Category Archives: family

A New Lease of Life

Life can run you down if you’re not careful. Life’s crazy web of “to-do” things  can snag you in its  spidery veins  and before you know it, you’re  trapped in its grasp, grasping for life.  You’ve a string of things to do, all lined up like beads on a necklace. Quite like a choker, if you think about it. It looks pretty (yes, life can be so darn pretty when you’re on the outside) but it hangs around your neck. Weighing you down. As if  you’re not already buried under the tons of things to do.

Everyone can use a second chance. So can this blog.

So, if you find that I’m not making sense–it’s sounds like the rumblings of a deranged woman, you’re right. I’ve long ceased to think too much. I’ve only one action word at this point of my life–DO and get it DONE (ok, maybe two).

I’ve spent my life dedicated to this task of “getting it done.” And if you’ve been there, you know there’s no getting it done. The dishes have to be loaded, today and tomorrow and forever. The clothes have to be sorted and washed,  today and forever. The sack lunches have to be packed and ready to go, today and as long as your kids are in school (which seems like forever, at the moment). The dog needs walking, maybe  so does the husband (mine does), the grass grows and the shower gathers slime. All screaming and clamoring for you to come to their rescue.

In the process, some things get neglected. They fade into oblivion, festers on the pending shelf and maybe die a slow natural death.

Just like this blog. I started this blog sometime back–the blog remains unnamed –it’s simply called my web. It has some random entries and I didn’t know how to work most of the stuff . I know I should have learned but where’s the time?. Over time, I forgot about it.

Recently, a new venture took me back to this blog. I’ve since given it a new look and learned how to add some widgets. I’m still trying to figure some things out, but in the meantime, at least it’s up and running.  So, feel free to comment and share your stories and let’s give this blog a new lease of life.


The Teacher Calls

Your child calls you in the middle of your work day, “Mom?  My Chemistry teacher wants to talk to you?”   Talk to me?  Oh, no, can’t be good!

He gets on the phone and asks, “How are you today?”

Ok, I’m really leary now.  Get to the point.  Tell me what my kid did that warrant this call.

I return the pleasantry and said, “I’m good.  How about you?”

Alright, now tell me.

“Well, I just want to let you know how proud I’m of Aaron.  He received an A in this Chemistry test, one of the three to do so.”

What, come again?  Am I hearing what I’m hearing or is this my supposedly inner voice placating my anxiety?

“Yes, you should be proud too.  Maybe you want to consider celebrating his good work.”

Right. Thank you.

It turned out I wasn’t dreaming.  The teacher did call and I did manage to stumble out my pleasantries despite the whole surreal conversation.

Now, if I were to get these kind of calls more often, I wouldn’t have reacted the way I did and that wouldn’t have made my day.  It would be ordinary and quite expected.

I thought of all the years of school my son has been through  and this is the very first call from a school teacher who cares enough to call.  He knows the power of praise.  He knows the power of motivation.  He is one of a kind.  The rarest kind.

If more teachers were to act that way and be genuinely interested in motivating kids, we would be very rich.  Our future would be very rich and bright.

Celebrating Chinese New Year as an Overseas Chinese

I am miles away from home.  Home where Chinese New Year is celebrated with so much gusto and enthusiasm.  The sounds, sights and smell of Chinese New Year is nowhere to be found.  My kids go to school and I’m left to reminiscence about the good old days, typing away.  Just another ordinary day.

On this day, I replay my many memories of Chinese New Year spent in Singapore.  What else do I have to go back on? Days of anticipation before the actual day.  The shopping frenzy, the food hoarding — walking on the crowded streets of Chinatown in search of the best barbecue meats and preserved ducks.  Haggling with food sellers over a bunch of pussy willows, picking through the ginkgo nuts and fussing over the auspicious banners with its sayings. Maybe the right sayings will bring a happier new year.  Well, pretty skeptical but still, red banners are synonymous with ushering a happier year.

My mind goes back to reunion dinners.  The table invites,  with heaps of dishes, some, only served at this time of the year.  The tossing of “yi san,” heralding plenty of luck and the ubiquitous dumplings (don’t they look like gold nuggets?) — every dish has a significance and invariably they revolve around luck, prosperity and goodwill.

What did I have for my reunion dinner here?  A miserly roasted chicken.  Fish is synonymous  with prosperity, so what’s an overseas Chinese to do?  Broil some good luck charms — I hope fish sticks will do. As for dumplings, I have a full mind to wrap some fortunes in those wanton skins but hey, I ran out of time and motivation.  I sure hope it’s the thoughts that count. And oh, I  make a salad.  Well, my mom would cringe at that.  Now, what kind of reunion dinner is that?

It’s not just the food I’m drooling over.  I miss family and friends. All  miles away.  Even phone calls are a far cry from being physically there.

So when my group of overseas Chinese friends call for a celebration, I didn’t hesitate.  We’re going to a Chinese restaurant that features the lion dance today.  Maybe, that will help with this longing for the good old days.

Height:  Does it matter?


Try telling your daughter height is not a problem.  So you’re only 4 feet 7 inches at thirteen?  No big deal–you’ll grow, you see.

No amount of words or goodwill can soothe that out.  Try mixing with thirteen year old girls.  Most over 5 feet tall, boobs quite out there, sometimes, too out there and strutting is their favorite sport.  Boys gawk when they pass and life is truly the cream with the cherry on top.

There she stands, wondering when her game is up.  Or will be ever be up?  Conscious ever of her size.  Dimunitive or petite or dainty is not a pretty word, not in this country where tall and lean is the rage and being precocious is a precious commodity.

So I sign as I drop her off at the curb.  As she talks into the morning throng of middle schoolers, I wonder, when will her puberty gene shows up? A small dainty girl going into the harsh reality of “popular girls” rule and exclusive sub-groups.  Will she survive?  Will she find it in her to take it all in her strike as she strikes up the stairs to her school?

Too many questions and too few answers.  I don’t know.  I was five feet one. The pain I once suffered as taller, prettier girls seem to steal all the limelight and I languished in the shadow of them all. Or maybe not– I did grow resilence and inner resolve, needed to survive the peer pressure game.

I’m still 5 feet 1 inch tall.  With 92 pounds on my frame, I’m small by any measure and when I go and pick her up, they think I’m one of them.  So maybe, there’s a up side to this height game.  At high school reunions, my taller counterparts complain how age is catching up and they look at me, and say, “It’s not fair.  You look young because you’re so small.”

I smiled and thought, “Who would have thought?’  Me, the envy.

So maybe, I should tell my daughter, don’t sweat it.  Time will show you up, for the better.

School’s in and I’m out

The lazy dog days of summer have finally come to an end.  The garage is littered with boogie boards, bicycles with balding tires and the lawn with water guns and colorful remnants of water fights–all remains of summer fun and with it the nostalgia of another summer gone.

School's Back

School's Back

As the kids shuffled with heavy feet, wishing the sun hasn’t changed its spot on the universe and summer could go on and on and on…. I secretly heave a sign of relief.  School is back in session and I’m good to go.  Good for a show in between school hours, good to check out the new collection at Nordstroms, good to read and dream and write and wish upon a star.  I’m revving up when the kids would be safely stowed away in school and I can come out and play.

Sounds crazy, right?  Sounds like I’m a reluctant mom, doing my “summer time jail” ?  Whatever, I’m tempted to say but I think I’ve earned my time.  I’ve enjoyed my kids all summer.  Want to hang out at the beach?  I’m there–water cooler, umbrellas, towels and sunscreen and yes…the camera.  Want to have a couple of kids (which eventually turned into a company of kids) sleep over?  I’m in.  So did you say, you need to serve pizza and chips and soda? I’m on it. Didn’t bargain for the pounding of untrained hands on the piano and the clanging of drum sets, but yes, this is summer and your friends are allowed to drum up some noise.  Want to drive 45 minutes so you can get to the nearest Urban Outfitters and buy all the cute clothes with my money.  Well….let me see.  Please?  OK, what can I say?  It’s summer and I’ve all the time in the world. I’ve been duped into all kinds of summer fun.

I’ve been a willing participant and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it but now, the time has come for a little chilling.  A little quiet time– a little me time.  Sounds selfish, maybe?  If sanity can speak, she could scream, “You go, girl!”

Food, Family and Friends

So, it’s been a while since I last blogged.  Blame it on the tropical weather.  Blame it on the food ( imagine the melting favors of the world over in one food court).  Blame it on family and friends.  Precisely, the deadly combination of the 3 F’s–food, family and friends.  And you get precisely that when you travel 12,000 miles to your place of birth for your yearly reunion of the 3Fs.

So for the past month, I’ve been hibernating in the warm juicy weather of Singapore.  A tiny island, surrounded by water (goes without saying) and immersed in 100 percent humility.  I love the sauna like weather.  Try it–it does wonder for your skin.  I didn’t have to worry much about moisturing my skin.

I didn’t have to worry about food either.  You can reach any eating places within minutes, sometimes seconds, when all you have to do is take the elevator to the ground floor of your apartment.  There on the very ground floor, are teeming stalls hawking mouth-watering food.  Chicken rice, spicy chicken noodles, Indian Roti Prata, fried fritters, fish balls, chicken feet, pig intestines–they congregate to tintillize your taste buds.  So what do you do?  You eat like there’s no tomorrow.  You eat like you’ve landed in the king’s court and any food you wish is your joy to partake.  On one sitting, you can have different types of food, –Rojak (Asian salad with a shrimpy peanut sauce), chicken rice, fish ball soup, fresh squeezed juice.  And that ‘s minus the dessert.  The array is staggering–that’s why you’ll find me deliberately for umm…..a long time while the line behind me snaked around the food court.

So much for food.  Anytime, all the time.  You’ll find Singaporeans eating any hour of the day.  I often wonder why they’re not any bigger.  Blame it on the heat, I guess?

And family, of course.  You’re home–where you belong and grew up.  No need for polite exchanges, no need for pretences–they know me all too well, so I can dispense with all the formalities and just hang. Hang we did, into the wee hours of the morning, just chilling and chatting.  From the soccer fever (the Euro Cup was on) to the slump in America’s housing market to the nosy neighbor next door to “hey, you look fat in that”–random musing is the word.  So laughter floats out of the windows, and quickly dissipates in the warm still air of the night.  No one will complain of the noise, as your apartment is one of the tens in the block and there are blocks and blocks of apartment in one satellite town.  I revel in the insignificance of this macro-picture.

The month passes really quickly when you have all these friends you’ve to meet.  High tea with elementary school friends, barbecue at a former colleague’s house, shopping with a church friend.  Food and fellowship–life can be a beach.

Now that I’m home and reeling from the lack of the 3 Fs, a hangover of gastro-familial  proportions, I may just have to rely on the sweetness of memories to go on.  Until next year!

What’s Up with Socks?

Do you have a spouse with a compulsion that drives you up the wall?  Or make you want to pack your bag and disappear without a trace?  You rather stay in a toilet booth somewhere, anywhere and hide away while the compulsion waves are riding high?

My husband is hang up on socks.  He looks for socks the first thing he steps into the house. Stray ones?  Ones with holes.  Or ones that sink.  Ones missing a partner–one lone sock sitting forlorn?  Well, invariably his eyes focus on any likeness of woolies that encase feet.

Next, the stock question.  It never changes through the years and despite my plea, “What’s the deal with socks?’, he always asks, ,”Why are these socks lying here?”

Hello?  If you have a child or two or more, the chances of socks decorating the confines of your house are almost 100 %.  No exception–unless you have a special maid whose sole responsibility is picking socks up.  From the sprawling floor of the family room or the tiny crevices of dark corners.  Since most of us live without the luxury of such personalized service, you just have to let the socks be.  Right?

Apparently not in my household.  My husband is bent on seeking the socks out.  Poor things, what have they done to deserve this militant hunting down?  All you socks, you have my sympathy.  Personally, I could care less.  There are more pressing things in life to worry about.  Like drinking my tea and putting my legs up for a sanity moment.

So the standard argument in this house goes something like that?

What are these socks doing lying here?

IDK (shrugs my shoulder)

Who left them here?

IDK ( roll my eyes)–ask Shaina. She was last since with one purpose sock.

I don’t understand.  How can she run around with one sock and not know it?

IDK (hands up in frustration)–she’s only three.  What do you expect?

Sometimes, this “sock” conversation can go on for a long time.  So anal.  So analytical. What’s there to rationalize about socks?  They are just socks, for crying out loud.  Leave them alone.  They do disappearing act, that’s what they do. They are suppose to lounge around and remind people that life doesn’t always have to be perfect and rosy.  Life can be messy and usualy is.

So do you hear?  Leave the socks alone before I sock you, honey.  And I’m already totally socked-out.

So all you, fellow bloggers–does your spouse have a certain compulsion that needs to be exposed?  You can vent your frustration right here.  I’m with you.