New Year Resolutions 2017

OMG, we are almost done with Quarter 1 and I am still procrastinating on penning down the 2017 NYR.  Gotto resolve to resolve!

For the first 3 quarters of 2016, Dear1 and I did fairly okay.  We constantly remind ourselves of the goals that we’ve set out earlier in the year, and try to work towards them.  The monthly calendar that we stick on the fridge, where we write down the monthly outdoor activities, bi-monthly couple activities, and quarterly friends/ relatives gatherings work quite well (though we cheated a bit, LOL).  On months that we could not achieve the activity, we’ll try to make it up the next month.  I also made a photo-log of the new (successful) dishes that I’ve cooked in Facebook, which serves as useful reminders when I forget the ingredients used in a particular dish.  Dear1 did well in his self-improvement too; he’d learnt a couple other new languages, and seems to be having fun expanding his knowledge through reading everyday.

Towards the end of the year, I kind of lost steam and got depressed when Granny was diagnosed with Stage 4 Uterine Cancer. When family members are old and sick, you start to think about life a lot more, adding to the mental, emotional and physical stress.  I guess I’ll just have to do more to keep myself away from the depressing thoughts.

2017 is gonna be a year when I immerse myself as a SAHM.  And the mantra that I want to set for myself as a SAHM, is to be a loving wife to Dear1, and a loving mentor to Baby1 and Baby2.

Dear2 NYR:

  1. Talk unhurriedly and in proper English or Mandarin
  2. Write legibly (and no short forms)
  3. Moisturize daily (hand, neck)
  4. Cup of warm water every morning (for improving digestive system)
  5. Planks every morning (for trimming down that loose belly!)
  6. Facebook ONLY once a day
  7. Attend a course (maybe an evening class at the CC?)
  8. Attend CEPP (Community Emergency Preparedness Program)
  9. Master 1 CNY cookie
  10. At least 1 post monthly
  11. Give Dear1 a massage at least once a week

Dear1 NYR:

  1. Weight: Maintain weight at 66-68kg
  2. Exercise: Do daily planks (minimum 2 x 1.5min) on weekdays
  3. Exercise on weekends
  4. Diet: Less oil, salt and carbo
  5. Complete 1 skills future course + Data Science course
  6. At least 1 post bi-monthly
  7. Sleep by 10.15pm on week nights
  8. Apply scholarship

Family NYR:

  1. Monthly family activities (starting Apr, opps)
  2. Quarterly couple activities (starting Q2, huhuhu)
  3. Quarterly bring Ah Gong and Ah Ma out
  4. Host Friends at least once this year
  5. Hug and kiss Dear1, Dear2, Baby1 and Baby2 everyday + say love often
  6. Travel: 1 long (2 weeks) and 1 short (see, by now, we have already done the short trip with our 1D Desaru trip, >_<  )
  7. Re-initiate house viewing (with the intention to rent)
  8. At least 1 fruit weekly (gotto feed Dear1 since he really does not have any fondness for fruits)
  9. Give each other full attention for at least 5mins everyday
  10. No processed foods (mental note to self: that includes frozen nuggets, fishballs, crabsticks, or any frozen balls)
  11. Teach – Step by step; Educate – Make understand; Instruct – Understand and follow

Jiayou~

– Dear2

Desaru 1 Day Trip

It’s the school holidays!

Baby1 entered Primary One this year, so this year marks the first year when our family holidays have to be planned around the school holidays, groan…

2 weeks before the March school holidays, when we finally got Baby1’s ballet exam schedule, Dear1 and I started to brainstorm about a holiday trip.

Cruise – (Royal Caribbean) too expensive.  Plus school holidays are even more expensive.  Not to mention the (local) crowd.

Fly – Hmm, we can’t be flying every school holidays right!?  That’ll mean March, June, September PLUS December.  No budget lah.  Also, we stay in Bukit Batok, and Changi Airport is in the East.  Travelling across Singapore is not efficient leh.

Staycation – What about not going out of Singapore?  That’ll mean staycations in hotels or chalets.  But at minimum $200+ per night, just to go swimming and/or use the hotel/resort facilities which are usually not suitable for our young kids, it’s cheaper if we just go swimming at public swimming pools, or stay out late the whole day, and DRIVE home after that.  I’m sure the total cost is much much cheaper than $200.

Boat – What about to the nearby island resorts, Batam or Bintan?  But even though Indonesia, good and clean resorts are not any cheaper too, hmm….

Drive – That’ll mean to Malaysia.  But after our 2015 Cherating self drive trip, I have a phobia of self drive in Malaysia; tail-gating brings a different meaning to distance on the Malaysian’s so-called highways. What about going on a tour package then?  Baby1 and Baby2 are now 7yo and 4.5yo, so they should be better able tolerate long bus rides (I hope so)?  So Dear1 and I looked up some tour packages to nearby Malaysia and Desaru looks near yet fun enough.  But a 2D1N package including 1 night accommodation doesn’t come cheap, plus we’ll really be sleeping for the night, and bathing, so hotel facilities won’t really be used at all. What about a day trip then?  Looks reasonable, except that we will have to be at Chinatown for pickup at 6.30am, and will reach Chinatown again at 11pm. It’ll be a challenge to reach Chinatown by 6.30am, and it’ll be a bigger nightmare to reach Chinatown at 11pm and take another 45min to reach our Bukit Batok home and bath the super cranky, tired kids.  Hmm…

We happened to chance upon private hire cars, and that seemed like a brilliant arrangement, except that it’s more expensive than having 40 people on a coach.  We decided to ask the gramps along too, and Ah Gong proposed to engage a Malaysian local private car company at SGD 350 for a 8-seater car. Deal.

On the day of our 1 Day Desaru Trip:

8.20am – The car picked up Ah Gong and Ah Ma at their block, and by 8.35am, our family climbed in too.  It’s a comfortable 8-seater, and it’s a Chinese driver.

9.30am – Woohoo, we’ve cleared the Woodlands customs, kudos to Ah Gong’s time planning.  He’d arranged for this pick up timing so that the Singapore to Malaysia customs should be fairly smooth at this time.  But I suspect the driver probably had a long stuck when he entered Singapore earlier.  Since the time was early, Ah Gong decided to bring us to the Kota Tinggi Waterfalls.

Visiting Kota Tinggi Waterfalls requires a ticket

First time seeing a waterfall up close for Dear2, Baby1, and Baby2. We saw only 3 groups of people playing in the water there.

10.40am – Omg, it’s a pretty long drive here.  But the waterfall is amazing!  It’s the first time that myself and the kids come so close to a waterfall.  There’s a little fall and 2 taller ones.  We hiked up, listened to the water gushing down, and put our hands into the stream to feel the impact of the cold streaming water.  Sensational!

11.30am – Okay, gotto move out.  Ah Gong directed the driver to a famous Bak Kut Teh stall (强记肉骨茶), but alas it’s not opened!  Next option, some nice Chinese zichar restaurant, so we drove back to the town centre near the waterfall.  Alas, not opened too.  We decided to just eat the Ah Boy Bak Kut Teh beside.  But now, it’s already 12.30pm, and we had to wait for 3 tables to be served before us, groan…

Getting ready for the hourly fruit farm tour. There were only 2 families in our group. In fact, we saw the other family earlier at Kota Tinggi Waterfalls.

2.05pm – We reached the Desaru fruit farm where the kids had a short nap in the car en-route here.  We took the next tour bus which was at 2.30pm, and after a 2 min drive, the Guide brought us around the fruit farm and mini zoo where she walked and explained so quickly that most of us were just nodding and kept straining to see exactly where on the plant is she pointing to.  Nonetheless, we saw pineapples, long beans, banana, papaya and many more fruits and vegetables, smelt basil in our palms, and chewed some leaf which was actually sweet!  The kids had fun feeding the fish and goats too; RM 2 for a BIG packet of feed , you’ll not dare to go Farmart again for the SGD 5 small packet of feed.

We found out that there are round papayas, as well as long papayas.

3.45pm – Back into the shade, and we ate the fruit box which came included in the package.  Baby1 had such fun enjoying and trying the various fruits in the box – watermelon, banana, honeydew, jackfruit, jumbu, passionfruit, guava.  Great job Baby1!  We like it that you are brave and adventurous to try all the different (unknown) fruits.

4.50pm – We reached the Ostrich Farm after a 30 min drive here. Wow, an ostrich egg is really huge and heavy, and an ostrich is really taller than Papa!  The kids had fun taking turns standing on ostrich eggs, stroking the ostrich, and riding the world’s fastest bird.  We also listened to Mandarin ah gong explained the uses and potency of ostrich, though Baby1 and Baby2 probably catch no ball throughout his whole Mandarin presentation.  They had fun knocking ostrich eggs on their heads, and feeling the paper-thin ostrich eggs membrane though.

One day old ostrich at the entrance of the farm.

A friendly ostrich greeted us as we entered. There were a couple of free roaming ostriches around. Two followed Dear1 around when one of the farmers handed a bucket of corn to Dear1.

5.50pm – Opps, how time flies, and we hurriedly left the ostrich farm.  There was a mis-communication and Ah Gong brought us to a seafood restaurant.  But how on earth are we going to order, wait for the food to be cooked, eat, and travel to the resort’s firefly cruise in 1 hours’ time!?  We quickly grabbed some Malaysian biscuits and went in search of fireflies.

7.15pm – OMG, the driver is absolutely clueless about the location!  Throughout the whole day’s drive, we kinda realised that this driver is not at all familiar with JB.  He took us to a blocked road which he was supposed to have come here a few weeks back.  What the!?  He quickly made lengthy inquiries with other drivers who pointed us to another location.  Along the way, he even dared to suggest that we head back to Kota Tinggi firefly place.  Super OMG. Luckily Dear1 had GPS on and we tried to steer ourselves towards the river.

7.40pm – The end of the small dark road led us to a restaurant.  There’s 2 Singapore cars here, so we should probably be at the right place?  We hurried in.  Phew, this is indeed the correct place, and the first boat will leave at 8pm.

We quickly purchased our ticket at the restaurant counter and waited for our cruise.

This is a view of the cruise boat. The lights were switched off once we sailed so that we can see the fireflies. It was too dark to take pictures of the glittering fireflies along the river banks. The beautiful scene lives only in our memories.

8pm – Each of us got seated comfortably on the large cruise boat, and admired the tiny twinkling lights as the boat sailed silently along the river.  The boatmen occasionally splashed water at the trees to disturb the fireflies, and even caught 1 firefly for us.  Another one landed on Baby1’s hair and palm, geez!  Papa caught 1 too! It was an amazing 30 min experience.

9.50pm – We finished dinner at this restaurant.  No more driving in search with this driver.

10.45pm – Reached Woodlands customs via one of the newer highway.  Hmm, this highway is indeed faster.  We exited the Malaysian custom fairly quickly, but omg, there’s a long queue of Singapore cars on the causeway entering the Singapore customs.

11.15pm – Finally cleared the customs.

11.30pm – Bukit Batok sweet Bukit Batok.

It was a fun-filled one day trip, short of not eating nicer foods, the driver being super inexperienced, and the dirty toilets.

Happy holidays!

– Dear2

Jacky Cheung Concert 2017

Dear1 and I attended Jacky Cheung’s 2017 Singapore “A Classic Tour” concert 2 weeks back, and oh boy, what an eye-opener for the both of us!

This was my birthday present to Dear1, and his present to me, heehee, but we were still too stingy and are only willing to splurge on the balcony seats.  Despite being high up and far away, we thought that the show was still pretty good from where we were seated!

  • The Songs

It was supposed to be “A Classic Tour”, but Jacky defined his version of “Classic”.  Many of us came with the expectation of hearing all his classics, but halfway through the show, Jacky explained that he wanted this concert to go down in the entertainment history as a “Classic”, and not as a showcase of his “classics” songs.  Wow, what a revelation and amazing twist!

Neither Dear1 and I were familiar with most of the Cantonese songs presented on the night, but Jacky beautifully round up the evening with a medley of his most popular Mandarin hits.  That really created an out of the world concert experience for us all audience!

  • The Dancers

Not only did we get to hear Jacky’s awesome singing, his troupe of beautiful and athletic dancers performed multiple awe-inspiring dances throughout the show.  The ladies with great figures in their bunny suits, the men performed hops and walked on stilts; it must have been really a privilege to be part of Jacky’s dance entourage, and I bet they are paid loads for being the best in their class!

  • His Moves

I worried constantly for Jacky throughout the 3 hour show.  How can one’s vocal cords sing for 3 hours straight, on top of having to walk and dance and move up and down and round and round the 4-stage stage?  And at 50+ years old!?  Jacky is truly a professional, and an amazing one at that!

  • The Light Effects

Dear1 and I have not been to many concerts, but concerts/events/theme parks are usually a show case of the latest technology, or the lack of it.  Jacky’s concert definitely brought “Lights” to a different level.  Light dances with colored hanging lights are the passe now.  Floor lights, stage lights, minute hanging lights that dances round and round and up and down, big screens, floor screens, in fact each of the individual platform pieces are screens on their own; these different light effects created such amazing pieces to create such beautiful visual impact.

  • The Stage Effects

Did I mention that the platform is made up of individual pieces?  Yes, platforms that merely raise up and down seems to be the passe too.  The entire floor seems to be able to rotate, as a platform on it’s own, or as individual pieces on their own.  Wow.  And what’s with the lift off?  Can platforms even flange off like that  Where are the supports!?

  • The Fire Effects (and Smell Effects?)

As if indulging in your sense of hearing and sense of sight are not enough, there was real fire (sense of heat) and sense of smell (was it real smoke or not?).  Wah, was that really real fire in the middle of the stage!?

  • The Heart-Warming Contest

Despite all that excitement, Jacky held a heart-warming contest.  He first made all the couples do loving acts in order to win a mystery prize.  And this was awarded to a lucky couple.  It’s actually a simple portrait of the couple’s kissing moment on screen, signed off with the star’s autograph.  But Jacky’s accompanying message was, “If in times of arguments, take this portrait out and remember this moment when the two of you kissed passionately.”  Awe, so sweet….

  • The 1 Hour Encore

And I loved how Jacky ended his concert in an almost 1 hour encore. He said that there’ll be not 1, or 2 encore songs, but 3, but the encore turned out to be a long continuous medley of all our favourite hits.  I totally lost count of the total number of songs he sang in the encore.

It was a very entertaining concert, and Dear1 and I rounded off the evening with a food exploration to Rocher Beancurd House at Geylang for beancurd.  Surprisingly, the beancurd’s not bad, and we subsequently brought the kids there last week too.

I think Jacky had achieved his intention, so when x years have gone by, we’ll remember this as “Jacky’s Classic Tour” which Dear1 and I gave to each other as one of our birthday present.  Happy Birthday Dear1!

– Dear2

Book Review: Spark Joy

I couldn’t manage to borrow a copy of the acclaimed KonMarie book “The Life-Changing Method of Tidying Up” but found a copy of “”Spark Joy” from the National Library instead.  This book is indeed inspirational too!

Whether as a FTWM or a SAHM, I have often feel that our house is always overly cluttered.  Our 3-room HDB flat often seems overwhelmed with soooo many things that every once in a while I’ll buay tahan to the max and complain to Dear1 that I want to do a spring clean.  Indeed, at every new milestone, like when just before Baby1 was born and the “maternal instinct to clean out everything” suddenly kicked in; and same thing when just before Baby2 was born; when we chased Baby1 and Baby2 out from our bedroom to their own children’s room; or when the storeroom seems to be filled to the brim every now and then.  After reading , I found out that this urge to “spring clean” is actually more philosophical than purely just spring clean!

Basically, a tidy house:

  • Reflects your tidy life, and your tidy character.
  • Makes you understand what you really want (ie your material needs and wants)
  • Makes you ponder on what you want in life too. “Tidying orders the mind, while cleaning purifies it”.
  • Makes cleaning easier.  When there’s less things in the house, faster cleaning means more time for play.
  • Makes finding things easier. Because every item has it’s own place.
  • Of course means you spend more wisely since you’ll be cautious of what you add to the house.
  • Leaves only items that “spark joy” in your house.  If you see items that spark joy everywhere in your house, naturally you’ll feel happier.
  • Makes you discard all the items that don’t spark joy for you. When these dreaded items are out of sight, they’re out-of-mind, so there’s nothing to spark unjoy.
  • Enables better air flow.  When there’s no stagnant qi and better flow, everyone’s supposed to feel better!

Reading the book, it seems there’s already a large part that I have employed in my own life all this while (perhaps I can be a consultant just like KonMarie, giving lessons to other people, writing books, all merely passing on to other people what I do on a daily basis.  ;p).

1) Tidy by Category

Whenever I do spring cleaning, clothes is always the first category to be axed.  I often noticed that when my wardrobe is much neater, aka when I can better sight the clothes that I’ll wear, and sell to karang kuni those that I won’t wear anymore, this alone is very therapeutic. Or rather, the sense of over whelmness will absolve very fast.

KonMarie also advocates clearing the clothes first, followed by books, papers then komono (miscellaneous).  Her rule of thumb is, only keep those that “spark joy”.  This is where I come short, because very often, you tend to keep certain clothes that are barely worn, for “just in case”.  KonMarie says that this is a no-no, for if that time really comes (ask y0urself, really got?), you can always find a substitute from your existing pile.  Also, because it’s an item that “sparks joy”, you feel happy during this once-in-a-while usage too.

Clearing papers has been part of our habits too (but one that Dear1 and I only discovered in recent years.  Perhaps this is part of us maturing and gaining more life experience over the years?)  Like her, we have decided to discard most papers nowadays.

KonMarie also says always to tidy by category, and never by location, ie tidy bedroom first, then living room next.  You run the risk of transferring your garbage from one room to the other if you do that!

2) Keep Similar Items Together

This is also a rule of thumb when I keep things at home. Batteries and cables in 1 location, spares toiletries in 1 location.  Sometimes when Dear1 asks for a random item, I can usually retrieve it easily even though I can’t remember it’s exact location most of the time.  Because similar items are stored together, the random item will usually be found where it’s peers are!

3) Tidy Komono and Sentimental Items Last

The rule is, you tidy the easy ones first, and leave the tricky ones to the last.  It’s easier to settle all the easier clothes, books and papers category first; this gives you more confidence, more peace of mind, and more time to handle the supposedly more time-consuming ones.  For komono, aka miscellaneous items, every one may have different categories, for instance kitchen tools, hobbies (sewing, robots, art and craft etc), so tackle each sub-category one by one.  Again, the rule of thumb, discard those that do not spark joy, and keep only those that spark joy.

4) Kitchen as Ease of Cleaning

KonMarie refutes the common conception that the kitchen should be designed for ease of use.  Throw this concept out of the window!

Ever since we have our own house, my philosophy is to store all condiments, pots and pans and as much as everything within closed doors.  Finally there is someone who agrees that this is the better method, as compared to having a “ease of use” method.  While having to open and close cupboard doors and drawers frequently when cooking every meal, I find that a neat kitchen stove is more appealing than an oily-looking one. And KonMarie aptly coins this as the “ease of cleaning”.  Wah, what a revelation!

5) Fold and Stack Clothes

We converted the deep Toyogo drawers to shallow Ikea drawers when Baby2 came along, and started to store the clothes in horizontal rows rather in vertical clothes so that all the clothes are easily visible, and easy to extract.  A neater wardrobe is so pleasing to the eye!

“Spark Joy” also sheds a couple other points that are new to me:

1) The Annual Spring Clean is to Clean, not Tidy

How often have I felt overwhelmed and extremely exhausted whenever I do spring cleaning.  Because I have been doing it the wrong way!

KonMarie says cleaning and tidying are not the same thing (ermm, so obvious, but yet not so obvious, right?).  So when you do Spring Cleaning, means you only clean.  But tidying first then clean is definitely much more efficient and less daunting, so please always tidy first!

2) Praise your Spark Joy Items, and Bid Goodbye to the Rest

KonMarie really appreciates all her items.  For those that spark joy and remain, she’ll praise them for bringing beauty to her, or being a great helper, or for bringing joy to her life (isn’t this what all of us should do, being appreciative to what you have in life?).  For those that she decides to discard, she’ll thank them for being part of her life once, or for having served it’s function, and keep these out of her life forever (again, isn’t this reminiscing the good times before and being grateful, but resolve to remove them when they become an obstacle?).

3) Dorn your House

KonMarie must be a super feminine lady; she dorns her house with many pretty things and stores all her things in nice pretty boxes, even all the underwear. I think this must be their Japanese culture where Japanese craft is always so delicate and pretty.  And when you see many pretty things, you’ll naturally feel happier too?  She arranges all the bras in color code, with the brighter ones in front and the darker ones at the back.  For underwear, each and every piece is folded and wrapped like a candy, exposing the front detailed laces.  Seems very elaborate, but perhaps seeing all your under garments arranged so prettily and colorfully really brightens your day, and wearing these cherished pieces in the inner wear really makes you feel cherished and confident too?

4) Compare

KonMarie says the best way to know if something sparks joy is to compare. When we cling on to too many material possessions, this tip becomes so useful!  All these pyjamas are favourites, but between this and that, which one sparks more joy?  Or when there are too many art pieces by Baby1, choose only the top 3 to keep.

5) It has to come from your Heart

If someone wants to tidy, it has to come from within.  In the book, the example is, you can’t get someone to tidy if he doesn’t want to, because he simply does not have your same perspective that things are not in order.  On this, I have to acknowledge that I finally understand why Dear1 does not always see the need to do spring cleaning, because things did not seem out of place from his perspective….

“Spark Joy” has been very enlightening. I’ll be trying to incorporate some of these ideas in our home, and in our life.  It’s also especially heartening to know that my minimalist personality and lifestyle actually have been recognized by some to be beneficial.  :)

– Dear2

What are Your Values?

I am still in search of myself, and when I came across a parenting book that says, “a parent is a role model who inculcates her values to her kids”, I am stumped – what are my values?

I had not prepared myself as a SAHM.  It sure looked easy – stay home and look after the kids.   But 3 months on, I am still asking myself, what value add have I added to the family?

I heave a big sigh of relief now that Baby1’s pencil-holding grip is finally corrected.  Dear1 and I had observed this some years back, and we thought that she’ll correct herself along the way.  But when she still holds the pencil awkwardly 2 months before starting Primary School, I had to rectify this problem lest it becomes a perpetual habit.

Baby1 and Baby2 are much happier now too.  Both of them get to spend one-on-one time with me every day now when the other sibling is in school, and sulks when the sibling is dismissed from school.  A good problem, one that I should pay attention to.

Dear1 is happier too, now that he does not have to listen to my daily wimps of “which hawker centre to eat for dinner tonight?”.

Despite these improvements, there has been numerous emotional and mental downs while I try to become the super SAHM that I think others are.  Chinese New Year is just next weekend, but I still cannot bring myself to set my 2017 New Year Resolutions. *groan*

So I thought, instead of doing up a grand master plan, maybe I’ll start with something small first.  So, let’s start with Values.

Hmm…… Values….

For one, Dear1 and I try to advocate “no processed foods”.  This seems to be going down pretty well with Baby1 and Baby2, when every time I cook sausages or fishballs, they’ll chant to me the numerous occasions when the grannies cooked these. It is pretty easy to steer clear of these – just don’t buy them.  But for chips and fast food and ice creams, Dear1 and I have to constantly remind ourselves that “once in a while” must really mean “once in a while” and not every other day/ week/ month. We want our girls to grow up eating healthy, so these food habits really must start young.

For the second, I must really stop thinking that food courts or restaurants are alternative foods.  How often have I complained that food courts are “so oily, so fried, so not nice, yet not cheap”!  And restaurants are “so salty, so noisy, stinks the clothes, and so not cheap”!  Food courts and restaurants are really so not value for money.  (I think the concept of value of money has been practiced by Dear1 and myself all the while, so Baby1 and Baby2 should be pretty used to this concept?)  Conversely, hawker centres are yummy and value for money!  And of course, home-cooked are the best in value-for-nutrition.

Talking about queues, Singaporeans soooo like to queue!  “If you see a queue, it’s probably nice!”  But not us – Dear1 and I don’t quite subscribe to this.  Long queue may mean inefficiencies, not necessarily equate to food yummi-ness.  So one of my indicator of nice food is to do a visual sweep of what others are eating, heehee!

Dear1 and I are quite contrarians – we don’t chase after the latest trends like what most people do.  Take for instance Food Panda and Deliveroo and all the food deliveries aps out there. It’s so convenient – branded foods are just a call away.  But food is meant to be enjoyed, so what’s the point of having a spread of cold, soggy, too soft or too hard branded food in front of me?

Values.  I think I need to appreciate myself more.  Improvements will probably not happen in leaps and bounds for me from a FTWM to a SAHM, because I may really had been doing a pretty good job juggling work and family then.  Our financial circumstances have changed, but since I was already pretty frugal from young, these values have not changed; perhaps only more stringent now.

I need to trust myself more.  Or perhaps don’t fret or worry too much.  If there’s a problem, use my brainy thinking hat and think out a solution, and resolve the issue, TA-DA!  Or if my tweeny brain is stuck, I can seek for inspirations from my loving Dear1 who is always there to support me.

– Dear2

K-Drama and Us

Today is the last day of 2016. What an apt time to write a year-in-review post for our new found hobby – K-Drama! Haha…

K-Dramas have been all the rage these year and we’ve definitely also watched a few K-Dramas on and off. However, we’ve never really been hooked. Until this year.

Before we review the dramas that we’ve watched this year, let’s first take a step back and recap the dramas that we’ve watch prior to this year.

Back in the school days, I recall Dear2 being hooked on Winter Sonata. She must have re-watched it several times, but I did not watch the drama with her. I also recall Dear2 watching Autumn in My Heart, Summer Scent, Stairway to Heaven, The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince, Jewel in the Palace.

Dramas that both of us watched together included All In, Temptation of Wife, My Love Patzzi, My Lovely Samsoon, Dr. Jin, Witch Yoo Hee, and most recently Good Doctor.

After watching all those dramas, we just didn’t get the irresistible urge to join the craze. It was more of a sporadic interest, whatever drama advert that caught our attention.

Well, that was exactly what happened earlier this year, when I heard about the good reviews about Descendants of the Sun over the radio. We decided to give it a shot. After all, catching a good K-Drama is infinitely better than watching the crap on Mediacorp.

But there was just one problem. DOTS was still airing in Korea, how were we going to watch it? All the previous dramas were watched either on local broadcast TV or DVDs that we bought.

After a quick search online, we realized that K-Dramas can be streamed online quite readily with English subs. It was also then that Dear2’s colleague introduced her to viu. That must have opened the floodgates.

There was no turning back. We were captivated by DOTS and we watched one show after another throughout the year. Even Japan Trip planning and Hong Kong Trip planning were temporarily shelved so that we could catch up on K-Dramas. Haha…

Dear2 and I are typically not trend followers. We would catch on to it only if we evaluate it to be something that we genuinely like. I guess that makes us late bloomers to the K-Drama trend, and it is really only because K-Dramas are becoming that good.

So, after watching DOTS, we watched it again. Yup, again. Next, Dear2 wanted to see more of Song Joong-ki, so we watched Innocent Man. After that we decided to catch up on some well reviewed K-Dramas and settled on My Love from the Star. That started the craze for Kim Soo-hyun, and we followed up with The Producers, Moon Embracing the Sun, and Dream High. In fact, Moon Embracing the Sun OST became my defacto music track at my office.

After that, I wanted to see more of IU, so we watched Infinity Challenge Music Festival 2015. That got us hooked on Infinity Challenge and we watched many many more episodes of it. We also liked Yoo Jae Suk and G-Dragon from the Music Festival and watched a few more episodes of variety shows such as Please Take Care of My Refrigerator and Happy Together. We also forayed into some Running Man episodes but it wasn’t as entertaining as Infinity Challenge. Some time during this, we re-watched My Love from the Star.

As luck would have it, IU would feature in Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo which was conceptually similar to 步步惊心 (which happened to be another drama that Dear2 enjoyed a lot). So there’s no way we would miss this.

After this, I was on a business trip and Doctors was available on KrisWorld, so I watched around 10 episodes of it in-flight. Upon my return, Dear2 caught up and we finished the series.

Next up was Love in the Moonlight and both of us were enchanted by Park Bo-gum. We watched our first 1 Night 2 Days because of him, and right now, we are catching up on Reply 1988. Concurrently, we are watching The Legend of the Blue Sea, but it has been quite boring so far, don’t know if we’ll be able to finish watching it.

Phew~ What a year it had been. Dear2 and I have been swept by K-Drama fever, and it may well continue into next year. I think it is nice that we share a common hobby so we look forward to the late nights catching up dramas together after the children go to bed. We also have common topics to talk about, be it reading dramabeans, discussing the storylines, condemning local productions, moon-eyeing Korean idols. Haha…

Gotta go, Dear2 is waiting for me to watch Reply 1988 ep 8.

-Dear1

@#$%^& In, @#$%^& Out

I don’t know about you, but my 4yo and 6yo seem to pick up what mummy and papa say quite well. And sometimes they remember words from last time too.  Omg.

They say don’t talk down to kids, and don’t lie to kids.  Dear1 and I have been consciously trying to do that since Baby1 was born, and we’ve maintained the same stance to Baby2 too.  We always try our best to talk the same level with them, and we rack our heads to warp the unmentionables into factual statements so as to avoid telling any white lies. But at the end of a tired day, or when you are in a rush, tempers flare, your own emotions run high and @#$%^& comes out from your mouth unknowingly. Don’t think kids don’t pick these up, because they do.  Before you know it, they internalise this, and @#$%^& comes out from their mouths too some time later.  OMG!

The ‘experts’ say children are like sponges, so read to them, play with them, bring them outdoors and explore, teach them new languages, sign them up for abacus and creative thinking and programming and music and singing and arts and science and math.  But few experts emphasize the importance of how adults should watch ourselves when we interact with children.  I say adults because I mean ALL adults, not just the parents.  You, mummy and daddy are definitely at the front of the line, but same goes for the grandparents and teachers and aunties in school and stall owners and bus driver and the auntie who chat up with us on the bus.  Basically, anybody who comes into interaction with children.

Children are like sponges – they take in what they see and hear, and translate these into their own protocol.

As a FTWM, I frequently excused myself when Baby1 and Baby2 misbehaved. Half of myself and my time was fully committed to work, 9 hours for sleeping and recharging my drained-out cells, and the remaining 3 hours to Dear1 and the 2 kids.  Do housework, coach spelling and homework and piano practice, cuddle everyone, cook.  I didn’t want to waste any precious time to be the black face and correct the kids’ misbehavior.

The moment of truth came during our 2 weeks holiday in Japan earlier this May.  Before the end of the first week, I was super maddening angry with both kids.  For the first time in 4 years since Baby2 was born, we spent the whole 24 hours together everyday with both kids, and I realised to my utter astonishment that they have soooooooo many bad habits.  Where did they learn these from!?  I knew there were bad habits, but why are there so many!?  How will they grow up from here?  I was crushed.

After a painful cut, I am now a SAHM.   There are various competency levels for SAHMs, and I am still pondering on the kind that I want myself to be.  But I know for sure that apart from imparting knowledge to my 2 girls (I mean, I have to make good use of my 15 years of education right?  What better way than to be an educator to my own 2 girls), I want to teach them manners and respect and gratitude as well as other life skills.

And while doing all that, I need to constantly keep myself in check, in my words, in my actions and how I carry myself in front of them.  Gambatte, mummy!

– Dear2