crushed. Also, we’re going to have to talk about phone privileges/restrictions soon.

How about food? One of the perks of having a big kid has to do with food. Remember our epic food battles when you were a baby? You probably don’t. Why would you? Because you didn’t spend hours slaving over the stove to have all that nutritious baby food spat out, flung away and screamed at. I’d try to force you to eat and you’d show me your impressive collection of patented vomit faces.

Just the other day, you tried some of my egg white wrap with spinach and feta cheese! And liked it!!! I was fully expecting the return of Truett’s Vomit Faces®, but you nodded thoughtfully as you ate and then asked for more. This marks the beginning of a new chapter, one where we are not eating the same soup and fish for dinner everyday. I’m so relieved.

I like your company as much as you seem to still enjoy mine. Cheap thrill, but it’s so nice to have someone get my jokes and send some right back. These days, I don’t have to wait for daddy to come home to appreciate my wit because I have you and Kirsten.

<<Finn was feeling emo and he wanted me to carry him everywhere but I got really tired so I put him down for a minute. “CARRY ME, MOMMY!” he said, tearfully. “You WANT to carry me!” “Umm, no, I actually do not,” I mumbled. You caught that and started laughing uncontrollably. That was our moment.>>

Speaking of, we were playing charades the other day and Kirsten was walking up and down the room with her hands holding an imaginary backpack. We were all “What is that?? Exercise! Shoulder roll!! Catwalk!!” She got so exasperated, saying, “This is so easy, what am I holding??”

“Holding…your nipples?!!” you blurted.

I never laughed so hard at a game of charades.

Watching you attempt the tree surfing in Melbourne, I could tell that there were moments where you wanted to give up. It was freezing, your hands hurt, and parts of the obstacle course looked terribly daunting. Several times, you stood at the edge of the platform, considering if you should take the next step.

“You can do it, Tru!!” I cheered. You smiled, gave me a thumbs up and kept going, even when it was hard and tiring and scary.


You’ve been asking us about having more siblings (?!!) I usually respond with how there are already so many of you kids running around and I couldn’t possibly handle another baby. Besides, you’d have to share what’s left of your exclusive mommy time with another baby.

“But babies are so cute and if you have another baby, I will help you,” you’d tell me. Amazingly, I know that you actually mean it.

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I love you, Tru. I’m so glad I get to be your mom. :)