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

With a fizz, pop and a whizz bang

I can hear the last few crackle and pops fading away. It’s been a decade since those familiar sounds signalled the start of shorter days and colder nights. Since the clocks went back an hour last weekend, there has been an unfamiliar drop in temperature outside. Oh my gosh! So much for acclimatasing gradually into a traditional northern English winter. 

I’ve gone from embracing this cooler weather to sporadically yelling ‘I’m bloody freezing!’ We’ve been going to the local park every day after school. In the early autumn days that was lovely. Sitting in the late afternoon sunshine, chatting to other parents over a coffee, only calling out home time when it was time for dinner. 

Now, now you’ll be lucky if I can manage 20 minutes of non body movement on a cold wooden bench whilst my ability to chat to other parents diminishes by the second as my face freezes up. I mean it’s possibly just me. I have seen some people still in shorts. And it is no use saying to me ‘But you’re from Newcastle!’ Do you know how many years, nay decades it has been since my proper north east of England days? I’ve just moved back from the tropics for goodness sake!

I AM FREEZING! 

And I am not the only one in this household who thinks the same. #2 was in tears last night after just two hours outdoors. Trussed up in multiple layers and a big thick winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves. I don’t know what else she can wear for when winter sets in proper. We had all been admiring the fireworks when suddenly, painful yelps could be heard from #2. Baffled as to what could have happened #2 woefully declares her fingers are not working and her toes have disappeared. 

And she was right. I couldn’t feel my toes on the walk home either. Nor was my mouth formulating the shapes to speak. But #2’s distress was too funny as you see unfurl before you the idealistic notions of playing in the snow to the reality of living in conditions for snow to happen. I’m sure in time, they will all acclimatise. Maybe I will too but until then it’s tempting to see sense in #2’s declaration that she was catching the next flight back to Singapore.

Bonfire Night. Guy Fawkes Night. Fireworks Night. It’s a brand new occasion for #1, 2 and 3. Who is this Guy Fawkes? Why do we burn him on a fire? Why was he naughty? These are quite terrifying concepts for young children. As we gloss over the story on our way to said Bonfire Night the local church are handing out free sugared doughnuts as a timely distraction. This will mark all that is good about Bonfire Night forever for #1, 2 and 3. 

Fireworks are one of my all time favourite things. The explosion of sound and colour against a clear night sky just makes me happy. In Singapore we were truly spoilt for magnificent fireworks displays. But I feel there is something more authentic just standing watching a frenzy of fizzing, popping, crackling fireworks going off in the freezing cold.  

There’s a proper massive bonfire, the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was a teenager on a beach in Sunderland. And actually a house just down the road and around the corner from ours had their own mini bonfire going on in their front garden which concerned #1 no end. He was pleased to see just the embers were smouldering when we passed it again on our way home.

The other thing I did today was boil a lot of sugar. A lot of sugar. And syrup. For cinder toffee and toffee apples. I honestly don’t know why I felt the need to make my own. I mean when cooking for small people, homecooked from scratch is usually the better, healthier option. But sugar is just sugar. I could have just bought them from the shops. 

But then again, there is something soothing to be indoors on a FREEZING cold afternoon measuring sugar and syrup with #1. And I have to say, it is not so easy to make your own toffee apples. I’m not even sure the cinder toffee is right either but #1, 2 and 3 were more than happy.

And that is enough for me. For these occasions will come to mean something to #1, 2 and 3 as we add it to the other calendar of events. Creating new traditions as we embrace this new life and add some warmth in our hearts to defrost those fingers and toes so we will brave the cold outdoors again. 

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A proper cold Halloween

“I can’t wait for Halloween”, says #1.

“It’s today!”, replies #2.

“I know”, answers back #1.

I wasn’t sure whether we’d be out Trick or Treating tonight. Not just because I’m scared of all things spooky. I even couldn’t cope with #3 randomly “woo oohing” around the house this past week in a Casper the friendly ghost fashion. 

No, it’s more to do with being without a ready made condo community on our doorstep. It’s a bit tricky figuring out what’s the norm when you’re trying to create a whole new normal for yourself. This time last year, #1, 2 and 3 had wrapped up three Halloween events already. Which looking back now seems a bit excessive for Halloween but a lot of fun. So much fun for #1, 2 and 3. 

Without the security of a ready made condo community, Trick or Treating seems to hold many people in conflict about going knocking on the doors of (mostly) strangers to basically ask them for sweets. Of course we all get where the concern comes from. So what do you do in these different times to that of our childhood. Though I’m not sure it was considered that acceptable even back then when sweets were actually a proper treat. 

So I’m of sort giving up on the idea when a very kindly teacher sends a note home with every child, inviting them to come Trick or Treating at her house. Well at least there’s one house to visit and perhaps there’ll be a few more on the way. 

As it happens, there were whole streets festooned with cobwebs and pumpkins. The scary and the sweet were out in dedicated sugar harvesting mode. Cries of all 200 bags of sweets have gone could be heard from several doorways but by then #1, 2 and 3 plus their three friends have reached sugar saturation point. It’s so dark at 6pm that you can’t see the amount of sweets that have bypassed the Halloween bag! 

And it’s funny how when Trick or Treating there are no cries of “How much further do we have to walk?”, “I’m coooold!”, “Can we go home now?”. In fact I’m the one yelling how cold it is and I’ve got three layers on! With a long cloak not just for Halloween effect but in a bid to keep extra warm! I found myself admiring and nodding in approval at those wearing full on fleecy onesies as my next year’s Halloween outfit of choice. Makes a change from sweating it out in the tropics wearing 100% polyester.

As much as #1, 2 and 3 were keen on the haul, they were equally excited about giving out the treats too but we were out ourselves during prime time. Would we get any Trick or Treaters ourselves? They enthusiatically looked up and down the street. Practically wanting to open the front door and shout out to passersby to come knock on our door. And their yells of excitement when they heard the doorbell ring and proudly held out their cauldron of treats made me very happy for them. 

So that’s our first Halloween in our new town done. All that’s left is to remind myself I still have my Halloween face on before I head off to get ready for bed and scream at myself in the bathroom mirror. 

Happy Halloween!

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And just like that

As bright as three shiny new pound coins, #1, 2 and 3 left the house, bounced down the road and around the corner, off to explore new places and be amazed by great things. 

It has been a long summer holiday for these three. A lot of change. A lot of moving around. A lot of waiting. But finally, a step towards normality. 

Filled with a good mix of nerves and excitement, #1 and 2 started their new Big School just a couple of days ago. Thrown right in at the deep end having never seen the inside of their new school before. What an adventure. And such bravery from them. For what else can be more nervewracking at that age than being the New Kid. The one that doesn’t know what is expected of them. 

  • What do I wear.
  • What’s my teacher called.
  • What do I put in my bag. (Actually this is more for me)
  • Where are the toilets.
  • What if I get scared.

Two years ago I was sending #1 and 2 off to Big School for the first time. They were fine. Two years later, I was sending them off again. They were fine. As I knew they would be. I took them to meet their new teachers, who were waiting to welcome them in class with big friendly smiles. I could feel their hesitation. A few more moments of delay. A few quiet words of nerves. ‘Mummy, I’m scared.’ I know sweetheart but you will have a brilliant day. And I will be waiting at the gates for you.

And of course they did. Brimming full of excitement and hardly believing their good fortune that for school lunch there was ice cream! Ice cream inside some kind of cake. Wow, that sounds exotic. Artic roll? 

The relief is palpable as I hear them excitedly chatter about their day. And the hug. That hug you get when they see you immediately after school. I’m so glad for the chance to get these hugs again. Those arms wrapped around you, filling you with warmth. Then it dissipates like steam and normality resumes. “I’m hungry Mummy.” “Can we go to the park? Whhhhy noooot!”

So you see, I’ve been through this before. I’ve done the whole starting school thing several times. I should be a Pro at this. I should be writing my Get Up and Go List with all three in Big School. Six hours a day of quiet time. Isn’t this what all parents have been waiting for? The countdown to the end of summer holidays and back to school. 

Yes that is quite true. When I was in Gainful   Employment, school marked a sigh of relief that their time was going to be properly occupied and I no longer had to wonder what to do with them outside of the annual leave Husband and I could take.

Equally, since giving up Gainful Employment I have enjoyed seeing their faces everyday. And not just for the last hour, half hour of the day. Some days have been looooong. Some moments of some days could be better but overall, I wouldn’t be without these days. Especially when I think about how fleeting every stage of their childhood can be.

Perhaps it’s because I know how fleeting it is, preparing #3 for Big School has been the hardest. Apparently it always is for the youngest one. Your last baby all grown up. The one you don’t mind crawling into your bed space in the middle of the night, long after the older ones slept all night in their bed. You don’t mind because you know one day it will stop, this little squidgey person snuggling up to you. And one day you want it to stop because they are taking up too much bed space. 

I always enjoyed shopping for school uniform. I think it’s because it was the only time you got so many new things at once! New clothes, new shoes, new bag and new stationery. It seems it’s just as much fun for #1, 2 and 3. (Less so on our pockets though. Three lots of uniform, school bags, PE kit, welly boots.) #2 and 3 have been wearing their new school shoes indoors for days! They are so proud to be wearing their new uniforms and they look so smart in them too.

It’s funny this whole Big School thing. Now that it’s the end of the day, I can laugh about it to myself. How this morning I could barely hug #3 closely and wish her a brilliant day before I could feel the tears threatening to fall. She had no doubt it was going to be ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. Yesterday we talked about how she felt about starting Big School, she was ready. Then she said “you’re going to cry Mummy.” Really? Why! “Because you’ll miss me.”

Ah. She got me there. 

The walk was barely long enough. The Goodbyes in the school yard all too brief. I help her place her bag on her peg and walk her into her new little world. It’s colourful, warm, fun and exciting. This is where #3 belongs. She’s waited patiently for today. For the uniform, the shoes, the friends, the learning. The learning. Constantly telling me that she doesn’t know how to read the words yet. I’m sure it won’t be long. 

I watch her through the window. Overhearing other parents talking about the Parent Syndrome. I have Parent Syndrome too. I wonder if #3 will look up and see me for one more wave. But of course she doesn’t. She’s looking around with a curious happy smile on her face in her smart new uniform and shiny shoes. Full of confidence. She’s looking happy. And then she moves out of sight and it’s time for me to move on. 

But before I do, the Teaching Assistant has already clocked another one with Parent Syndrome. She comes over and asks if  I’m ok, offering words of comfort and encouragement.  I feel even more ridiculous admitting #3 is #3 but she reassures me it’s all quite regular. 

There are days you cry out for ‘ME’ time. A quiet moment to sit down and have a hot cuppa tea uninterrupted. None of the multiple echoes of “Mummy, Mummy”, being able to get jobs done within half the time it takes with three in tow. Sort out boring admin jobs. Clean and tidy. Go out running. Have coffee. Find new cohorts. Regain Gainful Employment. Read a book. Do something new! 

Six hours seemed to pass by quite quickly before I’m back in the school yard. There’s #1 and #2. We go and collect #3 together. She’s all smiles and dishevelled curls. A sign of a brilliant day. 

Later on, we all ask her how she felt. She thinks about it. 

“I almost cried but then I was having too much fun.”
And that is why she’s ready to join in with the big kids.

 

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This Happy Father’s Day 

We all want special occasion days to be, well special. Birthdays, holidays, weddings, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, school events and so on. 

With small people in tow, ‘special’ in my imagination usually means good, kind, helpful behaviour. No bickering, fighting, shouting, answering back, whining, crying and so on.  In other words, no such behaviour that requires parental intervention to keep the peace and maintain balance to one’s well being. I wish for this every day to be fair but on special occasion days, please can we?

Of course we can’t. I waste my breathe asking for it and yet some small glimmer of hope is there at the start of every special occasion day only to flicker weakly and fizz out before the special occasion day has even warmed up. I mean the day wouldn’t be the same without them being just as they are with us and with each other. It’s no reflection on how much we are loved by them, we know that already from the little things they say and do every day that make you happy like specks of dappled sunlight. 
I read in one card Husband received today the reason why Daddy is special and the answer is ‘because he loves me’. Yes he does. 

We have been parents for a relatively short space of time but it feels like the days and weeks are galloping by so fast. We seem to be working in fast forward mode, especially so since #1 and 2 started Big School and the year is broken down into three chunks of frantic activity and three more chunks of frantic activity. Blink and you’ll miss it is what people say who are many parenting years ahead. You kind of fail to appreciate these wise words in the early years but I totally get it now. 

This Father’s Day, I can only describe myself as thankful. Thankful for Husband and the love and care he puts into our family. I’m also thankful that earlier today I was able to call my Dad, Mr Li to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. A few months ago, I was faced with the stark reality of one of life’s only certainties and I felt the ground beneath me open up. During those days of waiting and waiting and progress moving so slowly, you have a lot of time to think. Mostly to think about the things you didn’t do enough, didn’t say enough, didn’t spend time together enough. The panic in your heart over whether there is time to do more. Even when people say there is, do you dare to believe it though you want to believe it so badly. 

As I recall this now, those deep feelings of grief but not quite are still quite fresh.  Though it seems, I am very lucky. My Dad, Mr Li says it is he who is lucky to recover from this spell of illness. But I know it is me. 

Time spent together is time spent well. Not always do you need to spend this time doing something momentous. Often it’s quite enough just to be sat there, talking to each other.

But I can still imagine that special occasions will at some point elicit special occasion behaviour from #1, 2 and 3.

Happy Father’s Day.  

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#1’s first sleepover

Bedtime is a smooth running affair in our household. Sometimes.

Most times it’s fraught with dawdlers unwilling just to go to sleep when quite clearly the anger levels suggests they (or I) need to just go to bed. GO TO BEEEEEED! 

I have never quite understood that relationship between small people and sleep. The tipping point between coping quite well with the day to the sudden must-be-in-bed-screaming-like-the-whole-world-has-done-them-wrong can happen in a matter of seconds.

Invariably at least one of #1, 2 and 3 can be in this state once every few days. And at least one of them will feel the impulse, the need to drag bedtime out just that bit longer by hiding a favourite bedtime friend say, or disagreeing on bedtime story of choice and insisting on ‘their own’ bedtime story of choice. Then there’s demands for ‘one more story pleeease, that was so short’. It was short for a reason kids. 

By this stage, I just want them all to go to bed. JUST GO TO BED!! Goodnight kisses are hastily issued. Lights off. Door closed on disgruntledness. Then hopefully within five minutes all is quiet and good. Hopefully. I don’t know when bedtime because such a rushed affair that can take a two person approach. 

Tonight though there is one less in the bedtime mix but it still doesn’t seem to have made much difference to bedanger as I can hear that tone coming from #2 who is quite sure SHE IS NOT TIRED. Quite.

But bedanger is not today’s topic. Tonight #1 is away on his first ever proper sleepover. It’s not the first time he’s slept away from home without Husband or I being around but I guess being 19 months old doesn’t really count. Neither does sleeping over with family feel quite the same as a proper sleepover on your own all night. It’s in turn exciting and a little scary I imagine. 

 #1, 2 and even 3 have often asked for a sleepover but we’ve never gotten round to it just yet. As much as there’s a lot of talk about it, when it comes down to it, I don’t think they’ve been ready. They haven’t? Or I haven’t? Well I know for definite that #2 can’t have a sleepover until she can go to a drop off party for two hours without getting upset. But it is nice to be missed as her school friend’s Mum kindly put it, ‘she misses you a lot’. Indeed.

I wonder whether at 10.41pm. #1 is alseep yet. I very much doubt it but I’m sure he’s having a great time. What an adventure to be on to have your first sleepover with all your schoolfriends at school. This will be the first of many and it is another step of the journey towards independence. A necessary step of course but one that seems to come around far too quickly. I think back to when I had my first sleepover as such. I was 14 and it was a school residental trip to the Lake District. Completely exhilarating to have that freedom for a whole five days. Comparing the residential trips of then to now, it feels like seven or eight years old seems quite young but I forgot that when I was 10 years old there were already skiing trips away to France and weekend trips to Amsterdam which seemed a bit too adventurous for my Dad, Mr Li to allow me to go on. But I guess that’s exactly why #1 and eventually #2 will benefit from going on sleepovers, to build that confidence and reassurance that they can be away from home for one night, perhaps even two, and we will all be ok.

It’s an odd feeling without #1 at home. The things that I know he would do in the mornings. Such as being the first one up and alerting you to the fact by the bedroom suddenly bursting open and being woken up with whatever question is on his mind and ready to be asked with no consideration for the fact you are still sleeping and then getting impatient because you’ve not given an answer to said question immediately. And it won’t be just Husband and I missing his presence but #2 and 3 are also asking when is he coming back home which is a good sign considering I often wonder whether they even like each other the way they bicker and fight. 

There are times, many of them, when you say out loud how lovely it would be to have a night away from small people and all the crazy late night stuff you’d do. How you would love for someone else to do the bedtime routine. For one night maybes yes. So the next time I get a sleepover offer and off go #1, 2 and 3, I’ll make sure I have a long list of all the crazy late night things I’d go off and do. 

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Christmas dinner is best served cold

I’ve had more cold Christmas dinners than hot. This is mostly due to the fact that after several hours in a hot sweaty kitchen, by the time all the spoils of my labour are laid bare on the table, I’m suddenly no longer hungry. It is also because I (and this year the Butcher) overestimate just how much Christmas dinner #1, 2 and 3 can and will eat. 

Out of the following food items on this year’s Christmas menu:

  • Roast turkey breast (expecting one small size but get 3kg worth of breast)
  • Roast beef (supposedly small piece for 3/4 persons but in get 1.5kg)
  • Roast potatoes and parsnips
  • Brussel Sprouts and chestnuts
  • Carrots, brocolli and corn (one vegetable of choice for each of #1, 2 and 3)
  • Yorkshire puddings
  • Stuffing 
  • Bread sauce
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Gravy
  • Ketchup

#1, 2 and 3 between them ate a combination of five of the above food items between them. With two of them going off menu and requesting rice. You can tell these children have been brought up in Asia. So with the Butcher grossly overestimating how much of a carnivore a family of three adults and three young children, barely a dent was made in today’s fayre. 

On the plus side, I can now estimate how much food is required to feed 6/7 people. And we now don’t need to cook for at least the next four days. And I really don’t want to cook. But nothing beats preparing all the trimmings. I like Brussel sprouts, I really do. Mini cabbages. Who doesn’t love mini food.

I don’t know what constitutes as a successful  Christmas. With or without small children, Christmas is a day of celebration. With small children though, there are hidden gems to the day. Whilst I was busy preparing a meal that they were barely interested in, I tried to keep an ear on what was going on beyond the kitchen. Opening presents in itself is full of excitement, let alone for small children who have thought carefully what this very special gift should be. Usually Father Christmas delivers the one BIG GIFT but this year, he very generously dropped off two. Not because behaviour has been exemplary this year, though #1 thinks it’s probably because he so generously helped #2 and 3 win carnival prizes the other day.

But still, the joy in his voice as he came out into the living room to find not one but two gifts from Father Christmas this year. Plus the fact that Father Christmas had polished off three of the almond tarts he made and all eight reindeers got their fair share of carrots. 

Gratitude and appreciation is on my mind this festive season. As I’m sure many of us are feeling the need to reflect upon this year. But how does one create that same level of awareness in small people. I don’t know. But I do know that whilst there are gifts and lots of good things to eat, I cannot have #1, 2 and 3 plough through everything without even taking a good look at what they just unwrapped. Anticipation is always the most fun part of almost everything and stretching out the wait is no bad thing I feel. 

Given all other days, there is always something that I deny #1, 2 and 3, today we have a complete Yes day. Well about 98% Yes. “What would you like for breakfast?” I asked #1, 2 and 3, “You can have anything you would like.” “Anything!” they answered. Anything indeed. So #1 had a squeezy fruit yoghurt, chocolate and apple juice. #2 had a Babybel and KitKat. #3 had whatever #1 got her which involved chocolate. On any other day, the choice of having whatever you would like for breakfast falls within the range of regular breakfast items. But anything at all? Well that is something else completely. These are the memories I will carry with me, the picture of all three sat at the dining table with their luxury breakfasts.

The other memory I will carry from today is #3 opening a $5 stocking filler and the awe in her voice as she unwrapped it. #2 finally getting the glow in the dark pyjamas she once saw a picture of over a year ago. And #1, sharing with me just how great his new Lego set is and would I like to build. However, that may not be completely altrustic as I think he has his eye on building my new Lego Tie Striker.

As we wrap up another Christmas, I am already promising myself that I will not spend next year’s sleep deprived having spent the early hours still wrapping and sorting everything out. The day, like the rest of the year goes by so quickly but there’s still tomorrow yet to come and I’m looking forward to spending a more relaxed day with my family.

I wish you and yours a very Merry 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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I can still do this

You’ve lost your touch. 

That’s what Brilliant New Adventure said when I showed her the spoils of my hard baking labour. 

Maybe she was right.
I’ve followed this recipe many times. Never has it done this before. Like, tip it out and turn around and suddenly it’s like this. 

Mocking me with its Peace sign. At 9.15pm. The night before DOUBLE PARTY DAY! 

Posting this photo on other social media platforms, I was given some very helpful advice. Cover it up with lots of buttercream. Reshape and mould it into a 3D shape. 

Indeed.

It seemed far easier to sit down with a beer. Go bake another batch. And eat the surplus sponge myself. For quality control.

The Birthday Cake is always a big thing. A challenge I had previously taken on with some relish and trepidation. Until I thought why not let someone who can do it far better take over. But then faced with having to take the challenge back myself was somewhat daunting. #1, 2 and 3 have far higher expectations of The Birthday Cake having been used to the creative skills of my good friend Singapore Bake Off. 

But then children can be surprising. #2 asked me why was I not making the cake. It seems it’s still important that you do. 
So there I am. 11pm the night before DOUBLE PARTY DAY. Beer in hand. Cake in oven. Buttercream ready to go. Fondant mixed in the right colours. Ready to do cake battle. But surprisingly, once I got started into the early hours, it was therapeutic to create something from scratch. 

The next morning as I put the finishing touches to the cake and asking what #1, 2 and 3 thought of it and getting their approval, it felt good. I had forgotten how much fun it was. Wondering whether the cake is going to turn out ok. Whether you have enough fondant to cover it. Whether it’s going to go baggy on the bottom like Nora Batty’s tights. 

And what happens to it anyways? It gets demolished as soon as the Birthday Sing Song is over. 

Cake is cake as far as the small people are concerned. Sugar and chocolate is a winning combination. 

At the tender age of 6, #2 already has many different groups of friends. From long time friends to new friends from school and where we live. It’s a lot of different social circles that many of us only have to navigate when it comes to our Hen Do. Oh yes, #2 was 6 some two months ago and we’ve only just go around to putting on the party. I’m late for nearly everything but this has got to be my best effort yet! Most of her new schools friends are celebrating their 7th Birthday.

But again I don’t think it really mattered. Who doesn’t love a good party! It makes me especially happy to hear that party guests are looking forward to the party. That they’ve been bouncing off the walls waiting for the party to start. 

Friends are lovely things to have and equally important to be too. I watched as the differenct groups of friends chased and played together. Even #3 is coming into her own with her own little posse doing what 4 year olds do. Which seems to be following each other around and to tell each other to follow each other around. 

If there’s anything I really want #1, 2 and 3 to remember about the Birthday Party. It’s the friends who came to share it with them. And that whilst the Birthday Party is all about you, it’s good to give something special back too. And who doesn’t love a goodie bag.

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The end of the first Big School year.

As we languish by our holiday pool five weeks into the long school summer holidays, I catch myself marvelling how it was almost a year ago since Husband and I waved off #1 and 2 onto the school bus for their first day at Big School.

Whilst the academic year is only a little over ten months long, at the start of it, it feels like a big a long stretch ahead. But at the end of it, it seemed to come by all too soon and I never felt I was totally on top of things. You know, the right kit for the day (swimming or PE?), signed consent forms, reading books, library books, rehearsing lines for school assemblies, missing the different tabs on the class blog because you can’t see them properly on a mobile phone and hence missing out on a whole terms of notices. Yep. 

Call me a Big School rookie. I think that’s why Class Parent Reps were assigned. They say it’s to support the Teachers but really it’s to let someone else kick parents like me into action. I love, and dearly need, those reminders about what kind of dress up day it is this week because there is always something going on that I’m not keeping track of. I am forever grateful to the Class Parent Reps for taking on this role, so much so that I feel like I may weep whenever I see them. 

I’ve promised myself that next year I will be READY for the end of the school year. In a flurry of end of year Parent Teacher meetings, swim galas and sports day; a class party marked the end of Year 2 for #1 and Year 1 for #2. The shock of how quickly this came about took me by surprise. On this last day, as I flitted between the two class parties barely able to put names to many of the children’s faces, I felt pangs of guilt that I didn’t know who they all were. Barely a year ago I knew all the names of every child in their class. To be fair though, it was a very small class. 

Whilst I fretted over #1 and #2 adjusting to Big School, guess who needed to adjust the most? Of course. You probably already know this and I was naive not to. I was not prepared for all the expectations that Big School brings. In my school days, there was very little parental involvement, take it not as a sign there was no interest but simply because they couldn’t help. So how would my parents fair in today’s academic world? Even for those in Infant school it’s all about using computers and coding (when did this change from being called computer studies?) as well as practicing handwriting, reading, maths and remembering stuff. 

I often wonder about the remembering stuff side of things. Like now that we can store all phones numbers in handy gadgets having only  to input the number once, what is happening to our brains? Surely less and less is being used up. I have more memory space in my brain than on my phone right now.

Then there’s the Work at Home stuff. This is the stuff that I completely wasn’t aware of for the whole first term. I will carry this shame for the rest of my days. Work at Home is like a multiple choice of project based activities to do together. Research about a shark’s life cycle. A video of a science project. Put together your time line. The research stuff I can do with the help of Google. Don’t you miss those trips to the reference section of the library? I remember aged nine having to go to the local libary to find out what the Magna Carter was all about. You could find out right now if you like. These Work at Home projects are an education for me as well as #1 and #2. Like having to work out how to make videos using iMovies. In fact, I should be given a report card on what new learnings I’ve achieved throughout the year. 

Provision of interesting and nutritious packed lunches every day? Satisfactory effort. Could do better though with variety. 

Attendance of all class activities? Excellent effort. Missed just one swim gala but said child did not particupate so it doesn’t count.

Attendance of Parent Social Activities? Poor effort. Try harder next year.

Competent understanding of the Work at Home requirements? Satisfactory effort once realised the Work at Home aspect.

The last day of school for the year is always going to be a nostalgic one. Just as you get used to the routine, the teacher, the challenges that have arisen for your child during that year and the discussions on how to overcome them addressed, it’s time for change again. And who is most resistant to that change? A new teacher, new class, new expectations. How will #1 and #2 rise to this? Will their teacher know that last year we had this to work on and that in class this one needs a bit more encouragement than other. Will #1 and 2 come back from school each day having absorbed all that you’ve said so that opinions are led not by what Husband and I have really told them but from what their teacher has said. 

It’s funny how there is another person in your child’s life who they will believe in without question. This is how I know that both #1 and 2 enjoy being at Big School and their minds are ready to absorb all sorts of new stuff. In both their Parent Teacher meetings, the eact same phrase was to said to me. They are ready for the next level. Am I? 

My babies are all growing up. And all is how it should be. The new academic year is almost upon us and I need to get myself organised with new kit, new haircuts, new marker pens for the calendar. 
With my marker pens I am ready. Well at least I’ll be ready with getting  the right kit ready on the right school day. 
Which is a start at least. 

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Happy Star Wars Day

Who doesn’t love Star Wars.

 

Oh you. Well, we can still be friends. But how can you not love Star Wars. The original trilogy is still the very best, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away from Disney. Without the CGI effects of the remastered editions. Less polished than the much anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 

But this is not a post about my love of Star Wars or the merits of each episode. It is more about a shared love of Star Wars. At some point I’m sure #1, 2 and 3 will instantly dislike anything that we do. Labelling it uncool to like something that your parents do because they are of course uncool.

 

Having young children is an opportunity to relive the best parts of your childhood. Like those student days when it was ok again to like all things retro. Books, films and characters may have moved on but there are ones that endure timelessly. The Magic Faraway Tree. Paddington. Beatrix Potter. I find that in this current world saturated with short lived fads it becomes more important to introduce them to simpler times.

  

 The long lasting appeal of Star Wars is that it’s about Dark vs Light. With hyper speed and light sabers. And the Force. And the Millenium Falcon. And X Wings. And just being oh so cool. I can’t even begin to imagine back in the day watching The Empire Strikes Back in the cinema and getting to that scene when you discover THAT revelation.

 

#1, 2 and 3 have all been to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The impact of the revelation that was revealed in that episode was slightly lost on them but I’m sure as time goes on they’ll value the significance. Right now it’s all about the light sabers and using the Force. I laughed so much when #2 tried her hardest to read our minds with her hand hovering over our heads. How I wish I had that power too.

   

I’m openly very pleased that #1 is such a big Star Wars fan. His Stars Wars trivia surpasses my own by a long shot. He is now the Master. Branching out into Star Wars Rebels. The Clone Wars. Educating me on characters like Ezra Bridger spawned from the animated series that I never really took to. Sometimes keeping it simple is best. Like trying to read the books as well. I love Star Wars but if I were to follow all the books that have been written, I probably wouldn’t have time to do anything else but that would probably be ok as I’d have no one to hang out with.

 

Star Wars: A New Hope is next on our reading together out loud list with #1. I’m looking forward to it just as much as being able to read the Harry Potter series. What is there not to love about a bit of magic and mystical powers.

  

 But what is equally important is having something fun to share with #1, 2 and 3. What is it that you have that is special. That makes them think of you. #1 has for the longest time associated Nana Moon with Star Wars and it helps to build rapport. Finding the things you have in common with others to build relationships on and share discussion and different scenarios and whether or not you want to have a blue, green or purple light saber.

 

I watch #1 keenly analysing all the characters in his Star Wars Visual Dictionary. Checking out the Lego Star Wars kits. Asking me which ones do I like best and whether he can ‘share’ my Snowspeeder.

  

 Just before Christmas, Singapore Changi Airport had a life size X Wing and Tie fighters. It was amazing! #1 was quietly impressed I’m sure. #2 and 3 were all about the Stormtroopers. Sometimes it can take some coaxing to get #1 to go places that he has dismissed as ‘not fun’ in his mind. Or will begrudgingly come along to and end up having a great time. But this weekend, he didn’t hesitate when I asked him if he could like to go to a Star Wars thing.

 

You could call it our very first Star Wars convention. There were all the characters, a Jedi Academy and all the merchandise. #1 loved it. As did #3 who declared she likes a Stormtrooper. Hmmm. #2 was all about the lightsabers.

  

 Next stop Comic Con 2016. I’ve still got my Leia buns from Embracing 40.

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