One year ago…

This time almost 12 months ago…

We were still in Singapore, the (then) 4 of us squeezing in one tiny room in my parent’s HDB flat. We were living out of boxes and our clothes were in Togoyo plastic containers, as most of our stuff were already packed and ready to be carted over to Sydney. Our house was just renovated, and smelling all new-paint and new-everything else. I was heavily pregnant with Zoie. Dreaming of carrying my princess in my arms (and getting rid of that whale-belly). I was happy to finally have my husband back in Singapore, after 7 long, long weeks of him coming over to Sydney by himself to start on his PhD journey. Finally – someone to take over bedtime duties. And my aching feet could find some small relief. We were squeezing in more last-minute meet-ups and dinners and coffees and such.

It is surreal how long and short one year seems, all at once.

Do I miss Singapore?

You betcha. My family, close friends, cell group members, colleagues, blogger moms… I reckon I am not really the sort to make friends too easily. I mean, we do hang out with friends here in Sydney, and I enjoy their company. But… (and it’s not them, it is me – like some clichéd break-up line) it is so different.

This week, I registered the entire family for the Presence Conference. I enjoyed it, and the kids did too – with the really top-notch children’s programs lined up. And it struck a chord in me. The sessions were good, and I really enjoyed the teaching, and I went away being refreshed and all… but what I really missed was when I was not just a delegate attending the sessions, but part of the church staff running the Asia Conference back in CHC Singapore in 2008/2010. The crazy schedules. The crazily packed schedules, to be exact. And while I appreciate the fact of being able to sit back and relax in between sessions with a cup of flat white, I also miss being busy. Being a part of a team. After being a cell leader for about 14 years, and being a staff of CHC for 10 years, I have always been involved in the church in ways both big and small, and I miss the “high-gear” way of life. Especially with the chill and laid-back atmosphere here Down Under.

So it has been almost one year. Already? Only?!?

I remember the hubby asking me (a year ago) if I would consider staying on in Australia, to which my reply was, “Uh… No.” And his response was “You underestimate Australia.” And my retort was, “You underestimate me.” This is a true conversation we had! Haha! And a year on, it still holds true. Yes, Australia has great appeal. The gorgeous beaches, the weather, the friendly and gracious people (even my sub-par driving skills have rarely garnered me a honk on the road), the easy education system… but to me, Singapore is where my heart resides. Where my family and friends are. It sure isn’t perfect, and it sure is stressful. But… Home is home is home. And I look forward to having a nice hot cup of… teh-si soon.

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Meet Our New Pets. Pet Hermit Crabs, To Be Exact

I am not an animal person. And by this, I mean, I can “Aww” and “Ooh” at cute animal pictures, but that is about it. I don’t enjoy being with real animals, and my visits to the zoo is because of my love for the kids.

We went to the Sydney Royal Easter Show – and we caught sight of what may possibly be the coolest showbag there. A pet hermit crab – which comes with its own “home” as well! As far as owning pets go, it wasn’t too pricey – we paid a total of A$110, which includes the container home as well as two crabs. a heating mat (as their ideal temperature is a minimum of 19 degrees, and winter season is approaching), food and other supplies. We would have to get the supplies possibly once every 2 or 3 months, but it isn’t very costly.

The crabs come in 4 different “tribes” – and each has its own story and colour – and the boys chose their preferred shell colour.

Hermit Crabs

Meet the new inclusions. The hermit crabs were shy when we first brought them home – retreating into the shell and burying themselves deep into the sand – but have grown slowly accustomed to the hubby in particular (all the crab feeding and cleaning duties is his job scope now).

Hermit Crab 2

This is their little abode – contained in a plastic shell and having their worldly possessions. Haha! (You can spot a few empty larger shells around – keeping them handy when the crabs outgrow their current shell!)

As pets go, the crabs are pretty low maintenance, they don’t smell, and there’s no need to bathe them. It is the regular cleaning of their food/water/bath trays – and even for food, they can actually eat scraps but we decided to get a pack of their snack food for them to keep things simpler first.

As with all pets. the boys are learning how to handle the crabs with care (though Jay has managed to drop his crab twice so far – failing to catch the crab as it crawls OUT of his hands), how to take care of the crabs, what to do and what not to do, and most importantly, the crabs also give an extra motivation for the boys to be on their good behaviour.

Xav 4

All in all – two happy boys make happy parents!

He is 6. I Repeat, He Is Just 6.

Sometimes I forget.

Jay

That my boy has only just turned 6. And sometimes, rationale flies out the window at the drop of the hat, and when an awesome song comes to mind, it has to be belted out, and loud. No matter the location – middle of the shopping mall or the middle of the night.

(The above is just from yesterday – a special trip to the Fish Market as it is the start of the Easter break for him, for crabs, which are his absolute fave. He doesn’t get a chance to go on normal school days, as the Market closes at 4 p.m., and weekends are full of hungry tourists, we shun this area then too haha!)

Even in the last one year we’ve been in Sydney, my not-so-little-anymore boy has grown. Partly been “forced” to by circumstances (read: school), and also bearing the brunt of our decidedly fiercer tempers.

And he is 6 years old. Just 6. And I think being the oldest of 3 kids, sometimes there is the pressure there to be the “most sensible” and the “obedient” one, and I find myself having to utter things like (when I am frazzled or highly irritated), “What is the matter with you?” and it guts me. I know I shouldn’t say that, and it is I am trying to curb my tongue. Trying to be more gracious to my 6-year-old. Trying to give him space to be a 6-year-old. Learning to be a mummy to a 6-year-old, a more chill version of me, if you will.

God has really blessed me with a sweetheart of a son. He is affectionate, generous with his out-of-nowhere “I love you”s  and readily loves his parents despite our flaws. And I reckon he deserves a better version of me. :)

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Older. Again. *gulp!*

So I am a year older. And this is possibly the lowest-key birthday period in my last decade – but nonetheless still one of the sweetest, since I get to spend it with my favourite people.

Two things the hubby knows to bring a smile to my face. Desserts and shopping. And he ticked both boxes.

As he has classes on Monday afternoons, he decided to celebrate a day earlier. The morning started with him wanting to bring Jayvon in on the little secret – “Psst, Jay come over… It’s Mummy’s birthday tomorrow and…” and before he finished whispering, my excited and loud son went, “MUMMY’S BIRTHDAY IS TOMORROW! HURRAY!!!” and came running to my room to tell me that very fact. Haha! Nice trying to play it subtle. The hubs wanted to NOT tell me where we were going, and one thing about me you need to know: I am not a fan of surprise outings. Not with three kids. I need to know where, and how long and what. Else the kids would be going to the beach with long pants and shoes or have to brave chilly weather without a jacket. And so, he reluctantly revealed the destination – Hunter Valley, a 2.5 hour drive!

So we were off on a road trip! It was a gorgeously scenic route, and the kids – well-trained after our previous road trips – hardly made a fuss as well.

The hub did his research, and decided on The Mill Restaurant – for its good reviews and the fact it offered a children’s menu! It was a little like Masterchef come to life, with dishes like ‘Duck done two ways’ and ‘Crispy Skin Atlantic Salmon’ making our tummies rumble! It was a very enjoyable meal – and the kids loved their pizza and fish fillets (the fish I thought was really a good deal, as it was $12 and almost a full adult-sized plate!) The kids’ meals came with chips, which were awesome enough for me to steal a couple for myself!

The Mill

And since we were already at Hunter Valley, we decided to make a stop at Sabor at the Hunter – for some decadent dessert. Yes. We had a full meal. But dessert? I love this place!

Sabor

The kids were in a food-induced coma state (haha!), and it was left to the less-than-desirable position of the hubby to bring us all home safely. We made it, obviously!

So the desserts – done.

And the shopping? Well, we managed to squeeze in a princely 30 minute at Birkenhead Factory Outlet. My first time there, and I didn’t know what to expect, and didn’t have much high hopes. But this one trip (and the one store) will change my mind.

Steve Madden.

I love the shoes, especially the boots – for the rugged yet chic look! Their heels are also to-die-for, but gosh, I am horrid at stilts, I mean stilettos or high wedges, so I will be content with just rugged boots. And let’s be honest, I have three kids. I need all the rugged shoes I can get.

And so we only spent 30 minutes in this one Steve Madden outlet shop. And it was enough for me to walk away entirely fulfilled.

I first saw this awesome pair of dark silverish boots, that showed 50% off its regular price. Hmm, $110 isn’t too bad for a birthday gift, eh? Till the shop assistant smilingly informed me that it was going for an additional 40% off that price. GET OUTTA HERE! $60?

The black crossbody bag with a gorgeous gold buckle for 50% off too?

And that almost-reaching-knee-level studded leather boots for $40?

It’s like my presents bought themselves.

How do you say “No” to good buys? I can’t apparently.

shoes

Even the hubby managed to snag a pair of leather shoes for himself at the Steven Madden shop – which is our my favourite-est shop EVER now – and we all left happy!

A very happy birthday to me, indeed! ;)

In the not-that-distant past of mine

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Dork alert.

See if you can spot me in the above picture. My 12-year-old self. (Or at least I think I was 12. But I might have been 11. I have no clue.)

And now, the reason why this horrendous photo is seeing the light of day? I blame my friend, who blogs over at Gingerbreadmum.com. Who decided it would be a lark to host a linky on “Old School Memories”.

#ChallengeAccepted.

My primary school memories are fuzzy at best. I blame the three pregnancies. But I do remember one incident vividly. In my last year there (and the year we take the PSLE), my Chinese teacher came right up to me, gave me a pat on the shoulder and a smile and told me, “你考的很好!” (translated: “You did very well!”), giving me high hopes for the mid-semestral Chinese exams… before realizing I scored somewhere under 70 (a B or a C grade) – and I guess that kinda stuck to me that the “very well” standard of Chinese is only deserving of a measly B or C. Haha!

My secondary school days are a little less fuzzy. (Not crystal clear, you do remember the three pregnancies, yeah?) And I so wanted to find a photo of me in my secondary school uniform, but alas, a relocation to a different country meant the pictures were either discarded or at my mom’s house back in Singapore. I went to the all-girls’ Tanjong Katong Girls’ School, by the way – where it was considered hip to wear our belts low-slung and sarcasm reigned supreme amongst us 13-16 year olds. Oh, those were the days. Pooling all our loose change to share a large Coke at the Burger King at Parkway Parade, or even getting large french fries (if we were particularly rich that day), and spending the next few hours chatting and chatting and chatting away.

And there was one little thing that made our little clique uber special. We spoke the “F” language. Now, fess up – how many of you have heard of this? It was like the cool language before cool languages came about. And I remember teaching some of my close friends this. And I was so proficient at this made-up language because, believe it or not, my entire family (‘cept my dad of cos) would speak to each other in the F language (especially useful when we are trying to be furtive in public) – and even my mom AND her sisters know it. I kid you not. Even till today, my sisters and I find ourselves breaking out into the F language – especially to craft out plans that we don’t want the kids to know (yet) or the domestic helpers to know (like our schedules… cos we are secretive that way haha!). And if you haven’t heard of this language – it basically makes you repeat each syllable – only adding the “f” sound in that repeat syllable. It sounds super easy – but to the untrained mouth, it can be a tongue twister, and to the untrained ears, it sounds like a load of gibberish.

My little trip down memory lane!

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