The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

A day of two partiesĀ 

It is not uncommon for me to attend two parties in one day. There have been occasions where I have even been to three. That is how rock and roll I am.

Except before you feel envious, most parties I go to are for small people. Between #1, 2 and 3, I am merely the Keeper of their social diary and the wheels of their transportation. I don’t recall as many Birthday parties going on around me whilst I was growing up. As much as Birthdays were celebrated in some form with cake, presents and special Birthday dinner, a party was still a ‘party’ with just your family around.

For each of #1, 2 and 3, every Birthday has been celebrated with a multitude of friends in Singapore. Each year a different group of friends as people come and go. With living this Expat Life and in the absence of close family around, the close friends we have become the people the children look forward to celebrating their Birthday with.

And every Birthday is special but Turning 5 is something else which I’ve already talked about for #1 in When a child is born and recently for #2 in You’ll always be my baby. And for every Birthday, I like #1, 2 and 3 to have some involvement with the decision making process before adapting it to my own capabilities. For the moment, they haven’t realised the amount of effort that goes into party planning. No matter how simple you think it’s going to be; a cake, party bags and venue; it never is.

And so #2 at the fine age of five, made up her mind some months ago, as far back as Easter, that for her Birthday she would like a ‘Thomas’ party. As in Thomas the Tank Engine. I thought our Thomas days were over soon after #1 turned two. This was quite a surprise as #2 has not been known for her love of steam engines. Last year was the whole Princess Elsa and fake snow that took us 2 hours to clean up party! And considering how fickle a child’s loyalty can be, I thought she would change her mind before long. I didn’t encourage her to change it, after all we should be encouraging freedom to choose whatever you want to be and do. So I said to #2, “If you can name me five Thomas trains then you can have your Thomas party.” She gets as far as “Thomas…..” then whispers to #1 “Who else?” to which he reels off a list of names having never forgotten them from when he was 18 months old.

Several months later and we (read I) need to start party planning and she’s still quite sure it’s going to be a ‘Thomas party’. I like it. I like how she can have a supposed boys themed party just because she can. The joys of being five and five year olds unperturbed by general ideas of how things should be. I like how she can wear a fuschia pink dress at the same time and jump around on a trampoline and dig up dirt in the sand pit whilst insisting on My Little Ponies in the party bags.

I like how she is uninhibited by what others may think. When does this change? And what can we do to change this? In times where there is much discussion on girls under increasing pressure to act and behave a certain way influenced by their peers, celebrity culture and overexposure of what everyone is doing on social media. Do you think of how we can keep this free thinking of both genders the way it is at the age of five?

Moving on from these thoughts; how did she enjoy herself? Well the cake maketh the party and #2 asked for Thomas with the Fat Controller. And that is exactly what she got. After organising 12 Birthday parties, I have long since let go of the ‘Must Do Everything Myself’ when I know so many much more talented people who can do a far better job. My friend Cathy who is never short of cake orders did a fabulous job again and she can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-cakes-by-Catarina/165934673561576?fref=ts but Hurry! She’s already completely booked up for September. So who will make #3’s cake?

  

#2 loved her Birthday cake. So much so that when it was time to hand out party bags when people were leaving, she turns to me smiling and says, “I just need to go wash my hands!”. Not only are her hands black but her teeth and mouth and face stained black like she’s transitioning into a pirate with poor dental hygiene. Whilst she’s off washing her hands, I notice the Fat Controller has lost his head. When she comes back I ask her “Did you eat the Fat Controller’s head?”, “I did Mummy” she happily replies.

And if you looking for a venue with the right blend of indoor and outdoor space then I couldn’t recommend Tanderra more highly. When you have almost 30 five and six year olds in one space, it is best to let them loose outdoors. Many of us living in Singapore have the luxury of a pool downstairs but few of us have the freedom of a garden that children can potter around in. This venue is like the back garden #1, 2 and 3 would love to have with a huge sandpit, trampoline and regular green grass.

  
And what Husband and I still haven’t learnt is the perils of the pinata! Five is a good age for  a pinata, anyone below five are just wasting their time. A gentle tap by most under fives is only going to make the pinata last the whole duration of the party but you and other parents will soon tire of it.  At five they’re strong enough to do some serious damage so make sure you are well out of the way. At five they have a strong competitive streak and you spend most of the time yelling ‘Move back, move back!’ as they want to get as close to the sweet cascade as possible. At five they are also not beyond tears because five is a bit young to be battling it out on the brutal sweet grabbing field.

I like watching small people have fun at parties. Running riot with their mates and gorging on sugar items washed down by juice and more sugar items. And I like how the guests can then be returned to their rightful parents to deal with the aftermath of the sugar products and the high of extreme sporting activities like the pinata.

And that same evening, Husband and I joined good friends at the NZ Aotearoa Ball, our only connection being we know people who are genuinely from New Zealand and can sing both versions of the national anthem. Switch the sugar items washed down by juice and more sugar items to red wine, white wine and more red wine and you’ve basically got a re-enactment of a group of Grown Up five year olds running riot with their mates. Except the hangovers the next day most likely lasted a lot longer than the sugar crashes ever did.

And with all good nights out, the next day there’s nothing you can particularly say that could fully describe what made it such a great event. There was a lot of laughter, dancing and conversation I can’t recall. But I do recall the company was great and it makes you look forward to seeing them again.

It was a day of two parties indeed. And who doesn’t love a party be you five or fifty five. 

A very good day.

  

Leave a comment »

So did Life Begin After 40?

Already it’s been a year and two weeks since I Embraced 40. Two years and 15 days since I started writing this blog. I can hardly get my head around the fact at how fast this last year went by. My Mum is so right as I remember when I asked her if she was excited about her Birthday coming up, she must have been in her early fifties at the time, and she said that Birthdays came around so fast, ten years felt like no time at all. Can you imagine being told that at the age of 11? The idea that a whole decade would feel like no time at all was just unthinkable when mere weeks dragged their heels and you couldn’t wait for the next good thing happen.

Of course, I still enjoy waiting for the next good thing to happen. It’s just that inbetween each good thing there are so many dull things you have to do and then you worry that there’s just not enough time to do all the good things.

That is exactly how I feel some days. What if I run out of time to do all the good things I want to do. And think about all the days and nights I’ve wasted on things that were just inconsequential. And how perhaps I’m now slightly better at doing just the good things. Who am I kidding, of course I’m not. I think I need another two decades to really reach that stage. Just the other day, someone I know asked me, “Are you still having to waste your time on that?”, I won’t tell you who said it about the that but it did make me smile and they will know who they are.

So one minute I was giddily Embracing 40 and then it was like 41 is calling and 41 makes Embracing 40 so much more official. I guess extending Embracing 40 celebrations for three months also helped to speed up the journey to 41. Plus spending seven weeks in the UK and filling it to the brim of so many people I hadn’t seen for three years and eating all the foods I’d missed out on too. Such a brilliant seven weeks people of the UK!

One of the things I had pondered before Embracing 40 was the notion that ‘Life Begins at 40’ that you often see on balloons, banners and cards associated with this landmark occasion. Does it really? But how? What would significantly change?

I know people who had a bucket list of things to do before Embracing 40 and I’m sure they probably did achieve all the things they set out to do. I could have written myself such a list but I didn’t, I may think of a bucket list at some point though. What should I do? What would you do? I like to have thoughts like that but equally if I think of all the places I would like to go to and all the books I would like to read, I think I may just get upset that the truth is we may find it’s just not possible to do everything.

I listened to Sir David Attenborough on Desert Island Discs in 2012, I think it must have been his third time on the show, (which I love and I’m still contemplating my list). In it, there is a reference to all the far flung places he’s been to and all the amazing sights he’s seen. There’s a throwback to a previous show where he talked about an ambition to climb Everest I think it was, or even just to get to base camp and he’s asked whether he ever achieved that. He replies No and now probably never would because of his age and I found that incredibly sad, even though he had done so much already.

And I think that’s what makes some of us embrace a milestone Birthday with such vigour. The very real idea of how fast time flows and how we take stock and freak out a little at how much we have done and how much more we want to do. Perhaps not all of us feel that way but sometimes there’s a real need to achieve more. Is it because we see on social media what everyone else is doing? All the places they are going to, the activities they’re involved with and does it make us question ‘Are we doing enough?’. Or perhaps why aren’t we doing more. I find social media a joy and a blight. As I’m sure most of us do at various times.

I think my Thirties were such a whirlwind of life changing events such as getting engaged, getting married, moving to the other side of the world and then becoming a parent that suddenly Embracing 40 was just there and I wasn’t sure what more Life there was to Begin after 40! I was very confused. But consider how easy going our Twenties were and how frenetic our Thirties became. What more could Embracing 40 bring? Well I think this next decade, the remaining eight years of it, will be a rollercoaster of activity, especially with #1, 2 and 3. And the irony of it all is that during this time, they will feel that time is passing by ever so slooooowly.

So how did I celebrate Embracing 40 (Plus 1)? Or 35 (Plus 6) according to Elbear who has only just Embraced 40 herself. I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that celebrations were complete after four days this time. My Birthday was spent in my new place of Gainful Employment. #1, 2 and 3 gave and took back my cards and presents and opened them themselves. I got hideously intoxicated on martinis with my great group of female friends, I spent the next day hideously hungover. Husband and I went out for posh dinner at a place where you almost felt unable to order anything off the menu it was so expensive. Seriously.

And yes you did read correctly. I have a new place of Gainful Employment which is a post all to itself. For the first time in seven years I was celebrating a Birthday in Gainful Employment. I had forgotten how much fun it can be to have your Birthday be all about you. Celebrating it with lunch at a place for Grown Ups, having a Birthday sing song, cake and lots of people wishing you good things all day long.

What else have I done since Embracing 40? Well, it’s been well documented that I’ve tried to get back into running regularly again which has been so much fun! Even in hot, sweaty, tropical Singapore. I write my blog but not as often because sometimes I’m just busy doing other stuff. And yet writing my blog has become one of those things that I have to keep doing. It feels weird now not to.

So I guess for me, it’s not so much that Life Begins at 40 but more so I’m restarting many things I did before and adding it to all things I’ve been doing. So I guess this is why I was asked about whether I’m making use of my time doing good things because there is only so much time and so many opportunities to do the good things that you really shouldn’t spend it on the rubbish stuff. For now we realise the value of our time and time spent wisely is rarely wasted at all.
Life evolves I find and it’s how good are you at adapting to it.
  

Leave a comment »

You’ll always be my baby

I think I’ve been in denial about the significance of a child turning the Big Five.

#2 turned the Big Five today and I know she’s been looking forward to this day ever since her best friends started turning the Big Five as far back as last year. She has joined the ranks of being a Big Girl now. A role she will wholeheartedly embrace no doubt.

#2 has a knack of speaking things with absolute authority so that it sounds like it’s set in stone. There have been many occasions this past year where I have had friends ask me things that I’m meant to be doing which has been complete news to me. It has reached the point where I have just had to say, ‘Please do not believe a word she says’. Otherwise people would believe there’s a #4 on the way, we’re moving to Australia and getting a dog and that on our last holiday we too were going on holiday to Sri Lanka and would be meeting up with some friends there. I know this is typical behaviour of a child of this age but she is a very good storyteller and has an imagination worthy of their own storybooks.

If I thought that this last year has flown by for me, then the same can be said of how fast it has gone by since #2 was just turning four years old. In some ways this is no bad thing as there have been some moments I’m glad to have seen the back of. Mostly seen the back of.

What felt like months of full on tantrums that sprung from nowhere. Almost as if someone had suddenly turned up the volume to maximum with no warning and somehow the volume control got stuck there. No amount of cajoling, threatening, withholding of anything could snap #2 out of these depths of despair. Nothing. I didn’t like those moments very much. It was hard to overlook and ignore this behaviour because it was so intense and extreme that it had a profound effect on myself and #1 and 3. When one starts it will invariably set off the others. Quite often I can have hours of tag team meltdowns just because they can. It is exhausting and does not make parenting a joy. Yes I know there will be rough days like these but I can say from September to December last year, there were a lot of them.

Though more often than not, you don’t realise when the rough days are no longer rough days because we just enjoy the good days and only complain about the bad. These emotional outbursts became less so and the flow of family life leveled out to just the occasional spike of emotional meltdown that can be fairly attributed to a very tired #2. It seems #2 is not good when you wake her up after she’s fallen asleep in the car. It usually takes about 20 minutes for her to recover from being rudely awoken. I’m not surprised actually as I too am not keen on being woken up like so. Not keen at all.

It’s interesting how I’ve been told that #2 is very much the ‘Middle Child’. I had never even heard of ‘Middle Child Syndrome’ until the incubation of #3 was announced. Then suddenly there were predictions on the profound effect this would have on #2’s character. It becomes less of their natural character and more the character of birth ranking. It has been rather fascinating to consider. In some respects though, being made to be aware of this does make you more conscious of doing what you can to avoid some of the pitfalls highlighted to me. I can see how attention can be so easily drawn away from #2 because #1 has always led proceedings and #3 either needs more care or just uses her two year old ways to be heard. I have seen her unsure of how to get our attention and swaying between mimicking #3’s young ways to the full on meltdowns. Neither approach getting the results she would like.

But since Christmas I have seen a really big change in #2. There’s a real sense of self assurance about her. Like she knows her place and is becoming more confident in herself. She neither has to be like #1 or #3. She is happy being herself. As a parent this is so good to see. That even though there are three of you, you will always be you and you will be loved by us for it.

And I know that my #2 is one that needs a bit of reassurance from myself or Husband in new situations. And that is ok. I see that it’s ok if she doesn’t want to join in this time and that next time she will. Unlike #1 where I often will push him towards taking part because I know he will enjoy himself and he can often just be idle about getting involved, #2 is much more……..obstinate shall we say. Actually I think all three are. Must be the parents.

Equally, #2 has really surprised me with her maturity over big changes that I thought would have more of an effect on her than #1 and #3. She took the change completely in her stride and I was so not expecting it. She is very much like me when it comes to having a fear of all things free roaming animal. On our trip to the UK she practically climbed onto the top of my head to get away from a relative’s dogs. On the one hand I’m trying to reassure her the dog isn’t going to eat her but I know in the back of my head I’m only saying so because it’s my role to show no fear but secretly I am wondering if the dog is going to eat us.

For years #2 showed no interest in arts and crafts but this year she loves nothing more than to grab a sheet of paper, some pencils and colours and sit and draw from memory elaborate scenes with a story to tell. She has an aptitude for languages and has shown a keenness to learn Mandarin and at the same time speaks with an accent that would suggest she had grown up in the south of England. Lately one of the big things that #1 and 2 have found hilarious is the way I pronounce certain words. #2 has taken it upon herself to be official translator.

#1:  What’s a boooooaaaaat Mummy?

#2:  She means boat Olly.

Speaking of boats, a true rite of passage has been the fact she is now tall enough for the 106cm and above boat ride at the Singapore River Safari. That was an outing of great excitement after having been denied the experience for some 18 months. And now that’s she over the 106cm minimum height requirement, there is no stopping her. She is the perfect companion for Nana Moon to seek out high thrills and rides that go round and round, for I am no good at these.

When #2 laughs, she cackles and she is quite the joker with the comical faces she pulls all the time. As her relationship with #3 moves along, helped a whole lot by Frozen and the power of sisters, I can see a strong sisterly bond forming there. It’s funny watching them potter around role playing and pretending to be this and that and dressing up. And then there’s the reading and writing, both of which have come on in leaps and bounds in the last six months. She is so proud of being able to achieve these things herself now after watching #1 take the lead. She’s not competing but she’s just aware that she can do this herself.

At her last Parent Teacher Meeting at school, I was very happy to hear how much she loves learning and taking part in all activities. She has overcome her fear of school performances and all these Grown Ups staring at them singing and dancing and I loved hearing her practise the songs in the car everyday.

Can you see why I think I’ve been in denial about #2 turning the Big Five? Look at how much she’s grown this past year. I’m very proud of her. So proud. But the rate at which she’s learning and becoming independent can be a bittersweet moment too. She’s growing up and that is a wonderful thing. We will do all we can to guide her to be a strong, confident and compassionate young person.

But again, perhaps in the same vein like when #1 turned the Big Five and I was getting unexpectedly emotional about it, I feel that today I will give in to the emotions. 
Last night as we whooped and got ourselves in party mood for #2 turning the Big Five today, I asked her how old was she going to be tomorrow and she said ‘Five’ in a burst of excitement.

Then she adds “But I’ll always be your baby”.

That you will #2. You always will.

Happy 5th Birthday. xx

  

1 Comment »

40 lessons in 40 years

So it appears to be Birthday Eve again.

 

How did that happen so fast?

 

As one good writer friend put it recently, “This time last year I was in my Thirties”.

 

In fact this time last year I was in the luxurious surroundings of the Somerset Maugham suite at Raffles Hotel sans #1, 2 and 3. Tonight I’m not. On a night where I would certainly have welcomed a night in luxurious surroundings after enduring a tag team of screeching behaviour. But they are in bed now and so I’m having a Birthday Eve port. 
Besides I wouldn’t want to miss out on tomorrow morning’s levels of excitement that come from #1, 2 and 3 on special occasions.

 

So how on earth has this year has whizzed by so quickly? It’s left me quite unnerved actually because I’ll soon be hurtling towards 50 at this rate. 
Well I guess it doesn’t help that I officially didn’t stop celebrating Embracing 40 until mid November.

 

Anyways, as I firmly fall into the 40 something category tomorrow, I was thinking am I any wiser for all these years that I’ve accumulated so far? Hmmm….you don’t have to answer that question.

 

And so I thought what lessons have I learnt exactly? 

 

1  You can learn something new from everyone you meet. Not all of it good.

2.  Trinny and Susannah, whilst annoying, were right about many things on What Not To Wear. It does often look better to dress for your body shape.

3.  …..but equally you should wear whatever you like if it makes you feel good and happy.

4.  At some point you need to take responsibility for your adult actions and accept that your childhood has great influence but does not shape how your life should be.

5.  Always be friends with people who love to dance….

6.  …..And who can be persuaded to have one more drink for the road.

7.  …..And who are funny, kind, loyal, interesting and happy.

8. True friendships don’t require censorship.

9.  You really must take care of your teeth.  It is costly to get them fixed and most medical insurance policies don’t offer adequate cover.

10.  When you are 21 and on top of all things popular culture and look upon the old ones with scorn who do not know that 1D and One Direction are the same people, rest assured that you too will suffer a similar fate one day.

11.  No matter how sober I thought I was acting, everyone knew I’d been out boozing. Not least the smell but the giveaway Asian flushed cheeks.

12.  Bodily functions will always be funny.

13.  Contrary to popular teenage belief, life gets harder not easier.

14.  …..and you do end up sounding like your parents no matter what you vow.

15.  It is very easy to sink five pints of lager but manage no more than one pint of Diet Coke.

16.  People are a lot funnier when you’re drunk. Sometimes more attractive. Sometimes less so the next day.

17.  Not all friendships last a lifetime. And that’s ok. It’s knowing when to let it go to allow new friendships to grow.

18.  Have a special pot for your house keys, car keys and work pass. A lot of time is wasted looking for these items.

19.  When you meet someone new and you forget their name the second  time you meet, never bluff your way through it because you will never get a chance to ask again. This will result in greeting each other warmly with hugs and kisses even but never referring to them by name and awkwardly trying to avoid introducing them to anyone else for the rest of your life

20.  The one size too small bargain buy in the sales is a waste of money no matter what good intentions you have.

19.  I will never understand modern art.

20.  …..or cricket

21. Dump the people who talk in riddles, who never ask how you are and appear to be on the lookout for more interesting people whilst seemingly holding a conversation with you.

22. The above is not so easy to do and so surround yourself with positive people that outnumber the negative ones to a ratio of at least eight to one.

23.  The mid-80s perm is not a good look for everyone. Neither is the mullet. Nor that bit of facial hair that sits in the dip under your lower lip. (And no Uncle Monkey the ladies do not love it.)

24.  Your siblings may annoy you but they are also the ones who always have your back.

25.  Since the day I left home, I have not stopped missing my Dad, Mr Li and my Mum.

26.  It is very satisfying to know how to drive, cook, sew, build an Ikea shelf, wire a plug and fix stuff.

27.  Asking for help is not a sign of weakness and people genuinely want to help.

28.  The world is a very big place, try and see as much of it as you can. Especially beyond the boundaries of a resort. 

29.   Choose a sport to follow and to take part in. It’s very unifying.

30.  Restricting yourself in order to be healthy doesn’t always make you happy. Everything in moderation.

31.  Being tidy is a genetic condition and not a learned behaviour.

32.  Even if you haven’t lived in the town where you grew up in for decades, it is still home and will give you a warm fuzzy feeling whenever you go back there.

33.  I like people who make me laugh.

34.  You don’t have to act your age but sometimes it helps if you do.

35.  You have to let the young people make their own choices, learn from their mistakes and always be there for them when they need you.

36. Going to an airport never loses its appeal.

37. All relationships not just marriages need working on. You get out what you put in.

38. I miss many things from two decades ago, mostly the lack of responsibility, the freedom and being fairly carefree but it was so fleeting and you can do so much with your time now, why chase after your youth.

39.   Quality is better than quantity and that can apply to all aspects of life.

40.  It’s impossible to recount all that you know and who knows what else there is to learn.

So today concludes my year of Embracing 40. Does life begin at Forty? It begins every single day really.
  

Leave a comment »

SG50 – Singapore’s Golden Jubilee

Today is National Day. Celebrating Singapore’s 50th Birthday. 

But of course Singapore is much older than that. It has risen and fallen in importance during the early centuries eventually rediscovered by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 and established as a trading port to create modern Singapore under British colonial rule until 1963. 

It then merged with the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia but this was a short lived union and less than two years later Singapore was unceremoniously dumped to become a sovereign, independent state. 

And this is why every 9 August is an incredibly important date in the Singapore calendar. 

As sad as it may seem that Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, passed away in March to miss out on today’s celebrations, his passing brought to the surface just how far Singapore has risen since those early dark days. 

In time’s of prosperity it can be difficult to appreciate there once was adversity. I certainly never thought about it and arrived in Singapore to appreciate all that its growth and development have to offer. We wouldn’t be here otherwise.

Until this year, I often wondered why there was no uproar about the money spent on National Day rehearsals that would start on the first Saturday in June and continue every weekend until National Day. I thought about the outcry there would be in the UK and calls to sack the government at the huge expense that could be best spent elsewhere more meaningful.

This year, I feel differently because after living in Singapore for almost seven years, I have finally learnt something about its history. My own lack of knowledge has led me to make assumptions without knowing any of the facts.

  
It is hard to imagine right now amongst all the shine and wealth that you see that a mere 50 years ago this was a nation debilitated by racial tensions, mistrust and fear. The separation from Singapore came at a time of huge social unrest amongst the Chinese and Malays in Singapore. Fights led to curfews being imposed. And the situation led to other tragic incidents occuring instigated by groups outside of Singapore. 

This was not a happy time and certainly not a time to be leading an independent city state. If you watch the video of Lee Kuan Yew announcing the separation of Singapore from Malaysia, you can see the struggle within him. It is a very personal moment to bear witness to.

Regardless of political beliefs or whether his way was the right and only way, you have to admire the commitment he made. He and his wife were a couple of years older than I am now when this happened. If you think about it yourself, can you really imagine the energy needed in taking on this mammoth task. To build a nation that was to be self reliant, educated, living in good housing, brought out of high unemployment. To unify communities of people when there was no common language between them and to thrive and work in partnership with the countries nearby who ejected you and caused loss and suffering. 

 
What I find interesting is I wonder how much Singapore would have grown without the enforced growing up it had to do. Even its water supply came from Malaysia, understandably this was one of the first issues to address to make a nation less vulnerable. 

The build up to SG50 has been going on for some time. Not just in the branding, which is everywhere  from banners outside buildings, at exhibitions and on endless merchandise (SG50 dried beef? Though what I really want is an SG50 tea towel). 

Special events have been held leading up to today showcasing the strength and magnitude of the Singapore Army, Navy and Airforce to community projects of how to make bricks by hand back in the kampung days. Lots of attractions have had special rates to celebrate like getting a year’s annual pass to the Jurong Bird Park for the price of a one time admission fee and many are even free this weekend.

There has been plenty of media coverage showing past and present photographs of Singapore. In many ways, I’m also sad that a lot of historical character has been lost in the rush to galvanise a nation to greater things. In saying that I love the Singapore skyline overlooking Marina Bay Sands and the amazing sunrise and sunset I’ve seen on my many runs in the area. 

Every year, Singaporeans gather together for the pomp and circumstance on National Day. The streets are awash with people wearing red and white. (And you know how I feel about people wearing matching clothing). In the beginning I admittedly found it all a bit too much. This annual celebration of Singapore’s Birthday. But now I know differently and I think Singapore is entitled to this day of glory and reflection to be proud of what has been achieved.

Every year we’ve enjoyed watching the firework displays and looking out for the jets overhead. This year we saw the Black Knights perform an amazing display and the airforce fly in a stunning 50 formation. This evening I saw it fly right over our condo before breaking up and zooming off elsewhere. 

  

It seems the world is also speculating on what Singapore will do next. Or should do next. It’s been a meteoric rise for the Little Red Dot. One that can only be sustained with changes moving forward to address what could hinder growth and development in the next fifty years. 

Singapore is by no means perfect and I could reel off a list of quirks that could do with a shake up. But I rather feel that times are a-changing again and a new generation of Singaporeans will bring the personality to keep Singapore a relevant nation. I hope so.

In the meantime, may Singapore enjoy its Golden Jubilee long weekend and continue to live by the pledge that was renewed today:

“We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language, or religion to build a democratic society based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”
One people. One nation. One Singapore.

Taking into account what is happening elsewhere around the world, this reminder for racial harmony and joining together, even to just 5.5million people, will make a difference. 

Majulah Singapura and Happy Birthday to a place we call home. I feel I know you a little bit better now. 

   

 

Leave a comment »

Living in the moment

When exactly did I stop living in the moment?

It’s never a conscious decision is it?

 

Just one of those things that creeps up on you slowly. The endless to do list. The finite hours in a day. The demands that pull you in all different directions.

 

The odd thing is that our quest to get everything done is usually to allow us the time and luxury to live in the moment. I should amend that to say to allow us the time and luxury to live in the moment guilt free.

 

We are never going to get the endless to do list finished. There will always be something we ought to be doing. Something we are forgetting to do. This need to fill all our time with something!

 

Then the other day, #1 not for the first time said to me, “Mummy, can you stay and watch us swim please?”.

 

#1 and 2 have swimming lessons every Tuesday afternoon. Usually I drop off them by the pool downstairs and spend that 45 minutes getting on with something else. I often watch them from upstairs every now and then to see how they are doing but from the start the Swim Coach had advised they are much more focussed if no parents are around.

 

Lately, #1 has started asking if I can stay and watch them swim and because I have already mentally planned how I’m going to spend that 45 minutes, there’s a moment in my mind of “But when am I going to do x?”.

 

Time to be still is such a rarity these days that it somehow feels wrong. I refer to long, lazy afternoons and late boozy nights and hours spent reading books and magazines, wandering around aimlessly and making spur of the moment decisions to do this or that as an era of my life in the very distant past.

 

How did this happen? How did this happen indeed.

 

There comes a time when suddenly time is no longer your own to squander as you please. Be it Gainful Employment, family, small people commitments. Something changes. I need to plan my time and be thinking several hours, days, weeks ahead.

 

We are so busy. And even when we are not busy we can busy ourselves on various handheld devices. Checking up on the news, social media, screen shopping. Scrolling down endless pages for nothing in particular. I could be reading a book or watching television instead of writing this.

 

#1, 2 and 3 are the busiest people I know. During their waking hours they are constantly doing something. Eating, playing, fighting, talking, watching television, pottering around. The only time they are truly still is when they are asleep or not feeling well. But their kind of busy is very reactionary to the present moment. They are truly living in the moment. No concern for the past or the future. It’s all about the now.

 

An example of this is the full on melt down from #2 yesterday afternoon. Each were in possession of a sweet that I said they could eat after dinner. #1 reluctantly was abiding to this and preventing #3 from wolfing down hers. #2 had already eaten hers after seemingly not having heard the terms and conditions. Now I hope to you and me, it would make sense that if you had eaten your sweet before dinner then you shouldn’t feel left out if I eat mine after dinner whilst you have nothing because you’ve already had yours.

 

But no, a full on meltdown ensued from #2 because ‘I want a sweet’. No amount of reasoning was going to cut it. This was repeated on loop with full on hysterics for quite some time. This is living in the moment extreme. 

 

I am not the first to admit this because I’ve heard other parents say the same thing. That when small people ask us to do something, we often reply with “In a moment”, “Not just yet”, “Later”. It’s just not always feasible to drop everything and tend to those needs and besides the Generic Parenting Guides advocate that small people need to learn to wait a little. But it’s when there are too many moments of “In a moment”, “Not just yet” and ‘Later”, that I realised what exactly am I thinking of doing that can’t wait until later?

 

I have become so accustomed to the process of doing and fulfilling the taking care of needs of #1, 2 and 3 that I am totally forgetting to take enjoyment and pleasure of living in the moment with them doing absolutely nothing. Slowly though, as #1 and 2 become more independent and I am not constantly worried about them falling off this and that or falling into that and the other that I can take a step back and focus on them. Rather than focus on keeping them safe. Or trying to have half a conversation with a friend whilst we are both keeping an eye on the small people. It’s a different living in the moment to the bygone era I recall but it’s bringing into focus the need to concentrate on the here and now.

 

So what exactly happened when I sat down by the pool watching #1 and 2 swim whilst #3 pottered around nearby? Absolutely nothing. I can’t even remember what I was going to do in that hour. Whatever I didn’t do obviously wasn’t that important. Instead, I sat on a sun lounger and just quietly watched them swim and play. For their part, I don’t even need to be in the pool with them, I just need to be there.

 

And how simply restoring it is to just sit quietly watching my children play on an ordinary day. Because there will come a time when I am no long chasing endless to do lists and have plenty of time to live in the moment which will probably be used reflecting on the past and I hope I will have many such memories to reflect upon.

 

NB This is not the pool downstairs before you think how incredibly spoilt we are!

Leave a comment »

The world according to #1 and 2 – Speaking proper like

So, not for the first time in my life have I been brought to task about the way I speak.
I don’t have a full on Geordie twang, 22 years away from the North (of England) has sorted that out. But I do have an unmistakable northern accent.

 

What truly sets apart a northerner to a southerner is the shape and length of their vowels. I think it may be fair to say that the further north (of England) you venture, the longer your vowels should sound.

So much so, that Husband often says that it takes me twice as long to say the same thing verbatim as someone else because of my elongated vowels.

 

I personally think I speak quite well. But then don’t we all. I have good sentence structure, an extensive vocabulary but don’t use language that you can’t decipher without the use of a thesaurus.

Living in Singapore for almost seven years, most people pick up a British accent. Some who have more exposure to the UK will recognise a regional accent. Some who really want to pin it down, like to dissect it further and analyse which part of the UK it comes from.

Regional accents immediately define us and can influence in an instant the opinion of who we are to others. Some stereotypes come across better than others shall we say. Which is why people can play up or down their vowels depending on who they’re trying to engage with.

I like my elongated vowels. And it would be unnatural to change the way they sound now. But I know over the years my regional accent has been somewhat tempered.

 

Language is a beautiful thing. And what is fascinating is that we could both be speaking English and talking about the same thing using colloquial terms and not even know it.

Take for example, the bread bun, bap, barm, buttie, tea cake discussion.

It’s been such a long time since I have heard and used once familiar terms that I was only reminded of them when Husband was given a Geordie-English dictionary some years back. Words like ‘hoy’, ‘canny’ and ‘bairn’. They sadly no longer come naturally in conversation and I wasn’t determined enough to keep using them until others understood what they meant.
 

No, I guess I conformed.

 

As you do when you start Gainful Employment and move away from your local roots. You start to get ‘posh’ as I was told. Or you may simply just want people to get what you’re saying first time round.

 

Having been exposed to a bunch of 20 year olds recently, I really hope they get ‘posh’ too. It’s not even about regional or national accents. It’s about them finishing a sentence for a start.
I’ve decided one of my pet peeves right now is people who don’t finish their sentences, trailing off with a ‘I don’t know….’ and assume you can fill in the finishing gap. If you start off saying something and then finish off with a ‘I don’t know….’, then what makes you think I will if you don’t know yourself?

The state of the world’s youth being able to communicate effectively and spell properly is often a huge worry for me. Text messages that seem to be a series of random letters takes me an age to decipher. It’s so annoying. And yet who really requires the art of the spoken word when people, couples, groups of people and families together all seem to be conversing with someone on a handheld device rather than with each other.

 

Chillax you’re probably thinking, after all YOLO huh?

But I think I can chillax on this matter after a mounting number of incidents where #1 and now #2 have been, how shall I say it, ‘correcting’ my language. And I don’t mean being reprimanded on the inappropriate use of the F word.

 

We have had a series of conversations like so:

 

#1: Mummy, why do you speak funny.

Me: What do you mean?

#1: You know, like this. (Proceeds to talk in a lower tone of voice). Nooooo. Hooooome. Booooone.

 

Or……..

 

#1: Mummy, it’s not ‘Noooooooooo’. It’s just ‘No’, like this. Short.
And this conversation just the other day is what has triggered this post.
#1: Mummy, can you please just say ‘Home’ like this, ‘Home’ and not ‘Hoooooooome’.

Me: What’s wrong with the way I say ‘Hooooome’?

#1: I’m trying to teach you how to speak properly.

Me: I do speak properly!

#2: No you don’t Mummy. You say things like ‘Gooooooaaaat’ and ‘Booooooat’. (We’ve been reading a lot of The Smartest Giant in Town)

#1: Mummy, I just want you to be able to speak properly so that the teachers can understand you.

 

Oooookaaaay.

 

Sooooo, it seems I should have nothing to fear about the demise of the use of correct and proper language judging by the Infant school age youth of today.

 

 

However, what #1 and 2 don’t yet know is that a Mother’s influence is stronger and more subliminal than they think.

You should try asking them where do they go swimming and where do they go to learn things and hear what they say and how they say it.

 

They’re proper little Northerners at heart.

1 Comment »

%d bloggers like this: