vrijdag 28 november 2014

Things that made me cry after I had children

I never used to cry. I tried sometimes, but it felt very fake. So I'd just stop and move on. It's not that I was never sad, but I just never teared up.

Then, pregnancy. Hormones. How times have changed!

This is when I realised something had changed:

This made me cry today (twice):

This made me cry with laughter (mostly at my idiot self - I definitely used to be one of the people who didn't know):

What makes you cry? I have a big box of Kleenex, so do share your videos :)

NaBloPoMo November 2014

donderdag 27 november 2014

Announcement: We're off on holiday

Dear all,

we're going on another weekend break on a tropical island (don't we live the high life). I've just finished packing the bags, Blondie has finished packing her bags, I need to finish an article and then fold the laundry while watching Rock of Ages. (Yes. Again.)

All this to say, that I won't be finishing the NaBloPoMo as we will be on a wifi-less island. In fact, we may not have mobile coverage. But I hope that this month has brought me back into the swing of things, and I'll once again post according to my self-imposed schedule. I'm very happy that you guys are still around reading!

We'll be back on Sunday, hopefully tired and rested, feeling rosy and salty and smiling.

Big hug until then,


ps. I just finished a tiny post for tomorrow. But no promises after that.

NaBloPoMo November 2014

woensdag 26 november 2014

Mama Monologue: Battles I have lost

"No Blondie, we are only going away for three nights, so you only need to pack three pyjama's."

"Big Boy, no jumping from the back of the couch to the tiles, stick to the rug."

"No Blondie, I only read two 'last' stories, this is really really really the last one."

"Big Boy, please spit out your food on your plate."

"No Blondie, you cannot have more broccoli, papa likes broccoli too."

"Big Boy, you may have the blue tiara and the pink necklace, let your sister have the sparkly one."

"No Blondie, we are not taking your Bumble Bee costume with us on holiday."
"Yes, I know I said to bring a nice dress but that is not a nice dress."
"Yes, it is nice."
"Yes, it is a dress."
"No, it's a costume."
"Bumble bees don't go on holiday."
"I know you're only pretending to be a bumble bee. We're still not packing the costume."
"No, we are not packing your Elsa dress either."

NaBloPoMo November 2014

dinsdag 25 november 2014

Lessons learned: packing for travel with children

Today's post is not so much a lesson learned as a discovery made.

I am, even if I say so myself, rather good at packing bags for travel. Even when cycling from home to Rome carrying all the necessities on the back of our bicycles, I still had room to spare, and unworn clothes when we reached Rome (this was on purpose, as one needs to fare la bella figura in Italy).

For me, the trick turned out to be deciding what was essential (money, passport, phone, tooth brush and paste, deodorant and a spare set of underwear) and reminding myself that anything else could be bought upon arrival. Or even at the airport before leaving. I have not worried about packing since.

The discovery came after I had children: I still do not worry about packing. I was fully expecting to have to lug a household's worth of goods every time I decided to move myself two inches, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy. Grab the diaper bag. Grab the kid. Leave. (Now that the kids have to physically move themselves while wearing SHOES AND UNDERWEAR things are different. But that has nothing to do with packing bags.)

For longer haul travelling, I employ the same trick as before. I look up our destination, figure out what we absolutely need to survive, pack that, and relax.

Of course, I do a bit of packing after the essentials (in case you're interested: money, passport, phone, tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant, spare set of underwear, two spare sets of clothing each for the children, diapers, sleeping bag and lovey for Big Boy). You know, like swim suits, swim goggles, some toys, a dress, a skirt here and there - I'm not setting myself up for a clothing hunt through a Bali tourist shop when we could be lying on the beach. I'm just saying, if it comes to that, we'll survive and it'll be an adventure.

My mother used to sigh and ask why I had to dress like a homeless person (this was the age of grunge) but it has left me with a underdeveloped sense of the importance of looking nice. This works out well when the goal is to pack 'n relax. (Except in Rome. Because when in Rome.)

But what if you travel from tropical Singapore to cold Europe? The same rule still applies, it's just that the essentials include one set of warm clothes for each person. And you might want to look into shoes and snow suits (reminder to self: look into shoes and snow suits). But other than that: you're good to go.

In fact, once I showed up at an airport without a passport or an airplane ticket, and the Dutch Marechaussee very kindly issued me an emergency passport after which the airline people found my ticket in their reservation system and off I went on my holiday*. So arguably, the only thing you really need to pack is a tooth brush and clean underwear.

But mostly, I have not had to go emergency shopping, or handwash in hotel bathrooms. Usually, we pack what we need, we use what we pack, and we all go home happy. Pack the essentials, pack everything else on the list, check the essentials, do not think, do not question, check the essentials, leave.

This Thursday we're off on to another tropical island and I have promised Blondie she could pack her own bag.

*It also involved making a police report, and included a healthy dose of panick, and a tiny airport located a 15 minute cycle from my house, and I strongly advise anybody against trying this themselves.

NaBloPoMo November 2014

maandag 24 november 2014

Picture Post & Plaatjespost: My favourite shots

After Blondie was born, my mother handed me my own baby album. When we moved to Singapore, she slipped the first year of our lives in Singapore into my suitcase. It has been wonderful to compare Blondie's life with my own, and she loves to hear stories from when mama was little. 

So, sometime over the past year, I have started to collect photographs of our wee ones to put into an album, so they can leaf through it. Since I was going through our files anyway, I have also started a file named 'Embarrassing', stocking pictures for use when the time comes for graduation and wedding speeches. 

Having gone through all of those pictures several times, the funny thing is: there were no hidden treasures. I knew exactly which ones were my favourite pictures and those ones have remained my favourite pictures. Many of them have already been featured on this blog (here and here and here, for instance, or here and here and here or if you want to go really far back here and here and here and, finally, here).

But here are a few of the past year that I just adore. 

Switzerland holiday, January 2014

Big Boy adores pink flowers, balloons and hair accessories, as well as cars, balls and death jumps. (March 2014)

Photoshoot at my all-time favourite photoshoot location, the white garden at the HortPark. 
(June 2014)

Big Boy in heaven. (July 2014, picture by a friend)

 Blondie in the even bigger ball pen. (July 2014, picture by Man Tamtam)

Blondie and myself at the CNY lights* (February 2014, picture by a friend)

*CNY is Chinese New Year, and the streets of Chinatown are covered in lanterns depicting the year's zodiac sign (horses and coins in this case, my zodiac sign in fact). 

NaBloPoMo November 2014

zondag 23 november 2014

This made me smile: Koref clothes change

We were in Koref for the weekend. Halfway through, I had to ration Blondie's outfit changes to make her clothes last the full weekend (I tried to ration Big Boy's mud-jumping, but then decided that he is still of only-diaper wearing age). It was hard to keep up with pictures amidst all the costume changes, but here are pictures of roughly half of their outfits.

NaBloPoMo November 2014

zaterdag 22 november 2014

Repeating History: Sinterklaas in Singapore

Today, we inaugurated Blondie properly into the Dutchies favourite tradition: Sinterklaas. I'm calling it "repeating history" as I used to go to these festivities as well at the Hollandse Club, but when Man Tamtam asked "What memories were jogged?", I had to tell him - none.

What I remember of the arrival of Sinterklaas is at school, the Hollandse School in Singapore, and we'd all be standing around on the steps watching as Zwarte Piet cycled Sinterklaas in his rikshaw up the hill from Orchard Road. We'd all be wearing these home-made Zwarte Piet-caps out of cardboard and crepe paper, and shouting and dancing with glee.

Nowadays the children wear proper store-bought suits and hats. Much more durable - I remember our main worry while waiting for the saint to arrive was holding on to the caps while not squashing them.

'Sinterklaas' both refers to the festival of gift-giving on December 5th and to its main protagonist, Saint Nicholas, formerly bishop of Myra (Turkey) and patron saint of sailors, drunkards and unwed women. He is also the patron saint of Amsterdam (no surprise there) and the origin for the name "Santa Claus", though Sinterklaas does not actually have anything to do with Christmas other than being a Catholic saint (perish the thought!).

Somewhere in the eighteenth or nineteenth century, when all of Europe was really into inventing traditions, the Dutch decided to stake a claim to this saint. In the process, he got moved to Spain, outftted with a white horse and a steamboat to get him from Spain to the Netherlands every year) and accompanied by a bunch of henchmen called "Black Petes", about whom there is a big debate raging back home (and rightfully so, let's hope their looks go more chimney sweeper and less uniformly black in future, but I digress).

As the Dutch are both pragmatic and mercantile, Sinterklaas arrives about two to three weeks before the big day, and then hangs around until the big day, offering lots of photo ops, and product placement opportunities. The arrival of Sinterklaas is a nationally televised event. (YES.) A day or a week later, he will arrive in cities around the Netherlands and around the world.

Today, he arrived in Singapore, at the Marina Bay South Jetty. (Sinterklaas likes a bit of an entrance.) We took Blondie and Big Boy there, who were much more interested in pepernoten and balloons respectively, after which Blondie and I took the bus to the Hollandse Club for the real welcome, including gift and lunch.

Blondie, not enrolled in the Hollandse School and sadly lacking in Dutchie friends, took a bit of convincing to get into the proceedings. And she was deeply disappointed she did not get the opportunity to tell Sinterklaas and Black Pete that she thinks they are very nice people, and thank you for the pepernoten. But she loved the band.

We need to get her started on the Sinterklaasjournaal, if we want to save our Blondie for this Dutch tradition because in a few years, she's going to have to do the whole rhyming poking fun at people while giving them presents gig. Sinterklaas only gets better when you get older - the magic never ends.

ps. I know I missed yesterday. There were deadlines, melt-downs and a dinner party at my house. As it turns out, I am not superhuman after all.
psII. All photos taken with my phone and published without editing.

NaBloPoMo November 2014