Be Kind, Always

“Unkindness is inspired by hatred, anger fuels it into action in which there is no great joy; it would take sadism to turn it into something pleasurable; unkind people imagine themselves to be inflicting pain on someone equally unkind.”

- Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

Raise your hands, all of you who have been victims of unkindness. Oh yes, I’m sure we have all been trampled on by someone at one point, some of us getting it worse and/or more often than others.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this because I am a mother now, and I have been asking myself how I would like to raise F. Most of my life, I have been there, eating dust, meek, smiling as I (figuratively) get slapped in the face because it was not in my nature to retaliate, especially if the unkind were elders. It was only in my late twenties that I started learning fair ways of standing up for myself and the people I love, without being noxious to the perpetrators. Sometimes, it works; at other times, it doesn’t. Sometimes, I keep my cool; sometimes, I lose my cool. But above all, I’ve learnt that there is a reason why people can be unkind, and if we can remember that, then we would not and need not feel sorry for ourselves.

Ahhh, yes. It may not look it, given that I have been airing my thoughts publicly for a decade now, but I have felt victimised before by various forms of unkindness, ranging from outright bullying to malignant criticism to being cruelly ridiculed and cornered for that innocuous seed of information that would be miraculously spun into a mossy tangle of rumours. I used to blame myself, and think that people must have a good reason for doing this to me, but as I grew older and learnt the ropes of life, I realised that these, being unprovoked, were done (mostly by the same group of people) to bring me down. But I fought, not to hurt them back because that would mean stooping to a new low, much like the perpetrators, but to stand up tall with a clear conscience, and be happy regardless.

The truth is unkind people are discontented, deeply unhappy, insecure, and dare I say, jealous. If you think about it, there is absolutely no reason for genuinely happy, contented and loving people to gloat over another’s misfortune, put people down to make themselves feel happier, or be sadistic. Now that I know better, they are the ones I actually feel sorry for, because nothing else makes them more elated than being unkind and watching their victims squirm. How devastating it must be to lead that life, to wake up every morning thinking up ways of bullying people they think they have a right to despise, when everyone else is probably waking up to the joy of being alive so they can love, live, give back, and laugh.

And so, I tell my husband, M, that I do not wish to raise F to be an elitist, one who is revered for how well she does in school, how much money she makes, how well she plays sports, the type of car she drives or the district she lives in. There is absolutely no value in any of that. Instead, I want F to be strong enough to stand up against the unkind and not crumble like her mother once did, because let’s face it, the grotesque nature of Man will always be plain for all to see. It breaks my heart that I will not always be around to shield her from bullying, even at such a tender age (sad to say, I have heard kids pointing at an overweight man crossing the road and yelling, ‘PREGNANT MAN, HAHAHAHAHA’ (and get this) in the presence of their parents, who do NOTHING to correct them). And it breaks my heart that she is going to have to take the fall a few times before learning what I learnt the hard way. But yes, I hope for her to be strong enough one day. Above all, I want F to be as kind and loving as humanly possible, because we could all use another friendly face, don’t we?

Yes, we could. Even those who have been unkind, for I am sure they would want their children and loved ones to be free of bullying.

Kindness begets kindness. Don’t ever forget that.

GIVEAWAY! Gorgeous Designer Labels in a ‘Get Me Started’ Pack from Child Label

***GIVEAWAY CLOSED*** 

Thank you all for taking part in the giveaway! Congratulations, Sue (hs******ap@gmail.com)! You have won the ‘Get Me Started’ Sticker Pack! Child Label will be in touch with you shortly.

[SPONSORED POST* - GIVEAWAY details in this post] Parents endeavour to give their children the very best, and I am no exception. As a mother to a little girl, I am always on the lookout for quality clothes, toys, books, foods and other knick-knacks.

In the series ‘I Have My Eye On‘, I share my favourite finds for my daughter.

 

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Before Faith started pre-school, I didn’t bother putting labels on her belongings. We were fairly disciplined in shopping for her, and she didn’t amass too many things. Besides, she is the only kid at home, so ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ is definitely hers, and so is that hot pink straw bottle. We don’t meet that many people at a go for playdates too, so nothing ever gets into the wrong diaper bag. Now that she has started going to school, there is obviously a need to label her belongings so nothing gets lost or mixed up with her classmates’. After all, Mama wouldn’t be around to watch her things like a hawk.

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Truth be told, I planned to scribble her name on scraps of masking tape, or simply ink her water bottle, snack box and what-not with a permanent marker. I have seen too many kids toting around stuff with peeling and scratched labels that have seen better days, and I didn’t believe in spending on something that would fall apart too quickly with everyday wear and tear. I mean, her stuff is going to get washed after every use, why bother with poor-quality labels that you pay for, when you can fashion equally poor-quality (albeit much uglier) ones out of masking tape or live with my fabulous scrawl on plastic (which can’t be a bad thing now that I am picking up modern calligraphy, riiiigghhht?)?

201405 ChildLabel 4I WAS SO WRONG. Wrong in that amazing labels that look good do exist! When Daphne of award-winning parenting blog Mother, Inc., also part of the trio behind Child Label, approached me for a review, I was somewhat skeptical. How could labels not budge when they weather that much abuse? Water, detergent, itchy fingers, scratches, knocks and bumps. How?!! I told Daphne that I would have to give them a really good run before letting her know my thoughts on the labels. So I waited, and waited, until Faith started going to school in late March this year.

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I slapped the stickers on things like her water bottle, snack box and folders. And I stuck the iron-on labels (which are super easy to apply, by the way) onto her school uniforms and even a somewhat heat-proof smooth patch that I found on her schoolbag. Two months have gone by and NOTHING HAS BUDGED. Nary a scratch or a corner threatening to peel. The stickers and iron-on labels remain colourfast. The stickers retain the glossy surfaces even after so many washes. I tried to pick at them and scratch them, but nope, they are good as new (even though Child Label says the labels might be vulnerable to constant picking). Some sorcery must have gone into them, but I don’t really care at this point, because they do a kick-ass job of keeping Faith’s things organised, and that’s all that matters!

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The best part is the labels are gorgeous and come in every permutation that one needs – different designs (all are super adorable and none are kitschy at all! We selected ‘GIrl Patterns’, one without any graphics, as Faith’s interests has been evolving rather quickly, and one ‘Give Me Everything’ pack has 130 freaking pretty mint, pale yellow and pink labels, so these are going to last her through to when she starts primary school, I reckon.), shapes (circle and rectangle), name/book/birthday labels depending on the occasion you need them for, and you can have English and Chinese characters printed on them as well (I didn’t show the Chinese ones in this post but we have them, and they look really good!). You can select from a couple of fonts for the English text too, and we went for American Typewriter for the cleanest look. Of course, S$50 might seem a lot of money to spend on labels, but given that the pack contains 130 labels, each cutie only works out to about S$0.38, and that is insanely good value-for-money, given how durable each label is! I highly recommend these labels to anyone who is looking to organise their children’s stuff for home, school, play, anything! Faith seems to think that it’s funny to stick ‘em labels on my forehead, but whatever floats your boat (of course, this is the only instance when I’m thankful that the labels don’t adhere permanently to my skin, that would be utterly disastrous).

GIVEAWAY!

Here’s your chance to get into some sticky business! Win a ‘Get Me Started’ pack, which contains a mind-boggling total of 86 labels, including 32 x Small Rectangle Sticker Labels, 14 x Circle Sticker Labels, and 40 x Rectangle Iron Ons, valued at S$30. Enter the giveaway HERE! Certain steps can be done once a day, for every day of the giveaway, so don’t forget to check back to get more entries into the draw!

Thank you, Child Label!

* I was gifted a ‘Give Me Everything’ Pack (worth S$50) for the purpose of this review. A ‘Get Me Started’ Pack (worth S$30) will also be sponsored by Childlabel for the winner of this giveaway. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

You can shop online at Child Label!

Like Child Label on Facebook to be updated on the latest news and promotions.

Bali Eats: Merah Putih. GO. NOW.

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The beauty that is Merah Putih, its excellent food and warm service, left us completely blissed out and floored. Suffice to say that it is THE best meal I have had in a long time, one that sits so well on the palette and the soul, that I dream of it day after day, two months on since we travelled to Bali for our family vacation. The last time I felt this grand about a meal, was after being taken through the most whimsical, molecular gastronomical treat at The Fat Duck. And that IS saying something because we dined at Merah Putih with our toddler in tow; any parent would know that dining with children tends to take away the luxury of eating in peace, and that often means that mastication of food doesn’t take place long enough for us to appreciate the nuances of flavours in even the most delightful mouthfuls. Long story short, we tend to shove food down as quickly as we can before the kid insists that LUNCH IS OVER, MAMA, and the truth is, we would be thankful to simply finish our main course, let alone fully appreciate what we eat because meals are often over in a jiffy. It is with a tiny stroke of luck and stunningly good food that kept our toddler, and us, glued to the table for the entire meal.
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Soto Ayam

Merah Putih is located in a surprisingly quiet stretch along the long and winding Jalan Petitenget, segments of which are home to popular bars, restaurants, luxury hotels and chic boutiques. We took a cab straight to the restaurant after a mid-morning coffee break at Revolver Espresso (more to come on this hidden gem of a café), after realising that unit numbers don’t run in order for addresses in Bali. It was a wise decision because we would have gotten completely lost on foot, and it helps that Bluebird taxis are pretty safe to go with and fares are very, VERY easy on the pocket.
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Chargrilled Squid & Octopus
Banana blossom, chilli, tamarind, peanuts

Walking up the flight of stairs to the entrance of Merah Putih and into the bar, I cursed under my breath as I took in the swanky interiors; I was in a shabby tank top that has seen better days a decade ago, shorts and sandals and we were definitely under-dressed. I had expected some snooty wait staff to throw us glances of disapproval but there was absolutely none of that, and all we received were ooohs and aaaahs generously doled out to Faith, the littlest patron in the restaurant that afternoon. *phew* As we were led through the dark corridor to our table, both M and I let out gasps of delight at the gorgeous interiors. It was as if we had emerged from under layers and layers of foliage into a clearing. With lush greenery, fish ‘ponds’ skirting the perimeter and ample light coming through windows and the glass canopy above, it felt like we were walking into the most beautiful greenhouse (for all you annoying people, like me, who love to keep people from digging in by taking photos of the food, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful, naturally lit, restaurant to photograph your subjects). The only downside was the restaurant doesn’t provide high chairs for children, so we had to fashion a booster seat out of cushions that the staff provided and secured F to the chair with the buckle of our baby carrier.

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Jangkang
Fried soft shell crab salad, chilli, pickles

Merah Putih offers set lunches for only S$10 per person, but we ditched that and shared a few dishes over the signature Red (merah) & White (putih) Rice instead. Each course was about S$6-10, and the bill came up to about S$45+ for a very sumptuous lunch, including two mocktails (about S$3 each) and three individual servings of desserts (about S$4 each). Now, this may be rather expensive as compared to other meals we have had in Bali, but the quality of the food is unsurpassed, whether in Bali or other parts of the world.

To start off, we were served two complimentary portions of Soto Ayam; the warm, savoury broth was packed full of flavour from the chicken, shallots and herbs, and went perfectly with the fragrant Red & White rice. This was such a hit with Faith that we grudgingly gave up our portions for her. The waitress very thoughtfully gave us another on seeing this and Faith was much too happy to have an extra serving!

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Tahu Isi Jamur
Vegetable filled organic tofu fritters, oyster mushrooms

The Chargrilled Squid & Octopus proved to be one of the best versions I have ever had (the other stunner was an unforgettable octopus stew that our friend’s father whipped up when we visited them in Porto). The morsels were superbly tender, far from the chewy, rubbery nonsense that many others have served up, and boasted big flavours that were perfectly balanced – the dish was tangy, savoury and ever so slightly spicy for that tropical kick. It was absolutely mouthwatering, literally, in the best way possible!

Even though it was our least favourite dish in the repertoire that afternoon, Jangkang, the fried soft shell crab salad, was delightfully crispy and it came in very generous servings. This meant that M and I did not have to fight to the death for the last piece of crunchy goodness!
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Iga Sapi Bakar
Chargrilled beef shortribs, lalapan, sambal hijau

An underdog that made our hearts flutter, Tahu Isi Jamur, which consists of vegetable filled organic tofu fritters served with oyster mushrooms, was recommended to us by the waitress. We thought nothing of it when we first saw it on the menu and were not even close to ordering it as it didn’t sound all that interesting, but boy, were we glad to have trusted the waitress on this one. The perfectly deep-fried slivers of tofu, crispy, and quiveringly tender on the inside, were stuffed with well-seasoned sautéed oyster mushrooms, which tasted almost like chunks of very juicy and flavoursome meat!

My favourite dish has got to be Iga Sapi Bakar, which is a meltingly soft slab of chargrilled beef short rib that has just about lost all of its integrity, in terms of texture and morality because it made me gasp much too audibly. It was shockingly tender, I was most definitely too loud when I exclaimed, ‘OH-EM-GEE, THIS FEELS LIKE TOFU!’ when I cut into it with a fork, with nary a Newton exerted. Thankfully, the restaurant was rather empty and I only drew an embarrassed glance from the husband. Or maybe two glances, because I rolled my eyes and went, ‘OH MY…..’ after I popped a generous chunk of shortrib that was smothered in the rich peanut gravy (not unlike the best satay sauce you would have had) into my mouth. The shortrib came with a green sambal, which delivered the perfect spicy hit to cut the richness, almost unctuousness of the meat. I was annoyed when M took the last bite (‘I KNOW I SAID IT’S OKAY BUT NO, IT’S NOT OKAY’).

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Dessert board with our three picks

We were stuffed at this point but given the merits of the dishes before, we couldn’t leave without having some sweets. After all, we don’t know when we would be back in Bali again (although I have sworn the husband to making this an annual family pilgrimage…we have been to Bali four times and love it more and more each time we visit). M and I often talk about how meals are never quite perfect, with the starters and mains impressing us, and desserts letting us down, or vice versa, so we were very eager to test this theory out with Merah Putih, especially when it is touted to be one of the rising stars in Bali.

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Coklat
Spiced chocolate tart, hibiscus jelly, cashew praline, vanilla ice cream

We were more than happy to have our theory proven wrong. The spiced chocolate tart was rich, lusciously smooth and subtly laced with cinnamon (I believe), and it went swimmingly well with the slightly tart, yet sweet, hibiscus jelly and crunchy, sweet praline. Of course, good quality vanilla ice cream couldn’t hurt!

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Kelapa Tart
Young coconut pannacotta, mango, palm sugar crumble

The coconut pannacotta was such a refreshing change from the usual English renditions I’ve had. It had the perfect wobble, and the mildly sweet coconut flavour was the perfect backdrop for the rich, smooth and tangy mango puree. The palm sugar crumble lent good crunch for a well-balanced contrast in textures.

201405 Bali Eats Merah Putih 9Kue Lapis
Calamansi lime brulee, spiced layer cake, nashi pear

M didn’t enjoy the Kue Lapis as much. To be fair, he has never liked the spiced layer cake. But I thought the spices in the cubes of kueh lapis went really well with the calamansi lime brulee. It’s a surprisingly good combination that works! My only complaint was the cream in the brulee has somewhat masked the tangy and citrusy fragrance of calamansi lime a little too much. Nonethless, I’d be happy to pay for this again!

201405 Bali Eats Merah Putih 10Faith absolutely working on the lychee and kemangi mocktail and her signature wave

You can probably tell by now that we had a whole lot of food and spent a fair bit of time at Merah Putih. We were pleasantly surprised by how amazing the food was, and we could eat in peace only because Faith thoroughly enjoyed the food too. Whenever she got impatient, waiting for the food to arrive or for the check to be signed, we took her to the sides to peer at the fishes in the ‘ponds’ and she was thrilled! The staff obviously love children too, so it made the lunch, which was tops to begin with, even better. Both M and I utterly regretted not having dinner at Merah Putih on our last day in Bali – we wound up at this tourist trap known as Warung Taulan, no thanks to touters, and had the worst food we have ever sank our teeth into in Bali. Well, there is only one thing left to do…I shall count down to our next trip to Bali and this time, I’d be sure to head to Merah Putih again. And I think you should too.

Merah Putih is located at:

Jl.Petitenget No.100x, Kerobokan
Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia 80361
Tel: (0361) 8465950

Mother’s Day Feature: My Interview with The New Age Parents

The editors of the online parenting magazine, The New Age Parents, kindly featured me on the Mother’s Day lineup as one of ‘10 Mummy Bloggers We Love‘. I did an interview with them as well.

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The questions got me thinking about how I felt when I started penning my thoughts on the blog, and they jolted bittersweet memories that I had of life in London back then. It’s amazing how the blog has evolved with changes in my life, moving back to Singapore, becoming a mother…I don’t think I qualify as a ‘Mummy Blogger’ per se, as the blog is still a mish-mash of things and people who matter very much to me, but yes, my daughter is a large part of my life now, and that invariably means that I yak way too much about her over here (sorry to all the foodies who used to follow me, I don’t cook or bake or photograph food as much now due to the lack of time…and energy).

I’ve also noticed that my writing has taken on a less sprightly (read: YOUTHFUL) tone, and is more reflective and solemn. But one thing remains, I still tell it as it is. I don’t want to get out there and say I LOVE BEING A MOTHER ALL THE TIME, or OH LOOK HOW HAPPY I AM ALL THE TIME, because the truth is there is no such thing as ALL THE TIME. Everything is fleeting – joy, sadness, fights, tender moments, kid not sleeping, kid finally eating – EVERYTHING. So, even though I don’t fill this space with the most beautiful pictures, the most well-written stories, and the most positive of outlooks, I thank all those who have stopped by and said hello, those who didn’t mind the occasional melancholy or sporadic bitchiness, those who have told me that I am not alone in feeling a certain way when something happens. and those who have extended their friendship and invited me into their lives.

Here’s to keeping it real!

Oh! And here’s my interview with the good people of The New Age Parents. Don’t forget to check out the other Mummy Bloggers too!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! x

 

GIVEAWAY! Nigella Fresh Cookbook from The Groovy Giraffe + Review

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***GIVEAWAY CLOSED*** 

Thank you all for taking part in the giveaway! Congratulations to Kway Chap (we**********ap@yahoo.com.sg)! You have won a copy of the Nigella Fresh Cookbook. The Groovy Giraffe will be in touch with you shortly.

[SPONSORED POST*]These days, I’m all about cooking with ease. Any recipe that yields a healthy, delicious meal with minimal preparation is a winner in my books, as I am often running against time, and well, running after a toddler. That, or said toddler would most definitely be tugging on my clothes and koala-ing my legs when I’m cooking. Long gone are the days when I can move around the kitchen with the fluidity and grace of a skilled ballerina; tripping around a small person is more like it. Long gone are the days when I actually relish in the therapeutic benefits of whipping up a lovely meal; my aim is to get the meals out RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Years ago, moving to London had me acquainted with a slew of celebrity chefs, and a whole variety of ingredients and cooking techniques that I was not familiar with when I was living in Singapore. Till this day, two of these chefs, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, remain my favourite, simply because these two Brits make cooking look ridiculously easy and infinitely enjoyable. I’ve bought a couple of their cookbooks and I can attest to how right they are in the philosophy of cooking; it doesn’t help that their recipes are, well, recipes for success! I love Nigella, in particular, for her shortcuts that yield beautiful results. One of my favourite recipes has got to be for her Puff Pastry, which gives gorgeous, flaky, golden layers of buttery goodness using a…food processor (I used this to make the pastry for my Portuguese egg tarts)! I’ve not looked back since.

Sure, Nigella isn’t shy with ingredients that would make the health buff cringe, but her cookbooks burst with a large repertoire of healthy, wholesome dishes too! I love the recipes in Nigella Fresh; as I pored through the ingredient lists, my tastebuds were tingling with the freshness of spring and summer. All the herbs, vegetables and different cuts of meats used, sat with me very well. And then, we have the delectable desserts, what’s not to like? That woman knows her desserts pretty well!

To review the cookbook gifted to me by The Groovy Giraffe, I put two recipes to the test. I whipped this up while Faith was in preschool during a weekday morning, and voila, they were much too easy and too delicious, and healthy to boot! I’ve got to be honest though, that I didn’t follow the recipes to a T. I used to be a stickler for recipes and proportions, having been trained as a scientist for many years, but being married to a man who is a superbly easygoing cook has somewhat reduced my anal retentiveness. These days, I look up recipes, more for inspiration on flavour and textural combinations, to learn about new cooking techniques and ingredients, than to grapple with what it means to add ‘a handful of coriander leaves’. So for the purpose of this review, I took the flavour suggestions onboard (roasted eggplant and feta cheese with chilli is YUM), and improvised the recipes with whatever ingredients I could find at home. The proportions were tweaked according to my personal preferences for saltiness, etc.

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Here’s what I cooked up. Saffron-scented Chicken Pilaf and Grilled Eggplant with Feta, Mint and Chilli. I replaced basmati rice in the former with quinoa, which is a staple in my pantry, and used olive oil in place of peanut oil as that’s what I have at home. I left out the cardamom pods as I didn’t have that in the kitchen, and omitted cashews and pistachios because M is mildly sensitive to them. For the grilled eggplant, I seared the slices on a stove-top griddle for the beautiful markings, and threw them in the oven till they were deliciously golden and caramelised. The proportions of feta, chill and mint used for the filling were ‘guess-timated’.

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Both dishes were such a tease on the palette. The pilaf was very more-ish and the yogurt-marinated chicken cubes were very tender! The grilled eggplant (one of my fave dishes ever) is beautifully caramelised, tastes almost like (very flavourful!) meat, and went well with the salty, yet refreshing feta, mint and chilli filling. It was all very Mediterrenean and very summer-ish, which I love! Perfect for a delightful, nourishing, yet quick, lunch!

If you are responsible for feeding the family, and are time-starved, I would strongly recommend you to get hold of a copy of the Nigella Fresh cookbook. The recipes are simple and perfect for noobs and seasoned cooks alike, and the dishes are guaranteed to be bursting with flavours from the different ingredients (some pairings are more unusual than others in our part of the world, but I reckon they work, based on similar flavour combinations I have sampled in restaurants in London). The Groovy Giraffe sells this (only S$14.90!), and other cookbooks, at a fraction of the retail price, go get them before they run out! Alternatively, you could enter the giveaway (open to those in Singapore) below!

GIVEAWAY: One copy of the Nigella Fresh Cookbook from The Groovy Giraffe

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!
You can earn extra entries by repeating certain steps on another day, so don’t forget to check back to get more lots in the draw!

Terms & Conditions: The winner is to collect the prize at The Groovy Giraffe office (Everton Park) or pay S$5.00 for shipping. There will be no exchange of books or conversion to store credits. The winner will be contacted by The Groovy Giraffe.

*I was gifted one copy of Nigella Fresh cookbook for my personal use and another copy will be given to a lucky reader after the giveaway ends. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

You can now shop online at The Groovy Giraffe!

Like The Groovy Giraffe on Facebook to be updated on promotions and what’s-what in-store!

A Letter From Me to You, You and You

Dear {You},

{Papa and Mama}, I know I was a mess in the early months of motherhood. Sometimes, I still am. I cannot even begin to tell you both how thankful I am for you, for someone like me to have you as my dear parents. If not for you, I wouldn’t know what love is. If not for you, I wouldn’t have survived being an absolutely clueless mother to Faith. If not for you, I wouldn’t know what sacrifice means. Both of you are unconditional love personified. I can only wish that I am capable of giving Faith half the love and care that both of you have given me. Thank you for showing me what it takes to be a parent, and more. Faith is infinitely blessed to have Ah Gong and Ah Ma in her life.

{M}, I want to thank you for being such a strong pillar in my life. It’s tough to be the sole breadwinner and yet, you have been completely supportive on my wish to be a stay-at-home-mum. You have not once frowned upon my decision of giving up years of postgraduate education and good salary for this (even when I felt torn apart), and you have never griped about making ends meet on your own. You work so hard to provide the best for Faith and me, to the extent of neglecting your own well-being and giving up little luxuries for yourself, that it pains me to watch you live the consequences of my decision. I’m so, so sorry that I have not said this to you sooner, but you are my hero.

Sometimes, I can’t believe how blessed I am to have fallen in love with you, to be loved by you. I’m far from perfect, as a wife, as a mother, as a human being. But you, you, step in selflessly to make up for what I cannot do, and you have never ever judged me to be a lesser person just because I failed to rise to the occasion. How is it that I deserve such a wonderful man like you? I’ll never know, but I promise you that I’ll try to be better, because you make me want to be better.

Thank you for helping me to be the best mother I can to our child.

{Faith}, you are the greatest little person to Mama. I haven’t learnt as much from school as I did from you. You taught me to be patient, to be loving, to see the best in the most trying circumstances, to marvel at the tiniest miracles that I took for granted before you came along.

What really astounds me is how strong you are. You have been ill for three weeks. Yesterday, I watched you throw up helplessly and you cried as though you were in pain. I reckon you were frightened, but you stopped crying and started dancing the minute I cleaned you up; it was as if nothing had happened. In that instance, I thought about how I would curl up in bed, overwhelmed with self-pity and lethargy, had I been struck with bouts of high fever, hacking coughs and the vomitting bug. I felt ashamed and inspired at the same time, because you are but 20 months old, yet, you are so much more resilient than Mama. You make me want to be much more than I am, so that I can love you the best way I know how.

Thank you for giving me the privilege of being your mother, to learn from you, to look at the world through your eyes, to share with you, and to watch you grow.

(My brother, sister and friends}, I wouldn’t be a mother, if not for you. Thank you for helping me with Faith when I try to gobble down my lunch. Thank you for wiping away my tears when I feel defeated with the challenges of motherhood. Thank you for taking me out for dinner, even though I turned you down a million times before that because I couldn’t get away from parenting duties or was just too darn tired to head out. Thank you for not being mad at me when I run off to chase my toddler midway through a conversation. Thank you for telling me that it’s okay to not be okay. Thank you for sticking around and keeping my head above the water. Thank you for sharing my joy as a parent, even though I may babble on too much about Faith and annoy the hell out of you. You know who you are.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I can see why they say that now, so…Happy Mother’s Day to one and all, because I don’t think this day is possible without you, you and you.

Love,
Your daughter, wife, sister and friend

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Married Life Blooper #3: The Tale of Four Butt Cheeks

M and I were about to turn in for the night, after a particularly drawn-out and tiring day. As he hoisted the duvet  up to his neck, and snuggled under the covers, he mumbled, ‘Do you know that I love you very much?’

And I, being all manja, asked him the question that most men feared.

Me: Will you still love me when I grow fat?

M (half-asleep): I love you, no matter what.

Me: Even with the face of a char siew bao?

M (still half-asleep): Yes, of course.

Me: Even when I have four butt cheeks?

M (jolted awake): FOUR butt cheeks?!

Me: Yes, four.

M: Why would there be four? Where would the extra two cheeks be?

Me (*rolls eyes* not that M could see them in the dark): Underneath the first two, LAH!

M: *BURSTS INTO LAUGHTER*

Me: …

The shit we say.