Solo Parenting Week 1

My husband is currently out of town and he’s been away for a week now and I am glad we survived. Apart from crashing in bed as early as the kids on most nights, everything’s well.

The fact is solo parenting needs practice and the truth is, I haven’t been getting much practice since we got here, which really isn’t something that I should complain about.

Because of a less hectic work schedule, my husband gets to spend more time with the kids. He gets to help out with the chores while I get to slack off. And as the day for him to travel grew nearer, I panicked.

Before he left, I sat down with kids and had a talk with them, on how they could help while the Dad was not around. My 4 year old gleefully offered to cook for us.  How I wish he could.

Getting the boys ready for school and disciplining them have to be the main challenges when the Dad is not around. I have to admit that how each day turns out very much depends on how well my 4 year old cooperates.

On a good day, he would wake up in the morning change his school uniform, brush his teeth and get ready for school on his own. On a bad day, I would have to nag, bribe and threaten before he would get out of bed.

Then there were the daily squabblings which required constant mediating and can be totally energy sapping. And the soccer games in the evening 3 days out of the week. Dinner has to be prepared ahead of time because hunger usually means grouchiness for the 4 year old.

The first week passed quite uneventfully.  I realised I needed to conserve my energy as the week progressed. So I skipped my morning runs and we had fewer after school playdates. During the weekend, we went bowling dates, movie dates and birthday parties. Time flies when everyone was having fun.

Then at a Chinese restaurant, while waiting for our food, my elder boy took out his book for read while the little one quietly work on a sketch of a toy he brought along. It was all so peaceful and the waitresses look at me, visibly impressed. I felt like the perfect parent with perfect children. And I wonder whether we have been too hard on the boys.

So over the weekend, as a reward to myself and the kids, we went on a shopping spree at Target. I bought each of them a new toy – a Lego set each. My little man was so anxious to get it fixed that he stayed up past bedtime to work on it.

And the next morning he was up as early as 6.30 am to continue what he couldn’t finish the night before. He was finally done an hour later but my the clock on my phone showed the same time, 6.30 am.

Apparently it was Daylight Saving and we were just moved forward an hour which effectively meant that we were up since 5.30 am on a Sunday morning.

All thanks to the new toy and thus another week of toiling began.


D is for Darth Vader and Y is for Yoda

My 4 year old will probably tell you that if you ask him what is D for and what is Y.

About a year ago back in Singapore, my 9 year old picked up his first book on Star Wars.
It was during one of our weekly hangout at our favourite coffee joint with a Times bookstore located right next to it.

The boys would flip through books in the bookstore while my husband and I enjoyed our coffee.
Because it was a small bookstore with only a few books on Star Wars, Malcolm soon finished reading everything he wanted to read.
And after a couple of failed attempt to locate the full series in the library, he sort of gave up and divert his attention to greek gods then.

It was not until recently, when my husband, hooked on online shopping, bought the whole set of Star Wars DVD that the kids got to watch through all 6 episodes that their craze for this sci-fi classic got ignited and since then, play has never been the same.

they carry their light saber everywhere they go, even when we went on holiday … they whipped it out while at the baggage claim area

and while waiting for our rental car.

Some travellers find them amusing, some probably find them annoying.
You guess it right, they had light saber in their hand carry.
They play with their light saber every single day.

In flight entertainment has never been the same.
During our 5 hour flight from Salt Lake City, Malcolm made this, a Star Wars Guide.

Then recently he discovered the Piano Guys’ Cello Wars Light Saber Duel and Scratch, a programming language mostly for kids.
And he wrote a program … Cat Wars Light Saber Duel ! Eeeeeks !
*caution* If watching the program makes your head spins like mine, just close your eyes and enjoy the music !

And judging from how some of my guy friends are still crazy about Star Wars at my age, I don’t think this is going to end soon.

Note : For the program, click on green flag to start and red octagon button to stop
Use Left and Right keys to change speed of spinning
Use Up key to hide the cats
Use SpaceBar to banish the cats into a corner
Use A to change the size of the cat to 150%

Instructions above are provided by Malcolm (don’t ask me how or why !)
Music Credit : The Piano Guys


A Bottle Of Kaya

Last week, a group of us were invited for morning coffee at our German friend’s house. Amongst us were a couple of Swedes, a couple of Germans, a Norwegian, a Dane, a Kiwi and an Israeli.
It was supposed to be a morning where we share our favourite bread.

photo (76)
I realised that many of them were not used to eating American bread.
The Finns prefer their bread firmer and my New Zealander friend couldn’t stand the artificial smell when she walk past the bakery aisle in the supermarket.

I grew up eating Gardenia bread, bread that were mass produced in a factory.
Back home, people who bake their own bread are far and few in between.

So I am not an expert at bread making neither do I wish to embarrass myself in front of the master. And I am glad I didn’t because I soon found out that all of them were excellent bakers who bake professional looking bread.

And it just so happened that I found pandan leaves in a new Chinese supermarket near us.
So I decided to make Kaya and introduce our unique jam to my friends.

I pored through he internet and found an easy enough recipe that promised 30 minutes of cooking time.
But alas, it took me 2 hours of constant stirring and the final product … was this tiny bottle !

I knew from experience that there was a high chance that most of my friends probably wouldn’t be adventurous enough to try the Kaya and I was torn between keeping the kaya for my kaya-loving boys or bringing it to the coffee, which felt like a waste to my 2 hours of back breaking labour.

I recalled during Chinese New Year coffee at my place, my Scottish friend couldn’t fathom why my BoBo ChaCha can be a dessert when I had sweet potato and yam in them. For her, it’s like serving potatoes for dessert. These are starchy staples, not desserts.
My Kiwi friend took a bite of my precious Bak Kwa and spit it out. It was beef jerky gone very wrong.
My savoury carrot cake didn’t go down too well with most of my new friends and I wouldn’t blame them.

The first time that I had carrot cake in the United States left a deep scar in my consciousness.  I still have not come to terms with that experience.
How could carrot cake be a sweet dessert, a real cake served in cafeterias, and look and taste nothing like the one I had in hawker centres back home ? It was utter disappointment.

Then I had to give the most detailed explanation and demonstrate on how to eat a melon seed. From the angle to place the seed in the mouth, to the amount of strength to bite so as not to crush the seed.  At the end of it, still, no one could eat a melon seed right. I realised that eating a melon seed requires superior skill.

I realised what seem so natural and right to me might be so wrong and unnatural to my foreigner friends. I realised our expectations were very much shaped by our habits and culture and I am glad that the opportunity to interact with such a diverse group of people has given me a different perspective of things.

P/s : I did bring the Kaya to the coffee but only a couple of them tried it; I guess to most of them, jam was supposed to be made from fruits, and to have one that was made from eggs and coconut milk was just too out of the box.
At the end of the day, it was much ado over nothing. The dilemma was not to be. I brought the remaining kaya home and my boys got to enjoy it.


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