Friday, May 15, 2015

Juice, Juice and More Juice!

There are a few things that can give me an instant perk up: Happy songs like Taylor Swift's Shake it Off (try not bopping your head to this song!), hearing my kids laughing uncontrollably, and cold, freshly squeezed orange juice.

All mornings should start like this!

The problem with store-bought juice is that it's really hard to find a good one that doesn't come packed with sugars and preservatives. And squeezing oranges on your own is a really good bicep work out! So I stick with dancing to Taylor Swift with my kids a lot instead.

I think the good folks at Florida's Natural, product of USA, read my mind so they sent me lots of yummy juice to try and now I'm reaching for OJ more and more these days and my coffee cup is feeling a little neglected.

Lemonade may be my new favourite drink!

Natural juices are so yummy I could probably drink them straight from the carton. But Florida's Natural said no no no Adora, there are other things you can do with them. Ah. Ok.

So there were 3 challenges I had to complete, and I asked you to choose the sequence in which I did them. The challenges were:

A - Make popsicles
B - Cook with orange juice
C - Make something with the empty juice cartons

So, make popsicles (and enjoy) popsicles we sure did! If you've got a non juice loving kid, popsicles are the answer! Here, I tried making rainbow popsicles but the colour contrast wasn't very obvious. Not that the kids minded though! 

How to make popsicles:
Step 1: Pour desired juice into popsicle holder (ours are great because they catch drips which can then be sipped through the straw!). If you don't have one, you can use any cup and when it is half frozen, stick an ice cream stick in, and continue freezing

Step 2: Put in freezer for an hour

Step 3: Remove and enjoy!

Orange juice, I love, but I have to admit I never thought of cooking with it. And I had my doubts too when I saw the recipe.

Here's how I made it:
You'll need the following ingredients: Florida's Natural orange juice, chopped ginger, sliced carrots, snow peas, peanut butter, orange rind, prawns, sesame oil, light soya sauce, white pepper, uncooked noodles. Optional: black pepper and sesame seeds to garnish

Step 1: Cook noodles as per pack instructions and set aside.

Step 2: Fry garlic in a bit of oil.

Step 3: When you can smell fragrance or garlic, add carrots and peas and stir

Step 4: Add prawns and stir.

Step 5: Add orange juice and remaining ingredients except noodles. Bring to light simmer.

Step 6: Add noodles and toss. Garnish with black pepper and sesame seeds and serve.

Verdict: The adults loved it but the kids didn't want to have much to do with it. Oh well, more for us!

And finally, what to do with all the empty cartons? The great thing is that these cartons are bigger than regular juice packs. So I decided we would do what we've been saying we would do for a long time but never quite got round to doing it - plant our own indoor garden!

We've been composting our scraps for years, but I thought we might try planting some of them for a change. So we did.

Last week we put knobs of ginger, onion tops, bottom of spring onions (the white parts), chilli seeds and cherry tomato seeds in separate containers in soil. And today, we've got some progress!

The chillis are growing beautifully, the cherry tomatoes are encouraging and the ginger and onions are taking their time, but the spring onions didn't seem happy after a while so we're trying again.

And there you have it. Our juicy adventure with Florida's Natural.

I did the challenges in the sequence of B-A-C. And if you are @summerscenz on Instagram, congratulations, you have won for yourself a 1-month's supply of fresh Florida Natural's juice! I'll be contacting you through the email address you provided on my Instagram post soon.

Take care everyone, and have a healthy weekend!!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ten ways to show your kids you love them without spending a cent

On one of her school assignments, my 6.5 year old described me as "happy, cute, gentle, beautiful, honest and nice". She also had to fill in the blanks for "My mum is sweet because...." to which she wrote "she kisses me every night".

That brought me to tears. She had written so many things about me that I didn't think I deserved. But the thing that touched me the most was that she had found our nightly routine of kisses significant enough to write about.

It made me think about all the things that we do and have done and I've realised that the best things in life are indeed, free. I don't know how or when this all started, but for as long as I remember, these have been part of our daily lives. We can't afford to buy expensive toys or bring them for holidays often, which sometimes pains me, but we can make up for it (hopefully) by spending time with them and show them that we care.

Here are ten things that you can do too with your children. And set your purse aside, you won't be needing it:

1. Write them letters
Our 6.5 year old gets a packed lunch on most days. And sometimes I add a little note in there for her. Like words of encouragement if she's got a spelling test, or a simple "I love you" or a joke or funny drawing. Sometimes when she gets home she says "You forgot to include a note for me today!". 

Sometimes it's a little more elaborate - I write letters and post them, addressed to my 6.5 year old. Other times, I draw little pictures of hearts and stick people for my 3 year old and leave them in our cereal box mailbox.

2. Put kisses in their pockets
Before putting them on the school bus, I load them with kisses, and then I give them more in their pockets so that they can 'take my kisses out any time they miss me'. It's cute because they both open their pockets for me to blow kisses in, and then ever so gingerly close up their pockets and pat them to keep my kisses safe. It reminds them that I am always around, even if I'm not physically there with them.

3. Wish them good night before bed
Every parent hopes for a peaceful process of putting the kids to bed, one that ends with everyone falling asleep with kind words and smiles. But that's not always the case. I won't deny it, some nights are harder than others, particulary if we've all had a long day and are cranky with each other. But no matter what, every day ends with us saying "Goodnight and sweet dreams" to each other, just like I did with my own parents up till the day I moved out. 

4. Plan treasure hunts for them
One of our traditions growing up was the birthday treasure hunt. For every child, my parents would plan a treasure hunt on the morning of the child's birthday, with the final clue leading to the birthday present. As we got older, the hunts became more elaborate, even bringing us to outdoor locations. In recent years, we did the same for my dad for his birthday, an island wide hunt with coordinates that he had to use his GPS for!

But, back to kids.

I put clues on little sticky notes around the house, leading from one clue to another. It doesn't have to be elaborate either. We've tried many variations over the years: riddles (I have 4 legs but no arms, what am I? - Table) and missing letters (W _ _ H I _ G    M A _ H _ _ E), in recent years, or just words or drawings in the beginning.

5. Hug and kiss them often
Just because. Besides, hugging and kissing make you feel good too.

6. Find out more about them
Sometimes we tend to forget that they're not just our children; they're little individuals too. The 4 of us play "I want to know" at the dining table, taking turns to ask each other questions. It goes like this: " (name of person), I want to know......." then ask your question. Also, we sing it to the tune of "What's on your mind" by Information Society. Hooray for the 90s!

So we ask all kinds of questions. About friends, about school, about their likes and dislikes, favourite food, what they are scared of... It also allows for them to find out more about us. "Tell me about a cheeky thing you did when you were a little girl, Mama!". I think it's good for them to know about their parents as little kids too :) We love this game and have had many laughs over it!

7. Talk about your day, and theirs
When Poppy first started school I would ask her to tell me 3 things about the day. Over time, she started asking me about mine too, which was nice.

8. Play games with them
Spending an hour playing Junior Monopoly may not be your ideal way of spending an evening and truth be told, sometimes after a long day at work, all I want to do is sink into the sofa and put my feet up. But there are many lessons to be learnt through games, and the kids enjoy it so what's another hour at the end of the day eh? So we play. Monopoly, card games, Jenga, Tumbling Monkeys, Uno, Pop to the Shops.

9. Make up stories for them
It started out as one story, but now, almost every night when I put them to bed, I have to tell them a Rainbow Sisters story. It's more like a continuation actually, and the same story has been going on for over a year. It just keeps going and going, and the heroes of the story (guess who) just keep going on different adventures.

The wonderful thing about made up stories is that you can add anything you like - your kids can be the heroes, you can add omit monsters, add in fairy magic, and the best part - you can fashion even each story into a message you want to convey. Like if your kids are facing problems with friends in school, use that as a base for your story and let your heroes work out the problem for you.

10. Fix a secret "I love you" code for each of them
We say "I love you" a lot. But the kids and I each have a secret "I love you" code for each other, where we "say" it without "saying it". It can be anything like a funny face or squinty eyes or a hand squeeze. It's fun to have a special thing that only you and them share. 


They are 6.5 and 3 now. I don't know if they will always want to do these things with me. I suppose that one day they may find it uncool to hang out with mum, and I have to prepare myself for that possibility. But for now, these are things that we enjoy together, and will continue to do them for as long as they let me :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Make Room for Kids

We believe that a child's room should have space for a child to grow. To learn, to play, to dance, to rest, to pretend, to read, to laugh, and to just be.

We believe it's somewhere that they can just let go of all their cares and simply be themselves. It's a place they don't have to worry about what friends think about them, and pause to wonder if whatever they're doing is considered "cool". It's a place where they can be serious or silly, whenever the mood calls for it.

We believe that kids should be happy in their room. So we put up lots of pictures of their happy times and look at them together, pointing out, "Remember this? You laughed so much at the balloon bobbing on your head!".

We believe memories should be created in this room, so we give them lots of space to do what they like. Also, we're in charge of the big things (like the furniture piece and providing the tools to keep organised) but as much as possible, we let them have a say in personalising the room with little things. It is their room after all, and them who spend the most time in it, not us. Plus, the chances of them being able to find their own stuff when they keep it themselves, is higher!

We believe they should grow together and play together, so there are shared spaces. We also believe that they should have their own quiet moments. That's why their beds are separated, or there will never be a quiet moment.


We believe in losing oneself in play. So we constantly have little fairy princesses running around, and make-shift tents, and mini hospitals. Sometimes mini hospitals are in make-shift tents, run by fairy princesses.

We believe in quiet time and that they should find their own solutions to boredom. So we leave materials around for them to work with, and books and toys within reach.

We believe that a clear space helps a clear mind. So the big girl has a designated study area that gives her plenty of natural sunlight. Though it sometimes ends up as a magical garden for Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle. That's My Little Pony for you non pony fans.

We believe that bright colours make us happy. So there is lots of colour in this room. And no, we're not bothered that things don't match. Also, because we believe that a kids' room should look like there are kids living in it.

We believe in supporting our kids' interests. So even though this is a little girls' room, there are dinosaurs and tools. 

We believe in being part of our kids' lives. So we play along and pretend to be monster machines when the small girl tells us she's a mechanic and invites us into her garage.

We believe in imagination. So there's often lots of pretend phone calls either with old phones or Lego blocks. 

We believe that there is a place for everything. And we try to teach them that. But sometimes stuffed toys get thrown off beds instead of going to their designated homes. 

We believe in spontaneity. So we don't frown on bed jumping. In fact, we encourage it. Because it is not just a bed; it is their stage. 

We believe in rest. Even if they don't. And despite having their own beds, sometimes they prefer sleeping on the floor.

So this is their room, and we love it. Judging by the amount of time they spend in this room, it does seem like they like it quite a bit as well :) The only thing that would really make it perfect? A ceiling fan!

This post was sponsored by IKEA, who believes in play and the importance of quality rest as much as we do! Yay! But could your marriage survive a trip to IKEA? Find out here!


Shown in this post:
Hensvik cabinet (which was our old changing table with upper portion removed, so it's now a bookcase)
KRITTER bed frame
VIKARE guard rail
MALM chest of six drawers
FÖRHÖJA  wall cabinet
DUKTIG toy cash register
MÅLA easel
VANDRING RÄV stuffed toys 
SÖNDRUM, TOLSBY and RIBBA photo frames   
MICKE desk
KLÄDSAM mobile

And some other older IKEA products that we've had for a while

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Post Swim Shower

Every mum has something that she dreads. Something that she knows she has to do just right or else everything will crumble and she will risk losing her head in public. For me, it's everything. But particularly, it is the post swim shower.

Bringing the kids out for a swim makes me feel awesome. Because they are so happy in the pool and seeing them happy makes me happy. I would call it happiness by osmosis but since we're in the pool then my Science lessons kick in and I ask, should it be called happiness by diffusion instead?

Whatever. They're happy. I'm happy. 

But then after the swim - wait, before the after swim, there is the "time to go now" part, which ranges from 5 minutes to an hour - there is the shower. Now, we don't live in a place with a pool so there's the question of whether or not to have a full shower at the pool's shower facilities. There are pros and cons to having a full shower versus just a wipe down. 

At times when we choose the full shower, I take a deep breath and remind myself that it means we can take our time to head home because the girls won't need to rush to wash and dry their hair before bed. Which is a good thing because they're likely to be cranky by the time we're home. 

But showering at a public toilet with two kids can be challenging. 

For purposes of illustration, we are clothed in the drawings. Naturally we are like any other normal human beings and do not wear clothes in the shower. So you'll just have to imagine that. Wait actually no, don't imagine us clothe-less. Just take it that we shower with clothes. That would make things easier. 

First up is question of the shower head. Is it a powerful spray? Is it a mere trickle? Is it even working. A trickle would be frustrating for adults because that would mean you'd have to almost press your body against the wall for an hour to get all your soap off. A powerful spray can sometimes present itself in the form of vapour almost and it could also take a while to get clean. 

But having two slippery squealing kids just adds on to the fun. We follow the law of gravity even in the shower so it's hair then body. But in order for shampoo to be rinsed off easily, head needs first to get wet. 

Water too cold? Water too hot? Water spray too strong! Water flow too weak? Whatever it is, the chances of screams are high. And in a small cubicle, be prepared for echoes. 

So I adopt the car wash approach. Shampoo for one, shampoo for the other. Soap one, followed by the other. Rise one off, then the other. Towel to big one, towel off small one. 

But sometimes I also feel a need to be clean and fresh. Somewhat like a sanitary napkin I guess. So I shower too. With the two of then in audience. 

So strict instructions follow, barked loud enough for the entire toilet to hear. "Stand right here! Don't move! Don't touch anything! Don't let your towel touch the floor! Don't get soapy again! Stop splashing!" 

My shower is usually done in 3 minutes flat. But there's plenty of time for plenty of this. 

Until one cries or yells or screams. But mostly it's "She pushed me"s and "She started it"s. 

And then it stops and they both find something in common - they're pointing and laughing at something. I realize it's me. 

"Mama's best!" My small one says. 

O.... Kay. A weird moment to declare her admiration for me but alright, I accept it anyway. 

The big one clarifies. 

"Breast! I can sell breast! B-R-E-A-S-T!"

Oh. Great. I'm now a real-time biological specimen. 

So there's a bit more pointing, a lot more laughing, followed by more "Mama what's that? NIP-PLE! Hahah Mama's nipple! Hahahaha"

Yes. Apparently it's hilarious. 

So we get dressed and try not to drop our clean clothes on the slippery public toilet floor. There's a lot of balancing and "hold my shoulders!" "Don't pull my hair!" "Ouch" and all. 

And then we're done and leave, ready to face the world again. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Being Fair to the Second Child

I manned the Sick Bay today; they were both home with a low grade fever. I held off TV for as long as I could, but they reminded me of their request every couple of minutes. Eventually, they got tired of me reading to them, and crumpling paper to toss into buckets got boring.

The thing about them being both under the weather at the same time, is that they weren't in the mood to fight. And when they couldn't agree on doing the same thing, they allowed me to spend time with each of them individually without fighting for my attention. It was a weirdish kind of day for me.

Some time during the day, Poppy got stuck in a good book so I tried to teach Calla the game of Pick Up Sticks. Remember? The black stick was worth 50 points? It didn't work out the way I'd intended. She was just happy to pick the sticks up and sort them by colour. And then we made this flower/sun thing together.

Actually I started making it, and invited her to help. She said, "I will help you by passing the sticks to you, and then you make the sun. OK, Mama?"

While that comment amused me a little - because at that age, Poppy wanted to be part of everything, which meant that many things got destroyed quickly - it also made me wonder.

Have I been unconsciouly planning activities around Poppy and neglecting Calla's well-being that she now thinks it's natural to not be part of the main action? Does she think that she should always be content with second place? Does she not feel confident enough to attempt to do things? And worst of all, is it all because I have not been a fair mother?

I know, not everyone wants to or needs to lead. Or perhaps, this just wasn't her kind of thing and she recognised that, and was just happy to play a supporting role today, but when the right opportunity presented itself, she would rise up to the challenge and lead the socks of us all.

But because I'm a mother, it is my job to worry, and to be riddled with guilt. So I wonder.

The thing about the first child is that when your second is born, you feel this horrible guilt toward your first because she's had to share you with the younger sibling. The second child on the other hand, has never known what it means to have mummy exclusive to her. So you in a way, try to 'make it up' to your elder one while the younger one just kind of tags along. I wonder if I am so dreadfully guilty of that.

Calla's recently turned 3 and while she'll always be my baby, she's technically also no longer a baby. Not even a toddler. A preschooler now, she is. Have I missed her precious first years by simply dragging her along to Poppy's playdates, school concerts, and parties? Have I made my second child's childhood simply a shadow of my first's?

In not so many years, they will be teenagers and their favourite phrase will be "It's not fair". And I fear that they may be right and I will have nothing to combat that.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Crab Bee Hoon, Melben Style

Are you a fan of crab? I so am. No, I did not mean "So am I". I really meant "I SO am a fan of crab!" But ordering crab dishes when eating out are saved for very special occasions because they cost too much. I'm just not prepared to shell out $50 and more for one dish.

I've made chilli crab before (and it was delicious but a lot of work), so I thought I'd try to recreate another favourite - crab bee hoon, made famous by Melben restaurant. And to be honest, I will never again order this dish when I'm out because it's really easy to recreate! - My mum loved it, my husband loved it and I practically licked the pot. My 6 year old didn't want to have anything to do with it but that was the only time I didn't insist she try and try again; I was even happy to eat her leftovers!

Crab Bee Hoon by Adora Tan/Gingerbreadmum, adapted from Rasa Malaysia
Serves 4 reasonably hungry adults

Thick white bee hoon - I prefer buying from the market because the pre packed ones don't feel as springy. Just tell the stallkeeper how many people you're serving
6-8 pieces ginger, sliced with skin on
3 cups fish stock*
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 tablespoons butter
2 medium sized Sri Lankan crabs, cleaned and cut (this dish will not work with flower crabs)
1 handful bok choy or chye sim
2 tbsp hua tiao wine
1 tsp fish sauce

*How to make fish stock
1. Fry dried sole (tee poh), sliced ginger and ikan bilis in oil
2. Add fish bones. Fry till flesh is white
3. Add water and bring to boil then simmer for about half an hour

1. Boil noodles till almost cooked then rinse with cold water and drain. Set aside
2. Melt butter and add ginger.
3. Once fragrant, add stock. Once water boils, add crab and evaporated milk
4. When crab shell turns red, add the vegetables, hua tiao wine, fish sauce and allow to simmer for a further 5 minutes or so
5. Dish up with noodles and serve.

Mmmmm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Pre- Workout Workout

Every mum knows the pre-workout workout. The workout itself is whatever we form of exercise we chose to indulge in while the kids are in school. "Me-time", if we may be so bold. But that time, despite it being time that we will spend sweatin away while pushing our tired bodies past their already tired limits, is not to be served on a silver platter. Thus, the need of a pre-workout workout.

Our kids understand that well. And they take their role in creating that workout for us very seriously. Which is totally acceptable, because every workout needs a good warm-up session anyway. 

This morning, mine presented itself thus:

At 3 in the morning - or maybe it was 5 or 6, I'm not sure. Anyway, the sun wasn't up, so it's all the same. So, early in the morning. I'm summonded to the throne. Where my 7 year old sits and bestows the dreaded words upon me. 

"I don't want to go to school". 

What follows is a very calm, albeit sleepy, debate of why one doesn't simply resign itself to its fears and should rise up to challenges, even if they should come in the form of little pencil-snatching kids. Each attempt to retreat from the throne is followed by a pull back with the age old command of "Mama!"

After a series of reminders to put pocket monies in pockets, and socks before shoes, the mad dash to the bus stop occurs. We don't even need to check the time, we simply dash. We make it in time for a quick kiss before the firstborn boards the bus. 

Adrenalin pumps through my veins as I do the morning marketing and with 5kg weights in the form of raw meats and vegetables, I climb 100 steps to my dwelling. 

Then, the scene is somewhat replicated with the baby. The constant reminders of "eat your breakfast!" and "drink your milk!" echo through the house as I race around, digging out her school uniform and appropriate exercise gear for myself.  

Water spills as I close up her water bottle. She tries to help by using the magic clean sweeper and leaves clumps of dust around. More instructions are barked. "Brush all your teeth! Gargle! Spit!" I leave no stone unturned. 

And then we get dressed. She prefers undressing her dolls instead. I think of an ingenious idea. "I'll race you! Let's both get dressed and see who wins!"

My plan gets gunned down. 

"I don't want to win, Mama. I'll let you win" 

Just as well. I wouldn't have won anyway, I thought, while struggling with the sports bra. Have you ever worn a sports bra? Did you know it was designed by contortionists? 

First you put your head through, then a hand, and somehow your elbow tries to get into the action. You practically huff and puff as you squeeze one hand through something so tight that clearly was made for something half your size.

Then before you can heave your sigh of relief, there's the other arm, which is even worse, because the damn contraption is already stretched beyond being stretched but yet you can't quite go out with one boob covered and the other showing. You're not Tarzan. 

So finally your arm goes through as you almost dislocate your shoulder. And then in your mammaries go, one by one, squeezed into the support device. 

The rest of the clothing, exercisey looking top and shorts, are a walk in the park compared to the sports bra. 

Fully dressed now, and already in a sweat, I see her. Still in her pajamas. Which incidently, looks nothing like her school uniform. So I help her. But she needs to do the buttons herself. Which takes an hour. 

The socks. They make her feet itch, or so she says. Actually it's that wretched line at the toe area of her socks. They need to be positioned just right or they'll cause her grief. It's one of those things. 

So I squat and help. Which isn't easy for me because I have my phone in my pocket so it jabs at my waist roll, the same one I'm trying to lose by going on this morning workout. Or wait, maybe it's the roll on top of THAT roll that I'm trying to lose. Well, one of them anyway. 

I help her fix her socks and shoes and realize that while doing so, she has helped to untie my shoelaces. 

We race down the stairs. Rather, I do, while she bobs in my arms and laughs. We do not walk to the bus stop, no. Walking is for sissies. We run. We fly like aeroplanes. We walk sideways like crabs. 

Then she needs a drink. So I put my bottle (my 6 year old's Lego water bottle - very sporty, very professional) between my knees and get her bottle out of her bag. She decides she needs to sit to drink. Away from me. So I have to walk after her in a half squat with a bottle squeezed between my knees, and another in my hands. 

We play Ring a Ring a Rosies, we fall down. She asks to be swung round and round (has she watched The Titanic?). We hug. We kiss. I put kisses in her pocket. Then her bus comes. Up she goes on it. I blow more kisses. And her bus turns out of sight. 

I look at my the bus time predictor thing on my phone. 0 minutes to the bus, 11 minutes to the next. Plenty of time to walk. So I do. But it zooms by me. Pushed my instinct, fueled by adrenalin, powered by Nike shoes, I sprint. And catch the bus. 

And here I sit, typing out about my morning's pre-workout workout. Yet to face the trail on the hill that is to be climbed, but I'm already tired. 

Happy healthy week to you!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Balance versus Perfection

Some days you meet mums that seem to be doing everything right. Their kids are polite and smiling, they arrive everywhere on time, they know the answers to everything, they've got nice pedicures under clean shoes, nothing is spilling out of their bags. It's hard to not be affected by that, especially when I always feeling like I'm juggling and dropping way too many balls.

From time to time, I find myself wondering what kind of mother I'm growing to be, and if it's differing from the kind of mother I want to be.

I want to sooth my children when they cry. I want to cheer for them when they do well. I want to encourage them when they're down. I want to hug them when they've had a rough day.

I want to teach them to be responsible people, to pick up after themselves. I want to let them sort out their own disagreements, to learn how to play together. I want them to learn to entertain themselves, to pick up a book or to draw or to just be bored.

I want to bring them places to widen their horizons. I want to teach them that there's more to life than just good grades. I want them to try out new things. I want them to enjoy the simple joys of life. I want to shield them from all things bad.

There are so many things I want to do for my children, but it's just not possible to do everything. It's easy to lose ourselves in the things we want to do for our kids. But there is the danger of going overboard and neglecting oneself. Or ignoring one's husband. Or putting one's own parents on hold.

By not focusing all my efforts on my children, I hope to teach them the most important lesson of all - that the world does not revolve around them. That they are important to me, but it does not mean that I will cease to exist as an individual just because I strive to be a good mother to them.

I've learnt that being a 'good' mother doesn't necessarily equatemean I have to be a 'perfect' one. And so I strive for balance. And like every other mother-related decision I make, I pray that it's the right one. Because so far, it's far from perfect, but yet, it's so perfect.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Motherhood Means to Me

This post is part of a blog train which was orchestrated months ago among 25 mum bloggers. The train started in mid-March and I am posting my portion so as not to disrupt its journey. For the next 6 days however, I will join the rest of my friends in Singapore in mourning our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and will have no interaction via this blog, TheGingerbreadmumBlog Facebook page, nor on the @gingerbreadmum instagram account.

Photo taken on a regular bus ride, on a regular day of simply being mum.

Motherhood is waking early
But we also sleep real late
Two napping kids in the afternoon
Is reason to celebrate

Our days are filled with invisible tasks
That take up all our time
Like mopping floors and cooking meals
And cleaning toilet grime

It's about ignoring strangers' advice
It's about following our gut
And pretending to be energetic
When the day is anything but

We chase our kids at libraries
We shush them on the bus
We're afraid to see a viral video a stranger made
And gulp and say "That's us"

It makes us appreciate the tiniest of moments
That may go unnoticed by the untrained eye
But we never let the opportunity to say "Good job"
Or a chance to kiss a pudgy cheek slip by

Motherhood is about sharing meals
With little ones who may or may not eat
It's about hiding at the laundry area
With our own chocolate or some other treat

We're up to date with TV stars
Like Dora and her monkey
We can tell you everyone who's on
The cast of My Little Pony

Our bodies are aching like never before
From carrying and squating and lifting
Our minds are stretched beyond limits
From our preschooler's questioning

We take too many photos
Of every smile and frown
Just because we need to remember
The people who turned our lives upside down

Sometimes our days are full to the brim
But sometimes we're so lonely
For no one else can empathise
But a mother and a mother only

It's about losing touch with all your friends 
And getting irritated with your partner
And putting your own life on hold
While you nurse and nourish and nurture 

We ignore our better judgement
As we learn to let it go
While we observe playground politics
And watch the kids settle on their own

We relearn and revisit things from our past
Like Santa and Tooth Fairies
So we can fill our kids' childhoods
With our own precious memories

We may happy or we may angry
We may be brave or weak
But we love and hug unconditionally
And give kisses by the heap

We read the same book 30 times
Even if it bores us to the core
Simply because it's the favourite book
Of a little one we adore

It's about taking deep breaths
And saying "This stage will soon pass"
When we step on Lego blocks
Or Barbie dolls and cars

How many moons does Jupiter have?
What are the words to Yankee Doodle?
For all the questions we don't have answers to
Our new best friend is Google

Private toilet time is a luxury
We've learnt to appreciate
Sometimes we sneak away with phone in hand
And fake a tummy ache

"No", "Maybe", "Come on, let's go"
Are weaved into everything we say
Like plastered smiles and exasperated sighs
That's just how we roll day by day

We have to watch what we say
We never know who's around
Perhaps our little ones with sharp ears
Or busybodies around town

Unsolicited advice, like "That's not the way"
You know, that kind of thing
We get that a lot on a daily basis
Some we can laugh off, but some will sting

We may have been regular women
Who did regular things for fun
But once we had our babies
We became Public Enemy Number One

Suddenly we faced public scrunity
In the choices we made every day
Babywearing, breastfeeding, schooling, discipline
Everyone had something to say

Motherhood is like some strange time continium
Which no one can understand
The minutes drag like hours
But the years fly by like days on end

Our worlds may topsy-turvy
Our lives, whirled and twirled
But this never ending exhausting job?
We wouldn't trade it for the world

It's unbelievably fulfilling to receive hugs and kisses
Even if faces are dirty and sticky
Because our hearts just melt without us knowing
When they mutter "I love you, Mummy"


More about motherhood, and my other attempt to rhyme, when I wrote about being "That Kind of Mum"

Up next!
Jennifer or DinoMama as she is fondly known as to some, is a full time working mum who believes home cooked meals are the best and tries to cook healthy meals for her family as often as possible. When she's done coaching DinoBoy with his school work or is not playing & bonding with him, she will be sitting at a comfy corner in the house busy working on something on her crochet hook. One day she hopes she will be able to be a full time stay at home mum where she can fuss over her family 24/7.

This post was written as part of a "What motherhood means to me" blog train hosted by Dominique from Dominique's Desk. You can read all the posts here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Learning from The Lees

We all know him from the things he's done for this country. But among all the things I've read about him, what's struck me the most was that he was, above all his work commitments, a family man and a loving husband. And the relationship they had was indeed a beautiful one.

This isn't a post about politics. Or my love for the country. It's about a man and a woman who had such great love for each other, and what we can learn from their 60-year marriage. 

1. Always make time for your family, no matter how busy you are.
She went home for lunch every day just so she could spend time with the kids. 

2. Always show love for your spouse
She laid out all his ties for him when they travelled together, and only went out of the hotel after she was sure he was alright. She remained in case he needed her for anything. 

3. Always make time for your spouse
When she had a stroke, he continued his work as first Senior Minister then Minister Mentor, and worked his schedules around her so that he could spend time with her. 

After she passed, he changed his spot at the dining table to face the wall, where he placed pictures of himself with his wife in their old age. 

4. Be a dutiful spouse
After she had a stroke, the highlight of both their days was the time spent with her every night, reading and talking to her. 

5. Keep your displays for affection only for your spouse
There's no need to show the world how much you love your spouse; what matters is that he/she knows. 

6. Have mutual respect
It never bothered him that she was older than he was, or that she, in his own words, was smarter than he. He always consulted her on her opinion and she was the one who vetted his speeches and important documents. 

7. Accepting advice
When she had her first stroke, he encouraged her to continue swimming. One day she said "It's a public holiday, can I take a rest?" He said "go for a swim, you'll feel better". She swam. 

8. Always remember your spouse's needs
So that she could continue to swim in comfort, he had colourful wet suits made for her. So she could swim in any weather without fear of getting cold 

For more personal and beautifully written accounts, here are consolidated posts written by their daughter, Prof Lee.

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