from around here

The ones we’d like to keep

Is it already the middle of November? You start a year and things happen and other things happen and then more things happen and suddenly you’re midway through November and you think about whether all the memories you made are the ones you’d like to keep.

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Exams are all over and the kids are done with school and I’m very pleased about having all my babies home with me all day for the next 6 weeks. The older they get, the more I cherish these moments where I get to have all my babies to myself. We’ll play board games and go for walks and fix fun meals and work on comics and just sit and do nothing at all together.

Speaking of exams, the kids brought home their results and they’re like “Mom! I got my English paper back!” First of all, I love the enthusiasm because it suggests that they have done well enough to be suitably excited (whether or not that enthusiasm is warranted is another matter).

So right, my teacher says this paper was super hard and the highest in class was only 88…and I got 82.” Yeah, way to go to frame the conversation. Suddenly 82 goes from really not great to understandably ok and possibly decent with a bit of improvement.

It’s not what I was expecting,” he adds, “but it was really quite tough and I think I’ll do better next time.” Nice touch with the likelihood of improvement in the future.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you deliver news of mediocre results.

Although they still had to work on a revision schedule for the holidays because the two questions I always ask them is 1) Is this result an adequate representation of your ability and 2) Did you put in enough effort?

No? Congratulations, you’ve earned yourself a holiday revision plan!

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One of the benefits of having siblings is that when you’re ill, you get lots of warm hugs. Tru was sick after church one weekend and all the other kids took turns hugging him super tight.

At first, I was like “No hugs!! Germs! Viruses! This is going to infect everyone!!” but then I look at them and urgh, fine, hug all you want, it’s too adorable.

And yes, everyone did fall sick eventually but was it worth it? Totally. Kind of. Okay not so much. Depending on when you asked me that question, it’s probably one of those 3.

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Baby Hayley is a dainty little princess but she’s also possibly the most driven of them all. For a tiny baby, this girl can be very determined when she puts her mind to something.

We were cycling/scooting/jogging to a cafe near our place for brunch with some friends and all the kids were on their bikes and scooters. Baby Hayley was the only one on the stroller because it was about 1.5km away and that’s a long way for a baby who’s not particularly proficient on the scooter to scoot on her own.

On the way back from brunch, Theo fell and scraped his knee so baby Hayley volunteered to give up her stroller and scoot home instead. It was a treacherous journey back for her but she refused to stop even when her knees were buckling from exhaustion. Sweat was pouring from her little face and she looked like she was going to pass out. The husband offered to carry her several times and she kept saying “I CAN DO IT, PAPA!!”

She made it home like 20 minutes after everyone else but she was so pleased that she did it all by herself.

She now uses this experience as proof of her ability whenever I tell her that she’s not ready for something. “Remember I scoot home all by myself? I’m a big girl now, I can do it!

Can’t argue with that.

from around here

On being a big brother

Truett was never the classic big brother type. He’s very chill, almost to the point of having too much chill.

He doesn’t fuss over the babies like Kirsten does, or babytalk them like Finn does with Hayley. When he was younger, he would mostly be doing his own thing. I’d ask if he wanted to hang out with his baby and he’d be like “No thanks!” because “babies are boring” and fair enough, that is an accurate assessment.

Look at this squishy face trying to figure out what to do with his boring baby sister.

When he started preschool and got really bad separation anxiety, he would look to Kirsten for support because she’s the badass who waved bye and skipped into school at 18 months like it wasn’t even a thing.

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But now that he’s bigger and the other kids are bigger, Tru has grown to become a pretty rad big brother. He watches out for them and is affectionate in his non-committal manner.

One time, he was supposed to present something together with Kirsten and she was self conscious, like “Korkor, you do it, I’m shy” and Tru was equally reluctant but eventually he was all “Ok fine fine I’ll do it, don’t worry” and he did a fine job.

He’s still not the giving orders to everyone sort but it’s clear that all the other kids think he’s some kind of awesome.

These days, when the two younger boys are up to no good and I have a word with them, they’re usually just like “Ok mom, message received” and they run off but when Truett is even a little disappointed with them, their little hearts get broken and they immediately start to tear.

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Tru recently shifted up to the top bunk by himself and this was a huge blow to Finn, whose favourite part about sleeping was snuggling with his big brother.

In fact, they would all sleep like this together on the bottom bunk if they could.

We’re really sleeping, mom!” they would say, as if I was born yesterday. We all know that this is a setup for a play all night without sleep situation.

So now Tru gets the top bunk and every night, Finn would climb up and squeeze in next to him, which is sweet, but very uncomfortable for them both. At first, Truett tried to accommodate the squeeze but he would sleep poorly and end up being really tired the next day.

I told Finn he couldn’t go up to Tru’s bed anymore and he was so sad, like “I miss korkor and I can always sleep better next to him” but he knew it was rough on Tru so he tried his best not to go up for some snuggle time.

Few nights ago, he relapsed and slept-climbed his way up on autopilot. Instead of just shooing his brother away, he brought him down and told him he would snuggle next to him until he fell asleep. And he did. He stayed next to him until Finn fell asleep, then covered him with a blanket and went back up. By then, he was wide awake and couldn’t fall back asleep for the next hour. The craziest thing was that when he told me the next morning, he wasn’t even annoyed like a person who just had his sleep disturbed would be.

This is exactly why the smaller kids adore him and would do anything he says. Especially Finn. As far as Finn is concerned, Truett is the finest specimen of a human being in the history of humankind.

Hayley

The babiest baby of all

Baby Hayley has been keeping me company while her siblings are off at school and I’m having the best time.

This baby at this age is perfection.

We go to the library, run around at rooftop water play areas, go swimming, shop for groceries, share sandwiches, do workout videos together, take long bus rides and even longer walks. And the whole time, she gives me a hilarious running commentary of the experience, like “Look at me, I’m doing exercise, mom, ooofff this is so hard I think I need an ice cream…” or “WAIT FOR ME MOMMYYYY DON’T LEAVE ME BEHIND I’M JUST LOOKING AT ORANGES!!

I’m telling you this is a baby who knows how to have a good time.

Maybe it’s a last baby situation where I know this is the last time I’m ever going to enjoy this or it could be a fifth baby thing where everything is less stressful or maybe it’s a bit of both but wow, these days have been the greatest.

Sometimes I do wish that I enjoyed the process with the bigger kids a bit more. I remember being so overwhelmed with Truett and Kirsten as babies and just wishing the days would go by faster. Every day was a desperate crawl towards bedtime where I could take a breather from being a mom for just a moment. We’d go to the park and I’d be flat out exhausted the moment we got there. People would be telling me to enjoy the moment and I would try but deep down inside, I’d be like “I’m drowning here and it’s hard to enjoy this feeling of not being able to breathe.

If I could do it all over again, I don’t know, I really would have tried to soak in the moments a little bit more. I miss Tru’s baby giggles and Kirsten’s legendary cheeks and Finn’s heart melting smile and Theo’s cuddles and now they’re off doing their big kid growing up things.

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Baby Hayley right now is ridiculously adorable and she knows exactly how to make this momma swoon.

Out of the blue, she will walk up to me and say “Mom!! I love you!” and smile sweetly like the thought just occured to her and she needed to share the sentiment with me immediately.

And her sad bambi eyes? My heart can’t take it.

Baby Hayley is the master of turning on the charm with a “Please mom, pretty please??? Just a tiny bit? Please??

She has skills like I’ve never seen. The other day, she managed to talk me into getting her a surprise egg during a supermarket run and for some context, this mom doesn’t do surprise eggs for any of the kids ever. We were at the checkout counter and she saw a kinder surprise egg and said “Please mommy, can I get one?” And of course I said no because what?? no, I’ll get you a fruit instead. Hayley was all “Please mom?? Just a tiny one??” and I’m like “There’s no such thing as a tiny egg. They’re all the same size and oh, how about these cherry tomatoes?” Finally she said “Can I just hold it for a while? I’ll put it back.” And she did. She said bye to her egg and stacked it back on the shelf cheerfully when we were about to leave.

Okay yes, that was the point I wavered. I glanced at the shelf and it so happened that the egg was priced at $1 instead of the usual $2.10 and I looked at her face and I said “Would you really like to get it? Just today ok? This is a one time thing that probably won’t happen again…” and her eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning. “You mean this is for me? I can bring this home and eat it??? Yeahhhh thanks mommy!!!

So that’s the story of how baby Hayley got herself a surprise egg and enjoyed it tremendously.

These days, bedtime with this baby is a 3-hour affair that would have driven me mad 8 years ago but not now because these are 3 hours where I still get to have a baby to cuddle every night. We play supermarket check out where she sells me things for 2 pounds each. She orders me to hold her like a baby on my chest. She tells me about her favourite snacks and I tell her stories of a baby char siew bao who loved snacks and adventures.

“Tell me a story!!” she would say over and over again and I’d be like “I need time to think of these stories, and this is the fifth one tonight. I’m all out of char siew bao stories.

Please, please mom? Just one more.

Okay, so this one time, the baby char siew bao met a siew mai…

❤️