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

Lets stay together

Ten years of marriage. It seems like such a milestone to reach and then all of a sudden it’s here. Over the years, Husband and I had talked about how we would celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. Particularly when not much celebration had gone into seemingly less significant anniversary years. When that happened, we vowed we’d make this one something special. 

Would we be able to take a few days away somewhere on our own now that #1, 2 and 3 are older. Would we be able to have a dinner with our Bridesmaids and Best Men. Would we be able to take #1, 2 and 3 back to where we got wed.

Well it turns out that none of these things are happening. I’m not even in the same time zone as Husband. I’m sat on our sofa with Strictly Come Dancing on in the background. Something I can do without Husband sat here silently rolling his eyes. Especially after I’ve had The Undateables and First Dates on earlier in the week too. Whaaat!? I’m catching up on nine years of missing out on British culture and what is shaping the great minds of tomorrow.

 I don’t want to paint a tragic figure here but last night I was listening to Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ all on my own some. It was our first wedding dance song you see. A beautiful song but very hard to shuffle to. As I was listening to the lyrics in the quiet of the night, I thought about our wedding day and how…fresh, I guess is the word I would use to describe how we were then. Perhaps like all young newlyweds. 

‘Let’s stay together, whether times are good or bad, happy or sad’

Ten years later, what have I learnt? Well that times can be good and bad, happy and sad. Mostly exhausting. A buzzing hive of activity that never stops when young children are involved. Their needs are our priority. Their calls of ‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy’ reaching up from waist height often the only sounds we hear. The number of times I’ve heard from other couples celebrating a night out/weekend away as an occurrence as rare as sparkling unicorns. We love our family. We love each other too. 

Ten years have passed and we have experienced so much, far beyond what we could have imagined that day. The upheaval of moving to another country, starting a family on our own, taking on new challenges as a unit of two, figuring out the answers and finding our own way without knowing what the outcome would look like. It has certainly been an adventure. Not always plain sailing. But strong in the belief that every decision made, every action taken, is for the good of us. 

It is without doubt disappointing to be apart from Husband on our 10 year wedding anniversary. Not because I feel like I’m missing out on the spoils such celebrations bring, but because I am missing that other person, the only person, who has shared exactly the same days that I have. Except of course for these past few months since I have moved back to the UK with #1, 2 and 3. We are in the midst of good and bad, happy and sad. For how could we be truly happy without being together. One of my biggest fears about starting back on my own was ‘can I really do this?’ Can I do this on my own? 

As a trailing spouse in Singapore, dependent on Husband’s employment visa, one can become fairly invisible. Even when in Gainful Employment in my own right, I was still tied to Husband’s  status. That’s just how the bureaucracy worked out. So to suddenly do a 360 degree turn and be the driving force behind setting up a new home is daunting. When it comes down to it, we are all stronger than we believe. Especially if we have a supportive network to cheer us along the way. But the greatest pillar that I could possibly have is to know that Husband is there everyday. To listen, comfort and reassure that all is well and who is encouraging me to plan ahead for what I want to do next. 

It is quite odd to be conducting a long distance relationship at this point but we’ve done it before and having to rely on more traditional modes of communication. None of this videocalling malarky. Perhaps it comes as a timely reminder not to take anything for granted. Though we inevitably always do. Like being blase about celebrating your wedding anniversary because you think there’s one every year.  Whether you celebrate quietly or go all out, do something on your Anniversary to acknowledge to one another just how far you’ve come and what you’ve overcome, for the good of you.

Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary to us.

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A very lazy Mother’s Day 

Usually Sundays start early with rugby training for #1 and 2, followed by homework, grocery shopping and other households jobs. 

Today there was none of that. Just as it nicely coincides with Mother’s Day. A morning of lazy starts and breakfast in bed. Followed by high tea with fairly impeccable behaviour from #1, 2 and 3.  

I received three more thoughtfully decorated cards. #1 has continued with the Tie Fighter theme this year. #2 worked hard on hers for two days. #3 could barely contain her excitement yesterday as she informed me she was doing something secret that she wasn’t go to tell me about for Mother’s Day…

This was exactly about as much as I could cope with today. I am so tired right now I should be in bed. In fact I already gave myself another gift of an afternoon nap. No, I’m not hungover. That was last weekend. 

Last night I was doing something wholly virtuous. I was in fact running a 10km race. Which flagged off at 9.35pm. I know! It’s only since running in Singapore that I have come across these running events that take place at all hours. Literally all hours. Think 9.35pm is late, the full marathon flagged off at midnight! 

So anyways, I thought 10km would be ok. It would take about an hour or just over. I can that distance fairly comfortably if I practice and I’ve often ran that far in the early evening so how different could this be? It’s been a long while since I’ve ran in an organised event and I’ve missed it. The sight of seeing other runners heading to the event, soaking up the atmosphere and waiting at the start line. Then of course seeing the Finish line. 


What I hadn’t accounted for is all that adrenaline takes quite a few hours to wear off. Like a good five hours or so after the race. I should have organised the spare room instead of trying to sleep. Hence today felt like a non starter, I wonder how all those marathon runners have spent the day.

So today’s very lazy Mother’s Day has been just the ideal way to spend it and now I need to go to bed. 

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International Women’s Day 2017 – #Beboldforchange

Will you be #Beboldforchange?

I would like to think you will be. 

In the past year, I have realised something very important about the need for women to support other women. To tell them when it’s not acceptable to be spoken to in a particular way. To believe in what is just and fair. To stand up for yourself with confidence and self worth. To enable other women to be strong.

Quite recently, I heard a young woman be berated in such a way that was totally out of order. It was after working hours, a bit late in the evening after a few drinks. What was a pleasant evening turned quickly the other way. I think given the late hour and the beers involved, you may have just left it as it was blaming it on inebriation and emotions running high.

Except what struck me as unacceptable is this young woman’s response.  She said to me, “It’s ok, I’m used to it.” That’s when I needed to say,”Well you shouldn’t be.”

I have been in situations subjected to quite high humiliation in front of an audience and I just let it go. Choosing to believe the words that have been said and just waiting for the moment to pass. Instead of standing up for myself and asking the person spouting the nonsense to get a grip of themselves and just stop or walking away from them. I often wonder what made me stop and take it. I blame it on good manners and respect for hierarchy.

Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I had called out the behaviour. But in the moment it happens, your mind freezes. When someone feels they have the power to rain down on you, the natural reaction is to make it stop. To curb the vitriol and disappointment directed at you, is it best to say nothing and wait for it to blow over.

Be bold for change.

Let’s begin by just being bold. 
Be bold to believe in yourself. Be bold to stand up for others. Be bold to articulate what is right. 
If our actions are bold enough, change will follow.

I would like to impress upon others that you should never ‘get used to’ to anyone speaking to you with such disrespect. It can take years to undo that kind of impact on your self esteem.

There are also lessons to be learnt from these experiences too. Never too late. You certainly wouldn’t emulate that kind of behaviour yourself. You definitely don’t allow that kind of behaviour to perpetuate.

This young woman will some day be a great team leader and role model for other women. It is our responsiblity to ensure that they believe in themselves to be that, so that they can go on with encouraging other women to be the same. I was shocked that for someone with such a vibrant and can do personality to feel that way. I took it upon myself to point out all the reasons why she shouldn’t be and should never be ‘used to it.’

As the parent of three children who will one day be the shining examples of tomorrow, I want them all to be bold for change. To be the change themselves and to be the change in others.

Happy International Women’s Day.

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Year End Review 2016

It is tempting to write off this year as being a terrible one. Indeed, that was my initial thought. It would be all too predictable even to go on about the things that would make 2016 memorable for all the wrong reasons. 

Truthfully, 2016 on the whole has not been my most favourite year and for those who know me well, you already know this. But to say that it was a complete shambles would do the whole year a huge disservice. It would be unfair to all those who celebrated a special occasion for instance to have it tarred with the same brush as the less favourable events that happened. All too often we can be led by the negative but this will only lead to the Dark Side. We all know how that ends. It is right now as we are about to welcome a fresh new year, that we need to lead with the positives.

How best to do this than with our very own positives from the year. 
So for my Year End Review, I am going to share some of my own personal highlights from 2016.

#1, 2 and 3

Everyday I feel thankful for #1, 2 and 3. Even if there are moments within those days when I forget to feel thankful. I am definitely thankful for them. 
They don’t know anything about what’s going on with the state of the global economy, everyone is friends and a good day is measured by what’s happened in the last five minutes. They enable me to live in the moment. Something we should all do more of.

There have been some challenges of course, there probably always will be. At the same time, it has been a joy to see #1, 2 and 3 achieve their own mini milestones at school and home, more so at school than home. I still don’t understand why they can’t just show us some of that same helpfulness at home. Just a little bit. 

#1 in particular has worked very hard this year. Some of the earlier challenges in the year around adapting to a Big School environment was hard work. There were some battles we had to overcome but hard work and perseverence has rewarded #1 with confidence and enjoyment of learning. Most of the time. I’ve also discovered that #1 likes to help out in the kitchen and can almost bake a banana loaf all by himself. And he has stuck to his goal of wearing a Star Wars t shirt everyday this year. 

 
When your children start Big School, you hope for a good teacher and that your child makes friends. We have been lucky on both counts with good teachers but friendships have to be navigated themselves. I know one source of worry for #2 was whether she would find friends this school year. Within three weeks of the new school year starting, #2 had been sent to see the Head of Year twice. For boisterous behaviour with her friends. Whilst I’m not condoning the behaviour at all and #2 has solemnly sworn not to find herself in that situation again (we’ll see), I’m also glad to know that she has found a group of partners in crime that she talks about all the time. I like how she’s enjoying her hobbies of judo, gymnastics and has a creative streak in her. For Christmas, she gave us books of drawings of our favourite things as presents. 
#3 has heart and generosity. As well as a loud yell. Sharing comes naturally to her. She will offer you whatever she’s eating even before she’s had enough of eating it.  That is saying something. Mostly I get offered leftovers. Or mushed up food spat into my hand. Yum. 


Catching my first ever moonset

I wonder whether, like me, you even thought about the moonset. Though it’s so obvious isn’t it? If there’s a sunrise and sunset, there should be a moonrise and moonset. I’ve often chased a sunrise and settled down with a sunset but never a moonset. For one thing, you have to be a really early morning person. Like super early. 4.45am early. I am not a 4.45am morning person. But for this occasion I was. 

The setting could not have been more idyllic. In the resort of El Nido,  Philippines which I was lucky enough to have travelled to for Gainful Employment. The waters there were so clear and the amount of marine life you could see just a 30 metre snorkel away from shore. The furthest way from the hustle and bustle of city life you could imagine. There are few opportunities to be really still and I will always remember the calm of sitting there, watching the moon slowly dip further towards the horizon as the light all around became brighter and you were caught between that moment where night ends and day begins. 


  

My Dad, Mr Li turned 80


Just a few days before Christmas, my Dad Mr Li turned 80. I’m very thankful for that. I’m sure he is too even though he often tells me his job is done. But I have news for you my Dad, Mr Li. Your job is not yet done. Who’s to say without your watchful eye on things that I won’t be feeding your grandchildren food from dented cans. Or allow them to go out with wet hair. Or allow them to be so daring as eat two bags of crisps in a 24 hour period. 
No my Dad, Mr Li. Your job is not yet done.
Travelled to new places sans kids

I know! I actually travelled sans kids three times this year. Twice was with Gainful Employment and whilst a great experience, it wasn’t actually a holiday and shouldn’t really count. 
This year Nana Moon came to stay en route to somewhere else. As seems to be the new tradition, whenever Nana Moon comes to stay, she and I must travel to someplace new. At first we thought about Taipei but it’s actually quite far from Singapore and with just three days to spare, you want to make sure you make the most of every moment.  There are plenty of places yet to be explored nearby and so we went to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I bet you’re pronouncing it Yog-ya-karta. That’s because you’ve never been. For us it’s Jogja now. Though Nana Moon will still insist it’s Yogi.

I don’t know about you but an opportunity to travel sans kids for me is to explore and do things that I’ve never done before or would do if I wasn’t sans kids. Any notion of long lie ins and leisurely breakfasts never happen. These mini sojourns are to remember all the things that you should do because you can do them. 

In saying that, there was a moment whilst being suspended 60metres over a cliff when I wondered what on earth was I doing putting my life in the hands of a harness with three kids and Husband at home. The experience was worth it though.


Celebrating Big Brother Li turning 50

I think it’s fair to say that decades have passed since we celebrated any of our Birthday’s together. So it was particularly special to be able to celebrate Big Brother Li turning 50 this year. To him, these milestone Birthdays are no big deal. Indeed, even if it weren’t a big Birthday, it was still a special occasion to be together as a family for it.

Getting right up close to Take That, Kylie, Ronan Keating, Madonna, Queen and Imagine Dragons


In my former London and Manchester life, going to see live bands was a regular occurence. I’ve seen some of my favourite over the years and I’ve even been fortunate enough to be at Live8 just five rows from the the front. Strangely enough, I’ve had some of the best live band experiences in Singapore. 

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Going to a live gig is uplifting for the soul and one of my top five favourite things to do. You can’t fail but smile and feel your spirits rise when you are in the presence of real drums banging and guitars twanging. Perhaps the list of popstrels I’ve been to see this year are not exactly to your liking, but for me they make me happy and therefore seeing them live makes me double happy. 


I was a bit concerned that finally getting to see Take That live for the first time (even with just three of them) would be a disappointment. Would they be too middle aged I wondered and whilst I was so close I could see wrinkles, when they played songs from the 90s we were all transported to this other time. Whilst in the 20 years or so since they first were dear to my heart, much has changed and we have all aged but in those years those same songs have seen us through and brought back feeling of happiness. 

Time with family and my closest friends  


This counts for both friends in Singapore and the ones I’ve known much longer. Time in your company is always a pleasure and thank you for all the invites to many a social occasion this year.

We are very fortunate to live in times when international air travel is so possible and affordable. I think back to when my Dad, Mr Li left Hong Kong for the UK over 50 years ago with no idea of when he would next see any of his family and friends. Whilst we may struggle at times in this privileged Expat life of ours, we have the luxury of modern technology that makes distance a little easier to bear.

However, nothing can compare to having them here with you. This year we have had the joy of my In Laws come to stay in the summer. As #1, 2 and 3 get older, we can see that they need more than Husband and I around. We are of course very important and much loved by them but there are others who are much loved too, who can give them something else in addition to what we can. People who love very much and tell them all the positive things that small people delight in hearing about themselves. 


As you know, I don’t just think Brilliant New Adventure as my friend, she is family and I often do wish she was here in Singapore. But equally, when we go now to go Hong Kong we have an extra reason to visit. It can be bittersweet because you imagine what fun times the children would have altogether. But I wouldn’t miss these times for the world. Nor the opportunities to catch up with friends you haven’t seen for many years and for it to be like no time has passed at all.


It’s funny how Nana Moon tells me that when siblings are together, you all revert to type. I think the same can be said about friends who have known each other a long time. We are all of a certain personality and the core of us perhaps doesn’t change as much as we think over the years. I still rely on Nana Moon to tell that jumping across a beam, kayaking in deep waters or being hoisted over a cliff is going to be alright. I have no idea what reassurances I give her. Let’s not ask that question.

Learning new things

This year I took Mandarin Chinese lessons, picked up new skills in Gainful Employment and made my own chutney.


Husband

One constant this year, through the ups and downs, has been Husband. He who does not complain (too much) about my intention to master the use of the sewing machine he bought me several years or the bike he got me for my Birthday which he has made more use of than me so far. He who gets up early in the mornings on school days. Who enables the travelling sans kids and much more.

We celebrated Birthdays, weddings and the arrival of new family members. And we saw otters.

 So really, 2016 gave us some good memories. We just needed to think about it. 
May we all end this year thinking of what 2016 did right. Husband and I are not going out tonight because #1 has been unwell but tomorrow, we’re going to start the year fresh, with friends and new hope for a bright 2017. 

Whatever you do, do it in style. Do everything in style. 

Happy New Year’s Eve to you. xx

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Pass me the Elf

The thing about refusing to get overexcited about Christmas in November is that suddenly December descends and I feel woefully ill prepared for Christmas which is in just THREE WEEKS AND THREE DAYS!

Perhaps it’s time to write my Christmas list too.

  1. Sort out Christmas tree and decorations.
  2. Find Christmas decorations after moving.
  3. Fill Advent Calendar with stuff. Pass on organised idea of filling with mix of treats, Christmas related activities and Christmas related days out.
  4. Make Christmas cards, write them and post (and hope some arrive in time.)
  5. Clear space for Christmas tree.
  6. Drink Christmas Port.
  7. Secure the Special Gift from Father Christmas.
  8. Secure the Special Gift from Husband and myself for #1, 2 and 3 (when the truth is out then need only one Special Gift.)
  9. Order Christmas turkey and Boxing Day ham and copious amounts of cranberries to make sauce nobody really eats.
  10. Watch Elf, Arthur Christmas, The Grinch, Miracle on 34th Street.
  11. Find Christmas music DVDs.
  12. Sing Jingle Bells every day, ten times a day with #1, 2 and 3.
  13. Buy and successfully hide Special Gift from Father Christmas wrapping paper.
  14. Dig out recipe for Mother in Law’s Almond Tarts that are only to be made at Christmas time though can really be eaten all year round.
  15. Make a note to start Christmas preparations earlier next year.

 

Yes indeed. There appears to be a lot to do in the next THREE WEEKS AND THREE DAYS!

 

So not much has changed from last year. Or the year before.

 

There’s another thing that hasn’t changed.

 

Those Elves have reappeared.

    
   

Not just on shelves though. They get up to all sorts of shenanigans. Knocking over cereal boxes. Messing up the toys. Abseiling down the staircase. Hiding behind photographs.

 

I’m very glad they do things like that to entertain themselves. It’s awfully tough sitting still without moving. Just watching. With that fixed happy grin they have. Until the children fall asleep. Then they fly off to Father Christmas and report back the events of the day.

 

It’s a lot of waiting around. Most of the day children are still at school. So what do the Elves do then? I mean you’d think they could make themselves useful and do a few jobs around the house. You know, like mend shoes and stuff. Maybes I should pass them my list of Things To Do in the next THREE WEEKS AND THREE DAYS.

 

The Elf on the Shelf is not for this household as I have said many times before. It creeps me out more so than #1, 2 and 3.

 

But as it’s the season to be jolly, I’d rather be just that. Jolly. Rather than the parent that is reprimanding #1, 2 and 3 for the regular behaviour of small people of that age. It’s the season of goodwill and I would like a bit of that too.

 

So you know, as I truly believe in Father Christmas then on occasion I’d quite like him to do something to keep that belief alive. Like just call me when my phone happens to be on silent but his picture flashes up because he’s just heard about something #1, 2 and 3 have done that he thinks could constitute as behaviour for the naughty list. I just have to take the call you see and discuss the consequences with him.

   

And whilst I’m not in favour of the Elves on anything but shelves, I have welcomed new additions to our family this year.

 

Meet Mochi and Fred. They are friends of the Elves and they will be staying with us until Christmas Eve. Father Christmas has diversified his workforce this year and roped in Grandma to knit him some new staff.

 

They will be hanging around keeping check of everything. Especially in the mornings whilst getting ready for school. They’ve managed to shave off 10 minutes of time wasting already as well as settle disputes amicably.

 

If only they could stay all year round and not just for Christmas.

 

     

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A lot of Treats and no Tricks

Halloween is a huge deal Singapore. Hence the fact we have been to three Halloween events with a final one I totally forgot about happening on Friday at school. Though I feel satisfied with the value for money gained from their $20 costumes.

Any occasion to get #1, 2 and 3 dressed up is fine by me. #2 and 3 love a good dress up and can often be found on a regular day with some form of fancy dress outfit about their person. #1 can be slightly more reserved but in pursuit of treats knew when to go with the flow.


Now, Halloween with small people is a round of cute pumpkins, cuddly witches and less than threatening pirates. I mean it’s just a big fancy dress day with all sorts of costumes allowed which I don’t quite get but there you go. Over the years, I had forgotten that Halloween is really a make you pee in your pants as you jump in the air scary sort of event.  

I don’t do scary as I keep saying. Even when I know something is about to happen, I will still jump in the air and pee myself a little. True fact. Even at my place of Gainful Employment I’ve yelped in people’s faces because I’ve opened a door and come face to face with someone I know in daylight. It’s a terrible affliction. 

So I’m probably not the best parent to lead the way on a Trick or Treating mission. Not even around our own condo. Husband stayed home dressed head to toe in breathable polyester armed with at least 100 packs of sweets, waiting for the troops of angels to come by. Whilst I braved the outdoors tropical heat with #1,2 and 3 and a map to the homes providing treats. 

Front doors were bedecked with pumpkins and cobwebs, separated limbs and tombstones. One family even geniusly taped over the landing light so that an eerie red glow emanated around the hallway. It was a lot of spookiness. And it seems many get a lot of enjoyment spooking people out and go to great effort with a generous amount of facepaint. Towards the end of our rounds, we call upon a home who must have done the routine at least 60 times that night and yet still was not bored of it. First the buzzer was greeted by a ghoulish ‘mwah ha ha ha ha’ as we made our way to their floor, I had a sneaky suspicion it wasn’t just going to be a kindly face with a basket of sweets. #2 and 3 knocked softly on the door. There’s no answer. I’m sort of hanging around the corner like I know something wicked this way comes. Then suddenly, the door is flung open and a demon jumps out with a loud ‘raaaah’. #2 and 3 jump and scream loudly which is not doubt the desired effect. I’m just glad I had the foresight to hide because no doubt I would have screamed the loudest.


I have no idea how many sweets #1, 2 and 3 have eaten this weekend. In the back of my head, I’m thinking about how carefully we try to ration the sweets and chocolate intake so perhaps it does seem strange that this one of time of year, it is positively encouraged to go and fill your bucket with them. But like most occasions, it’s the joy of collecting than the eating of gathered goods that is the most fun part. Though I think #1 would dispute this. 

So what to do with all these sweets? It’s a waste to throw them away. I can’t possibly eat them all myself. I can’t possibly let #1, 2 and 3 eat them all either. So isn’t it best to regift them? I often hand out small treats at Christmas, Easter and Halloween in fancy little boxes that I enjoy making. Not many, just three or four sweets and I never thought it wasn’t ok. Until that is a good friend and successful parent blogger recently wrote a piece on his wrath at other thoughtless parents handing out sweets for birthdays and all other such occasions. I thought, I am one of those parents! Should I stop? What if parents of #1, 2 and 3 feel the same way?

I contemplated today not to bother with sharing Halloween treats amongst school friends. But then I changed my mind. I often feel that #1, 2 and 3 are very used to receiving a lot of things. Treats for all sorts of occasions so that it doesn’t seem ‘special’ anymore. Not like when treats were for special occasions when I was a child (I know.) So ever since they started nursery and for celebrations, there’s been a bit of sharing going on and more often than not the sharing involves a sweet treat. 


I agree, as a parent you should be able to say what treats and when they are given to your child. I mean there have been times when I’ve been annoyed when #1, 2 and 3 have been given loaded with food items that I perhaps wouldn’t have given them but then again it’s all part of the experience. Like the days when they’d go over to Pancakes for Dinner and thought it was the most decadent experience to have pancakes for dinner. It’s left a lasting impression. 


But perhaps it would upset us less if we notified each other when the sweet treats are coming. So I did. And never do cheap sweets. Or chocolate. I think parents fear glow in the dark treats more than anything. 

Happy Halloween!

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The things that Dads do

It is Father’s Day today as I’m sure you know. Unless you’re my Dad, Mr Li who only found out earlier today in our weekly call, though he thinks he may have heard someone mention something vaguely about it earlier in the week. But he doesn’t quite know because he can’t hear much and I think in our telephone call he just guessed what was going on and just asked random questions.

 

You see he had an accident with someone’s phone a few weeks ago and we think it’s burst his ear drum. I asked him ‘what about your other ear, can you hear me in that one?’ He replies ‘that one’s been gone for some years now.’ The things you learn about your own Dad. So now he can’t hear me in either ear. And yet he still calls up every week.

 

As #1, 2 and 3 get older, our household seems more and more chaotic. The noise levels, the things that need doing, the places that need getting to. We look forward to the weekends but there are occasions where it feels like everything is just none stop. As colleagues talk about getting up at midday and enjoying a lazy weekend, maybe go shopping, out for dinner or to the cinemas. I almost want to scowl at them. I probably do. I can just about remember those days and now I wonder how is it even possible to sleep in until midday. If I did that now, the kids would have missed out on two meals and a snack.

 

But there are occasions where I get to sleep in until 10.30am following impromptu Friday Night Beers. Or if I haven’t had FNBs then I may be up before dawn for an early morning run. Or I could just have had a good night’s sleep without realising that Husband has been up several times in the night tending to #1, 2 or 3.

 

The point is, if I am not doing the doing for #1, 2 and 3 then someone has to be. And who else would that someone be?

 

I know there are times where I have vocalised to Husband about the things that I think he doesn’t do. But equally what about the things that he does do. That all Dads do.

 

It’s still been quite a chaotic Sunday like any normal day but at least #1, 2 and 3 almost let Husband choose how to spend it in appreciation for all that he does for them. For us.

 

Husband says, ‘you know what my colleague says is the best gift you can give on Father’s Day? Breakfast in bed. Followed by a day by yourself.’

 

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads.

 

 

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Just this one Mother’s Day Gift please

Although chocolates, flowers and trinkets are very lovely gifts to receive on any occasion let alone Mother’s Day, yesterday I put in a special request for something that I really, really wanted.

 

Now of course I know it’s rude to ask for something when all gifts should be a surprise but sometimes you just have to try your luck. I brazenly asked #1, 2 and 3 if for Mother’s Day they could for the whole day not bicker,  fight, tell tales on each other, scream or shout.

 

Too big an ask? Really? Yes really. But if we had such a day, it would be just one of the best gifts you could give me. It’s not like they are really at each other all the time but even the slightest winding up of each other, whine and retaliation can just accelerate your tolerance levels from zero to minus 10.

 

I have no answer for when I walk through the door and the first thing any one of the three tells me is “#1/#2/#3 (delete as appriopriate) pushed me/was mean to me/hit me on the head (delete as appropriate.)” The tragic thing is that once Husband walks through the door, the first thing I say to him is “#1/#2/#3 (delete as appropriate) pushed/was mean to/hit #1/#2/#3 (delete as appropriate.)” I mean what do I expect Husband to do? We both were not around at the time and it’s just one’s word against the other! But in a show of solidarity I need Husband to share this perplexing daily state of affairs.

 

On the whole #1, 2 and 3 have been very good so not much to report on that. Unlike yesterday. For the amount of bickering going on, I made #1 and 2 hold hands until they stopped irritating each other. The more they protested the longer they had to hold hands for. I actually saw someone post a photo of their own kids doing this and at first glance it looks like two siblings who get along amazingly well and never have a cross word for each other. Until I read the Mother’s explanation that whenever they fall out, they have to sit on a step holding hands until they stop it. I’m not really sure if it helps but it does look cute and makes me stop being annoyed by whatever petty squabbling is going on.

 

Oh actually did I say they’ve been on the whole very good today. I’ve just remembered at one point during afternoon tea that Husband suggested next year, the best gift would be to give me $100 to go off and enjoy afternoon tea by myself! All the best goodies were fast gobbled up by #1, 2 and 3 whilst spinning around on their chairs making me dizzy. But then we lost them for some peaceful minutes as they went off to explore the vast hotel space.

 

Then to really tired them out, we took an early evening walk along the promenade overlooking Marina Bay Sands, one of my favourite places to be in Singapore where they proceeded to climb columns and cling on like koalas.

 

I’m very happy to have these three running amok around me. As much as I am getting to know them and their changing and differing personalities, I also see that they are getting to know parts of me too.

 

I love how #1’s Mother’s Day card was filled with Tie-fighters, snow speeders and X wings with tic tacs, presents and Go WWF Go!

 

 

I love how #2’s Mother’s Day card is filled with hearts, flowers and a sweet message that’s she’s been working on for a couple of days.

 

 

I love how #3’s Mother’s Day card has hearts and a snake on it which I won’t spend too long on with interpreting the subliminal messaging going on there.

 

 

And as soon as they’ve gone to bed, I look forward to sitting down quietly and calling my Mum to wish her Happy Mother’s Day. It’s a bit later than usual that I call and she’s already out and about. I’m about to say that I’ll call her another day but she quickly says “No, no, I can talk now.”

 

 

And that’s what Mums do. They give you their right nows.

 

 

I know I could be a whole lot better at giving #1, 2 and 3 more of my right nows.

 

 

A timely reminder from my Mum.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mums near and far and to all sons and daughters who make today special.

 

  

  

 

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Eight years and more

In the melee of daily life, it can be difficult keeping track of the small things. Like the dry cleaning that needed dropping off a few weeks ago, the button on a top that needs sewing back on or the writing of the list to remind you of all the small things that need doing.

But what happens when you forget to keep track of the big things? The costumes for the school celebration, Birthdays of people scattered all over the globe. Your own Wedding Anniversary.

Yes, it has come to that. Well almost. It’s not that I forgot it was our Wedding Anniversary. I always know when and what day it falls on. I however couldn’t say the same for Husband. I asked him, in the midst of a conversation about someone else’s wedding, if he knew when our Wedding Anniversary was to which he replied with a random day of the week. Note to Husband as he reads this, set an annual reminder in your calendar to look at the engraving on the only piece of jewellery you’re wearing. 

When you’re all in the throes of wedding planning and doing the fun stuff like choosing your wedding bands and discussing with the Jeweller the fit and width of the band and then the Jeweller suggests how about getting an inscription engraved inside the bands, it’s complimentary after all. Ooh that sounds good! What should we get inscribed. Our names? I’d like to think you’d remember who you were married to. I love you? I kind of think that was a given considering we were getting married. The Jeweller helpfully suggests how about your Wedding date.

They know something all nearly newlyweds don’t. That if suggested to them would cause feelings of outrage and scoff at the mere thought. How could you EVER forget your own Wedding Anniversary! Especially when you’ve just spent months building up to this one day. There is no way you will forget. Absolutely not.

But then suddenly, it almost happens. Too busy with Gainful Employment, commitments to other engagements, with #1, 2 and 3, sourcing costumes for school events to take the time to make this day a special celebration. 

It doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant. Just a moment to remember that this day eight years ago we were in the midst of one of the happiest celebrations we’ve had together. A gathering of all the people who mattered most to us to share something good. 

A time before being pulled in so many different directions that leaves you having to factor in time together. Actual time together for just us two. There are occasions where that means sneaking off to the supermarket together. Then adding on a daring coffee to it. I know. 

A Wedding Anniversary should symbolise all the things that were true on your wedding day but also acknowledgement of all that you have gained since then. Lessons of growth and compromise you experience because you have committed to a life together. 

I love attending a wedding. I love to take in the detail, wait in anticipation to see the Bride, watch with high emotion as the Groom sees her walking towards him to begin a whole new chapter of their relationship together. I even feel this way when I’ve been at weddings where I don’t even know the couple well, or at all. I don’t mean I lurk at the back of churches with my wedding best on, it’s been when I’ve been Husband’s plus one. 

I can definitely say that #1, 2 and 3 like a good wedding too and so far they have been to four weddings in Singapore, Japan and England (thankfully no funerals.) All culturally very different too. You’d think they’d be pros at being good wedding guests by now.

So when asked recently to be flower girls and ring bearer at the wedding of friend of Husband’s, we sort of thought it would be ok. How chaotic can it be for them to don pretty dresses and smart outfit to begin the celebrations of this couple’s most important and memorable day they’ve spent a lot of time getting just right for them. 
How indeed.
  

I’m not actually sure whether the Bride has seen this footage yet but the serene image of #2 and 3 throwing rose petals as they paved the way for the Bridesmaids didn’t quite go to plan. In fact as you can see here they are about to break free from Husband and had to be duly rounded up like sheep gambolling in a field. I’m happy to report the Bride still considers us her friends and regular Flower Girl activity resumed once the man with the camera disappeared. 

Often when you go to a wedding as the plus one, you feel wrapped up in the warmth of occasion whether you know the couple well or not. But for this wedding I really felt like they were sharing the whole journey of their story so far. The thought and effort that had gone into the videos that were played describing how they met and the surprise of the proposal added to the day for me as a guest.

At the same time, with the experience of a few more big life events these newly weds have yet to encounter, I appreciated the timely reminder of the buzz and fun and optimism going to every wedding gives you.

And so just a few days later, quite unexpectedly, I arrive home to a beautiful bunch of flowers from Husband, a rare occurrence after I once rebuffed his romantic gesture when ill and I said it would only make my hay fever worse. It was the message inside that made the day about us again even though there was no opportunity to go for dinner or similar appropriate celebration.

Today will also begin a new chapter and journey for my Nearly Nephew Dazzler and his gorgeous wife. I’m so sorry to be missing out on what will no doubt be an amazing family occasion. I’m eagerly waiting for photos as I speak to you now!
There are no words of advice I can give or guarantees I can make but today will be one special day at the start of many more yet to come. 

  

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All Hallowed Out

I have felt frightful today. As bad as my Halloween look from last night. No need for the extra pale make up or faux dark shadows under the eyes, the zombie look is all natural today. I’ll come to how I got to that state later on.

I don’t know why or how but Halloween this year turned out to be a rather big affair. An almost 24 hour long celebration of all things spooky. I am not a big fan of all things spooky. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like watching scary films and I used to sit on the ghost train with my eyes closed but pretending they weren’t. I jump at the slightest thing and have been known to scream in people’s faces if I happen to turn a corner and come face to face with someone I wasn’t expecting to be there.

But you know, Halloween with young children is a more friendly affair. Small people dressed up as pumpkins, spiders, witches and wizards and a random array of non-spooky related outfits. How can you resist a good dress up like that.

#3 loves a good dress up. Whilst it’s a whole month late, we held a belated Birthday Halloween party to celebrate #3 turning 3. She was only going to acknowledge it was no longer her Birthday when there’s been the big Birthday sing song around a big Birthday cake. Ah, the Birthday cake. I can’t tell you how amazing #3’s Birthday cake was as created by my exceptionally talented friend Cathy from My cakes by Catarina. I asked her just a couple of weeks ago if she had time to make #3’s cake and she asked what theme did I have in mind. I told her #3 wanted to have a Cinderella at the Ball party with the shoe but as it’s Halloween can you do something with a pumpkin. Clear brief? This is what she came up with. A cake of two halves. I knew it was going to be spectacular when I received a message from Cathy the day before saying ‘I love your cake sooooo much!’ and I know how much Cathy enjoys what she is clearly so talented at doing. Look at the detail. The care and attention that has gone into this cake. It seemed such a shame to have to cut into it but it tasted amazing too.

  
I remember when #2 turned 3, one of the biggest highlights of her party was having a friend there all of her very own. The friend she has made all by herself at school. Well this time it was #3’s turn to have a friend of her very own at the party. And for the first time I was referred to as #3’s Mummy. I’m sure it’s something I’ll hear a lot more of soon enough. For now, most of #3’s friends are an older crowd and they want to PARTY! They actually make their own entertainment. Running amok, chatting, shouting, eating handfuls of crisps. It’s quite funny how just two years ago #1 wasn’t that bothered about party games but he now loves them. He loves musical statues but still no one quite gets the whole statue bit so we did musical chairs instead and still no one quite gets that either. Some kids just sit on the chairs watching the others go round, others dip in and out of the game and the music stops and they are so small that two, sometimes three can fit neatly on one chair so that no one ends up out.

So that’s another party done. All Birthdays done for another year. But it was the first of three Halloween parties of yesterday. Halloween perhaps still isn’t as big an occasion in the UK as it is in some other countries. We did do Trick or Treating around the neighbourhood which is quite ironic that on this one occasion it’s ok to accept sweets from random strangers. Anyhow, last night we were invited to friends who live in a neighbourhood where every other house had gone to town with all things spooky. There were hoards of young people, small children and parents out together dressed up and enjoying a real community activity. Homes were decorated elaborately scary and buckets of sweets were waiting for the incoming visitors. I have never seen anything like it. #1, 2 and 3 enjoyed themselves and so did I. Now what to do with the enormous stash of sweets and chocolates they’ve brought back?

  
And finally after almost 12 hours of Halloween activity already and torn between wanting to go to bed to moving onto the final Halloween do for Grown Ups only. The good thing about Halloween fancy dress up is that you don’t need to do much to look bad. A layer of too pale foundation instantly ghouled me out and a bit of black eye shadow to enhance the dark circles that already exist permanently. Plus a bit of fake blood. And we’re done. Husband and I dressed up as zombie tourists. I think he secretly wanted an excuse to buy a selfie stick. Why would zombie tourists be scary? Because you may not be aware that I have an irrational fear of couples, families even, who wear matching clothing. Like the exact same top. There’s a Chinese saying that roughly translates to mean the ‘loving couple’ look. That a couple who wear the exact same top are more in love, in tune than those who don’t. If anyone dared to wear the exact same top as me, we would no longer be a couple. I feel distinctly uncomfortable when I see couples walking towards me in their exact same tops. I feel irrational rage and the impulse to ask them if they know they’ve left the house in the exact same top. It is my worst nightmare. As Husband knows all too well. Even being in the shop trying on our tops and catching first glance of ourselves in the mirror nearly made me violently ill.

And then I was violently ill. Felled by the Evil Twin 2 and her tray of catch up tequila shots and gin with a small dash of mixer. It has been quite some time since I’ve had those all day hangovers. The kind where you wake up and can’t move without feeling nauseous. Where you can’t look down. That is a sure sign that things are bad. And whilst Husband was up early and out to rugby training with #1, I was left with #2 and 3 with a 10am party to get to in a play gym. On a Sunday morning. Thankfully it’s been a haze free day so the indoor gyms were not as packed as they could be. But still, being anywhere but in bed when you can’t look down is not good. Over the course of the three hours there, I could feel myself slowly coming out of Hangover Hell a couple of steps only to fall back into the raging fires of it again. I’m still not quite out of it yet but at least it’s bedtime now. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll look a bit more human again.

  

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