Friday, August 21, 2015

bubbles in his coke

I mused aloud the other day: In everything he does, Day’s attitude is a bit like the bubbles in a cup of Coke.

The bubbles really come on strong, and are quite an impressive sight when you pour your first cup. But then after a while the bubbles disappear and it goes flat.

Bottomline: For everything which he tries out, he makes an impressive debut then peters off.

I’m hopeful one day he’ll find something which continues to give him a high.

For now, though, lately, I realized the one thing in which he’s showed the greatest persistence and staying power, was in asking me to buy him a new laptop. (surprise, surprise)

Lu dropped our already-ancient laptop on the floor – it was too heavy – and it died. KK and I were thrilled, because it means there’s no more laptop which Day can cart off to play his current beloved Team Fortress. (one of those role-play shooting blood-all-over-the-place games)

But Day attacked me with a vengeance. He beseeched, he pleaded, he played emotional games. (by begging then walking off with a sigh – never mind, mama - and a weary look in his eyes)

What made me think twice was the fact that just before the laptop was dropped, I had weaned Day off to only playing two days a week and he happily stuck to it, while working hard the other five days. It had become a reward of sorts.

Without the laptop, there was nothing else I could offer him. It’s sad but true. Despite all that I have tried to do since the day he was born (which is what I reckon all mums today try to do - reduce TV and computer exposure, read books, outdoors experiences etc) he has become a product of the times. This unfortunate generation are simply unable to engage in healthier and more fulfilling activity on their own, sans their screens. 

Did I really expect that he would read more books? Write stories on his own? Do some art and craft? Do housework? Play with his sisters? Reflect on life? Do a good deed? Study? Learn something new on his own?

It’s a pipe dream! Even if I took him out, he rolls his eyes at most things. So if I said - we’re going to the museum, do you want to take a book to write about some of the most interesting things you see there? – his eyes would roll up. Then he’d look at me beseechingly and say: Mum, are you going to buy me the laptop?

So I bought it. To give his life some fizz. For two days of the week.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

back crack

When Jo takes breaks, she likes to crack her fingers, her toes, her back. I think it relaxes her. And she loves cracking the fingers and toes of other people around her, namely me, Day and Lu. She grabs our digits and gleefully cracks them, one by one, while counting off: One, two, three… If it doesn’t crack she feels like she’s failed.

I stopped her. Because I hate having my joints cracked. My violin teacher used to crack my fingers relentlessly, torturing my fingers forward until my finger tips could almost touch the bottom of my palm and he heard a resounding crack. Day and Lu hated having their joints cracked too. And it’s really not nice having your toes cracked.

What really stopped Jo was when I told that cracking the finger and toe joints will enlarge them. She, a stickler for aesthetics, immediately stopped cracking, cold turkey.

But she continues to crack her back. Every time she does it, I hear a very scary ‘KAK’. Urgh. I think it’s gym which is doing strange things to her poor bones. Like so. (cracks can't be heard though)

* Me and my back arched to the max which made Jo laugh very loud. Again.

Monday, August 17, 2015

jap cleaning sponges

I’m a mediocre housewife. So when I read a piece by a male columnist in an entertainment magazine on a magical white-coloured Japanese cleaning sponge which he and his two female house-mates went ga-ga over, I was determined to get it. 

Because it only requires water, its easy to use and I can throw away the sponge after use (I don't have to clean it, you know, the way you have to clean your cleaning cloths which I HATE. Yes, I hate cleaning dirtied cleaning devices...)

I didn’t know where to buy it from, but it was stored at the back of my mind.

Then I went to the $2 shop Daiso. Trawling through the shelves, the girls and I were at Household, and they asked me what everything was, because everything looks quite alien, right. Puzzled, they pointed to a pack of white sponges and suddenly it clicked!


When I got home and ripped open the pack I felt like I was unwrapping a present.

When I tested the sponge on our grotty light switches, toilet seat rims, bathroom tiles, refrigerator, I felt like I had gotten another Agnes B bag!

(An interesting article here on how it works. Apparently its like super-fine sandpaper...)

* Previously un-removable stain


Saturday, August 15, 2015

car breakdown

The car dies in the middle of a carpark in a popular mall right about lunchtime.

Without rhyme or reason, it is particularly galling coming in the wake of expensive recent car servicing.

A car breakdown is one situation which simply makes me go into hyper panicky mode. I can’t handle it. I literally want to cry because I have no idea what to do. I think – and I hate to say it – but I honestly think I have no right to have a broken-down car, and I’m afraid everyone will get angry with me. Same reason why I never toot the horn, I feel its rude. (There, that’s softie me)

The kids are waiting for me some distance away with a trolley full of groceries from Giant.

I get out, I start flapping my arms. I go to each car and as they wind down the window, I tell them: My car’s broken down. The drivers are actually very sympathetic (I think I must look terrified) and they tell me in very re-assuring tones, cool down, don’t panic.

I run to the kids, push the trolley over, load the groceries into the car (I don’t even know why, I wasn’t thinking!)

At this point, a nice man comes along and asks me – What’s wrong? I tell him. He asks – Would you like me to push your car to the side? I stare at him like he’s mad. He can PUSH the car??

Yes he can! He puts the car in neutral, releases the handbrake, gets behind and with what looks to be a little nudge the car starts to roll. I steer the car to the side.

Suffice to say, he helps me to re-start the car, I try to drive it out of the carpark, it shudders crazily, I quickly back into a carpark lot, I can’t re-start it, KK (who’s at work) helps me to call a tow truck, the driver comes, he does something to the car, I manage to drive it to the workshop with him re-assuringly following behind me, and on the way it breaks down two more times.

KK says: What? You paid $40 for a tow truck driver to follow you while you were driving?

Yup. That’s what the tow truck driver told me to do. I didn’t even think to get him to tow our car.

Car breakdowns. They mess with my mind.

* Kids and I waiting for a taxi at the very ulu car workshop

Thursday, August 13, 2015

mummy intent

Jo sort of started it. These days, she frequently tells me – Mummy, if I were you I wouldn’t let my child do that. (She says it if I make them re-wear school uniforms or re-use old things, or if I am what she deems as being overly permissive.)

So I decided to interview her about it. And this is the kind of mum that she, at age nine, wants to be. I hope she reads it when she does have kids:

I won’t let my children eat sweets.
I won’t let my children eat chips.
I won’t let my children drink fizzy drinks.
I won’t let my children eat Macs.
(Wait, but will that mean they are missing out?)

I won’t let my children watch TV. No. Well, only the news because that’d make them smarter right?
I will give them mobile phones, but only when they are in secondary school and I’ll check it every week to see what they are playing.
I’ll buy them lots of assessment books so they can do well in school.
If they scored 17 upon 30 for a test, I’d scream at them.  If they still don’t do well, I’ll try to find out what’s happening in class.

Then I ask: Jo, do you want me the sort of mum that you want to be to your child?

And she says: Er, no.

Lu is in on the same conversation and goodness me, she aspires to be a completely different sort of mum from her sister. She says:

I want to be a kind mum.
I want to be a fun mum. I will bring them to the museum and let them discover new things, or bring them to the library and help them choose books. I won’t be like you, mama, leaving all the kids to find their own books.

I think they shouldn’t go to school also. I think I will teach them myself at home. (to which Jo yells: Oh my God, that is the worst idea!)

* Lu Mum will bleat gently while Jo Mum will ram her message home!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Ta da! This time it's for real.


Jo said she couldn’t see what her teacher was writing on the board in class.

So the kids and I carried out an ‘eye test’ at home. We discover that while Day, Lu and I can read the fine print of Young Scientist from 2 metres away, Jo can’t.

How odd. Jo hardly watches TV, is seldom glued to mobile phone screens, and she has very healthy reading habits (bright lights, sitting up straight, book 30cm away, so on and so forth. She’s very correct about these things)

I brought Jo in to the spectacle shop two months ago. The folks at that shop said she didn’t need specs.

But Jo still couldn’t see. I brought her in to another spectacle shop. This time, they pronounced that she needed a pair.


Not only that, she has an intermittent squint. If she looks far, one eye tends to wander off to the left. I didn’t think the long-ago issue would matter, not after the polyclinic doc told me it was fine, but according to the spec shop lady, we need to 'monitor' it because her eyes are taking turns to focus, and she needs anti-fatigue glasses.

Whatever. I won’t mess with myopia. Degrees: 100 and 150 which doesn't sound very high, but I'm quite astounded by how much worse her long-distance sight is compared to mine. (now I have an idea what those people with 1,000 degree eyes have to live with. Gosh)

Damage: $380, urgh. Aren’t kid’s spectacles supposed to be really cheap?

Anyway, I leave alone her in the shop to choose her frame while I pick Day up from school, and when I come back in 45 minutes (he was late), she had set her heart on a purple pair. She threw out the black, pink and red choices which they presented to her. 

She gets the specs a week later. She puts them on, experimentally toggles them up and down, and she lights up whenever the specs are down. Her eyebrows go up, her eyes widen and she grins so wide I can see two rows of teeth: Mummy I didn’t know my eyesight was so bad until I got this pair of specs! (I think her vision hasn't been this clear in a long time) But I don’t want to be a nerd, mummy!

She was told to wear it at all times. But I have this (perhaps irrational) fear that she gets dependent on it. And her eyesight worsens as a result.

Her first day in school with the specs, she comes back frowning. She had a terrible headache after looking through lenses for half a day.

Jeez, why? I really don’t know specs.

* Showing KK her specs

* KK trying on her specs, to her great dismay

Sunday, August 09, 2015


Singapore turns 50.

In a nutshell, I think it’s good I was born here, and I think it’s good the kids are born here.

Jai, Mum’s Filipino helper, frames it this way: She sees all the SG50 festivity, she sees the road improvement and cable works which are going on (between mum’s place and mine, at least five sites) and she sighs – At least your taxes are going somewhere. In the Philippines it all goes into someone’s pocket.

Well OK.

So on National Day itself, this time, I manage to get everyone up and moving to see that other thing I really wanted to see: The fireworks.

How? While KK is napping I prepare three picnic boxes, haul out the picnic mat, take out the bicycles. When he wakes up and before he can sigh – Do we have to? – I say I’ve already prepared the food, snap my fingers and say it’s time to go. So we go and do the thing we did back in 2012, cycling to Gardens by the Bay East, only this time with Lu cycling along (and KK on skate scooter instead of on his bicycle)

* We catch the entire aerial display on our way there

And Lu does it! To the overpass and far beyond, with nary a complaint! (I think it was the heat the last time round which zapped her dry) The way back is a real crush with what feels like a thousand cyclists all fleeing the grounds at the same time. Its bumper-to-bumper cycling traffic, all jammed up, but Lu manages beautifully, balancing and cycling very slowly without crashing into the cyclists who are arm’s length away on each side.

* Lu at Starbucks on her way back

Gardensby the Bay East has bloomed since the last time we were there, gardens do take time to impress. We don’t get bitten by any mosquitoes because I think they’re full of blood, there are a few thousand people thronging the lawns.

* Expat right in the middle wearing a shirt which says "I Love SG"

* Us and our mat. Despite the crowd, there is still plenty of lawn left

* Dinner

But the SG50 fireworks are really something.


Saturday, August 08, 2015

nday babies

During our National Day weekend, we are invited to two parties.

Eva who is born on 9 August turns 6! 


She has a beach party. I dump the kids there and head off for a gig. Thankfully, I think they behave.

The poppet, their one and only first cousin, has turned precocious. I’ll let the captions do the talking.

* Liyen with us, step-sister, mum (KK's sister) and daddy

* Jo still loves Liyen to bits. And Liyen now does the two-year-old's smile with the squeezed-shut eyes, wrinkled nose and showing two full rows of tiny teeth. Exactly like Jo on her 2nd birthday.

* Liyen's biggest fans (she doesn't have very many photos with Day or Lu, and certainly not me because no one takes photos of me)

* Liyen hates KK because he unfailing grabs her from her mummy. Here he is trying to woo her back with lollipops and mobile phone entertainment. She's still suspicious.

Friday, August 07, 2015

lonely plane parade

These days there are activity divides in the family. The kids are old enough to decide what they want to do, even Lu who quite remarkably knows exactly what she wants, so sometimes, as much as I wish the family could do things TOGETHER, we split up.

SG 50, there a whole bunch of things happening island-wide, all very attractive. Me, I’m the perpetual Out person (some things don’t change).

KK is still the perpetual In person.

I’d be happy to go hop around outside, joining in the throngs for singing of cheesy songs, wearing red and taking public transport (to avoid parking jams). KK just wants to stay home and chill out.

I think about it: The only thing I really want to do, is to see the fireworks and the fighter jets painting pictures in the sky (perhaps I like looking up. If it’s in the sky everyone can see, you don’t have to fight with anyone for a good view).

Jets first. I show the kids lots of videos, of the team training, of the formations they can do. My hope is to get them excited so they will want to cycle with me.

Actual day: No one wants to come! Well, Jo does, but she desperately wants at least one sibling to come along with her and Day and Lu don’t want to sweat. I also think she doesn’t want to miss out on whatever KK does with them (which turns out to be eating at a cafe then shopping at Uniqlo).

So I go alone. I schlep on the hat, long sleeved shirt (broiling sun when I set out), pump up the tires and cycle to the Marina Barrage. When I leave the house, Jo is in tears. I don't think she likes the family being 'split up' and she would have liked very much for me to give up and stay home. But no. I won't.

* My 'companions'

It’s a bit lonely, but the good thing is that I am unenbumbered. I go as fast as I want, there is no child to look out for, and when it starts drizzling when I get there, I’m quite thankful they didn’t come along.


The planes couldn't show off much because of the threatening downpour and heavy cloud veils. But I discover later that one of the crazier stunt planes is piloted by a young man who used to be KK's windsurfing buddy, I'm glad I saw him doing his loops.


To more solo expeditions!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

school’s 75

The nice thing about sending the kids to the school where they are now, is that the school doesn’t need to raise funds. It’s backed by a clan association.

So the kids have never had to go through the character-building exercise of asking family and friends for money.

The other day the school celebrates its 75th anniversary and I, along with other parent volunteers, are invited for lunch, sans kids. I go in jeans and a T-shirt, expecting a buffet line and standing around with foam plates.

I walk into the school and I see a chef slaving over an entire kitchen which has been set up under the stair. Perched on his gas hob are seven plates of fish ready for steaming, Chinese wedding dinner-style.



I troop up the stairs and I see, outside the school hall, several mums dressed to the nines, in heels and makeup and styled hair and cheongsams, but I am reassured to see other mums wearing polo tees and berms. Clearly, they didn’t get the message, like me.

Do the dressed-up mums melt in the sweltering noonday heat?

No, because the school hall is magically air-conditioned! The aircons were apparently installed this year!


And so we enjoy an eight-course meal. 


Fish, roast chicken, fish maw soup, broccoli and whatnot, with wushu performances by the kids and a speech by the guest-of-honour clan association guy.

He’s not very engaging. But for the funds we get from the association, I’d be happy to listen to him a few more times.